April Community Update

Dear Community Members, 

I’d like to share at the start of this last quarter of the school year, some reflections and aspirations for the remainder of this school year as I continue representing your interests on the Fairfax County School Board.

The leadership of Fairfax County Public Schools is at a turning point, and this brings with it excitement and also concern about the unknown.

The School Board voted publicly on April 14 to hire a new Superintendent, to fill the position upon Dr. Scott Brabrand’s scheduled retirement on June 30, 2022. This vote was the culmination of months of public engagement and internal planning, and then weeks of intensive, confidential interviews and deliberation among the Board with identified candidates. The goal was to obtain the best talent in the U.S., by using respected hiring practices needed for a high-profile, national Superintendent search. The Board’s selection, Dr. Michelle Reid, is an accomplished leader who brings vision, enthusiasm, creativity, and curiosity to the implementation of excellent public education.

Thank you to students, FCPS staff, and members of the public who participated in this search in any way – whether it was submitting a survey, attending a focus group, a community town hall, or providing direct input to the Board. Throughout the process I continuously reflected on the values upon which I was elected to serve to represent you, and carry this work forward with integrity, confidentiality, and professionalism. When it came time to consider the candidates for the next leader of our school division, I was steeped in the effort - eager to examine candidates’ qualifications, discuss possibilities with Board Members, and reflect on the future of our school system.

While I hope Fairfax County residents can agree that our School Board is passionate about student success, I do share the sentiment that some of you have shared with me, that our Board must work more effectively. Too often lately I feel that adult priorities have detracted from the goal of doing the Board’s work and making collective Board decisions. I aspire that our Board not only deliver the best results for students, but also serve as an example for conducting public business.

Although I have worked to create opportunities for increased student success – such as outdoor classrooms, research-based literacy instruction, mental health resources, and more – I have also tried to strengthen the School Board’s governance and work approach – including clarifying our Governance Manual, curtailing lengthy agendas, and modeling behavior that reflects respect for the limited time and energy that our students, staff, families, and community members share when they attend and participate in our meetings.

I will continue my work to strengthen the work of our School Board, because this ultimately strengths the FCPS organization in meeting its mission – to inspire and empower students to meet high academic standards, lead healthy, ethical lives, and be responsible and innovative global citizens.

Recent Work

Dr. Michelle Reid Named Incoming FCPS Superintendent 

Dr. Michelle Reid

Michelle Reid, Ed.D. will be the next Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools starting July 1. 

Dr. Reid is known regionally and nationally for strong instructional leadership. Dr. Reid spent time visiting with students, staff, and community members to begin the conversation about what makes FCPS a great school division and the many opportunities to build on that foundation.

Get to know Dr. Michelle Reid.

Sherry Wilson Named Assistant Superintendent of HR

Sherry Wilson

Sherry Wilson, who currently serves as director of Human Resources in Chesapeake (Va.) Public Schools, has been named the next Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, effective June 1. Learn more about Sherry Wilson.

“Dr. Wilson brings a wealth of experience to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), not just in HR, but also as a former teacher and school administrator. Throughout her career, she has made a measurable impact in expanding recruitment and retention initiatives and improving diversity in hiring,” said Superintendent Brabrand. “We look forward to her leadership in continuing our efforts to attract world-class educators and support staff to FCPS."

EPA Administrator Visits Flint Hill ES 

EPA Administrator Michael Regan visits Flint Hill ES

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan visited Flint Hill Elementary School on Monday, March 14, to talk with students, school staff, families, and advocates about electric school buses. I was so proud of the students as they asked thoughtful questions and provided many examples of how committed they are to environmental stewardship.

EPA Administrator and Melanie

FCPS currently has eight electric school buses and is poised to get ten additional electric buses this spring. The division is committed to providing carbon neutral student transportation by the year 2035.

Talking About Healthy Practices and Spaces for Students

During the April 14 Regular Meeting, the School Board voted to approve changes to Policy 2100, Student and Staff Health and Wellness, which include adding daily middle school recess starting in the 2022-23 school year, as well as changes regarding nutrition, sleep, and elementary school recess.

I share about bringing more spaces onto school grounds to complement learning, such as space for down time or connecting with friends. Such opportunities are essential for students to maximize their academic instruction each day.

