December Newsletter - Happy Holidays!

Dear Fairfax County Students, Staff and Families,

Happy first day of break! I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful winter break with time to rest and relax. I am looking forward to having my children home for the holidays and some much needed family time - cue the late night movies, fierce game nights, and hot cocoa! I hope you find time to be with those you cherish in your life. As a reminder, winter break will be held December 19 to January 2. Classes will resume on Tuesday, January 3, 2023.

If this is the first time you have received my newsletter, welcome! The FCPS Office of Communication and Community Relations has updated newsletter distribution lists to include all families. In my newsletter, I share important updates on the work I am doing on the School Board and about policies and School Board actions that impact Fairfax County Public Schools. I also share resources and events happening around the county. I hope you will find this information helpful, and I look forward to your feedback; however, if you wish to unsubscribe, you can do so by clicking on the Subscriber Preferences Page link at the bottom of this email. I welcome your feedback and questions, so please reach out!  

You should already be receiving FCPS This Week, which has important information about Fairfax County Public Schools. Be sure to subscribe to your child’s school newsletter, as well. If you are not receiving those, make sure you go to the News Your Choose site where you can manage your subscription preferences.

Happy new year! As always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions. 

Warmest regards,


Below you will find information on:

School Board Updates

School Board logo with gavel.

It has been a busy month. We have had work sessions on a myriad of topics related to student learning and wellness as described below. We are headed into budget and CIP (capital improvement plan) season. Keep an eye out for work sessions in January on both topics. I am also looking forward to hearing staff recommendations for our SY 23-24 calendar. They have been working on community engagement. I have heard from community members about the importance of consistency of learning, representation of our diverse community, and operational effectiveness. I welcome your feedback on all these items and anything else you wish to share that can help inform my work. 

I’ve enjoyed participating in the core planning team for our new strategic plan work - we had two full days of analyzing data and then using that data to ground our thoughts of what the preferred future for FCPS might look like. I’ve also appreciated working with our state delegation to advocate for better notification procedures, funding for teacher salaries, better mental health support for students and more. I’ve enjoyed hearing options for workforce development and career pathways, especially around IT and innovation, with ideas of how to ensure consistent STEM offerings at our schools. And I had a wonderful visit to WISH, the new Workforce Innovation Skills Hub in Alexandria, where community members can gain skills in high demand trades and technology careers. I’ve had many conversations with staff and families about learning needs, mental health, staff support, substance abuse issues, family engagement of all families but especially multilingual families, and supporting students through grade level and postsecondary transition. 

There is a lot of work to be done but we have a wonderful team led by Dr. Reid and I firmly believe we are making progress and will continue to do so. 

Academic Matters

During the Academic Matters segment of the December 1 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.

At the December 15 meeting, Dr. Reid presented information about how ESSER funds are being used to address learning loss. She mentioned that the rate of FCPS academic recovery is outpacing Virginia as a whole, reading performance is nearly back to pre-pandemic levels after one year and that math performance is progressing. She shared how FCPS is addressing learning loss by using ESSER funding for student academic and wellness support through hourly pay to provide intervention and tutoring support, instructional materials, professional development and summer programming. See the presentation.

Recent Work Sessions

Recordings of all work sessions and regular meetings can be viewed on the School Board YouTube page

ESSER Updates

We had a work session on November 29 focusing on ESSER updates to further explore the ways FCPS has used this federal money to serve our students. You can see the materials from the work session and learn more about ESSER spending in FCPS. Remember that each school is using its funds in a targeted way to help meet student needs at their school - this may look like small group work, before or after school programming, new materials or training. You can view your school’s plan.

ACSD Annual Report

The second portion of the November 29 work session involved a review and discussion of the annual report of the Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities (ACSD). I greatly appreciate the work of these volunteers in exploring and elevating these issues. We have a lot of work to do in this area and their careful study is important material to consider as we plan the follow-up work to the Special Education external review.  

Goal 1 (Student Success) and Goal 2 (Caring Culture) Reports 

The School Board had a work session on December 6 focusing on the Goal 1 (Student Success) and Goal 2 (Caring Culture) Strategic Goals. We were able to discuss a lot of the presented data and it was useful to consider what data was missing and would be valuable to include in the next strategic plan. As a reminder, there will be many opportunities for you to participate in the creation of the new strategic plan that will guide the work of our school system. 

