April Community Update

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ይህንን ዜና መፅሄት በሌሎች ቋንቋዎች ለማንበብ፤ እባክዎን ድረ ገፃችንን ይጎብኙ

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Hello Community Members!

Recent Work 

Special Education Work Session

Jessica Stinech Wallach graphic

I received recommendations at the April 11 School Board Work Session for improving special education, as prompted by the findings of the Board’s commissioned report from outside consulting group AIR. I am glad to see some specific approaches and that the Board dedicated time for this critical issue. However, the Board’s discussion and my thoughts revolved around how to actually implement the changes suggested, and needed.

It is a fact that our teachers are overwhelmed with the many responsibilities of their jobs per the school division, and per students’ needs at this time. My biggest critique of the recommendations is that it’s unclear how teachers and staff can possibly implement these changes given the current crushing workload, and the exiting of teachers from the profession per a national trend. I spoke about the need to integrate these and other improvements and innovations, so teachers are not trying to layer one instructional strategy on top of another – because this is not going to be best for students.

Graphic is from Jessica Wallach, Greater Depth Media.

School Board in Final Stages of Strategic Plan Completion

I recently participated in a School Board retreat to discuss the FCPS Strategic Plan. The discussions held were guided by the culmination of months of community input, and the synthesis of that feedback. The five-page “One Guarantee” report highlights the perspectives shared by students and adults in our community when asked what their “one guarantee” would be. Overwhelmingly, students want to have a safe and inclusive learning environment, and to feel cared for and helped by their educators. It’s quite interesting to see the comparison of the needs submitted by these two groups and how they complement one another.

The retreat's goals included reviewing the process thus far, providing feedback on the work-to-date, defining the measures of student progress, and to continue developing the process and timeline for completing the Strategic Plan.

Parents/caregivers, students, employees, and community members are invited to join a virtual community forum to discuss the first draft of proposed goals for the new Strategic Plan. Get more information on the Strategic Planning webpage. There is one remaining forum scheduled for Monday, April 17, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Click on the date to register for the event.

Strategic Plan Retreat Notes


2023 VSBA Business Honor Roll Recognitions

The School Board recognized three amazing organizations during the March 30 Regular Meeting as part of the 2023 Virginia School Board Association Business Honor Roll: The Children's Science Center, Greater Washington Partnership, and Real Food for Kids! Collaboration between local businesses and local public schools is an integral part of building strong communities.

VSBA Honor Roll Businesses


FY 2023 Third Quarter Budget Review

I voted to approve the FY 2023 Third Quarter Budget Review during the March 30 Regular Meeting.

There are no operating fund revenue and expenditure adjustments in this Budget Review. The agenda recognizes adjustments in the Adult and Community Education and Grants and Self-Supporting Programs funds to recognize grant award adjustments. Changes to other School Board funds are detailed in the attachment.

Watch the full meeting on the FCPS YouTube channel.

Upcoming School Board Meetings 

  • April 13, 7 pm: Regular Meeting
  • April 27, 6pm: Public Hearing
  • April 27, 7 pm: Regular Meeting
    • ESSER
  • May 9, 12:30pm: Work Session
    • Strategic Plan 
  • May 11, 7pm: Regular Meeting
    • Student Rights & Responsibilities
    • Fiscal Year 24 Approved Budget

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.

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.

School Board dais photo

Hunter Mill Happenings 

Advocating for Safe Transit in Reston

After hearing from parents from many Reston-based schools, and knowing there is the Reston Comprehensive Plan being developed, I compiled a list of high-priority transit safety issues impacting our school communities. I elevated this in a Memo to the Chair and Hunter Mill representative on the County Board of Supervisors, as well as to the Planning Commission working on the Reston Comprehensive Plan. I’ve since followed up and learned that the detailed list is being reviewed both for needed fixes as soon as possible, and for the longer-term planning in the area. Especially, I thank parents at Sunrise Valley ES and Hunters Woods ES who in particular raised their voices and gave me tours of the dangerous areas in need of County-level action that threaten safe routes to school.

Safe Routes in Reston


Madison HS Student Chosen for National Youth Orchestra

Madison HS Student

Joshua Thrush of Madison HS has been chosen for a residency and tour with the 2023 National Youth Orchestra! 

Joshua, a double bassist, will complete a two-week training residency at Purchase College in New York with professional orchestra musicians. The orchestra will then go on an eight-concert tour from Montreal to San Diego, including a performance at New York City's Carnegie Hall.

Congratulations on this amazing accomplishment!


South Lakes HS Colorguard Places at AIA Championship

Congratulations to the South Lakes High School colorguard for placing 6th out of 17 at the Athletic Indoor Association Championship in Hampton, VA!

South Lakes HS Colorguard


Madison HS Students Awarded Grand Prize at Science Fair

Regional Science Fair winners

Madison High School students Sara Becker and Kyan Yang recieved a Grand Prize award for their science project: Diagnosing Monkeypox Via Deep Learning-Driven Primary Morphology Analysis!

The 68th annual Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair showcased more than 300 high school science projects. Over 400 students presented their research projects in a wide variety of science and engineering fields. Projects were judged by more than 150 professionals and 40 professional organizations and businesses. 

