Outstanding New Principal, Finalists, and School Recipients

The outstanding new principals recognized at 2019 FCPS Honors

2019 Outstanding New Principal Finalist

Teresa Fennessy, Herndon Elementary School, Region 1

a photo of teresa fennessy

Teresa believes that Title I teachers and staff are the Navy Seals of education! She has created a sense of synergy at Herndon Elementary. Herndon has become “a learning school” where adults and students are engaged in a collaborative effort to be the best they can possibly be. Her positivity, combined with her dedication to working with parents, students, staff, and the community, has made Herndon Elementary a great place to learn! Teresa believes strongly in teacher leadership and she provides many opportunities that spark creativity. During her tenure, Herndon has improved academic achievement, established a strong Responsive Classroom culture, and enhanced the relationship between the school and the community.



a photo of april cage2019 Outstanding New Principal Finalist

April Cage, Bonnie Brae Elementary School, Region 4

April leads with a learner’s lens. In three years, she and the school community developed a strategic plan that enhances climate and teacher growth and development. She created “tights” around this work which provided clarity and purpose to the plan. Her leadership allowed Bonnie Brae to establish the “why” and its direct impact on teacher retention and student performance. This established a high level of trust while increasing teacher efficacy. Teacher’s believe they can do the work and families trust them do so. If  you’ve ever had the opportunity to work alongside of her, you know that April’s bottom line is “people first.” Because her passion is about serving people, she will always be on the right side of the work.



2019 Outstanding New Principal Finalist

Mary Duffy, Bush Hill Elementary School, Region 3

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Mary has been a champion of Bush Hill Elementary from the moment she walked in the door. An advocate for the special education program, Mary increased inclusive practices and supported the start of the Special Olympics Unified Team. She worked to create strong relationships and make herself accessible to the entire community, fostering parent involvement in the school. Mary is an instructional leader and committed learner. She models for staff the types of things that she expects and has created an environment where staff feel comfortable taking risks. One staff member says, “Mary has the heart to have inspired a devoted staff who want to work alongside her to achieve the vision we have collaboratively developed under her leadership.”



2019 Outstanding New Principal Finalist

Monica Mohr, Little Run Elementary School, Region 5

a photo of monica mohr

Since Monica has been at Little Run Elementary, she has worked diligently to build staff capacity, forge meaningful relationships, and instill the importance of kindness and hard work in students.  Monica encourages and supports staff to always do what is best for student learning—whether it is having students engage in Academic Conversations, introducing Project Based Learning, or initiating a new format for kindergarten class placement. Monica strives to make Little Run the place where parents, staff, and students are proud to call home. “Her commitment to staff and families is inspiring,” shared one teacher, “Monica seems to be able to take anything thrown her way and create success.”



2019 Outstanding New Principal Finalist

Ben Nowak, Falls Church High School, Region 2

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Ben is a culture-builder.  He listens with careful reflection to students, parents, and teachers and in doing so has created a community that trusts the direction he sets. From the very first day, Ben’s focus has been student learning. After being at Falls Church for a short time, he noticed a chronic tardiness problem that was regularly interrupting instruction.  He assembled a team of teacher leaders, empowered them to seek potential solutions, and then implemented our successful “Jaguar Start On Time” program. He has a singular, unwavering focus on revitalizing our Professional Learning Community, using the precious resources of time and money to build teacher leaders across our school.  According to one teacher, “He has brought a new hope and enthusiasm for the future of our school.”



2019 Outstanding New Principal - School Recipients   

  • Bonnie Brae Elementary School
    • April Cage
  • Bush Hill Elementary School
    • Mary Duffy
  • Centreville Elementary School
    • Joshua Douds
  • Dranesville Elementary School
    • Rae Mitchell
  • Fairhill Elementary School
    • Candace Hunstad
  • Falls Church High School
    • Ben Nowak
  • Flint Hill Elementary School
    • Jennifer Hertzberg
  • Franconia Elementary School
    • Andrew Smith
  • Herndon Elementary School
    • Teresa Fennessy
  • Lemon Road Elementary School
    • Ashley Castillo
  • Little Run Elementary School
    • Monica Mohr
  • London Towne Elementary School
    • Wiatta Padmore
  • Oak View Elementary School
    • Sarah Brooker
  • Sandburg Middle School
    • Darwin Barker
  • Sleepy Hollow Elementary School
    • Eric Johnson
  • Weyanoke Elementary School
    • Felicia Usher

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