Welcome Back To School

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Tamara Derenak Kaufax

Welcome Back!

It's been a busy start to the new school year. I was happy to meet some of you at the recent Back-To-School events. Here is a short video I shared with Lee District schools to welcome everyone back: https://youtu.be/6EuSV8TKScg.

Two of our Lee District elementary schools received backpacks and school supplies to help students start off the new school year with the right tools.

Just a few weeks ago, I was a guest speaker at the Great Beginnings Summer Institute where I had the distinct honor of welcoming all of our new FCPS teachers.

This summer, I visited some local summer reading programs and wanted to share these great opportunities with you.

Please meet our new School Board Student Representative from Lee High School, Kimberly Boateng. We also have a new Assistant Ombudsman for Special Education, Dawn Clements.

As always, I am honored to support the Lee District and I have the privilege of also serving as your Vice Chair for the Fairfax County School Board this year.

I look forward to seeing you at a school event or hope you can join me for my Kaufax Koffee in October.

Enjoy the beginning of the school year.

Back Packs for Kids


Cameron Elementary School Principal Tim Slayter, School Board Member Tammy Derenak Kaufax, Cameron Elementary School Counselor Lisa Heath, NBC4 Molette Green, and members of the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department

I want to thank the Apple Federal Credit Union, NBC4 and the Fairfax County community, who helped us again this year, with the Fairfax County Public Schools Collect for Kids campaign. 

The Collect for Kids campaign began in 2011 and last year supported over 25,000 students with backpacks or school supplies. Our goal this year was to increase the level of support to our students and with all the support from our community partners, you didn't let us down. 

During the first week of school, Cameron and Crestwood elementary schools welcomed the backpacks with open arms and huge smiles.


Students at Cameron Elementary School receiving their new backpacks!

GrandInvolve Volunteer Needs


Get involved with GrandInvolve to help change the world one child at a time. The next information session is:

Information Session
Tuesday, September 10 at 1:00 PM
Martha Washington Library
6614 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria, VA

New recruits can get involved at any of the participating elementary schools.

Lee District
Crestwood, Cameron, Garfield, Hybla Valley, Lynbrook, 
Rose Hill, and Saratoga

Mt. Vernon District
Bucknell, Hollin Meadows, Mount Vernon Woods, Riverside, Washington Mills, Woodley Hills, and Woodlawn

Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee (MSAOC)

The Lee District is seeking an appointee for the Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee (MSAOC) for the 2019-2020 School Year. The purpose of this committee is to identify and assess issues affecting minority student academic achievement within the policies, curriculum, practices, and procedures of FCPS.

The committee's charge for the 2019-2020 school year is to assess the implementation of the Equity Resources Plan, including the Equity Plan for Discipline Policy and Practices and the Equity Profile and whether the Chief Equity Officer has sufficient resources to carry out these activities; and follow-up on the status of the Committee's recommendations from the June 2019 Annual Report.

Meetings are held the 2nd Wednesday of the month.
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.    
Location: Gatehouse Administration Center
8115 Gatehouse Road, Falls Church, VA 22042

If you are interested in serving on this committee, please send a brief statement of interest and your resume to Cheryl.Austin@fcps.edu.

Great Beginnings Summer Institute


The Great Beginnings Summer Institute is an annual program held just before school starts. This is a comprehensive program with unified mission of supporting new teachers through quality mentoring practices, professional teaching standards, classroom-based teacher learning, commitment and support, as well as ongoing program assessment.

I had the wonderful pleasure of kicking-off this 4-day professional learning opportunity for novice teachers and veteran teachers who are new to FCPS. I wish all FCPS teachers a wonderful and bright new school year.

Groveton Elementary School Summer Reading Van

Last month, I was able to join a reading van that travels every Wednesday during the summer months to three apartment complexes: Murraygate Village Apartments on Belford Drive, Lafayette Apartments on Groveton Gardens Road, and Beacon Hill Apartments on Southgate Drive.

This program was founded 20 years ago by an FCPS teacher at Groveton Elementary School, Sueanne Tupy. Also helping this year are Groveton School Counselor Kristine Griswold, Esperanza Ruiz, a Parent Liaison, and countless other volunteer community members.

In the beginning, an actual van, donated by a local dealership, took books out into the community. The van is no longer around, but a caravan of personal cars and loyal volunteers now operate the mobile library.


Hundreds of books are donated by teachers and community members that are sorted and labeled according to reading level, then divided into grade-level plastic crates. These are loaded into the personal vehicles and transported to the three complexes. At each site, a mini lending library is setup on the playground where students may choose up to 3 books, receive a popsicle and participate in an optional story time. On their first visit, each child gets a bookmark. Every time they return books and bring the bookmark, they get a stamp punched on it. Any child who collects a minimum of 4 stamps gets to choose a book to keep at the end of the summer.

