Incoming Superintendent Reid Tells FCPS Journalists She’ll Prioritize Student Voice, Agency
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Incoming Superintendent Michelle Reid, Ed.D., said she’ll prioritize “equitable opportunities” by ensuring all high-schoolers have access to similar courses as well as boosting “student voice and agency” when she takes the helm of Fairfax County Public Schools on July 1.
“It'll be important for me to meet with groups of students to hear what you think is important because I'm here to serve you, right? It's not the other way around,” Dr. Reid said during a conversation with student journalists last week in response to a question from Aleena Gul, a McLean High senior and editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper.
During a question and answer session with five FCPS student journalists, Dr. Reid touted an arrangement she has in her current role, as superintendent of Washington state’s Northshore School District, in which she regularly meets with a student panel to hear what changes they believe are necessary inside the schools. The district also holds an annual student summit in June, in which roughly 150 middle school and high school leaders gather together to debate pressing issues. Some of their suggestions have resulted in policy changes, Dr. Reid says.
Dr. Reid used the conversation with student journalists spanning all grade levels Friday afternoon to introduce herself and her goals to the 180,000 students enrolled in FCPS. The panel discussion came a day after School Board members appointed her to the role.
Student agency is also important for the youngest learners, Dr. Reid continued, expanding on the idea in response to a question on goals for elementary students from London Towne Elementary sixth-grader Taylor Martinez-Rodriguez. Taylor is an anchor for her school’s news program.
“Making sure that everyone feels confident, capable, and curious by the time they leave elementary school -- that would be my goal,” Dr. Reid said. She added she likes the idea of all students being able to access the appropriate level of math curriculum for their skill set, regardless of their grade.
Asked by Churchill Road ES fourth-grader Ethan Zhang to send a message directly to his age group, Dr. Reid told Ethan, a Time for Kids student reporter, that everyone is counting on them.
“We're counting on you to be the most incredible thinkers and problem solvers and to become compassionate adults,” Dr. Reid said. “My generation has not always gotten it right so we need you.”
Ariana Mamedova, a Hughes News staffer at Langston Hughes Middle School in Reston, asked how Dr. Reid intends to help students her age take action to shape their future career paths.
“Middle school should be a time for exploration and trying,” Dr. Reid said. “Sometimes students take a welding class or a class that they didn't know anything about and all of a sudden that becomes a passion, so I do think it might be wise to have middle school mean exploring as many options as possible.”
That also means ensuring middle school activities include everyone regardless of skill set or level, Dr. Reid said.
“It’s a big risk middle school students take sometimes to try out for a sport or a play or a musical or a music ensemble. We have to find ways to keep everybody engaged regardless of their immediate skill set at this age because they can grow into roles.”
Pressed by eighth-grader Meissa Islam, of Luther Jackson Middle School’s Jackson Journal, on how she’ll support diversity, Reid touched on how many different kinds of diversity exist in our country: thought diversity, ableism, gender, race, and cultural diversity to name a few.
“I will model what I consider to be grace, patience, compassion and openness to new ideas. I would not just hope for but expect that those in my presence will do the same. As long as I'm here, that's going to be a standard that's very important to me,” Dr. Reid said.
Below is the video of Dr. Reid's session with the student journalists.
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