Superintendent's Weekly Reflections

By Dr. Michelle C. Reid
Superintendent's Messages
June 10, 2024

Hello Team FCPS!

I trust you have been able to get out and enjoy the beautiful and warming late spring days. This is such an exciting time of year as we celebrate our students’ accomplishments and their plans for next steps. While we are all preparing for the end of the school year, including the programs and celebrations to mark major milestones for our students, many of us are also busy preparing for the FCPS  2024-25 school year. I so appreciate each of you and your thoughtful input as we prepare for our end of year traditions and our new year plans; together all things are possible.   

Last Monday was off to an exciting and energizing start as I attended graduations for Marshall High School (go Statesmen!!), Robinson Secondary School (go Rams!!), Mountain View High School (go Timberwolves!!), the AIM (Achievement, Integrity, and Maturity) program (go students!!), and Lewis High School (go Lancers!!).

Though I was unable to attend Annandale High School’s graduation on Monday, I wanted to share the story of Annandale student (now alum!) Sosan, pictured below, speaking at the graduation ceremony. Sosan, who is an Afghan immigrant, co-founded the Dunya Club (which means “world” in Farsi) along with Husna Basiri.

Annandale HS Class of 2024 alum and co-founder of Dunya Club Sosan speaking at her graduation

The Dunya Club exemplifies Goal 2 of our 2023-30 Strategic Plan: Safe, Supported, Included, and Empowered, for students who have fled war or other instability in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ukraine, Russia, and Central America. The club offers enriching cultural experiences, academic support, and camaraderie. Though Sosan and Husna plan to attend George Washington University this fall, their legacy (you can read more about the club here) will continue, thanks to other students who will carry on its important work. Our students will continue to lead us! Go Atoms!!

On Monday morning, prior to the graduations, I attended a meeting for TalentReady teams, which are working to expand career pathways and foster skill pipelines for our region’s young people. We have much to consider as we prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow! Our area has a high concentration of cybersecurity, next-gen software development, and cloud and edge computer jobs. There’s also a high concentration of unfilled positions in general computer occupations, healthcare diagnostics and treatment, and other management occupations. In particular, the unfilled need for healthcare workers is high in our region and presents an opportunity for more collaboration between schools and healthcare systems. Providing our students with early exposure to and meaningful engagement opportunities for different career fields is part of our 2023-30 Strategic Plan’s Goal 5: Leading for Tomorrow’s Innovation. Our division will continue to partner with organizations and industries to support work-based learning and career readiness. This work matters!! 

Fairfax HS Class of 2024 throws their caps during graduation

On Tuesday I went to graduations for Fairfax High School (go Lions!!), McLean High School (go Highlanders!!), and Westfield High School (go Bulldogs!!). Though each part of a graduation is special and important, I always find myself captivated by the cap toss. What a fabulous metaphor as our students embark on the next chapter of their lives. The sky’s the limit for our young people!!

Willow Springs ES' Willow World News

I’d like to spotlight Diana Martin and her fourth grade class at Willow Springs Elementary School, which created a print newspaper for the school called Willow World News (shown above). Diana says, “Students brainstormed ideas for articles and questions to ask at interviews. They learned how to send a letter or email to request interviews. They wrote, revised, and edited their articles, and early finishers acted as layout editors, putting it together on Canva. I like doing projects such as this because it is writing for an authentic audience, it covers many aspects of language arts, and my students are learning to be communicators and collaborators.” The newspaper included stories on the school’s upcoming renovation and a recent Spirit Day basketball game, teacher spotlights, riddles, a crossword puzzle, and a personality quiz. Thanks for sharing, Diana! Go Foxes!!

This week, we learned that 13 students from six high schools have been named winners of scholarships from $500 to $2,000 from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). These FCPS winners are part of a group of approximately 2,900 National Merit Finalists chosen to receive scholarships in 2024, financed by higher education institutions. 

In a Fairfax Inspires moment, congratulations to Susanne Cook, a speech-language pathologist at Lake Braddock Secondary School, who received the Deso Weiss Award from the Stuttering Foundation at last month’s 2024 World Conference on Stuttering and Cluttering in Austin, Texas. The award recognizes excellence in the field of cluttering, which is a disorder of speech and language. People who clutter speak at an irregular rate and may have unclear or disorganized speech, making it difficult for others to understand them. Recent estimates suggest that around 1.1% to 1.2% of school-aged children clutter. The Deso Weiss Award is only given out every two to four years, and Susanne is only the seventh recipient of this award! 

Beyond her academic pursuits, Susanne’s impactful teaching and clinical practice have left a memorable mark on the field. Through conducting workshops and providing diagnostic and therapeutic services in various settings, she has demonstrated unwavering dedication to enhancing the quality of life for individuals with stuttering and cluttering. Her commitment to advocacy and education is further evidenced by her involvement in professional associations, where she has served in various roles, including chair-elect and chair of the International Cluttering Association.

On Wednesday I also attended the graduation ceremonies for Centreville High School (go Wildcats!!), Herndon High School (go Hornets!!), and Edison High School (go Eagles!!). These celebrations continue to inspire me with the timeless traditions of excellence and the sense of completion, this work matters. 

Dr. Reid at the Woodson HS Class of '24 graduation

As we’re in full swing this graduation season, I want to thank everyone who has supported our learners in achieving this important milestone. This includes not only our teachers, administrators, and principals, but each and every staff member who has guided and cheered on our students in ways big and small. This work matters!!

Dr. Reid at an FCPS Class of '24 graduation

On Thursday there were graduation ceremonies for West Springfield High School (go Spartans!!), Woodson High School (go Cavaliers!!), and Justice High School (go Wolves!!). Again, our students, staff and families demonstrated so many attributes of future success. 