CTE Pathways

On December 13, the board heard the results of an external review of our career and technical pathway offerings and staff recommendations in response to this report. The report found that FCPS is already doing great work in this space, including our amazing Academies that will have open houses in January (see below) and I look forward to helping improve these important offerings for our students. You can view the materials from this work session to learn more. 

Strategic Plan Updates

The board also received an update about the ongoing work to create the next strategic plan

Capital Improvement Program

The School Board heard a presentation on the CIP at the December 15 regular meeting. The CIP is a planning tool to coordinate capital projects over five years to determine future capital requirements. See the presentation and proposed CIP.

Fall VHSL State Champions

Congratulations to all the FCPS student-athletes who participated in the 2022 fall sports season. This year four teams and two individuals won the Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 6 championship in their respective sports, and three teams and three individuals were the state runners-up. Learn more about the champions. The School Board recognized these champions at the December 15 Regular Meeting.

Upcoming School Board Meetings

  • Tuesday, January 3 at 12:30pm – Work Session: Goal 3 (Premier Workforce) and Goal 4 (Resource Stewardship) Reports
  • Tuesday, January 10 at 12:30pm – Work Session: Capital Improvement Program and Office of Auditor General Annual Report
  • Thursday, January 12 at 6pm – Public Hearing: Capital Improvement Program; Regular Meeting: FY24 Proposed Budget Presentation and Vote on FY23 Mid-Year Budget 
  • Tuesday, January 17 at 11am - Work Session:  FY24 Proposed Budget and SY24 Calendar
  • Monday, January 23 at 6pm - Public Hearing: FY24 Budget
  • Tuesday, January 24 at 5pm - Work Session: FY24 Budget
  • Thursday, January 26 at 7pm - Regular Meeting
  • Tuesday, January 31 at 1pm - Work Session: SY24 Calendar

Please note, times and topics are subject to change. 

The work sessions and regular meetings will be broadcast live on Channel 99 (Verizon channel 11) and the FCPS website. Both will be recorded for future viewing and posted to the FCPS School Board YouTube page.

For Spanish speakers, watch recorded School Board meetings, or watch live during the Regular Meetings on YouTube, you may visit the FCPS en Espanol YouTube channel

Visit the Community Participation webpage to sign up to speak at a regular meeting. Visit BoardDocs for more meeting logistics, agendas, and handouts.

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


Free, On-Demand, Online Tutoring graphic

FCPS students who’ve used 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 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’ webpage

Save the Date: Strategic Planning Community Forums

Four kids in front of a mural of kids holding hearts. "FCPS Our Voices, Our Future. Strategic Planning"

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.

Learn more about the strategic planning process on the FCPS website or email

High School Academy Open Houses


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 for Instruction to Industry I2I - A Career Expo for High School Students

work based learning

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. 

This annual event offers a virtual venue for students to connect with industry professionals from in-demand career fields across the region. 

Employers and industry experts from all career clusters are needed to provide various sessions to support students. Refining career interests and future pathways are the necessary steps to meaningful postsecondary planning. 

The Work-Based Learning (WBL) 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 5:00 pm 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

Office of Auditor General News

The December 2022 issue of Audit Buzz is now available. Read to learn more about the status of current audit engagements and auditor independence.

Preparing for Winter Weather


Watch this video to see how weather-related closing decisions are made

FCPS’ website is generally the first mode of communication during emergency weather closings. Other communication channels will be used as quickly as possible including email, text, social media, and news stations. Learn more about how schedule changes are communicated

Be sure to plan ahead for the winter season. Bookmark the FCPS website, arrange childcare, if needed, and know what items your child may need to take home before a weather event.

A Safe, Welcome, and Inclusive Space at FCPS

trust policy kids

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.

NAGC Congratulates 2022 Administrator of the Year - Dr. Michelle Reid

Congratulations to Dr. Michelle Reid who was named the 2022 award recipient of The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). Each year, the Association presents this award to a principal or superintendent, outside the field of gifted education, who has made a significant contribution to gifted education in their school, district, or across the nation.

