Senior Class Message and TJ Program Enhancements Next School Year

Senior Class Message

Dear Class of 2018 Parents and Students:

On June 9, 2018, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology's Class of 2018 will participate in commencement exercises at Eagle Bank Arena on the George Mason University Campus. I am excited to have you be my "first" graduating class at TJ!  You have impressed me as scholars, competitors, collaborators and humanitarians. Most of all, you take pride and ownership in our school's traditions and you mentor underclassmen in ways that preserve our rich and storied heritage.

Each day brings us closer to only needs to check the daily countdown in the Franklin Commons! While I was not here to experience your TJ firsts, together we will experience many "last" moments with this year's prom, Cake Day, J-Day and tjSTAR. These and other occasions will give the Class of 2018 opportunities to continue to highlight your friendships, enthusiasm, creativity, humor, compassion and energy. You are leaving a positive legacy.

It will be my greatest honor to shake hands on June 9 and confer diplomas as you transition to new pathways.  Students- in these final weeks, especially with exams nearly over, relax, rest, enjoy each moment and make good choices for yourself every day. Families- take time to celebrate your amazing journey. 

Thank you for all you have done to make TJ a special place.  To all Colonials preparing to graduate- I wish you every success and joy in the world.  You've earned it!


Ann N. Bonitatibus


Exciting Program Enhancements Next School Year!

This past year was one filled with self-exploration about our school's needs and desires.  We embraced the importance of mental wellness and balance, studied student workloads, enhanced building security, and continued collaborative efforts that ensured consistency in like-content areas.We also learned how Humanities and the Arts can drive student passions in STEM.

Therefore, we are excited to announce various program enhancements aligned to what we have learned. They are as follows:

  • Exploratory phase for an Integrated Research Lab. Social Studies teacher Brian Field will have a teaching period dedicated to exploring integrated innovations in STEM research labs happening at top universities and STEM high schools throughout the nation. We want to learn how talented STEM students with passions in the Humanities and Arts may integrate their creativity while preserving the rigorous research standards in our senior labs. By the end of next year, the collaborative process led by Mr. Field will yield conclusions and next steps.
  • Writing for Senior Research. We recognize research writing skills taught in IBET might get rusty by the senior year. Our Lab Directors will now be able to work with an English teacher (TBD) who will help coach and support senior lab students who need refreshers with writing. Blending the technical and communications expertise across our school will make a powerful impact on students' senior research!
  • IBET Coordinator. Parents and students have asked if we can look at balancing varied IBET experiences. Our IBET educators are amazing collaborators who have been tasked in recent years with teaching six periods, one period more than other teachers at TJ. Beginning next year, their workload will be decreased by one period, giving them more time to plan together, which also means other teachers will join IBET teams. Therefore, to assist the new teams and ensure programmatic consistency, a teacher (TBD) will have a period to flex throughout the year and provide overall support to the IBET program of study.
  • Mathematics Staffing. Mathematics is a STEM gateway, and as such, learning how to apply mathematics principles can be a challenging transition for students entering TJ. Also, excelling in mathematics at the highest levels can be a stretch. Therefore, we have dedicated additional staffing to the department in an effort to decrease class sizes, personalize instruction, and create more opportunities for flexible grouping to meet student needs.
  • Assessment Coach. This is a current teacher position with a new focus.  Assessment techniques for gifted and accelerated learners have evolved over the years. When we design fewer tests with creative options that go more in depth, we extend opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in authentic ways that will translate to college and the work force. 
  • Challenge Success. While the above enhancements support our STEM mission, we are ever mindful of the whole child. Mental wellness and life balance will continue to be a school goal.  As previously announced, we will send a team comprised of TJ staff, students and a parent to Stanford University this fall to develop strategies aligned with our wellness goals. Mark Forgash, current student support teacher in the Department of Student Services, will be the team leader.

The program enhancements described above are important and meaningful responses to community learnings this year. They also provide new growth points for teachers and students. Consequently, staffing configurations shift.

Much thought and heart goes into making difficult decisions, and a few questions have arisen about the nature of part-time positions. Ideally, full-time positions build strength and continuity in our community when teachers are present for each student, every colleague and all parents- each day, all day. Part-time options are best reserved for specialized areas or in instances where we simply do not have a need for a full-time position. Note: combining part-time staffing models does not mean courses get canceled. Rather, a full-time teacher is assigned those classes.

As a research school, we are committed to studying, evolving and serving a dynamic student population whose needs are transforming each year. Simultaneously, we are distributing leadership and growth opportunities among a talented and unparalleled faculty.

Thank you for supporting new initiatives that you identified as being important to our school. 

Eating Disorders Parent FAQ

Virginia Public Schools are required to provide on an annual basis parent educational information regarding eating disorders for pupils in grades five through twelve.  According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA 2013), “Thirty million Americans will struggle with an eating disorder and millions more will battle food and body image issues at some point in their lives. Eating disorders are real, complex, and devastating conditions that can have serious consequences for health, productivity and relationships. They are not a fad, phase, or lifestyle choice. Eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that affect a person’s emotional and physical health.”

In collaboration with the Fairfax County Health Department, FCPS has developed eating disorder documents with detailed information to be provided to all parents and guardians. Click this link to access the webpage containing parent fact sheet: Eating Disorder Parent Letter and Fact Sheet .