Superintendent's Weekly Reflections

By Dr. Michelle C. Reid
Superintendent's Messages
March 18, 2024

Hello Team FCPS,

Well, spring will officially arrive this week !! I for one am certainly celebrating the drier and warmer weather !! I trust that you will have an opportunity to get outside and feel the sun on your face as the magic of spring unfolds.

Neurodiversity Celebration Week is March 18th to 22nd!  Our Neurodiversity Poster, below, was designed to support FCPS’ equity efforts and foster awareness and appreciation for the diverse spectrum of human uniqueness in all spaces during and extending beyond the week of celebration. 

FCPS Neurodiversity Poster

These posters were delivered to the main offices at every school and center starting March 7th, and digital copies are available to students, staff, families, offices, and community partners. This initiative underscores our sustained commitment to equity, fostering ongoing collaboration, and collective dedication to creating and sustaining spaces of belonging, access, and opportunities. Efforts are underway to translate the poster for multilingual accessibility. Click the link above to print it out and prominently display it in accessible areas such as the main office, library, lobby, or other suitable spaces within your school or center as we remember to celebrate our unique differences!

Tomorrow, March 18, FCPS will be hosting a community conversation at Lake Braddock Secondary School at 6:30 p.m. to raise awareness about the dangers of fentanyl and other drugs. This event is crucial for equipping students, staff, families, and caregivers with essential information and support. We need your help to spread the word about this event among your school community. Together, we can make a meaningful impact on amplifying drug awareness and prevention. This time, we will hear personal stories from a FCPS student and alum about the impact of fentanyl. I am asking each of you to add the information at this link to tomorrow morning's announcement.

Additionally, FCPS is offering an opportunity for high school students to earn 1.5 — or more — service-learning hours. To receive this service learning time, they will need to do three things. First, they must register, attend, and be part of the discussion. Registration is not required but will help us plan. They will also need to check in with FCPS staff at the student registration table at the event. Finally, students must identify one way to raise awareness about the dangers of opioids, fentanyl, and other drugs among their peers, and indicate that action on the “Exit Ticket” which they will receive upon check-in.  I look forward to seeing you tomorrow evening. 

This week, I met with the Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee (which works to close access and achievement gaps). This committee is integral to the work of FCPS; I’m grateful for their commitment to our school division! It was great to be able to share our strategic plan strategy and structure with the committee and receive feedback supporting each and every one of our students; it matters. 

Last week was also time for the Strategic Plan Core Planning Team’s quarterly meeting. This team has members from many different parts of our FCPS community and is a subset of our large 160 member team that guided the work of our strategic plan.  It’s always wonderful to have such broad community representation as we’re implementing our community-centered plan! We continue to provide goal reports and solicit feedback and advisory thoughts as we work to meet our future focused goals. 

On Monday morning I attended a federal budget and national security discussion with Senator Mark Warner and members of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Thank you to our community partners for the engaging conversation on the challenges facing our region; as we work towards common goals, collaboration is key.

Friendly reminder that our 2023-24 Family Engagement Survey is available through this Friday, March 22! If you’re a parent or caregiver, you should have received an email invitation with your own unique survey link from K12 Insight on March 3 (subject line: FCPS Family Engagement Survey).

FCPS Family Engagement Survey

Otherwise, you can use this general survey link. For our members of Team FCPS who spend time with parents and caregivers, please be sure to let them know the importance of taking this survey and encourage them to complete it. Results from this confidential survey are used to deepen our engagement with families and continue building trust as we work in community to support our students’ success. Thank you for helping FCPS better recognize, understand, respect, and address family strengths and needs in our school community! 

Tuesday morning, I visited Fort Belvoir Primary with Principal Zed Jemison and Fort Belvoir Upper with Principal Jennifer Laxton. Both schools serve the families and students of Fort Belvoir.  It was great to have an opportunity to see students working on both literacy and numeracy skills as well as having a bit of fun with the Garrison Commander and students in the gym ;>)

Dr. Reid with Fort Belvoir staff and students

April is the Month of the Military Child, and it’s important to acknowledge the special strengths and unique challenges of our more than 15,000 military-connected students. Thank you to our veterans for their service and sacrifice and thank you to our Fort Belvoir staff for all they do to support our military-connected students! Go Dolphins!!

Tuesday evening, I attended an event for EduTutorVA, now in its fourth year. FCPS’ partnership with EduTutorVA pairs college education majors from 14 Virginia colleges and universities with FCPS students in grades 3-8 for virtual, high-impact tutoring. Beyond providing academic support to our students, this unique program also gives future educators an opportunity to gain teaching experience. EduTutorVA is just one of the tutoring options we offer at no cost to FCPS families as we work to empower each and every one of students to meet their academic potential. I’m grateful to all who help provide this additional support — this work matters!

Dr. Reid celebrates Pi Day at Crestwood ES

Wednesday was Pi Day, one of my favorite holidays! Thank you to Crestwood Elementary School students and staff for inviting me to their Pi Night celebration — the activities and festivities were ins-pi-red!! ;>) Go Owls!!  I also learned some new math games ;>)

Thursday morning the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council (SAC) presented their well-researched recommendations for improving FCPS student outcomes in five key areas, each tied to the Strategic Plan goals and measures. Topics included student attendance, student workload, grading standardization, inclusion for all, and college and career access. This is important work! Many of their recommendations were in line with areas we are already looking to improve, and some of their research and innovative ideas gave us new perspectives to consider as we continue our work. I heard about student experiences with Naviance and rolling gradebook, suggestions for internship work for those who need it, and a wonderful idea for unified courses with multilingual learners and students with disabilities. Thank you to our student leaders for sharing their research, presenting their perspectives, and engaging in thoughtful discussion; it matters! 

