Superintendent's Weekly Reflections

By Dr. Michelle C. Reid
Superintendent's Messages
January 22, 2024

Hello Team FCPS,

Brrr... It has definitely been scarf and mitten weather this past week!! I want to take a moment and especially thank all of our hard-working custodians, maintenance staff, grounds staff, warehouse staff, support services staff, and transportation staff as they kept our students, staff and facilities safe this past week. I also appreciate our office and communications staff as they handled so many front line communications and questions. Many thanks to all the classroom and support staff for their flexibility all week and our principals for their steadfast leadership.

Truly loving the ‘Can Do’ attitude so exemplified by this amazing division family… "A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky—unbidden—and seems like a thing of wonder." – Susan Orlean. Further, there are so many amazing things going on all across this division and the energy is contagious.

Thank you to Herndon Elementary School Principal Candace Hunstad for joining me in some winter weather fun this past Friday!

Dr. Reid enjoys the snow with Herndon ES Principal Candace Hunstad

My heart beats strongest when I’m with our students, families, and staff — even on a cold day outside! Luckily, I had my boots and my gloves with me as we took a turn down the school’s hill and engaged in a short battle to experiment with the aerodynamics of snow. The physics of potential and kinetic energy remain exciting to understand. The proof is in the video

Learning happens best in community. This past week I was able to connect with families during the first meeting with families comprising a division-wide panel at Katherine Johnson Middle School Wednesday night.

 Dr. Reid meets with families at Katherine Johnson MS

These meetings are conversations where I have the chance to share division-wide updates and families can share feedback and concerns about their schools. Thank you to everyone who attended! I’m looking forward to sharing your input and elevating your voices with school leaders across our community. Our students are strongest when we have robust partnerships between families and schools — this work matters! 

This past week, I received a warm welcome at Olde Creek Elementary School this week from Principal Melissa Miller and Student Council officers and members of the Green Team! The students painted a welcome banner, which you can see in the picture below, and were excited to share what they love most about Olde Creek. 

 Dr. Reid with students and staff at Olde Creek ES

As we stepped into classrooms, we were immediately drawn to the focused hum of learning. As we visited Amanda Philip’s fourth grade classroom and Catherine Ly’s third grade classroom during their intervention block time, groups buzzed with determination, teachers nurtured understanding in small groups, and students tackled challenges head-on. Principal Miller told me that Olde Creek is committed to supporting all their learners, as I saw with the innovative use of technology in Maxwell Chin’s Enhanced Autism classroom and the supportive learning environment in Kate Pyatt’s classroom.

The highlight of the visit was undoubtedly meeting the kindergarten ‘Bears’ in Katie Piermatteo and Erin O’Connor’s classrooms. Their boundless energy and focused engagement in skills based small groups and literacy centers was contagious! The colorful student artwork, pictures, and work in the hallways showcased the many talents of our Bears, while the understanding of the PAWS school-wide expectations demonstrated the focus on tier 1 behavior and wellness. As Principal Miller told me, Olde Creek is more than just a building; it is a vibrant community brimming with dedication, inclusivity, and joy.

Check out this fun (and delicious!) math lesson, below. Love the graphing lesson. Different classes were asked to tally how they eat gingerbread people. 

 A tally of which part of a gingerbread man students eat first

No comment on the kindergarten class where most students started with the head! ;>) Go Bears!!

Next, I stopped by Little Run Elementary School with Principal Christie Yarn and Assistant Principal Lesley Hassen. I visited the youngest Roadrunners in preschool through first grade, as they engaged in structured play, worked with Lexia, read independently, and learned in small groups. 

 Dr. Reid with students at Little Run ES

One of the first graders shared their thoughts about making snowmen out of clay, and we talked about what would happen if the snowman was made of snow and came inside — a great reminder that every moment and conversation is an opportunity to engage young learners! I also had the opportunity to connect with a Little Run reading specialist and one of their high-impact tutors, who both have yielded great success by working with small groups.

My last stop at Little Run was in their book room, which has been beautifully revamped to include a variety of decodable books and chapter books that mirror the shelves of a bookstore. What a wonderful way to get students and teachers excited about making their book selections! Go Roadrunners!!

My last school visit of the day was at Wakefield Forest Elementary School with Principal Sharyn Prindle. I visited Fara Klein and Ashley Harrison’s kindergarten classes, as well as Lindsay Teran, Stacy Pekarik, and Ava Massetti’s first grade classrooms.

 Wakefield Forest ES teacher Briana Trone and students

It was a delight to see all these young learners so engaged! The kindergarteners were having indoor recess because of the wintry weather, but I trust they had plenty of opportunities to play outside during our snow day on Friday! ;>) I also visited Briana Trone, a Teacher of the Year finalist, at her classroom. Her first grade students had been working on winter poems. Nature is a wonderful source of inspiration for artists of all ages, as you can see below!

A poem about snow written by a Wakefield Forest ES student

I also had the opportunity to see Wakefield Forest’s brand new office, as the school is in phase two of building an addition and a full school renovation. I continue to so appreciate all those who are continuing school during renovation work. Go Wolves!! 

Wednesday was an all-day joint work retreat with the School Board and Board of Supervisors. Our focus was on the FY 2025 budget and furthering the equity work of 2017’s One Fairfax policy. Our Board of Supervisors is an essential partner in meeting our school division’s mission; together, we’re enabling students and families to thrive across our amazing county! I’ll be presenting FCPS’ proposed budget during our first February School Board meeting. Stay tuned!

On Thursday evening at Luther Jackson Middle School, there was a public hearing for our Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). Funded through taxpayer-approved bond referendums, the CIP is how we strategically build and renovate facilities across our 199 schools and centers. Through this work, our students can learn and grow in safe, healthy, up-to-date buildings. Thank you to everyone who came to the public hearing and shared their perspectives and suggestions on this initiative!

 FCPS employee Ever Menjivar-Diaz with a snow plow

Finally, I’d like to thank our emergency employees for all their hard work in keeping our school grounds clear of snow and safe to access! This includes Ever Menjivar-Diaz, pictured above. He reported to Jackson Middle School at 3 a.m. to help get our schools ready for students. Go Team FCPS!

As we approach another fantastic January week ahead, I find these thoughts inspiring, “There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It's why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.” — Oprah Winfrey. I so appreciate that each of you might contemplate this, and I am so grateful you are called to work and thrive here in FCPS; together all things are possible.

Take good care,

Michelle Reid, Ed.D.
Fairfax County Public Schools