Outstanding New Principal, Finalists, and School Recipients

The outstanding new principals recognized at 2017 FCPS Honors

2017 Outstanding New Principal 

Gordon Stokes, Principal, Rachel Carson Middle School, Region 1a picture of gordon stokes

When Gordon took over as principal at Carson in 2015, he knew he faced some challenges. Not only did he need to articulate a compelling instructional vision for the high-performing school, he also had to prove he could lead at a place where he’d formerly been a teacher. So he observed classes, got to know teachers, and asked what made Carson great and what could be better. He also reached out to students, informally, and in monthly group lunches. His first major action was to approve a move to a block schedule to allow more time for learning 221st-centuryskills. Colleagues praise him as a calming presence – a thinker who encourages discussion and innovation, “If it takes a village to teach a child,” says one, “Gordon is the perfect village leader.”



2017 Outstanding New Principal Finalist

Janice Edwards - Dalton, Principal, Laurel Hill Elementary School, Region 4a picture of janice edwards-dalton

Janice is known for her incredible spirit, her wit and her uncanny ability to tell an amazing story. At Laurel Hill Elementary, it’s not unusual to see her leading a pep rally in a super-hero cape, high-fiving a student who made strides in learning, or dancing to encourage kids when they are doing something right, like walking quietly to kiss and ride. “Her ability to relate to others and create a caring school community is unsurpassed,” said a former supervisor. Janice frequently sends written kudos to staff and gets high marks for helping them work through problems. In her self-described role as #1 Problem Solver at the school, she believes student and staff needs come first even if it means taking care of other work after hours. “Nothing,” she said, “beats face time.” Since arriving at Laurel Hill two years ago, she’s concentrated on learning the names of all 947 students. She estimates she has about 300 left.



2017 Outstanding New Principal Finalist

Chad Lehman, Principal, Luther Jackson Middle School, Region 2a picture of chad lehman

Chad will do what it takes to support his school even if it means being taped to the cafeteria wall. That actually happened last year when students were raising money for cancer research and every inch of duct tape meant a dollar. Chad sees activities like this and the time he spends counseling at-risk students as important work for an administrator. “I’ve learned to be purposeful in finding these meaningful moments,” he said. “Otherwise the minutiae of this job will swallow you.” At Luther Jackson, where students come from 72 countries and 50 percent live in poverty, Chad has focused on improving literacy. He launched a school-based Parents as Educational Partners (PEP) chapter to reach out to newcomer families. He’s also pushed for more STEAM, setting up a project with Northrop. “He truly exemplifies a level of commitment that serves as personal model for me,” said a staff member.



2017 Outstanding New Principal Finalist

Amy Miller, Principal, Saratoga Elementary School, Region 3a picture of amy miller

Amy arrived at Saratoga in August 2015 with a plan to fix the struggling school, where shifting population and dynamics had led to low morale and falling test scores. But after talking with parents, students and teachers, she realized the focus needed to be on changing the culture. “My plan went out the window,” she says. Instead, Amy, a former teacher of the year in Massachusetts, sought to make the school a place where kindness and relationships mattered. A year later, discipline referrals are down 100 percent, while the number of students reading on grade level is up 10 percent and eCART scores have improved. Employee surveys show 87 percent of the staff feel the learning environment is positive and trust has increased. Colleagues say this because Amy listens and knows her stuff. “Even with limited resources she’s had,” one said, “you can see the positive change in the school.”



2017 Outstanding New Principal Finalist

Dylan Taylor, Principal, Willow Springs Elementary School, Region 5a picture of dylan taylor

A big believer in collaborative learning teams, one of the first things Dylan tried to do when he became principal at Willow Springs was improving how teachers worked together. But he quickly found that at a large school with as many as nine teachers at some grade levels, getting consensus and buy-in was a challenge. On top of that, grades 3-6 were departmentalized, and AAP and General Ed teachers weren’t used to collaborating. It took a lot of time and patience, but today all teachers in the school teach reading, share resources, and the increase in teamwork is visible. “Good teaching is good teaching,” Dylan says, “and if we teach in a way that lets students take it where they are able to, students will reach their potential. Last year, Dylan launched a schoolwide weather station, and he is working at increasing use of technology in classrooms. Staffers say he is a true team player. “He is inspiring, creative. and incredibly dedicated to the success of every student and teacher at Willow Springs,” said one.



2017 Outstanding New Principal - School Recipients   

  • Bush Hill Elementary
    • School Mary Duffy*
  • Carson Middle School
    • Gordon Stokes*
  • Cunningham Park Elementary School
    • Katie Le*
  • Dranesville Elementary School
    • Rae Mitchell*
  • Groveton Elementary School
    • James Swoger
  • Haycock Elementary School
    • Jereme Donnelly*
  • Lake Anne Elementary School
    • Jill Stewart*
  • Laurel Hill Elementary School
    • Janice Edwards-Dalton*
  • Luther Jackson Middle School
    • Chad Lehman*
  • Quander Road School
    • Joe Thompson*
  • Saratoga Elementary School
    • Amy Miller*
  • Sleepy Hollow Elementary School
    • Eric Johnson*
  • Terra Centre Elementary School
    • Rebecca Gidoni
  • *Twain Middle School
    • Chuck Miller
  • Wakefield Forest Elementary School
    • Sharyn Prindle*
  • Westgate Elementary School
    • Hallie Demetriades*
  • Willow Springs Elementary School
    • Dylan Taylor*

*Denotes Pyramid-Level Recipient


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