FCPS This Week: Outdoor Learning Spaces, Free Online Tutoring, and More

Student shows superintendent project

A Whitman Middle School student shows the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid his design for the tallest paper tower, as part of the
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff STEM Design Challenge.

Outdoor Learning Spaces Coming Soon!

FCPS received $6.05 million from a Virginia state construction grant, which is earmarked for outdoor learning spaces. Outdoor classrooms will be built at all middle and high schools not currently slated for renovation. Schools going through renovations will have an outdoor learning space added through that process. A limited number of elementary schools across the division will also receive outdoor learning spaces. 

These spaces will include permeable pavers—a strong, durable surface that still allows for stormwater to drain into the ground beneath them—for classroom area and walkway access and raised garden beds, at least one of which will meet accessibility standards issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Outdoor learning spaces will also feature an electrical outlet, hose bib, rain barrel, native garden area, fixed bench, and secure storage. Schools will be responsible for movable seating and plants.

FCPS' Get2Green team will provide professional development and connect with community partners to support schools in designing, planting, and using these spaces. Construction will begin in summer 2023 and be completed within two years.

Preparing for Winter Weather

School bus covered in snow

In case you missed it last week, here’s a reminder of FCPS’ inclement weather procedures. The first five inclement weather days will be traditional “snow days” with no school activities. After those five days, we will hold virtual learning days, whenever possible, to maintain continuity of learning. Virtual learning on these days will be synchronous (live) instruction following the inclement weather virtual learning day schedule which includes a two-hour delay.

Consider bookmarking FCPS' Weather Cancellation Procedures to stay informed in case of winter weather or other emergency situations.

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) Community Conversation on Tuesday, December 13

student playing uno

Watch the video above to see how Poe Middle School used ESSER funds to support positive behavior interventions, and how fun and games support values of respect, accountability, and positivity. 

An ESSER Community Conversation will be hosted on Tuesday, December 13, at 6:30 p.m. ESSER provides federal funds to FCPS, and schools across the country, to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on students. The event will be hybrid, offered both on Zoom and in-person at the Gatehouse Administration Center in the café on the first floor. All are welcome. Please register to attend.

Learn more about the ESSER III grant.

Upcoming School Bus Driver Job Fairs

Bus drivers smiling outside bus

Join one of our school bus driver job fairs and learn how to become part of the FCPS team! The job fairs will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on: 

In addition to a $3,000 signing bonus for all new drivers, FCPS also offers competitive pay, excellent retirement plans, health and dental plans, paid training, and other benefits.

Learn more about upcoming school bus driver job fairs. If you have questions, please call 571-423-3000 or email driveforfcps@fcps.edu.

Hiring Now! Food and Nutrition Services

From Food Services van drivers to managers-in-training, FCPS has many job opportunities related to food and nutrition. Benefits include paid training and school holidays off, and some positions offer full-time benefits for part-time work. See Food and Nutrition Services job opportunities to apply. Call 703-813-4800 with any questions. 

View all current job openings.

Academic Matters

During the Academic Matters segment of last week’s School Board meeting, Dr. Rich Pollio, Director of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Services, shared data around our English Learner students versus students who speak English and another language. 

Forty-nine percent of our students speak English and at least one other language. Twenty percent of our students are receiving English language development services. Pollio talked about the value of community in supporting our English Learners in their journey.

Free, On-Demand, Online Tutoring

Student studying

FCPS students who’ve used Tutor.com have provided positive feedback:

  • “This tutor was very helpful! She didn't tell me the answers. When needed, she helped me solve them! She was very kind and she really helped me!” –Elementary Math Student
  • “This was an awesome tutor! She explained why I needed to do specific steps, and she gave me practice problems! Best tutor I have had!” –IB Chemistry Student

Unless they’ve been opted out, students can access Tutor.com through Schoology. Every session is personalized to meet students’ needs from remedial to advanced levels. Sessions focus on conceptual learning and critical thinking—not quick answers.

Learn more on FCPS’ Tutor.com webpage.

First Community Conversations Come to a Close

Last week, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid wrapped up her series of Community Conversations, which began in August. Twenty-eight events were held, including one in each school pyramid. Thanks to all of the families, employees, and community members who attended. 

Save the Date: Strategic Planning Community Forums

Students smiling against mural

Beginning in late January 2023, FCPS will host a series of community forums as part of our Strategic Plan development process. View the schedule on FCPS' Strategic Planning webpage. We will add more details as they become available.

First Strategic Planning Family Team Meeting

Last Saturday, the Family Team gathered at Marshall High School for their first strategic planning meeting. All parents/caregivers who were nominated or expressed interest in joining the Family Team were invited to attend. Participants engaged in thoughtful conversations about student achievement data and began crafting a collective vision for the school division. The Family Team will have three more sessions between January and February. 