Talking about healthy spaces video


Board Approves Madison HS Running Track Replacement 

On April 14, the School Board awarded a contract for the running track replacement at Madison HS. Happy sprinting, warhawks!

Madison HS track

Governance Manual Updated to Include Motions Tracker

In collaboration with the Superintendent and Information Technology staff, a process has been established to ensure School Board motions and forum topic consensus items are tracked in a manner which is clear and conspicuous and includes relevant implementation progress or status.  The Strategic Governance Manual has been updated to reflect this process.  

Lightspeed Parent Report on Student Internet Activity

You may know that parents can receive weekly emailed reports with an overview of what websites their students are visiting on FCPS-provided laptops. However, did you know that there’s more you can see? By signing up on the Lightspeed website, parents can see more detailed usage data – including the exact websites that students visit daily, and the frequency of visits. My video explains it further, and you can see this FCPS website for more information on how to sign up.

Free Online Tutoring Services for All Students

All FCPS students now have unlimited access to 24/7, on-demand, online tutoring support services through Tutor.com at no cost to families. Watch the video below or visit this site to learn more!

Tutor.com Youtube Video

Hunter Mill Happenings

South Lakes, Madison, and Westfield Musicals

Hunter Mill District upcoming musical posters
  • South Lakes HS Theatre Department presents its spring musical, Crazy For You, April 28-30. This rom-com features cowboys, showgirls, high-energy production numbers (did someone say tap dancing?), and a wonderful score from George and Ira Gershwin. Buy tickets here
  • The Madison HS Drama Department presents its spring musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, April 28-30. This delightful story centers on a fictional spelling bee set in Putnam Valley Middle School. A large group of quirky adolescents compete in the Bee, run by equally quirky grown-ups. Buy tickets here
  • The Westfield HS Theatre Department presents its spring musical, 9 to 5, April 29, 30, May 1 and 6. 9 to 5 The Musical, with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and book by Patricia Resnick, is based on the seminal 1980 hit movie. Set in the late 1970s, this hilarious story of friendship and revenge in the Rolodex era is outrageous, thought-provoking and even a little romantic. Buy tickets here

I look forward to attending some of these upcoming performances, break a leg!

Crossfield ES Community Renovation Update April 27

Learn about the planned renovation and additions to Crossfield Elementary School on April 27 at 7pm. I attended the April 14 meeting, which you can hear about here.

Madison & Oakton Robotics Head to World Championships

Congratulations to Madison and Oakton HS' FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics teams who qualified for the World Championships in Houston April 20-22. 

FIRST® Robotics Competition teams are given six weeks to design, program, and build a robot starting with a standard kit of parts and common set of rules to play in a themed head-to-head challenge. This year's challenges included having the robot climb ascending monkey bars. 

In addition to learning about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), students that participate in the FIRST competition learn financial management, teamwork, conflict resolution, leadership, and communication. 

Madison Robotics Team

Noise Interfering with Students’ Sleep in Vienna

On behalf of their children’s health, residents in Vienna on Park St NE and surrounding streets are advocating to the Mayor, Town Council Members, and Town Staff Leaders to enforce and also revise the Town’s noise ordinance (Sec. 10-20.1). The Code was last revised in 2011. Town Code states that the “the loading or unloading of commercial vehicles within 300 feet of any residence between the hours of 11:00pm and 6:00am” is a “public nuisance”; however, residents are experiencing and documenting commercial activity nearby that is happening beyond that time frame, and also during that time frame at excessively loud levels. Residents state that the early morning and late night noise routinely disrupts the sleep of dozens of children, and have signed a petition stating as much.

FCPS prioritizes sleep for students as a necessity for daily school readiness and ultimately, academic achievement, including through:

  • Investing $5 million in FY2016 to adjust high school start times to begin later, including purchasing buses, compensating bus drivers, adjusting academic scheduling, and more.
  • The FCPS wellness policy (#2100) that references the importance of sleep, based on recommendations from the Board’s School Health Advisory Committee in 2021 and scientific research.
  • Teaching to the Virginia Department of Education’s 2020 Standards of Learning for Health Education, which includes dozens of references on the importance of sleep for children and the relationship of sleep hygiene to mental health.

Especially continuing to live through a pandemic that challenges physical, emotional, and mental health, getting proper rest in a tranquil environment is crucial for children’s development. The Town has an opportunity to examine what it means to provide a healthy living environment in Vienna in our current times.

