November 2019 Newsletter from School Board Member Karen Corbett Sanders

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Karen Corbett Sanders' Newsletter

Dear Families,

Happy Thanksgiving! This is my favorite time of year because it allows all of us to reflect and give thanks.  Please take the opportunity to thank our teachers, instructional assistants, principals and all the staff that ensure our students are able to learn in a safe, caring and inclusive environment.   I personally want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of FCPS personnel.  Your hard work, commitment to excellence, and relentless leadership are the reason our schools are so successful.

Daylight savings time has ended, the days are getting shorter, and the weather is getting colder. As we enter the colder months, please make sure that your child is prepared to be outdoors for any general and physical education classes, recess, and scheduled fire drills. 

On November 11, our students celebrated Veterans Day across our classrooms. It was an honor for our schools to host so many Veterans and for our students to get a chance to meet these men and women who have so bravely served our nation. Thank you to all who served and are currently serving!

This past week, I was able to spend time with our newly elected board members at the Virginia School Boards Association annual conference.  It was a wonderful opportunity to learn about the issues facing students and school systems across the state.  School systems across the state are facing many of the same challenges that Fairfax County faces.  Key issues addressed at the conference were creating access and opportunities for all students,  ensuring inclusive classrooms and schools, addressing the needs of English language learners, boundary policies, and the need for additional funding at the state level.

Below are a few events and happenings that may be of interest to you. I wish everyone a great November!



Holiday Cheer Coming to Mount Vernon

There are lots of opportunities for families to enjoy the holiday season and support Mount Vernon’s Schools.  They include attending performances, shopping for greens, wreaths and tree or attending holiday markets.  See Below for some of these opportunities.

  • Alexandria Nutcracker - December 4-7 

(West Potomac High School) -

  • South County High School Craft Show and Holiday Extravaganza

Saturday, December 07 2019

9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Various Locations in SCHS

  • Mount Vernon High School PTSA Holiday Market - December 7th 2019 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, email: or via

  • West Potomac Athletics Christmas Tree Sale 

November 29 - Behind Sanburg Middle School



Thank You Fairfax County Voters! Statement from FCPS School Board Chair Karen Corbett Sanders on the Approval of the 2019 School Construction Bond

On behalf of the Fairfax County School Board, I want to convey our appreciation to the voters of Fairfax County who approved the 2019 Bond Referendum for school renovations and improvements. More than 77 percent of those voting in the election on November 5 supported the $360 million bond referendum, one of the highest approval rates in history. We are grateful for the support shown for Fairfax County Public Schools and the 189,000 students who learn and thrive in our schools.

Read the full statement.


In Case You Missed It: 2020-21 School Year Calendar Announced

In case you missed it over the summer, the 2020-21 school year calendar has been announced. For planning purposes, notable dates include: First day of school - Tuesday, August 25, 2020; Labor Day Break - September 4-7, 2020; Thanksgiving Break - November 25-27, 2020; Winter Break - December 21, 2020-January 1, 2021; Spring Break – March 29, 2021- April 2, 2021 (Note: Monday, April 5, 2021, is a teacher workday and a holiday for students); Last day of school for students - Friday, June 11, 2021. See the complete 2020-21 school year calendar


Subscribe to the 2019-20 FCPS Theater Calendar

Do you love watching high school theater? If so, check out the Fine and Performing Arts calendar on the FCPS website. Individual listings for many middle and high school theater events are listed through June 2020. Users can subscribe to the calendar to be notified of upcoming performances, and each event can be added to a calendar or shared on social media. See the Fine and Performing Arts calendar


Family Life Education Instructional Program Information

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) provides a comprehensive, sequential Family Life Education (FLE) program for students in grades kindergarten through grade twelve. Instruction is seen as a partnership among parents and guardians, the school, and the community in supporting the learning essential to the development of strong families, positive relationships, and a healthy community.

Parents/guardians may choose to opt their child out of all or part of the Family Life Education program. Students who are opted out are provided with age-appropriate, nonpunitive alternative health instruction, and every effort is made to foster respect for family choices. If you wish to opt your child out of all or part of FLE for this school year, opt out forms will be included in your child’s back-to-school/orientation packets and are available online for Elementary (K-6) , Middle School (7-8), and High School (9-12) Please fill in the opt-out form and return it to your child’s school prior to Family Life Education instruction.

Detailed grade-level program descriptions are available online at Elementary (K-6) , Middle School (7-8) , and High School (9-12). FLE grade level-specific lessons and media that FCPS has streaming rights for are available for parents online in FCPS 24-7 (Blackboard) Parent View Account information is available at your local school or online at Grade level-specific lessons are also available at the Fairfax County Regional Library in the City of Fairfax (this location does not have media). Grade level-specific lessons and media that is not streamed online are available for review at your child’s school library. Due to copyright permissions, we are unable to stream all media online.

Program questions may be addressed at your child’s school or by contacting Instructional Services at 571-423-4550 or by contacting Elizabeth Payne, Health and Physical Education Coordinator at


Inclement Weather and Emergency Closing Plans; Make Arrangements Now in Case of an Unforeseen Schedule Change

Cold and wintry weather will soon be here! Due to inclement weather or other emergency situations, it may be necessary to close schools for the entire day, to open schools late, or to close early.

Parents are urged to make arrangements now for the care of their children when schedule changes are made (and to provide for the rare situation when it is necessary to close an individual school because of a power failure or other circumstances). Children should know where to go if a parent will not be home.

