Outstanding Principal, Finalists, and School Recipients

The outstanding principals recognized at 2017 FCPS Honors

2017 Outstanding Principal 

Merrell Dade, Principal, Forestdale Elementary School, Region 3a picture of merrell dade

In 2007, when Merrell Dade became an elementary school principal, she was thrilled to take on the challenge. Yet, she found there was a big difference between being an assistant principal and her new job. Leading change in an organization, Merrell says, is more about understanding the strengths of the people you work with and learning side by side than anything she read as a graduate student. Despite her initial uncertainty, Merrell is praised for balancing the demands of an administrator with remarkable grace.
“Merrell is the model of compassion, intelligence, innovation, and strength that so many strive to be,” noted a colleague. “Her commitment to the Forestdale community is evident in all she does.” From loading books for the summer bookmobile to working with resource staff and specialists to ensure classrooms have the resources they need; Merrell has turned the vision of a student-centered environment that promotes curiosity, innovation, and learning for all into a reality at Forestdale.



2017 Outstanding Principal Finalist

John Banbury, Principal, Oakton High School, Region 1a picture of john banbury

When John joined Oakton High School as principal in 2004, he was tasked with establishing a new culture of progressive education that focused on interdisciplinary skills, not tests. So he asked his staff to define what it meant to be a graduate of Oakton High School and to build a vision of 21st-century skills for all students – a precursor to FCPS’s Portrait of a Graduate. The resulting school improvement plan included meaningful professional development, continuous collaboration, and a lot of discussion among teachers, students, and parents. Oakton students now enjoy a more personalized, reflective, and self-directed high school experience. John remains committed to continued improvement, gathering a team of teachers and students each summer to analyze performance data and ensure the school is meeting the needs of Oakton students. “As a leader,” said a colleague, “Dr. Banbury is a visionary who empowers others.” Recently promoted to Executive Principal for the region, John now assists and provides insight to other area schools.



2017 Outstanding Principal Finalist

Penny Gros, Principal, JEB Stuart High School, Region 2a picture of penny gros

Penny sees building a positive school culture as the hallmark of her leadership. She’s not alone. In 2011, the PTA at Key Middle School - her first post as principal - established the annual Penny Gros Leadership Award to recognize a teacher “whose dedicated leadership has inspired a vision.” When Penny joined Stuart, she encountered many challenges, including a discouraged staff. In order to turn Stuart around, she did what any great leader would do –asked the people she was leading for their input. Talking to students, parents, and staff about the future helped her create a vision for Stuart that made it a unified, productive and student-centered school again. Penny also instituted monthly recognition programs for students and staff, a Best of the Best faculty award, and frequently posts school spirit tweets. Her colleagues admire her compassion and ability to bring people together. “Before I met Penny Gros,” said one, “I had no idea how much impact a single person could have on a school building.”


2017 Outstanding Principal Finalist

Dave Jagels, Principal, Centreville High School, Region 4a picture of dave jagels

Dave has defended the underdog since he was a high school junior volunteering at the Special Olympics. This is also when he first heard the call to help special needs children and began thinking about a career in education. Today, as the principal of Centreville High School, he remains a champion of the underdog, and wholeheartedly lives the school’s mission to Educate, Encourage, and Empower. Dave instituted a Project Aware program at Centreville (one of five in FCPS) for students with severe emotional and social issues. He says part of his role as a leader is to do what he can to make a classroom teacher’s job easier, so he provides them with development opportunities that align with the tenets of the Portrait of a Graduate. Every year he also reminds staff that the most important thing they can do is build relationships with students. “Love your people,” he says. On this he leads the way whether greeting students by name, sitting in on classes or organizing a flash mob for Homecoming. “Any time there is a way to be involved with his school,” said a colleague. “Dave takes it.”


2017 Outstanding Principal Finalist

Teresa Johnson, Principal, Chantilly High School, Region 5a picture of teresa johnson

At the start of every year, Teresa asks, “How do we continually move the school community forward to meet the needs of students?” She sees it as her responsibility to ensure that the experiences she and her staff are providing at Chantilly are what students need to be successful citizens in an ever changing society and workforce. One such example was bringing the FCPSOn initiative to Chantilly. FCPSOn provided students with a laptop for educational purposes. Johnson says the initiative was good for everyone, enabling teachers to take risks in the classroom and offering more personalized instruction for students. Colleagues say Teresa is generous with her time, open and authentic –the reason Chantilly is what is. Students agree. “Mrs. Johnson has endlessly sacrificed her time in order to provide support for each club, team, and organization in our school,” said one. “Without her endless support and positive attitude, Chantilly High School would not be the same.”


2017 Outstanding Principal - School Recipients

  • Annandale Terrace Elementary School
    • Lisa Pilson*
  • Beech Tree Elementary School
    • Karim Daugherty
  • Brookfield Elementary School
    • Mary Miller
  • Centreville Elementary School
    • Dwayne Young
  • Centreville High School
    • Dave Jagels*
  • Chantilly High School
    • Teresa Johnson*
  • Davis Career Center
    • Brandon Wolfe*
  • Deer Park Elementary School
    • Carol Larsen*
  • Edison High School
    • Pamela Brumfield*
  • Forestdale Elementary School
    • Merrell Dade*
  • Kings Park Elementary School
    • Dotty Lin
  • Lees Corner Elementary School
    • Robert D'Amato
  • Lorton Station Elementary School
    • Joanne Jackson*
  • Marshall High School
    • Jeff Litz
  • McLean High School
    • Ellen Reilly*
  • Mount Vernon High School
    • Anthony Terrell*
  • Oakton High School
    • John Banbury*
  • Poplar Tree Elementary School
    • Sharon S. Williams
  • Sangster Elementary School
    • Lisa Reddel
  • *Silverbrook Elementary School
    • Melaney Mackin*
  • Stuart High School
    • Penny Gros*
  • West Springfield Elementary School
    • Kelly Sheers*
  • Woodson High School
    • Scott Poole*

* Denotes Pyramid-Level Recipient

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