Touring an Electric Bus with Lake Anne Girl Scouts

Students with School Board Member Meren touring an electric bus

My office arranged for some Reston Girl Scouts to have an up-close tour of one of FCPS' electric school buses! Initiated by FCPS parent and Clean Moms Air Force leader Julie Kimmel, the Scouts talked with me about clean energy and strategies for school and home to rescue environmental damage. While only in grades 1, 2, and 3, I wasn't surprised at all that the girls knew that electric buses means cleaner air for everyone to breathe. They then wrote advocacy letters to elected officials and toured the bus with FCPS Electric Vehicle Driver, Nicholas Rocha. Rocha has worked for six years at FCPS as a mechanic and driver, putting to use his skills earned previously in the U.S. Armed Forces. His interest in electric buses resulted in him not only driving routes in one, but also elevated him to train other drivers about driving and maintaining electric buses. FCPS' eight electric buses are owned by Dominion Power. FCPS is in the process of purchasing 10 of its own electric buses. 

Terraset Principal Finalist for Principal of the Year Award

Principal Lindsay Trout

Terraset principal, Lindsay Trout, has been named a finalist for the Washington Post Principal of the Year Award! This follows the FCPS Elementary School Principal of the Year Employee Award she earned in 2021.

I'm thrilled to see Lindsay recognized for her immense work in FCPS - for students, staff, and the community as a whole.

South Lakes Students Excel

South Lakes HS Student Colin Surabian and Superintendent Brabrand
  • Colin Surabian of South Lakes HS created one of ten FCPS projects that received a Grand Prize award from the 67th Annual Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair. His animal sciences research project is titled The Effect of Substrate Type on Black Soldier Fly Larvae Mass. Read more.
  • The South Lakes Student Government Association has been recognized as a 2022 National Gold Council of Excellence for the 5th year in a row! 
  • Congratulations to the South Lakes Indoor Drumline and Winter Guard for impressive performances at the Atlantic Indoor Association Finals.

Cunningham Park Art Teacher Creates Sidewalk Mural

Cunningham Park ES art teacher with painted sidewalk

Cunningham Park ES celebrated its art teacher, Ellen O’Hearn (pictured with her daughter), for turning the sidewalk that leads from the school to the playground into a giant game board. The mural was a part of a school-wide Project-Based Learning (PBL) initiative, in which every grade level created plans to improve the play spaces at CPES.

Armstrong Math Teacher Named Presidential Award Finalist

Congratulations to Armstrong ES math teacher, Damien Ettere, for being named one of Virginia’s three finalists for the 2022 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching!

Reston Fire Station Grand Opening

The grand opening of the new fire station in Reston was truly cause for celebration! This new home for our essential fire and rescue staff and volunteers is incredible! It's also the home of the newest - and apparently youngest - firefighter in all of Fairfax - an FCPS student who just graduated from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Training Academy in partnership with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department! I met the graduate and his family, who were thrilled to find employment close to home.

Reston Fire Station Opening

Access must be increased to these and many other FCPS-offered academies - high school students need to spend less time traveling to other high schools in order to get the workforce credentials they need. Academies need to be better available in all FCPS pyramids and county areas. The School Board will soon hear a report about the status of career and technical education. I'm eager to work toward increased access to pathways for high-demand jobs and jobs that match students' strengths and interests! 

Advisory Committee Appointee Named Community Champion

Congratulations to Paul Berry, my Hunter Mill Appointee to the Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee (CTEAC) for being named the Chairman's Community Champion of 2022!

Paul Berry

April is...

Earth Day April 22

In honor of Earth Day, the Fairfax County Park Authority has launched a webpage to provide information and resources to encourage environmental stewardship. The site is now live – just in time for Earth Day on April 22

Earth Day Fairfax
Floris ES student art

Congratulations to Floris ES 2nd grader Ella who is one of 13 winners nationwide in the Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest! The winning artwork is featured in a 2023 calendar, which will be available later this year.

Celebrate Earth Day by becoming a Citizen Scientist! Visit a Fairfax County park between April 29 and May 2, 2022, and make identifiable observations in the iNaturalist app. Submit your volunteer hours via our convenient online form. Access a report of your approved hours in our system and use them to fulfill requirements for scouts, schools and other organizations. Learn more here.

