December Community Update

Dear Community Members, 

First, welcome to those who are receiving my newsletter for the first time!

In an effort to keep students' families as informed as possible, the reach of my newsletter has been updated so I can connect with more of you living in the Hunter Mill magisterial district of Fairfax County, which generally includes Reston, most of Vienna (including the Town), and parts of Herndon and Oakton. Also, efforts are being made to respect the preferences of those who have opted out already previously from getting re-subscribed, so thanks for your patience if this impacts you.  

I aim for my newsletters to feature information for you about School Board work and Hunter Mill district happenings that you may not find widely shared elsewhere. I also highlight FCPS work on topics of constituent interests, like in my last newsletter, where I focused on career pathways for FCPS students. You can find my past newsletters at

Finally, I hope you already receive FCPS This Week, which has important information about Fairfax County Public Schools. Also, if you're not already, do be sure to subscribe to your child’s school newsletter, as well. If you are not receiving those, you can go to the News Your Choose site to manage subscription preferences.

Below is a final round up of information to close out 2022. Please note the opportunities available in the new year to engage with me about developing the school budget, the capital improvement plan, and the strategic plan, in particular. 

I hope students, families, staff, and community members have a meaningful and peaceful holiday season! 

Photo Collage

Recent Work

Outdoor Learning Spaces Coming Soon

FCPS outdoor classroom

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.

Elementary School Salad Bars

School salad bar

Salad bars will begin to return to elementary schools as a part of lunch service starting on February 1, 2023.  The elementary schools that had a salad bar installed prior to the onset of the pandemic and have Title I designation will be prioritized.  The Office of Food and Nutrition Services is currently working with vendors to source salad bar menu items and will start collaborating with administrators for a successful transition back to this pre-pandemic program enhancement. 

ACSD Annual Report 

ACSD annual report presentation screen

On November 29, the School Board received the annual report of the Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities (ACSD). This citizen advisory committee is a State Mandated Special Education Advisory Committee. 

ACSD provided testimony and presented several recommendations to the School Board. The committee’s work included several Operational Improvements as well as specific actions taken and reports offered to the division. There was also a robust discussion of the committee’s highlighted recommendations. View the committee’s full report and presentation here.

Innovative Assessment Practices in FCPS

During the Academic Matters portion of the November 14 School Board meeting, Superintendent Reid discussed the innovative assessment practices happening in FCPS as part of our School Division of Innovation designation from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). 

This recognition means that VDOE has approved a plan to improve student learning, educational performance, and college, career, and citizenship readiness skills. It positions FCPS as a state leader in innovative practices with the opportunity to impact statewide policy decisions. Watch Dr. Reid’s November 14 presentation.

Text and Translation Platform- TalkingPoints

FCPS has recently adopted TalkingPoints, a two-way messaging app that allows parents and caregivers to communicate with teachers and schools. Look for messages from your child’s school on how they are implementing the app. For more information, visit the FCPS TalkingPoints webpage.

The app translates messages, so teachers can input messages in English and parents can respond in their preferred language. TalkingPoints supports 125 languages, making it easier and faster for our FCPS families to connect with their schools.

Upcoming School Board Meetings 

  • January 3 at 12:30pm - Work Session
    • Goal 3 and Goal 4
  • January 10 at 12:30pm - Work Session
    • Capital Improvement Program
    • Office of the Auditor General Annual Report
  • January 12 at 6pm - Public Hearing*
    • Capital Improvement Program
  • January 12 at 7pm - Regular Meeting
    • Fiscal Year 24 Proposed Budget
    • Fiscal Year 23 Midyear Budget
  • January 17 at 11am - Work Session
    • Fiscal Year 24 Budget
  • January 23 at 6pm - Public Hearing*
    • Fiscal Year 24 Budget

*Public Hearing speaker sign up forms are forthcoming 

Please note, times and topics are subject to change. 