This is a very noteworthy cause that provides access to books for students who may lack transportation to a public library. It also helps builds community and strengthens ties between school and home. This program allows teachers a chance to see where their students and families live, and can help teachers better understand their students’ non-academic needs. Not to mention the kids have fun and love seeing their teachers outside of school.

reRoute US 1 Summer Program


I enjoyed meeting the young students who participated  in this summer's reRoute US1 Program. This is a three- week summer program aimed at preventing the “summer slide” while simultaneously providing exposure to enrichment and engagement opportunities and working to help parents become more engaged in their child’s education.

New Mobile App Will Help Parents Track Bus Arrivals

The Fairfax County Public Schools Office of Transportation Services introduced a new school bus arrival app, Here Comes the Bus®, for the 2019-20 school year. The app is offered at no charge to parents.
Here Comes the Bus® is a school bus tracking app that provides parents and guardians with real-time bus locations through text or email alerts. Here Comes the Bus® combines GPS and bus routing data in an easy-to-use, customizable app that works on one or multiple devices including smartphones, tablets, or desktop computers. The app provides timely school bus arrival information through a graphical interface as well as messaging to indicate the distance of the bus from your child’s bus stops.


Here Comes the Bus® uses HTTPS like a bank or online store, making certain all communications between a device and the site are encrypted and secure.  A Student Information System (SIS) parent account is required to download the app. The app tracks the bus route—not the student—and bus substitutions can affect the accuracy of the app. 

Following a successful pilot program, Here Comes the Bus® is ready for service for the 2019-2020 school year. While no app should replace established best practices and judgment, Here Comes the Bus® can provide helpful information about the location of your child’s school bus.

For details on how to sign up, click here. Additional questions should be directed to 571-423-2400 or Fasteam@FCPS.edu

Meet Kimberly Boateng the New Student Representative


The 2019-20 student representative to the School Board is Kimberly Boateng, a junior at Lee High School. Her platform for the year includes a greater focus on problem-based and project-based learning. Watch the video to get to know Kimberly Boateng.

Dawn Clements, New Assistant Ombudsman for Special Education

Dawn Clements, who previously served as Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) educational specialist, pyramid support liaison in the Department of Special Services, has been named the new assistant ombudsman for special education, effective August 1. Clements will be primarily responsible for supporting parents who have special education concerns and will provide deeper knowledge and more experience with the special education process.

“This new position will enable parents to have an impartial person to go to for information and options when an issue arises with their child who receives special education services,” says Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand. “We want parents to feel heard and supported when bringing a concern to the school district, and Ms. Clements will serve as that link between parents and FCPS.”

To reach the Office of the Ombudsman, call 571-423-4014 or email: ombudsman@fcps.edu.

Important Dates to Remember

October 14: Columbus Day (Student Holiday)
November 1: First Grading Period Ends
November 4-5: Student Holidays
November 27-29: Thanksgiving Break (Student Holidays)

For the complete 2019-2020 School Calendar for Students, click here.

2019 Congressional App Challenge


The Congressional App Challenge (CAC) is a public effort to encourage kids to learn how to code, through annual district-wide competitions hosted by Members of Congress for their district.

This challenge was established by the United States House of Representatives in 2014. This competition encourages students to create and submit their own app for the opportunity to receive national recognition. Students may participate as individuals or in teams of up to four. Winners of the Congressional App Challenge (CAC) may be eligible to have their app featured on a display in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, and will be honored by their Member of Congress.

Click here for complete details on registration, student eligibility and submission requirements.

Contact Tamara:

Phone: 571-423-1081

Cheryl Austin
Executive Admin Assistant

Upcoming Events

Flea Market / Community Yard Sale at Edison High School

Sunday, October 12
Sunday, October 19
7:00 AM - 2:00 PM both days

FCPS College Fair

Sunday, October 20
7:30-9:30 PM at Fair Oaks Mall

Monday, October 21
7:00-9:00 PM at Hayfield SS

Homecoming Games

Edison HS - September 20
Lee HS - October 4
Mt. Vernon HS - October 4
Hayfield SS - October 11
West Potomac HS - October 18

Save the Date

Kaufax Koffee

Tuesday, October 1
9:30 - 11:30 AM

Grounded Coffee
6919 Telegraph Road
Alexandria, VA

Join me for coffee and casual conversation. Bring your thoughts, concerns and questions.