City Nature Challenge
NoVA Outside logo

Join NoVA Outside for virtual and in-person SEAS events. Virtual activities are open to all grade levels and will take place the first week of May. The in-person event is open to students in grades 9-12 and will take place on Saturday, May 7 at George Mason University’s Potomac Science Center. Additional details on all of the SEAS events are coming soon. Learn more about SEAS 2022 and pre-register your high school group for the in-person event. Contact showcase@novaoutside.org with your SEAS questions.

Autism Acceptance Month

Autism Acceptance Month

April is Autism Acceptance Month. One in 44 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in the United States, according to the CDC. Our schools and staff play a vital role in creating and ensuring inclusive environments that accommodate and affirm autistic students. The School Board will honor Autism Acceptance Month on April 28 at the Regular Meeting. 

View Autism Acceptance activities and resources.

Month of the Military Child

Month of the Military Child

April is the Month of the Military Child! Every year we take the opportunity to recognize military-connected youth for their service and contribution to our community. Fairfax County Public Schools is proud to have over 14,000 military-connected youth as a part of our student body. We appreciate the varied life experiences they bring to our school community, and recognize their strength and resilience. 

Learn more about Month of the Military Child and FCPS resources for military families.

Arab American Heritage Month

Arab American Heritage Month

FCPS is proud to celebrate National Arab American Heritage Month in April. This special month provides an opportunity to recognize the remarkable history and valuable contributions of Arab Americans. 

Students reading a book

School Library Month

In FCPS libraries, students develop knowledge and skills, experience a sense of belonging, find inspiration and support, and have the ability to freely pursue their personal interests and academic growth. Watch this video to learn how FCPS librarians make a difference

Of course our libraries need School Librarians to be successful. I'm advocating to the Superintendent that schools with large student membership (700+) retain two librarians– at the very least – in next year’s FY23 budget, now in development.

Upcoming Public Meetings & Topics

  • Tuesday, May 10, 11am - Work Session: FY23 Approved Budget and CTE Study Recommendations
  • Thursday, May 12, 7pm - Regular Meeting: SR&R

Please note, times and topics are subject to change.

Accessing Board Meetings

View this link for a comprehensive list of upcoming meetings and associated information.

Click here for meeting logistics, agendas and handouts (to view the slides and materials, scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Regular Meetings and Work Sessions are live-streamed on the FCPS website and televised on FCPS Cable Channel 99. Meeting recordings can be found on FCPS YouTube. For more information about signing up to speak at a regular meeting, click here.

School Board Members sitting at dais

Other Information of Interest

 Youth Substance Abuse Webinars April 26 and 28

Due to the rise in opioid overdoses in the Fairfax Health District (which is consistent with national and state trends), Fairfax County Public Schools has partnered with Fairfax County Government to provide educational webinars on youth substance use trends and supports. The free webinars are scheduled for April 26 and April 28, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Each of the webinars will provide the same information. 

The topics to be covered include:

  • Most commonly used substances.
  • In-depth opioid information.
  • Reasons why youth use substances.
  • Ways parents can support their children.
  • Available FCPS and Fairfax County Resources.
  • Ways students, parents, and community members can connect with support providers.

Registration for the webinars is available online.

Drug Take Back Day April 30

Get rid of old, expired medications in your home safely by dropping them off at the Vienna Police Department on National Drug Take-Back Day on April 30. Residents can stop by 10 am to 2 pm and drop the medications in the collection box inside the Vienna Police Department temporary facility located at 301 Center St. South (formerly Faith Baptist Church).

Congressional Art Competition - Entries Due May 6

Calling all high school students in the 11th Congressional District (verify district here) - submit an entry for the Annual Congressional Art Competition!

The first-place winning entry will be displayed for one year in the United States Capitol. The second place entry will be exhibited at the Workhouse Arts Gallery for a year, and with the permission of the artists, additional high-ranking pieces will be displayed in Congressman Connolly's Capitol Hill and district offices.

Congressional art competition

Fairfax County Farmers Market Calendar 2022

The Fairfax County Farmers Markets team is gearing up for the 2022 season. The FCPA Farmers Markets will reopen across Fairfax County during late April and the first week of May. 