Interested in School Board action items? Sign up to get an update on any School Board votes the morning after the School Board meeting.

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

QR code for School Board meetings in Spanish  

For Spanish speakers -- to watch recorded School Board meetings or live Regular Meetings on YouTube, you can visit the FCPS en Espanol YouTube channel or scan the QR code.

Hunter Mill Happenings

Strategic Planning Community Forums Scheduled 

Strategic Planning

Beginning January 30, FCPS will host a series of community forums as part of our Strategic Plan development process. The Hunter Mill community forum is scheduled for Thursday, February 16, 6:30 to 8pm, at the Hunters Woods ES cafeteria.

The completed schedule and locations for the sessions are posted on FCPS' Strategic Planning webpage.

The success of our strategic planning process depends on our entire community being engaged. Watch as some of our amazing elementary students share their hopes and ideas for the future of schools.

Hunter Mill Athletes Recognized by VHSL

Congratulations to Gillian Bushee of the Herndon High School Girls Cross Country team for winning the individual Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 6 championship!

The Madison High School Football team and the Oakton High School Boys Cross Country team were state runner-ups!

View the full list of teams and individual athletes recognized here.

Virginia High School League logo

Louise Archer Robotics Advances to State Championship

Louise Archer robotics team

The 5th grade Louise Archer Robotics Team placed 1st in Robot Games and 1st in Innovation Projects. Now, they are advancing to the State Championship at James Madison University. Good luck!

Madison HS Succeeds at State Latin Competition

Congratulations to the Madison HS students that participated in the State Latin Competition in Richmond. The team brought home almost 50 awards! For more information on the convention and full results by school, click here.

Madison HS students at state latin competition

Hunter Mill Student Art Spotlight

Rick Evans student art

View a spotlight of student art from Lake Anne ES.

View a spotlight of student art from Aldrin ES.

Employees Unite to Support Student Needs

Several Hunter Mill educators have been recently  highlighted as nominees for the FCPS Cares program - Jenny Murphy, learning disabilities teacher at Kilmer Middle School, nominated Gina North, curriculum resource teacher in Special Services and Kent Hulnick, athletic trainer from South Lakes HS. Read more about how these dedicated individuals contribute to their communities here.

FCPS cares graphic

Coming to Hunter Mill: Renovated Public Libraries

Proposed library renovation

In the works are plans to renovate both the Fairfax County Public Library regional branches located in the Hunter Mill district – Patrick Henry library in Vienna, and Reston Library! So exciting!

The Patrick Henry Library renovation will be achieved in partnership with the Town of Vienna, to not only upgrade the library but provide desired parking for the public benefit. Thanks to Vienna Town leadership for their on-going support of this plan!

Reston proposed renovation

The Reston library update also includes a mixed-use component – including affordable housing and parking for both housing and library components! Opportunities for public input on this project are forthcoming – be on the look out!

Here are two sources for more information about the Reston project:

December Is...

National Special Education Day

National Special Education Day

National Special Education Day is recognized each year on December 2 and commemorates President Gerald Ford’s signing of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1975. We celebrate our teachers and staff who serve and support our students with special needs, as well as our families who are partners in the education and support of those students! 

Check out some of FCPS’ special education resources here.

Computer Science Education Week

December 5-11, 2022 is recognized as National Computer Science Education Week and it recognizes the transformative role of computing and the need to bolster computer science at all educational levels. 

I was excited to celebrate this week by visiting the Google office in Reston, which highlighted the success of the Code VA program. I also met local computer science professionals at Google, Lego, and other successful companies who are eager to expand partnerships with FCPS. 

Google Reston celebrates computer science week

Bodhi Day

Bodhi Day

December 8 was Bodhi Day, the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment, also known as “bodhi'' in Sanskrit and Pali. Learn more about Bodhi Day in this video from the Miami Children’s Museum. 

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 certain events that cannot be made up will not be held on these observance days. See the complete 2022-23 School Year Calendar.

