Honoring Our Veteran-Employees
As we approach Veterans Day on Saturday, November 11, we would like to say a heartfelt “Thank you” to the many FCPS employees who are also military veterans.
Rowlett “Moose” Bruce, retired Navy Commander and FCPS substitute teacher, pictured above, comes from a family with lots of military experience.
“You will know my age when I tell you that I was 6-10 years old during World War II,” he shared. His father was a 1915 graduate of Virginia Tech and was a 1st Lieutenant during World War I. His father-in-law was a lieutenant colonel for the U.S. Marines Corps and flew Corsairs (F4U) during WWII and the Korean War. An uncle and multiple cousins also served in the military.
Moose served as a Naval Aviator for 28 years. He served on four aircraft carriers, each with more than 70 aircraft. He has made more than 483 landings on aircraft carriers and says landing at night in the middle of an ocean “takes a little skill.” He was ashore at Guantanamo Bay during the Cuban Missile Crisis and flew missions during the blockade.
After retirement from the Navy, Moose worked as a contractor on flight simulators for Anteon and General Dynamics. He also ran his first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, at the age of 61.
He considered becoming a bus driver but settled on being a substitute instead, a role he’s held with FCPS for 13 years.
Moose enjoys working with high school students. Discipline, organizational skills, and respect are all qualities he learned in the military that have carried over to substitute teaching.
“I learn something every day I sub. They’re the sweetest kids. Each kid is different. They’re very polite with big smiles,” he said. Substitute teaching “is just fun, and I can do it when the job fits my schedule,” he said.
Although Moose says, “I'm no hero, just a retired Navy Commander and guest teacher,” we say, thank you for your service!
Jeff Toomer, college and career specialist at West Springfield High School, graduated from West Point in 1988.
He spent 20 years in the Army including being deployed to Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm (Iraq) and three deployments supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Combined, he spent more than four-and-a-half years deployed in combat.
“Young men and women are the strength of the U.S. Military,” Jeff said. “I enjoyed 20 years of the privilege of training soldiers to support and defend our nation, while also helping them grow into contributing citizens.”
Similarly, he said, “[students] are the future of our country. It is a grand opportunity to help shape the character and minds of our students as they mature into whomever they become after high school.”
Since his Army retirement, Jeff has worked as a pastor — first in North Carolina, then in Alexandria, Virginia. He has been working with FCPS since 2021. At West Springfield, he has served as the military sponsor for the school’s Purple Star designation and as a sponsor for the Military Ambassador’s club.
Thank you, Jeff, for your continued dedication to the future of our country.
Sue Tenney was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduation from the United States Naval Academy. Her first tour was in Okinawa, Japan, and she spent 10 weeks in Korea during that tour. When she returned stateside, Tenney was assigned to Camp Pendleton in California. She resigned as a captain at the end of her service obligation.
“One of the most apparent impacts my service had on my FCPS career is my ability to relate to military families,” she said. Sue has worked for FCPS for more than 17 years, most recently in Region 3 office as an executive administrative assistant.
“In Region 3, which has a significant military presence, my firsthand knowledge of military life, challenges, and the unique needs of military-connected students and their families is invaluable,” she says. “This relatability helps build trust and understanding with these families, making it easier to address their specific concerns and needs.”
For Sue, “the United States Marine Corps is a family business.” Her husband and father-in-law are retired Marines and her son is an MV-22 Osprey pilot with VMM-263, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
“Military personnel often face unpredictable situations and must adapt quickly to changing circumstances,” she said. “This adaptability and resilience are particularly useful in the sometimes challenging educational environment. Also, the military fosters a sense of loyalty and a desire to contribute to a greater organization, which has translated into a strong commitment to the overall mission of FCPS.”
Thank you for your service, Sue: To our nation, and FCPS.
Anthony “Tony” Copeland, executive principal in Region 1, retired as a Major from the Army. He was assigned to Fort Jackson, South Carolina.; Camp Essayons, Korea; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Würzburg and Bamberg, Germany; and Fort Monroe, Virginia.
Tony’s jobs in the military included training officer, detachment commander, battery executive officer (8” howitzer battery), writer-instructor, remotely piloted vehicle (RPV) battery commander, battery commander (105mm howitzer battery), division artillery training officer, field artillery intelligence officer, assistant fire support coordinator, brigade fire support officer, and operations staff.
Working with many different people and getting to know them in their country, at work, and outside of work have helped him “understand and appreciate the variety of cultures we have in FCPS,” he said. His experiences as a writer-instructor at the U.S. Army Field Artillery School proved to be a good introduction to teaching. “Many of the basic principles of lesson planning and teaching young officers are the same as teaching adolescents,” he said. His experiences as a leader in the military and working for many leaders have informed his practices as a leader in FCPS.
Tony has worked with FCPS for nearly 13 years. Thank you for your continued service to the future of our country!
Thomas Mawson, cafeteria manager at Freedom Hill Elementary School, previously served in both the U.S. Navy and Air Force. He is used to preparing meals for many, as he was the food service supervisor at Dover Air Force Base.
In 2017, he was part of a team that competed for the prestigious Hennessey Award among food service units in all branches of the military. His unit came in first place. “We met top restaurant personnel and members of some of the country's top restaurants,” he shared.
Other positions he led in the military include being a readiness instructor and mortuary specialist.
For Thomas, working for FCPS felt like “home” as he grew up in Herndon and attended Clearview and Dranesville elementary schools and Herndon Middle School.
Thank you, Thomas, for continuing to fuel our nation!
Ashley Allee, a teacher at Groveton Elementary School, is a former U.S. Air Force aircraft mechanic. Ashley joined the military to attend college and become a teacher.
“Although I thought it was just a means to an end, my military service was a pivotal chapter in my life, shaping me into the educator I am today,” she said. “Through my time in the Air Force, I learned invaluable lessons in discipline, patience, and the importance of humor in fostering a positive work environment.”
While her unit was deployed in the Middle East, an aircraft landed with significant damage. Ashley’s sergeant was stateside, and she was the only structural mechanic available for repairs.
“I suddenly found myself leading a team of sergeants, officers, and civilian engineers,” she said. “Despite my relatively low rank, I took on the role of the lead structural mechanic, effectively leading this cross-functional team. I understood that the success of the operation hinged on leveraging the expertise of my team members and facilitating collaborative planning sessions. This experience ignited a newfound confidence in my leadership abilities.”
Ashley shared that her military experience “profoundly influences” her teaching.
“Each year, I strive to establish a structured yet enjoyable learning environment,” she said. “I am committed to identifying and nurturing the individual strengths of my students while fostering the development of new skills. My goal is that each of my students come to my classroom each day with the belief that their potential has no limits.”
Thank you, Ashley, for inspiring our students every day.
FCPS employees: Are you a military veteran? We would love to share your story! Email us at [email protected] to share photos and tell us what brought you to FCPS and how your military career influenced or impacted the work that you do now. Your story may be shared in a follow-up blog.