Read the full press release here.

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.

Educate Fairfax

Consider a Year-End Donation to Support Students and Teachers

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. 

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

Multicultural and Language Resources for Families

The Office of Family and School Partnerships would like to remind families of some of the resources available to them:

  • 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 for students as well as adults. Information on spring classes will be posted in March 2023.

Additional resources are available on the Family Engagement webpage.

January Parent Resource Center Webinars

parent resource center
  • Neurodiversity: What Do You Mean We Are All Neurodiverse? January 12 at 6:30pm and January 13 at 10am.
  • Social-Emotional Milestones in Early Childhood, January 20, 2023, 10-11:30 a.m.
  • Morning Meeting and Responsive Advisory Meeting: Building Positive Classroom Communities through Social and Emotional Learning, Tuesday, January 24, 2023, at 10-11:30 a.m.

Learn more about these webinars and register

Community News and Opportunities

Speed Cameras Target School Zone Safety

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.

Growing Your Career Fair

On January 18 from 10am - 12pm, there will be a networking career and education fair at the National Museum of the United States Army offering transitioning service members, military spouses, dependents and veterans the opportunity to connect with career enhancement programs, certification programs, employer sponsored internships and fellowships and degree programs. Register.

GrandInvolve Seeking Volunteers

Would you like a unique and interesting volunteer experience while making a difference in a school, classroom, family, or in one child’s life? GrandInvolve is recruiting adult volunteers who are interested in providing classroom assistance with math, reading, and other simple educational tasks that the teacher requests. For more information, including the Volunteer Interest Form, visit

one water art contest

One Water Art Contest

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.

Young American Creative Patriotic Arts Scholarship Competition

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Auxiliary is sponsoring its annual Young American Creative Patriotic Art Contest. Students in grades 9-12 have the opportunity to participate in two competitions: a 2-dimensional competition and a 3-dimensional competition. More information may be found on the VFW Auxiliary website. The deadline to submit artwork is March 31, 2023.

Anyone interested in participating should contact the VFW organizers at or no later than March 1, 2023.


NWF EcoLeaders Environmental Justice Badge

What does Environmental Justice mean to you? High school students can explore the history and principals of EJ and take action for positive change! Earn the Environmental Justice Badge.

U.S. Global Change Research Program Enlists Student Artists

Students can help others understand climate change and inspire people to take action through art. The U.S. Global Change Research Program is looking for youth ages 13-17 to submit artwork related to the topic of climate, people and nature. Student art will help readers of the Fifth National Climate Assessment see how the climate is changing and what that means for the people, places and activities that students love. Submissions are due January 27.

NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge

NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge will open for entries on Jan. 6, 2023 and close on April 28. The judges will choose winners in two categories: grades five through eight and grades nine through 12. Entries must be submitted by an educator or a student leader who is 18 years old or older. Read more here.

Good News!

Region 1 and Region 5 - Congratulations to the Oakton HS Band and the Westfield HS Band for performing in Hawaii at the Pearl Harbor Day Parade. What an honor! and

Region 2 – Congratulations to Catherine Bond, orchestra director at Marshall High School, who has been named Orchestra Teacher of the Year by the Virginia String Teachers Association! 


Region 3: Congratulations to Will Friedman, a student at West Potomac HS, who is one of the winners of the 2022 Environmental Excellence Awards. Will is being recognized for his exceptional achievements and leadership efforts to better the environment.  Will began participating in organized clean ups in and around Little Hunting Creek beginning in middle school. Later, his activities included working with county and school staff and community volunteers to coordinate the planting of trees at over 20 school properties. Will has been particularly active in the areas of stream monitoring, the removal of invasive plants, tree planting, and trash and recycling initiatives, even volunteering to pick up and take glass to the purple bin for incapacitated neighbors. 

Region 4:  Read this great story of South Lakes HS friends and grads turned Lake Braddock SS automotive instructors Dominic Prakash and David Plum. Both were inspired by their auto shop teacher, Buddy Young, and are now engaging and inspiring a new generation. Thank you for being wonderful teachers!

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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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