This week I met with different groups of both retired and current teachers — both provide important feedback on how FCPS is moving our mission forward! While our teacher associations and the Superintendent Teacher Advisory Council provide timely input on the challenges facing today’s educators, our retired educators have a wealth of experience in ways we can better support our students and educators. Both perspectives are important and I'm grateful to our educators for sharing their ideas. I also connected with members of leadership and administrators this week, through roundtables for both principals and central office leaders, as well as meetings with the Middle School Principals Association and the Fairfax Association of Elementary School Principals.  Together all things are possible.

In news from Corey J. Illes, a Social Studies Teacher with the Lewis Leadership Program at John R. Lewis High School, shared that this past Thursday, “the govt. teachers at Lewis High School took ninety 10th graders to the US Capitol for the 2nd year in a row. The students were able to meet with Rep. Don Beyer’s chief of staff, take a tour of the Capitol, and visit the Exhibition Hall and Democracy Lab. 

Students from the Lewis Leadership Program visit the U.S. Capitol

The highlight of the day was the opportunity to meet with Senator Warner outside on the Senate steps and ask him questions. His staff has been awesome in scheduling a meeting with the Senator for the past 2 years. We hope that this trip to the Capitol will become an annual tradition!” Such a great opportunity for our FCPS students!!

This week I met with the Board of Directors of Educate Fairfax, a nonprofit invested in FCPS’ students and community. Since 2011, Educate Fairfax’s initiatives have made a difference for our division through school supply drives, supporting early literacy, providing grants to our teachers, and more. These types of partnerships help keep our community strong and are represented by Pillar B of our 2023-30 Strategic Plan: Vibrant Home, School, and Community Partnerships.

FCPS’ mission of excellence, equity, and opportunity for each and every student means providing support to students who need it, including at our Title I schools. Grant funding enables Title I schools, students, and families to access additional staff and resources, including after-school programs. This week I met on the topic of after-school programs for Title I schools to further explore how FCPS can provide meaningful educational experiences outside of our classrooms.

Friday evening was the annual Rocky Run versus Franklin middle schools’ basketball games, with both schools’ boys’ and girls’ teams facing off at Chantilly High School. These athletes were giving it their all! Go Falcons and go Rams!! I had a great time tossing the tip off and cheering on the student athletes as they competed in spirited games. 

FCPS Girls Basketball game

Saturday morning I took the opportunity to attend the Annandale Girls Lacrosse Tournament. It was great to see a number of our student athletes competing at a high level and also to learn a bit abut the history of girls lacrosse in FCPS. It was also a beautiful morning to be outside and active ;>)!!

Dr. Reid with 2024 Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair winners

Sunday was the 69th annual Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair, held at Robinson Secondary School; I was thrilled to attend and to address these young scientists and their families during the awards ceremony. There were more than 350 projects showcased, from many different disciplines within the fields of engineering and science. Our students’ ingenuity — and their drive to solve real-world problems — always inspires me!  We must stay curious just a little bit longer…

Though the fair is science-focused, it also enables students to build a variety of “soft” skills. This includes attributes from FCPS’ Portrait of a Graduate, as students must collaborate, communicate, and think creatively during the process of constructing their projects. As students consider the real-world ramifications of their subject matter and potential impact of their research, it also gives them the opportunity to consider their futures as global and ethical community members … As the fair’s annual quote reads: “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” — Jane Goodall.  

Congratulations to all who participated for their hard work. Thank you also to all the staff who worked so hard to prepare our young scientists for this event. The Grand Prize Finalists will travel to Los Angeles in May to compete in the International Science and Engineering Fair — Go Team FCPS!!

Thank you to Scott Pafumi, theatre arts director at Herndon High School, for sharing an FCPS Student Success moment! Scott shared that one of his former students, Jack Norcross (pictured above), recently won an EMMY for his morning news show in Charlotte, North Carolina! Jack got his start in broadcasting when he created a news show (first called “PRIMETIME AT POWERTIME” and later renamed to “HAWK TALK”) with his then-teacher Scott at Herndon Middle School in 2011.

FCPS alum Jack Norcross holding his EMMY award

Scott recalled that “When Jack was in high school, I got him connected to the local Herndon Community TV studio – HCTV.  He went on to study journalism and poli sci at Elon University, class of 2021.” Scott also shared a clip of one of Jack’s early broadcasts — here’s Jack at 14 years old, head news reporter. Now at 25, Jack has an EMMY under his belt! Congratulations to Jack and thank you to Scott for sharing this wonderful story about the power of mentorship and career training; it matters!

In recognition of St. Patrick's Day this weekend, I feel compelled to share a Celtic Quote. "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." -- GB Shaw. As I watch the March Madness basketball selection program, I haven't ruled out taking to the court again ;>)

Enjoy a great March week ahead,

Michelle Reid, Ed.D.
Fairfax County Public Schools