Thank You, Outstanding Principals!

By Office of Communications
Employee News
January 10, 2024

Virginia School Principals Week is Sunday, January 14, to Saturday, January 22. In this blog, read about two of FCPS' outstanding principals! 

Working Tirelessly to Meet Every Need

“Just as superheroes work for the betterment of society, April's commitment to the Garfield community extends beyond the school walls,” said Candace Hunstad, principal of Herndon Elementary about her colleague, Garfield Principal April Cage. “She has worked tirelessly to ensure each student has their basic and academic needs met.” 

And her support doesn’t stop there. She once noticed a student wasn’t feeling confident because she didn’t know how to take care of her curly, natural hair. Cage knew just which staff member would be able to help her. The third grade teacher met the student on a Sunday afternoon to help the student learn how to style and care for her hair. 

Principal dances with studentsCage also gave a basketball jersey her son outgrew to a student who loved basketball. When she found out that a student was unable to go trick-or-treating because her family could not afford a costume, Cage brought in one of the costumes she had at home.  

She has maintained relationships with local churches and community groups to provide food, books, school supplies, and other materials for all students. 

Cage was named Outstanding Principal at last year’s FCPS Honors ceremony. In addition to serving students and their families, she was nominated for the respect she shows to her teaching staff. 

“She sees students’ potential rather than their shortcomings and [also] ensures her staff is equipped with the skills and disposition they need to support students,” said JoVon Rogers, principal of Mount Vernon High School. 

Cage also has high expectations while encouraging collaboration and result-oriented plans. Rogers shared that she led her teachers in improving the scores of students in special education at Bonnie Brae Elementary from a 63% pass rate to a 93% pass rate.

“She inspires everyone she meets, and her enthusiasm for education is contagious,” her Outstanding Principal nomination stated. 

“I can tell you firsthand that her desire is for others to succeed and to inspire others to love their job,” said Sierra Johnson, a teacher at Garfield. “Mrs. Cage is always thinking of her entire staff and students; always addressing their social emotional needs as well as academic needs.”

Additionally, she serves as a mentor to her colleagues. “I honestly could not imagine navigating the principalship without her counsel, guidance, support, and mentorship,” Hunstad said when nominating Cage for the FCPS Honors award. 

Cage has been a teacher since 1999 and a principal since 2016.


Principal hugs young children.
Eagle View Elementary School Principal KJ An hugs a group of young students. 

Outstanding New Principal Fosters LOVE and Connection

Eagle View Elementary School Principal KJ An knows how anxious a young student might become if they don’t feel included. As an English learner and product of an FCPS education herself, An knows how much students can benefit from ESOL services and trusting adult relationships. She experienced severe anxiety and was selectively mute for portions of her educational journey. Now, she works to help students who speak other languages to feel valued. She asks them to help her learn words in their home language. 

“Given her background and story, she prioritizes getting to know our students, family, staff, and community individually,” An’s FCPS Honors nomination form stated. “She recognizes the importance of fostering a school community where diversity is not only valued but celebrated.”

An was recognized in 2023 as FCPS’ Outstanding New Principal. She began her education career as a kindergarten teacher at Eagle View when the school opened in 2006. She taught there for 10 years as a kindergarten, first grade, and third grade teacher. After leaving for several years to serve as an assistant principal, she returned to Eagle View in 2022. 

As an administrator, An took more time to listen than to speak, her nomination form said. This helps her make genuine connections with staff members, students, families, and the larger Eagle View community. She leverages these trusting relationships to manage both students and staff members effectively. 

“She is direct and efficient when necessary, but recognizes when people need to feel heard and validated,” her nominator said. “KJ provides constant appreciation and reinforcement to our staff members.” Examples of her appreciation include ‘glad notes’ that she writes each day to recognize small things people do to support students. She posts notes in staff bathrooms and demonstrates a caring demeanor for all.  

Recognizing that her staff have lives outside of the school, she pitches in to help solve last-minute needs. “She is approachable and at every meeting she attends demonstrates an active role with the team members involved,” her nominator stated. “Anytime she sets an expectation for staff members, she ensures the support exists.”

An opened the school year at Eagle View with a theme of LOVE (laughter, openness, validation, encouragement), and she models each of these values. She greets many students at dropoff and pickup each day with hugs. 

“KJ exudes positivity,” her nomination stated. “Regardless of the circumstances, KJ models a calm and positive demeanor with professionalism at the forefront of every meeting and conversation.”

An ensures she schedules time to visit students in the classroom each day to read to classes, engage with students, and always be visible and build trusting relationships. 

“It's important to KJ that our students feel welcomed, heard, and have a sense of belonging when they come to Eagle View each day,” her nominator said. 

Reading Specialist Amiee Anthony has known An for 18 years, first as a colleague, and now as her administrator. “It is because I know her so well that I can say this: KJ An is one of the warmest, most humble, reflective, thoughtful, and loving people I have ever met,” she said. “What makes Mrs. An sparkle and shine is her ability to connect with students, families, and colleagues. It is remarkable to hear how much she remembers about her former students — their strengths, family members, funny stories about them, and their interactions with other students.”