Inclusive Schools Week

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.”

Other Information of Interest 

Preparing for Winter Weather 

FCPS school bus in snow

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.

Speed Cameras Target School Zone Safety

speed camera radar

On December 6, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to launch a pilot program that will have 10 speed monitoring devices (speed cameras) installed throughout the county. These cameras will be in nine school zones and one construction zone. 

Studies show that speed camera enforcement is effective in improving safety by reducing speeding, accidents, and injuries. Thanks to our county partners for helping to improve the safety of our students and staff. Read more about the school zone speed camera pilot program.

High School Academy Open Houses

HS academy video

FCPS high school academies will hold open houses for interested students beginning in mid-January. 

A high school academy is a center within a high school that offers advanced technical and specialized courses that can prepare students for postsecondary education and/or career fields. Students enrolling in Academy elective courses will be provided with opportunities to participate in a variety of career experiences including shadowing, mentoring, and/or internships with local businesses.

Learn more and find the calendar of Academy Open Houses.

Seeking Industry Professionals 

The Office of Counseling, College, and Career Readiness (CCCR) in FCPS is teaming up with school divisions across the Northern Virginia region, to present a multi-day virtual career exploration fair for all interested high school students on February 13, 2023 – February 16, 2023

The Work-Based Learning Team in the office of CCCR is actively seeking volunteers from our business community who are willing to participate in this event.

If you are interested in participating in this event, complete the google form before 5pm on Tuesday, January 3, 2023. 

For additional information, please review the I2I event site on the FCPS website or reach out to the FCPS WBL Team at  

One Water Art Contest

One Water Art Contest flyer

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) is joining regional water utilities to host its second annual art contest with the theme of protecting our source water. Local student artists in grades 9-12 can submit their art which captures the importance of protecting our local water sources. The submission deadline is Sunday, January 22, 2023. Learn more about the One Water Art Contest for high school students and submit your entry.

Decades of Making a Difference 

Lake Braddock automotive instructors

Dominic Prakash and David Plum, auto technology teachers at Lake Braddock Secondary School, aren’t just colleagues. Their friendship goes back nearly 40 years to when they met in an auto class at South Lakes High School. Now they teach, inspire, and mentor a new generation of students. Watch this FCPS Heroes video to see how David and Dominic are impacting students. Read more on this website

Multicultural and Language Resources for Families

FCPS’ Office of Family and School Partnerships would like to remind families of some of the many resources available:

  • Bilingual community liaisons support student registrars by providing families with information about school and community services offered in Fairfax County. Liaisons are available to help families speaking Spanish, Korean, and Arabic. Once registered at a school, families can contact their family liaison for assistance. 
  • Early literacy programs are available to Fairfax County residents for parents of children up to 5 years old. These programs help prepare children for school and build confidence in parents as their child’s first teacher. They also help parents become active partners in their child’s education. Programs are available in African-Heritage, Arabic, Spanish, and Korean. 
  • Parent Information Phone Lines are available in eight languages for parents who speak languages other than English. 
  • A Multilingual Family Podcast is produced by the offices of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Family and School Partnerships, and Professional Learning and Equity. It covers important information for parents in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Korean. 
  • ESOL services are available in Fairfax County not only for students, but also for adults and families. Information on Spring classes will be posted in March 2023. 

Visit the Family Engagement webpage for more resources. 

Job Opportunities

Interested in joining FCPS? Explore opportunities for:

Safe Routes to School Specialist

FCPS has posted the job listing for the Safe Routes to School Specialist position (the application window closes on December 20). FCPS Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs help students get physically active while taking cars off the road and develop safe walking and bicycling routes to and from schools among other duties. I hear frequently from parents and community members sharing dangerous conditions for our students walking and biking around school arrival and dismissal. Please share this opportunity with anyone who would be a good candidate or apply yourself here.

School Bus Driver Opportunities

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

Other Openings

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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Have a Wonderful Winter Break

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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