FCPS: 150 Years

FCPS acknowledges its 150th anniversary with a look at its past, present, and future.

Fairfax County Public Schools was established on July 11, 1870, with the passage of the Virginia Public Free Schools Act. The Act was passed when Virginia was readmitted to the Union, after the Civil War. This significant milestone serves as a great opportunity for us to reflect on how far we have come and the important work we must continue to do in order to create an inclusive and compassionate environment where all students and staff are seen, heard, and valued. 

Fairfax County Public Schools inspires and empowers students to meet high academic standards, lead healthy, ethical lives, and be responsible and innovative global citizens.

The History of FCPS

Find extensive information about the history of Fairfax County Public Schools.

School Buildings 

Crouch schoolhouse
The Crouch School was built in the mid-1870s. The building is pictured in 1918 (left) and in 2014 (right). 

Although FCPS has grown into the 10th largest school division in the U.S. with 198 schools and centers, the school division began with 41 one-room schoolhouses scattered throughout the county. Fortunately, one of the early structures is preserved on the property of Liberty Middle School in Clifton, after being moved there in 2011 from Centreville. The Crouch schoolhouse is now a living museum, restored to reflect a time when all grades levels were taught in the same room, a wood stove kept the building warm, and the bathroom was outside. 


Mount Eagle classrooms
In 1953, this Mt. Eagle Elementary classroom in Alexandria (left) had stationary desks in rows. That same classroom in 2013 (right) featured movable tables, offering a flexible learning environment. Students also represent different races and cultures.

The student population was small until the 1950s. By that decade's end, enrollment had grown to approximately 59,000. Students who had once walked to single-room schoolhouses now rode a bus to a larger “consolidated school” where they were taught in separate grades. 

As with other school districts in Virginia, FCPS was still segregated in the 1950s; white students and African-American students attended separate schools. In September 1960, Judge Albert V. Bryan of the Federal District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, struck down the Fairfax County School Board’s grade-a-year desegregation plan. Racial desegregation of the public schools proceeded slowly, culminating in the fall of 1966. Rayfield Barber was one of the students who involved in the lawsuit against the School Board. Watch Mr. Barber, and other former students and staff share their desegregation stories. Fairfax County's population has changed significantly, and our student population has mirrored that change. Today, we proudly serve a diverse population of more than 188,000 students who speak more than 200 languages. More than 31 percent of our total student population is economically disadvantaged; 14.5 percent are reported as students with disabilities, and more than 29 percent of students are English Learners. Find out more about today's FCPS

Teachers and Staff

Teachers then and now
In earlier times, the typical classroom featured a teacher lecturing at the front of the classroom (left). Today's teachers use a wide variety of instructional methods, often creating a more personalized learning experience for students (right). 

During the 1960s, as student numbers and academic offerings increased, so did the number of teachers. Today, FCPS employs more than 15,000 outstanding educators, who engage and inspire students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Some classrooms also have additional support from amazing instructional assistants, public health training assistants, or public health attendants. FCPS operational staff play an essential role in supporting our schools and centers. They work in many different capacities including facilities management, financial services, human resources, information technology, safety and security, and transportation. In total, the school district has more than 24,000 full-time employees. With part-time staff included, that number jumps to more than 37,000 employees, making FCPS the third largest employer in the state. FCPS is always looking for more talented and innovative educators to #SayYestoFCPS. Discover instructional opportunities

Since schools and offices physically closed in March due to COVID-19, countless staff members have gone above and beyond to support students, parents, and their FCPS colleagues during this challenging time. Visit FCPS Cares--Going the Distance to read about staff who have been recognized for their efforts. 


School TVs  image vs computer image
In the 1970s, TVs were important technology in the classroom. Pictured left is the 1988 morning news show crew at Cardinal Forest Elementary. Laptop computers are today's vital classroom technology tool (right).  

In the past 50 years, technology has transformed education within FCPS. In the 1980s, computer labs were installed in many schools, and students began to take classes on computer literacy. Today, students connect with unique learning opportunities that would not be possible without technology. As an example, a few years ago, students connected with a Robinson SS alumnus while he was onboard the International Space Station

Through FCPSOn, a digital initiative that is transforming teaching and learning, all high school students are issued an FCPS laptop to support their learning at school and at home. All schools in the Chantilly Pyramid are part of FCPSOn, since the Pyramid piloted the initiative in 2016. Middle school students will be issued FCPS laptops beginning in the 2020-21 school year.

When COVID-19 caused schools to close in March, more than 21,000 laptops and 1,800 MiFi's were distributed to students at the elementary and middle school level to support distance learning. This new way of learning will become more of the norm, as the global health pandemic continues to impact teaching, learning, and most other aspects of our lives. 

Brand Mark

FCPS logos old and new
After more than 40 years with the same logo (left), FCPS updated to a new look in 2016 (right).

Just as FCPS' strategic plan provides a framework for our vision, mission, and principles, our brand framework forms how we communicate FCPS’ value and benefits to all stakeholders. Our brand mark (or logo), together with selected fonts, colors, and imagery combine to form our visual identity.

FCPS' brand mark represents a modern, forward-thinking school system. The book symbol remains, but emerging from it is the flame of knowledge. The addition of the color blue brightened by yellow stars are signs of excellence and fulfilling one’s dream. Visit the FCPS Brand webpage for more information.

The Future

Despite unforeseen challenges and uncertainty resulting from COVID-19, we look ahead with a commitment to the pursuit of excellence and equity for all of our students. It starts with putting the health and safety of students and staff first during the pandemic and beyond. That has always been our top priority. 

Student success is at the heart of all that we do. FCPS remains focused on serving each child by name and by need, while preparing them to succeed in school and in life. With that in mind, FCPS developed Portrait of a Graduate, outlining the skills each student should have at graduation in order to thrive in 21st century workplace.

Chantilly Academy students wearing college hoodies.

We will continue finding creative ways to recruit and retain the best and brightest educators to instill a love of learning in our students. The newly formed Superintendent's Technology Advisory Council is providing expertise and guidance to help ensure FCPS’ technology applications are at the forefront of innovation; and that teachers and students are equipped with the tools, connectivity, access, and security to be prepared in an increasingly interconnected landscape. We will increase efforts that support our dedication to resource stewardship. An example is continuing to improve the energy efficiency of our buildings and facilities. Those efforts have resulted in FCPS being named an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year for three consecutive years.

Looking forward, one of FCPS' most important charges for the future is to create a culture that celebrates diversity, individualism, and compassion. We are firm in our stance against racism, hate, and discrimination, and are committed to the relentless pursuit of a school division that is without injustice and inequities. This important work is critical to helping ensure a thriving future for all of our students, staff, and community.

Foundation for FCPS

The Foundation for FCPS' mission is to energize the power of the community to invest in educational excellence and prepare students for the future.