Thoreau Matters - September 13th Issue

Message from Mr. Azimi

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Dear Thoreau Community:

First of all, it was wonderful to see hundreds and hundreds of Thoreau parents/guardians at our Back-to-School Night last Wednesday.  I wanted to extend my sincere appreciation to those parents who attended to meet our dedicated teachers and staff.  For anyone not able to make it, here is the YouTube video of the Thoreau administration and PTA president welcoming our parents back to the new school year.   

As I do each year in Thoreau Matters, I will every so often update you on instructional initiatives that are multi-year focal points for our school.  These items include project-based learning and our executive functioning program known as Steps to Success.  We started these initiatives two years ago and we are in the 3rd year of a three-year plan implementing both of them.  I would use Thoreau Matters in the past to update the community regarding our progress in each of these areas and I will continue to do the same this year.  Instruction is at the core of what we do and I hope you will find my brief updates in Thoreau Matters to be useful in staying informed as to what is going on at Thoreau from a school-wide perspective. 

Finally, Eagle Time has started and it is a daily 40-minute period for all of our students.  It is listed as 4th and 5th periods on the students’ schedules.  Eagle Time is used for five main reasons:

  1. Intervention (teachers helping students who are academically struggling along the way)
  2. Remediation (teachers going back to assist students who did not meet learning standards)
  3. Organization (students organizing their binders, notebooks, lockers, etc.)
  4. Work Completion (students completing assignments, making up assessments, etc.)
  5. Enrichment (students extending their own learning) 

A great question for a Thoreau parent to ask a student is, “How did you use Eagle Time today?”  With 200 available minutes at our students’ disposal each full week, Eagle Time is the perfect opportunity for students to keep up with their academics, get extra support and/or move ahead in their learning.    


Yusef Azimi

Upcoming Important Dates

  • Wednesday, September 19th, 3-hour early release day dismissal at 11:15 AM
  • Monday, September 24th, First day of after-school programs and late buses

Art class 1

Thoreau art students have a collaborative challenge to build

the tallest, sturdiest, free-standing sculpture.

After-School Programs and Late Buses

After-school programs and buses will begin at Thoreau on Monday, September 24th.  Program information will be available during the week of September 17th via our website, FCPS 24-7 (Blackboard), the PTA newsletter, Eagle News (our morning news show), and will be published in future issues of Thoreau Matters.

Capital One Coders Middle School Initiative

The Thoreau Middle School After-School Program is partnering with Capital One to bring an exciting enrichment opportunity to our students.  The Capital One Coders Middle School Initiative is a 10-week program designed to teach middle school students introductory software development skills in a fun and engaging environment. Most excitingly, students create working mobile apps that they can share with their friends and families!

This activity will meet on Thursdays from September 27th through December 6th (no meeting on November 22nd).  The program will run from 2:25 PM until 4:05 PM.  Students will be able to take a late bus home.  The program will conclude with a celebration event and App Challenge at the Capital One headquarters in McLean in December 2018 or January 2019 (date TBD). Due to the popularity of this program and limited space, a lottery system will be used to determine the students who will participate in the program.  Applications of students who can commit to attending all ten sessions will be given priority.  Applications are available in the main office and on the Thoreau Activities site on FCPS 24/7 (Blackboard) as of Monday, September 10th.  Students should complete the application and return it to the main office or Ms. Shannon Campbell no later than Monday, September 17th.  Students will receive notification of acceptance by Friday, September 21st . 

Thomas Jefferson HS Science and Technology (TJHSST)

There will be an information session for families interested in learning about the application process for TJHSST on Thursday, September 20th, at 2:45 PM in Eagle Hall at Thoreau.  The application window for TJHSST is open now and will close on Friday, September 28th at 4:00 PM.  The entrance test day is Saturday, November 10th.  Information about the application process can also be found here.

FCPS Mental Health and Wellness Conference

FCPS will host the 5th annual Mental Health and Wellness Conference on Saturday, September 29th, from 8:00 AM - 1:30 PM.  The event will take place at Fairfax High School, 3501 Rebel Run, Fairfax, Virginia 22030.  This flyer provides information about the keynote speaker and details about the conference. Teens, parents, coaches, educators, mental health providers, and community and faith-based organizations that work with teens are invited to participate.  Registration for the event can be found here

Navy Federal Credit Union 5K Run/Walk

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) will hold its 9th Annual 5K Run/Walk promoting the wellness of it's employees, as well as members and residents of our local community. NFCU supports our community by donating the proceeds to local charities like The Committee for Helping Others.  Register at this link and select the drop-down at the top of the page for Vienna.  As a side note, NFCU has been Thoreau's loyal business partner for over 28 years now.

Thoreau Health Room Volunteer Training Opportunity

There is a one-time training provided by the Fairfax County Health Department that is required for anyone volunteering in the Thoreau school health room.  The training is Wednesday, October 17th, from 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM, at the Annandale District Office, Heritage Building. The location is 7611 Little River Turnpike, Suite 400E, Annandale, VA 22003.  No pre-registration is required.

Scoliosis Fact Sheet

Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine.  It occurs in otherwise healthy children and can be a serious health problem if it becomes severe.  As it generally occurs between the ages of ten and 17, FCPS has made this scoliosis fact sheet available to our families to provide addition information about this condition.

Guitar Class 2

Students listening to Mr. McNamara introduce

the guitar in guitar class last week.

