Superintendent's Weekly Reflections – Fairfax County Public Schools

Hello Team FCPS!
What a great weekend we have enjoyed!! I love the very Seattle-like weather ;>)  This week I explored many opportunities across FCPS – opportunities for students to engage in planning for the future, opportunities to build community, and a fun opportunity to make healthy food choices!  We have so many reasons to be grateful…
Early in the week, I met students and members of the military participating in the “Growing Your Career” event at the National Museum of the United States Army. The event focused on careers that offer paid apprenticeships, internships, and fellowships. The Adult and Community Education (ACE) program was onsite to share the many opportunities we offer to learn while you earn! ACE offers apprenticeship classes in electrical, HVAC, plumbing, construction, carpentry and heavy equipment. These are skilled trades that pay well and have many opportunities in today’s job market. If you know someone who is interested in ACE apprenticeships, more information can be found on our website.  We are also excited to continue our partnership with the Troops to Teachers Program. 

I was also honored this week to be asked to participate in a “Let’s Talk” panel with students who run the Student Human Rights Commission. The commission is composed of high school students with a mission to promote dialogues on diversity and to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of differences. Learning happens best in community and communities come together when we embrace and engage in understanding our differences, instead of using them to divide us. I am so proud of this group of young people for taking up this charge. Our students will continue to lead us!
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I’m excited about how many people are taking the opportunity to register for one of the upcoming community forums. Check out the schedule of Community Forums and influence the direction of FCPS’ Strategic Plan, prior to its completion and formal adoption by the School Board. Strategic planning materials were released this week for key communicators. The first round of division-wide student focus groups (grades 3-12) will be taking place between February 6-9. We are so grateful to principals who have nominated students in grades 3-6 for and to all of the students in grades 7-12 who have expressed interest in participating. We encourage everyone to continually check out the Strategic Planning website to review the student perception data results and materials from the convenings to date; together all things are possible. 
Wednesday, I visited London Towne Elementary School at lunchtime to see the relaunch of salad bars in school cafeterias! Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) is returning and adding salad bars to all 142 elementary schools in the coming months, starting with our Title 1 schools. The students were thrilled to see the colorful array of fruits and vegetables in the salad bar. Fan favorites included broccoli with cheese and green salad with ranch dressing. One young student athlete told me she hopes eating carrots improves her eyesight and her volleyball game! Principal Wiatta Padmore helped students navigate the options on the salad bar and encouraged everyone to try something new. Our children learn better when they have access to healthy food. Thank you to all the food service workers and school staff who made the return of salad bars a huge success. Your work matters!
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Thursday brought new and collaborative leadership opportunities as we had the opportunity to host the Washington Area School Study Council.  This is a group of superintendents, both current and retired, who regularly gather to support the work of school divisions in the DMV.  Many of the superintendents in our region gathered as we heard from AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech.  It continues to be a great reminder of all the wisdom and experience I continue to be grateful to share ideas with as we plan and work forward together. 
Friday evening, I had the pleasure of attending the Air Force Junior ROTC dining out event.  It was an inspiring evening as I joined the Chantilly Academy Air Force Junior ROTC 22nd Annual Awards Ceremony and Change of Command.  During the dinner I had the opportunity to get to know two of our amazing cadets and their families – Cadet Winter Grimes and Cadet Deborah Chung.  I continue to be so impressed and inspired by the commitment to excellence and passion for service that our young people share.  We are in good hands as we contemplate our future as a community and as a country; together all things are possible.
Finally, I wanted to share a photo of the 14th Annual Chinese New Year Festival last weekend at Luther Jackson Middle School to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit. Festivities kicked-off with a rousing lion dance parade, followed by youngsters reciting Chinese poetry, a fantastical magic show, and an exciting Taekwondo demonstration.  As a community we have so many reasons to be grateful.  
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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.
Warmest Regards,
Michelle Reid, Ed.D.
Fairfax County Public Schools


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