On Thursday afternoon I attended the Fairfax County Retired Educators (FCRE) scholarship luncheon. The FCRE awards these annual scholarships to deserving students who are pursuing the field of education, helping to pass the torch of teaching from one generation to the next. We’re grateful for the FCRE’s support and recognition of our wonderful students — and we do hope our aspiring educators will help ignite that same passion for teaching in their own students right here in FCPS!

On Thursday night I stopped by the first Annual International Night at Cherry Run Elementary School, which is led by Principal Mark Bibbee. The fair concluded a weeklong celebration that featured “Where I am from” posters (Monday), a celebration parade where students dressed in cultural attire (Tuesday), a cultural assembly that celebrated dances and music from around the world (Wednesday), and then the fair itself after school on Thursday.

Dr. Reid at Cherry Run ES' International Night

Twenty-four different cultures were represented at stations around the cafeteria, and students were given “passports” to visit each of the countries/cultures. When they visited a country, their passports were stamped! Each culture shared their foods, music, and interesting facts, and many dressed in their native clothing. It was an amazing sight to see! This fits in well with the 2023-30 Strategic Plan’s Goal 2: Safe, Supported, Included, and Empowered. Go Cardinals!!   

As we headed into the weekend, our proud graduates were still going strong across the division. I attended ceremonies for Chantilly High School (go Chargers!!), Falls Church High School (go Jaguars!!), South Lakes High School (go Seahawks!!), and on Saturday evening, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (go Colonials!!).

Throughout this week’s graduations, I’ve been so proud of the hard work our entire community has put into getting our students across the finish line. It’s a special privilege to see the pride and joy on the faces of our FCPS families and staff as our students walk across the stage. It’s the end of one chapter, and the very beginning of the next, as our young people go out into the world and find their way. Go class of 2024!!

Dr. Reid with staff and students at the 2024 Asian Leadership Alliance Scholarship Banquet

On Friday, I attended the second annual Asian Leadership Alliance Scholarship Banquet. Congratulations to our scholarship recipients! We can’t wait to see what they accomplish! And thank you to the Asian Leadership Alliance for supporting and recognizing the hard work of our talented students! Go Class of 2024!

Let's celebrate the tremendous success of our first-ever FCPS Summer Extravaganza!  Learning Together: Celebrating Community at FCPS Summer Extravaganza! Held on Saturday, June 1, 2024 at Woodson High School, the event brought together over 900 participants. Students, families, staff, and community partners enjoyed a day of fun, learning, and community building. A special thank you to the Cavaliers of Woodson High School for their exceptional hospitality. Their support allowed us to create a welcoming environment where families could enjoy a variety of interactive and engaging learning activities designed to inspire curiosity and a love of learning. More than 50 activities were offered, along with valuable resources from FCPS offices and community organizations.

FCPS' Summer Extravaganza '24 attendees

The event fostered a true sense of community, allowing families to connect and prepare for the summer months. We are grateful to the 24 staff and  22 student volunteers who gave their time and effort, earning valuable community service hours while contributing to the success of the event.  This work, led by the Intercultural Engagement Team in the CXO office, is just one example of what a community can do when we collaborate, depend on each others’ expertise, and celebrate the reason we are all here - each and every one of our students. The overwhelming success of the Summer Extravaganza sets the stage for future events that will continue to strengthen the connection between FCPS and the community we serve, this work matters.

On Saturday I checked in on our instructional job fair at Oakton High School. There were many enthusiastic candidates, and I hope to see some of the same faces back with us as educators next school year. I’m told that more than 150 offers were extended! In service of our students and to provide consistent access to quality educators, Fairfax County Public Schools’ Human Resources Department hosted its fourth in-person instructional hiring event. 310 candidates as well as representatives from 70 campuses were present at Oakton High School, engaging in on-the-spot interviews and learning more about campus-based career opportunities. In addition to school and division leaders, representatives from Benefits, Salary Services, Licensure, the Substitute Office, professional advocacy groups, and several instructional departments were in attendance, providing real-time access to information about joining the division.

 FCPS Instructional Job Fair at Oakton HS

FCPS university and alternative licensure partners were also represented, providing candidates high-quality pathways to becoming licensed educators. Thank you to our Human Resources team for all of their work in attracting and recruiting top talent, which is Pillar C of our 2023-20 Strategic Plan: Diverse, Adaptive, and Supported Workforce. This work matters!!

Following the job fair, I took the opportunity to travel to Richmond and support several of our athletic teams.  It continues to be inspiring to be a part of so many special events.  I loved watching the Robinson SS boys and girls lacrosse teams compete for state titles and appreciate the athleticism and sportsmanship of both teams.  I continue to be so proud of our student athletes, our staff who support them, and their accomplishments. 

I also appreciated the opportunity to watch the state baseball championship between South Lakes HS and McLean HS. It was a great game, fiercely fought and well won.  I know there are so few moments of this nature and cherish all the experiences I am able to be a part of in even small ways.  Thank you to all the student athletes, coaches, athletic directors, principals, parents and support staff that make these experiences possible, it matters. 

And so, as I contemplate the waning days of this epic school year, I am reminded of the many and inspiring ways in which each of you showed up this year. You each did the amazing, loving, and transformational work of educating our next generation and nurturing the passion for learning we are committed to in Our House – our FCPS House.  Dr. Martin Shaw best captures this sentiment; “There’s nothing “ordinary” about decency, courage under fire, compassion, tenacity, lion-heartedness, and that is what is being called forth in a moment – a deeply mythic moment – like this.”  Thank you for repeatedly seizing the moment over the course of the past year and making the most of every opportunity we have experienced. I continue to learn so much from each of you; together all things are possible…

All the best and take good care,

Michelle Reid, Ed.D.

Fairfax County Public Schools