Thoreau Theatre Department News

International Thespian Society

Join the International Thespian Society (ITS) which is open to all students. The mission of the Thespian Society is to honor student achievement in theatre arts. The Thoreau theatre society recognizes and rewards excellence among students in the theatre arts program and is a valuable addition to college and employment applications. As members of ITS, students will be honored on an international level and have access to resources beyond those in school.  

Any Thoreau student may join ITS at any time throughout the school year.  ITS meetings will be held on alternating, scheduled Mondays at 2:15 PM in room C107.

International Thespian Honor Society

There will be an interest meeting on Monday, September 24th, from 2:15 PM - 4:30 PM, in room C107.  See for more information.

Auditions for Game of Tiaras Are Coming Soon!

When the aging king of a Magical Kingdom (England) decides to split his empire between his three daughters, Cinderella, Belle, and the Snow Queen (who in no way resembles a copyrighted character), terrible tragedy ensues, terrible, hilarious tragedy. 

Combining the gut-wrenching plot twists of Game of Thrones and the soul-numbing despair of Shakespearean tragedy, this adaptation of King Lear will leave you dying with laughter as the body count mounts.

Auditions will be held after-school on Tuesday, October 2nd, Wednesday, October 3rd and Thursday, October 4th. (This is open only to Thespian Society members.)  See for more information.

2018-2019 Thoreau Yearbook

Our yearbook is on sale now. There are two places to purchase a copy:

  • A generic version can be purchased for $30.00 on
  • A customized version can be purchased at  This site will show the customized prices and options. 

Yearbook prices increase October 1st and again January 1st.  To date we have sold almost 40% of our 850 copies.   

Questions? Please contact Thoreau yearbook sponsor Ms. Galeet BenZion at  

PTA News and Announcements

The Thoreau PTA is hosting a spirit night at Rita’s on Monday, September 17th, from 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM.  The location is 116 Church St. NW, Vienna, Virginia 22180.  Rita’s will donate 20% of their sales to the Thoreau PTA if you present this flyer.

We hope to see you at our first PTA meeting on Thursday, September 20th, at 9:30 AM, at Thoreau.  Mr. Azimi will give us an update from the administration, we will set the budget and activities for the year, and meet our new members and chairs.  

If you haven't already, please consider joining the PTA and help us fund our activities with a donation to our no-fuss fundraiser.  We don't ask your children to sell items or hold large fundraising events, so we appreciate your support through donations.

You can subscribe to the newsletter on the PTA website.  Follow us on Facebook at this link for the most up-to-date information and for the fastest way to find out about new volunteer opportunities.


Emily Korff

Thoreau PTA President 


Thoreau Food Program

In partnership with the PTA, Thoreau Student Services will be packaging and sending home weekend food bags for families in need.  We are looking for donations of non-perishable food items as identified on this Amazon shopping list. For your convenience, these items may be ordered from Amazon and delivered directly to the school. Donations may also be purchased and dropped off in the Thoreau front office to the attention of Director of Student Services Rebecca Aguilar.  Gift cards are also greatly appreciated.

Thoreau School Store

Consider signing-up to help with the school store.  The School Store provides a service to the students and raises funds for the school so your help is greatly appreciated.  Huge thanks to school store chairs Tana Keefe and Pinar Turhan for their efforts!


Please help us welcome new staff to Thoreau for the

2018-2019 school year!

Christina Albert

Ms. Christina Albert, English Teacher

Scott Aldridge

Mr. Scott Aldridge, School Counselor

Trevor Barry

Mr. Trevor Barry, Technology Education Teacher

Jenna Basile

Ms. Jenna Basile, Learning Disabilities Teacher

Kelsie Bittle

Ms. Kelsie Bittle, English Teacher

AJ Blackford

Mr. AJ Blackford, Biology Teacher

Jeanne Cain

Ms. Jeanne Cain, English Teacher

Sydney Carr

Ms. Sydney Carr, Art Teacher

Jeanne Carr

Ms. Jeanne Carr, School Health Room Aide

Linda Chaffee

Ms. Linda Chaffee, Learning Disabilities Teacher

Yasmin Darmani

Ms. Yasmin Darmani, Psychologist

Barbara DeFilippi

Ms. Barbara DeFilippi, Math Teacher

Aeriel Fenstermaker

Ms. Aeriel Fenstermaker, Multiple Disabilities Teacher

Joy Granados

Ms. Joy Granados, Social Worker

Amy Hooymans

Ms. Amy Hooymans, Learning Disabilities Teacher

Jody Jacobs

Ms. Jody Jacobs, General Science Teacher

Sue Lefave

Ms. Sue Lefave, Learning Disabilities Teacher

Tyler McCullock

Mr. Tyler McCullock, Social Studies Teacher

Rosa Merino

Ms. Rosa Merino, Custodian

Emily Morton

Ms. Emily Morton, Librarian

Amie Oehm

Ms. Amie Oehm, Biology Teacher

Frangca Paek

Frangca Paek, School Counselor

Blair Piddington

Mr. Blair Piddington, Health and PE Teacher

Densie Poole

Ms. Denise Poole, Spanish and ESOL Teacher

Ms. Lori Shampang, Math Resource Teacher

Matthew Snell

Mr. Matthew Snell, Learning Disabilities Teacher

Kadon Stabeno

Mr. Kadon Stabeno, Math Teacher

Kristin Suma

Ms. Kristin Suma, Spanish Teacher

Chris Valenti

Mr. Chris Valenti, Social Studies Teacher

Travis Warren

Mr. Travis Warren, Health and PE Teacher