Learn more about the strategic planning process on the FCPS website or email strategicplan@fcps.edu.  

Cappies Review: Students Take a Timeless Journey at Annandale High School

Students on stage for play

Many FCPS high schools participate in the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Critics and Awards Program for High School Theatre, also known as the Cappies. In this program, high school theater and journalism students are trained as critics, attend shows at other schools, write reviews, and publish those reviews in local newspapers. 

Ella Greene, a student from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, wrote this review of Annandale High School’s Argonautika: The Voyage of Jason and the Argonauts.

Subscribe to the 2022-23 Fine and Performing Arts Calendar

If you enjoy theater, check out the Fine and Performing Arts Calendar for individual listings of many middle and high school theater events. Click “Subscribe to Calendars” to add events to your digital calendar and be notified of upcoming performances.

Consider a Year-End Donation to Support Students and Teachers

Educate Fairfax logo

As 2022 comes to a close, please consider a year-end gift to Educate Fairfax, the independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports FCPS. 

Educate Fairfax works alongside teachers, principals, administrators, and leadership to keep our diverse school division robust and innovative. During its annual year-end appeal, Educate Fairfax is raising funds for its four focus areas: Innovative Classroom Grants, Kids in Need, Literacy, and Employee Recognition. 

Your $100 contribution can provide emergency basic needs to a student in need. Or a $250 donation will allow a teacher to purchase books for their classroom library. Find more information about Educate Fairfax and its impact

Make your tax-deductible contribution through a secure donation portal. Thank you in advance for your support.

Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow!

Students raising their hands during class

Every year, absences increase in the weeks before and after winter break. Give your child the gift of education and help build a habit of attendance. Visit our website for more attendance resources.

Calendar Reminders

Inclusive Schools Week

Inclusive Schools Week (December 5-9) celebrates the progress that schools have made in providing a supportive and quality education to an increasingly diverse student population. This includes students who are marginalized due to disability, gender, socio-economic status, cultural heritage, language preference, and other factors. The week also provides an important opportunity for educators, students, and parents/caregivers to discuss what else needs to be done in order for schools to continue to improve their ability to successfully educate all children. This year, the Inclusive Schools Week’s theme is “Unity Within Our Community.”

Bodhi Day

Bodhi Day graphic

Bodhi Day, Thursday, December 8, is the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment, also known as “bodhi'' in Sanskrit and Pali. The school calendar recognizes many religious and cultural observances (O days) during the school year. There is school on these days, however, the School Board has directed that tests, quizzes, field trips, graduation, homecoming, or FCPS-scheduled athletic events will not be held on these observance days. Learn more about Bodhi Day in this video from the Miami Children’s Museum.

Winter Break: December 19 - January 2

As a reminder, winter break will be held December 19 to January 2. To help make sure school-based staff and students have a restful break, we have asked that no homework be assigned during this time. Teachers may assign long-range assignments in the weeks ahead of the break, allowing students to practice time management skills, but no assignments will be due immediately following the break. We look forward to welcoming students back in the new year. 

Classes will resume on Tuesday, January 3, 2023. See the complete 2022-23 School Year Calendar.

A Safe, Welcome, and Inclusive Space at FCPS

Smiling students

FCPS’ Trust Policy confirms our commitment to providing a safe, welcoming, and inclusive space, where all students and families can access FCPS benefits and services without fear of having their data disclosed to federal immigration officials. Read more about the Trust Policy.

Provide Feedback on Secondary World Languages Basal Resources

Public review will end Thursday, December 8, for new Secondary (Grades 6-12) World Languages Basal Resources for the 2023-24 school year. Basal resources are the primary instructional resources used to teach a given subject. A review committee made up of community members, administrators, and teachers will meet to evaluate the materials under consideration as well as feedback from the community. Find more information.

Service Animals Permitted in FCPS Buildings

FCPS permits service animals access in all public areas, including schools, in accordance with federal and state law. A service animal has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. A service animal is not a pet, and the work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. 

Generally, therapy animals are not considered service animals and are therefore not permitted. The ongoing use of a service animal by staff members, parents, or members of the community must be coordinated through the Office of Equity and Employee Relations. Contact EERADA@fcps.edu to submit an accommodation request. To coordinate a student’s use of a service animal, contact the Due Process and Eligibility section of the Office of Special Education Procedural Support at 571-423-4290. If you have any questions regarding service animals in FCPS buildings, contact the Office of Equity and Employee Relations at 571-423-3070.

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