FCPS has several schedules set up to deal with inclement weather; these are put into effect when conditions threaten the safety of students and staff members:

  • Keep schools closed.
  • Open two hours late.
  • Close two hours early.

When Fairfax County Public Schools has a schedule change (closing or delay) due to inclement weather or other emergencies, the information is communicated in several ways as soon as the decision is made

Note: The official @FCPSnews Twitter account (with blue checkmark) is generally the first and fastest mode of communication during emergency weather closings. Other communication channels will be updated as quickly as possible including email, text, website, other social media, and news stations.

Please be aware, due to the large volume of emails sent, there will likely be a lag between the time a FCPS Twitter alert is posted and receipt of an email in your inbox.


Partners for Safe Teen Driving Program

As a part of classroom driver education instruction, students and their parent/guardian are required to attend a 90-minute traffic safety program. This requirement must be met before a student will receive a Classroom Driver Education Certificate of Completion (DEC-District 8).

These programs will be held at South County High School  during this school year. Parents and students should attend the program during the quarter in which they are enrolled in driver’s education, but may attend other programs. Please be aware that you and your student only need to attend this program one time.

Programs will take place on the following dates: February 13th, and April 21st. The doors will open at 6:45PM with the programs beginning promptly at 7:00PM in the Auditorium. No registration is required for SCHS students currently enrolled in 10th grade Health & Physical Education (H&PE).

The legislative requirement is for a 90-minute program; therefore, doors will be shut at 7:00PM. No one will be admitted after the doors have been closed. If you are unable to attend any of these programs, additional program dates and locations can be found on the Fairfax County Public Schools website at

If you have any questions, please contact Erich Gunderman, H&PE Department Chair, via email at Thank you for your attention to this important requirement.


Mount Vernon HS JROTC Wins Drill Meet

The Mount Vernon High JROTC students placed first overall against four other teams at the South Lakes drill meet.

Finishes included: first place:  Unarmed Squad, led by Cadet GySgt. Anthony Luu; and Unarmed Platoon, led by Cadet Maj. Isaiah Jackson;

Second place: Armed Squad, led by Cadet 2ndLt. Jordy Reyes; Armed Platoon, led by Cadet Lt.Col. Richie Frianeza; Inspection, led by Cadet Lt.Col. Richie Frianeza; and Knockout, led by Cadet 2ndLt. Jordy Reyes.

The group has its next meet in January.  Congratulations on this great achievement!


AAAS STEM volunteers program in FCPS

Below is an update summary for the AAAS Stem Volunteer activities in FCPS:

  • The orientation for new volunteers was held on September 17, 2019
  • Volunteers are supporting 42 schools, 10 of which are Title I.  Placements were worked out by Instructional Specialist Jeff Lonnett and volunteer Jay Labov.  In general, the volunteers will be assisting teachers implementing project-based learning.
  • Alexandra Fuentes, Program Manager, STEAM Integration reports that placements are at 6 of the 9 Title I schools that completed an interest form she provided at the end of last year.
  • Volunteers are distributed across these regions:  14 schools in region 1; 8 schools in region 2; 7 schools in region 3; 4 schools in region 4; 9 schools with in region 5
  • We are working with the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers at George Mason to place interested students in schools.

For more information, please contact Betty Calinger:  


Parenting Through Challenging Times: Supporting Your Child Through Life’s Ups and Downs

Transform feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious and stressed to calm, confident and compassionate. Learn tools and techniques to navigate turbulent waters and times of change within your home and family life.

Major Life Changes can make you feel out of control:

  • A Job Change/Loss
  • A Move
  • Divorce/Separation
  • Addition of a family member or sibling to the home
  • Death
  • Mental/physical illness
  • Child leaving the home

Presented by Corinne Coppola, M.A., and Well-Being Professional.

Friday, November 22, 2019, 10 a.m.-noon.

Register for Parenting Through Challenging Times: Supporting Your Child Through Life's Ups and Downs


Tip Sheet for Parents: To Stay in Charge, Stay in Control

Kids are great at pushing parents' buttons but reacting with anger doesn't help.

Your goal in disciplining your child is to have him or her replace bad behavior with the behavior you want to see. You want him or her to start their homework, or pick up their room or stop kicking the ball inside.

But when you lose control of your emotions during discipline, you make it easier for him or her to ignore you. The words you use, and your tone of voice make all the difference. When you can keep your own behavior calm and under control, you are dealing with your child from a position of strength.

So, when your child's behavior is frustrating, follow these steps:

  • Take a deep breath and address the behavior you want him or her to change. Explain to your child what you want him or her to do instead.
  • Remind your child of the consequences of not changing their behavior.
  • Offer your child a choice: He or she can make the change—or accept the consequences.

By following these steps, you'll stay in charge. And you'll stay in control.

Copyright 2019, the Parent Institute. Get more tips for parents and other family engagement resources.


Important Dates to Remember

November 27-29 - Thanksgiving Break - Student Holiday

December 23-January 3, 2020 - Winter Break - Student Holiday

January 20 - Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday - Student Holiday

January 24 - End of Second Quarter

January 27 - Student Holiday

January 28 - Student Holiday

February 17 - President's Day - Student Holiday

School Board Meeting

The next School Board Meeting will be held on December 5, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. at Jackson Middle School.  Information about upcoming meetings and agendas can be found here

Contact Karen:

Karen Corbett Sanders

Phone: 571-423-1086


Lisa Madeja

Executive Admin Assistant