By providing access to locally grown foods, the farmers market program strives to improve the health of Fairfax County citizens, support local food producers and protect the environment.

View the 2022 market schedule.

Fairfax Farmers Market tomato logo

FCPS Leads the Commonwealth in Board-Certified Teachers

National Board Certified Teachers

Ten Fairfax County Public Schools teachers have achieved or renewed certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The School Board honored these educators during the March 10 Regular Business Meeting.

Over the course of the program in FCPS, more than 500 teachers have achieved this prestigious certification. Currently, FCPS is ranked 1st in the Commonwealth of Virginia with over 300 active National Board-certified teachers, placing Fairfax County in the top 30 school districts nationwide. Seventy five percent of National Board-certified teachers work directly with students while others have moved into leadership roles throughout the division.  

See who achieved or renewed National Board Certification.

CNN Features FCPS Assistive Technology Club Members

TJHSST Assistive Technology Club members

CNN visited TJHSST and Freedom Hill Elementary  to cover the Assistive Technology Club, which helps non-verbal students practice on their devices through games and activities created by TJ students.

The club’s goal is to foster communication in a fun interactive way through games, activities, and reading. For the Freedom Hill students, it’s an opportunity to practice on their devices in a relaxed setting. For the TJ students, it’s a chance to create games and learn coding tools such as HTML and JavaScript. For both sides, it’s the special connections made that leave the most lasting impact. 

JumpStart2NOVA Community College Summer Program

Qualified seniors graduating this spring who are considering coming to NOVA after high school may take one 3-credit course and NOVA’s 1-credit College Success Skills course, SDV 100, at no tuition!  Since these classes are all online, students will need access to a computer and the Internet.

The application is now open and will close at 5 pm on April 29, 2022. All students will be required to upload a high school transcript and any qualifying test scores if they do not have a 3.0 GPA. Courses begin May 31 and end August 8, 2022. 

To learn more about JumpStart2NOVA, including course offerings, materials, and details on how to apply, click here.

It’s Time for 2022-23 Kindergarten Registration

Will your child turn five years old by September 30? If so, contact your child’s school to make arrangements for kindergarten enrollment.

Most schools begin getting information together now for parents of incoming kindergartners, and many host an orientation or open house. All kindergarten programs are full-day and located in FCPS elementary schools. 

To find out which elementary school your child will attend, click here.

Check your school’s web page or contact the school directly for specific enrollment information and dates of orientation that typically occur between mid-March and the end of June. 

To get more information about Kindergarten Registration, click here.

CBF Leadership Expeditions for HS Students

Registration for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s 2022 Student Leadership Summer Expeditions is now open! Do you know a motivated high school student who wants to get involved with environmental education, advocacy, or leadership? This program is open to students in grades 9-12 and financial aid is available. The Virginia expedition will take place July 11-15, the watershed-wide expedition will take place July 25-29, and the orientation for both expeditions will take place May 25. Learn more and spread the word about CBF's 2022 Student Leadership Summer Expeditions!

Teacher Scholarships For Field Based Outdoor Learning 

How do our actions in Northern Virginia impact the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay? Educators throughout NOVA are invited to participate in this field based outdoor investigation of water quality and ecology to answer this question and more. Spend the first two days of the course exploring local neighborhoods and waterways. Then travel to Smith Island for three days and two nights to investigate connections to this Chesapeake Bay island community and ecology. Participants will develop the skills and confidence to lead students in Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences while learning outside with peers and colleagues.

Get2Green has scholarship funding to pay for a limited number of teachers to attend. See the flyer for full details and to share with interested colleagues. You must register on Get2Green’s form (not with CBF) by Friday, June 24 to have Get2Green pay for your registration.

Job Opportunities

Interested in joining FCPS? Explore opportunities for:

Visit Current Job Openings for all posted positions.

Contacting Me

I prioritize responses to Hunter Mill constituents, so please be sure to identify yourself as such if you contact me. If you are unsure of your county magisterial district, you can look that information up here.

To contact me, it is most helpful to please use the official School Board contact form. This form prioritizes emails to me from constituents, and helps me track communication so I can be sure you receive a response. Thank you for your cooperation.


Please take good care,

Melanie Meren


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The views contained within this newsletter reflect the views of the individual school board member who is the publisher of this newsletter and may not reflect the views of the Fairfax County School Board.

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