Interview By Mariya Ilyas
What are your plans after retirement?
I will leave West Potomac on June 26 and leave the next Monday for Estonia to see the huge song festival (30,000 voices) that happens there once every four years. Then I come back to work with Assistant Superintendent Kim Dockery in Fairfax County Public School’s central office until September 1. Beginning in September I will be travelling, visiting friends and family, caring for my grandchildren, and going through about 365 boxes that are in my house. During the time that I have been at West Potomac I have lost my mother, my mother-in-law, and two of my favorite uncles. I have many of their things, plus boxes from my own activities that I haven’t had time to sort.
Describe your experience as principal of WP in one word.
I can’t do it. Every day is different and every day was Exciting – Rewarding – Loving
How have you seen WP change over the four years?
I’ve been the principal of West Potomac for five years. I’ve seen it move from a school in crisis toward a more caring and respectful community. My first year here there were fights between big, rude, and angry kids in the building, even some parents and some gang intimidation. Teachers and students told me that they were afraid in the halls. There are still problems that come to us every day, but people now realize that this is a safe learning environment and we are determined to keep it that way. We have very many outstanding teachers and students. The community feels welcomed in the school.
What do you feel your biggest mistake as principal was, if any?
I should have pushed a little harder to make sure that the teachers moved more quickly and aggressively into Professional Learning Communities. Some departments moved more easily into those patterns than others. Some departments are still not able to take full advantage of such collaboration.
What is the funniest/craziest thing that has happened at WP in your opinion?
One of my favorite funny stories that I tell over and over again happened within the first couple of weeks that I was principal. I was upstairs in Quander just as the bell rang for class to begin. The hall cleared almost immediately except for two very tall boys who were standing in front of an open locker next to a classroom. As I walked closer to them I said, “Come on, guys, get to class.” One of the boys immediately responded, “OK, our class is right here,” and he closed the locker as I passed them. I listened as I walked down the hall to see if I heard the classroom door open and close. I heard the second boy say, “Who’s that?” The first boy responded, “That’s the principal.” “Principal of what?” “She’s the principal of the whole school.” There was a moment’s pause and the second boy said, “She can’t be the principal of the whole school. She’s too short.”The classroom door opened and closed and they were gone. I laughed all the way down to my office.
What advice would you give the new principal?
What a lot of expertise there is in this school and this community!! Work hard. Listen actively and openly to everyone in the community. And most of all, love your students and staff!! They’re an amazing group of people and together you can accomplish wondrous things!!
How do you want to be remembered?
With kudos and love for a job well done.
Special to The Wire
Current Thomas Jefferson High School administrator Cliff Hardison was selected to become our school’s new principal, following Rima Vesilind’s resignation on July 1, 2009.
The decision was announced in a letter to students and faculty on May 22. Hardison served as the Director of Student Services at our school from 1992-1997. “I left with a specific purpose of becoming a principal, to become a better leader,” Hardison said. The best part about our school is the open horse-shoe shaped campus that allows students to get fresh air, he said.
WPA Fashion Show Event: On May 16, our school’s Fashion Design classes debuted their runway collection, All for the Love of Design in our school. All of the clothes were designed by the graduating level-two students. The show featured models from CW television network’s America’s Next Top Model and Miss Washington, DC 2008. The show was hosted by CW television personality and Evolution Look owner Paul Wharton, in which a part of the proceeds from the show was donated to the Heart of America charity.
WPA Design Week: On May 18, our school’s Pro Graphics class had launched the first Design Week for the metro area. The Design Week centers attention to the ways that design figures everyday life and to support those interested in the industry. The event was created through support from the educators in design, design organizations and related companies. To find more information about events from the Pro Graphics class visit www.freshpickedstudio.com.
Summer Enrichment Programs and Courses: Each high school is offering summer programs that will support students who need either credit recovery or Standards of Learning (SOL) remediation or those who are in the English Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) program. Fairfax County Public School’s (FCPS) will also offer new courses through its Online Campus. The course dates will differ depending on the program. The summer academic programs are reliant upon final approval of the FCPS budget by the School Board on May 21, according to fcps.net.
West Potomac Hosting Tennis Tournament: It was tennis week for the first three weeks in May at our school. During those three weeks our school hosted the Patriot District Boys Tennis Tournaments and the Northern Region Girls Tennis Tournament. The Boys Singles was able to place in the top six teams in two of the games. While the Girls Singles and Doubles just did not make it into the third round.
Special to The Wire
Physics and math teachers Garrett Hubbard and Allison Satterwhite will be bringing new ideas to the National Honor Society (NHS) next year as the society’s new sponsors.
Hubbard and Satterwhite chose to sponsor the organization at the request of Christine Spaulding, one of the current sponsors. They also are excited to work with the NHS students as a way of promoting the values that NHS stands for and improving the community. “…I think NHS is a great organization…I look forward to working with them,” said Hubbard. “Second, I am looking forward to sending threatening letters to kids who don’t complete their service hours.”
After many disputes the Fairfax County Public School’s (FCPS) grading scale has been changed to a ten point grading scale.
After many parents of students have voiced their complaints about the FCPS grading scale the School Board debated over the subject of changing the grading scale. FCPS staff and parents collaborated to come , up with a grading scale that works for all. According to fcps.net, the School Board announced on May 7, that the grading scale will be changed to a ten point grading scale including pluses and minuses. This scale will be put into action during the 2009-2010 school year. By using this scale, the grade point average (GPA) should increase for all students, especially for students taking Advance Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and honors classes.
“Did you see that game last night?” Depending on the season, the team, and, of course, its record, that question echoes around not only school walls, but around the area. Most recently we have experienced such a sports following from the Capitals and their Stanley Cup Playoff series. However, a fair few of those same fans actually care about the team when they are not doing as well.
This May, the women’s crew team initiated the freshmen and novice girls, new to the team this season. My freshmen year on crew, our boat was never initiated, and my boat mates always regretted never having that experience whenever we saw a new group of rowers initiated into the crew team; the juniors and sophomores on my boat recalled their initiations as some of their fondest memories of their first year on crew. For many rowers on our team, and likely most athletes in all the other sports teams at our school as well, initiation is seen as a right of passage and a bonding experience —a way to welcome the newest set of athletes to the team.