The Grand Prize Winners are eligible to compete in the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair in May, and many others are eligible to compete in the Virginia State Science and Engineering Fair to be held in April. See the full list of winners

Hughes MS AVID College Fair Night 

Hughes AVID College Fair Night

Over 100 7th and 8th-grade students at Langston Hughes Middle School shared their research about colleges across America, to as many parents, educators, and family members.

What brought them together is the AVID program, which stands for “Advancement Via Individual Determination'', an elective at Langston. AVID is inspired by a global nonprofit organization aiming to narrow the opportunity gap among diverse groups, through inquiry-based, student-centric instruction. It empowers students to refine academic skills, participate in collaborative study groups, and engage in peer-led activities.

At the college fair, students honed their communications skills by trying to “recruit” visitors to vote for their presentation. Short games, school swag, and snacks helped sweeten the pitch at the table-top presentations. 

The AVID approach at Hughes includes refining students’ academic, organizational, time management, and critical thinking skills. They use the 5-step Cornell note-taking process, inquiry-based learning paired with the IB program, academic discourse activities like Socratic seminars and philosophical debates, effective annotation reading/writing strategies, and the One Binder Organizational System, impacting the entire Hughes school community for lifelong achievement. Teachers use AVID tools to enhance learning and connect more authentically with their students, leveraging students' backgrounds and experiences to master content in a personal way. AVID students outperform national averages in key success measures, learning to think critically and collaborate, and have higher graduation and college enrollment rates, according to a UCLA study.

Escape the Vape: Tobacco Awareness Campaign

Vaping Awareness poster

Check out these student-created videos and posters! Thanks to the PTA members, volunteers, and many Langston Hughes MS teachers for facilitating this experience to keep our kids away from vaping and tobacco use! The PTA applied for and received a $1,000 grant from the National PTA to make this happen!


Helping with Environmental Science at Terraset ES

I had the opportunity to be a parent volunteer in my son’s 4th grade classroom at Terraset recently. His amazing teacher invited me to help with an instructional lesson about environmental science – particularly, plastics in the ocean. I was pleased to apply my informal teaching and education experience providing hands-on learning to students to engage them in science, nature, and fighting climate change – a task they will need to be prepared to continue doing beyond graduation.

I brought my collection of (cleaned) beach trash, and 20 pounds of rice, so students could experience the impossible task of trying to remove plastics from the space. Students learned the length of time it takes items often trashed, from plastic water bottles to Styrofoam, and then made a commitment to reuse something in their everyday lives to help prevent future waste. It was a lot of fun, and amazingly, only a little rice ended up on the floor!

Terraset photo collage


Hunters Woods ES Career Day

Hunters Woods ES Career Day

Hunters Woods Elementary School hosted a robust career day for students, featuring parents and community members! So many careers were featured, including veterinary technician, cutting edge computer and data sciences, electrician, lawyer, emergency service providers, military pilot - and even school board member! Yes, I was delighted to be invited to share my career in public service, and talk about government, voting, and how the school board makes decisions that impact students.

It was a joy for me to be in Ms. Washington's 1st grade class and Ms. Moore's 4th grade class. The whole HWES team was amazing hosts and event organizers. I can see why this event has been a favorite at the school for years. A huge thank you to dozens of guest presenters (I think over 50!) who spent time at school engaging students in discussions about big possibilities.

Sunrise Valley ES "Show What You Know" Night

Sunrise Valley Show What You Know Night

Sunrise Valley ES students filled the cafeteria and gym for “show-what-you-know”, a beloved school tradition.

I truly had so much fun engaging in conversations with these inquisitive, confident students. Students explained to me topics that included looking at blood cells under a microscope, what hamsters do, chess, cacti, and more.


Vienna ES Celebrates 150 Years!

This year, Vienna ES will celebrate 150 years of educating children in Fairfax County. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the oldest portion of the school, making Vienna ES the oldest FCPS school building in continuous operation that is still in use today.

I am so proud to represent the families and students that attend this historic school in the heart of Vienna.

Vienna ES c. 1907


Congressional Art Competition

Congressional Art Competition

The Annual Congressional Art Competition provides Members of Congress with the unique opportunity to showcase the artistic creativity and talent of high school students from across the United States.

Congressman Gerry Connolly is hosting the competition for all high school students who are residents of the 11th Congressional District regardless of where they attend school; public, private and home-schooled students. Due to space limitations, students may not submit more than two pieces of art.

All entries will be displayed at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia. The exhibit will be open to the public from May 5, 2023 to May 21, 2023.

Learn more here: https://connolly.house.gov/constituen.../art-competition.htm.

Upcoming Events in Hunter Mill 

Hughes MS Spring Clean-Out Fundrive: April 22

Did you do spring cleaning over the break? Consider bringing your gently used goods to Hughes Middle School on Saturday, April 22 from 9am-2pm! I'll be stopping by with my own donations - I hope to see you there 🌳!

Hughes Spring Clean Out Drive


Community Conversation with Dr. Reid: April 26

Community Conversation with Dr. Michelle Reid

In partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), Dr. Reid will be hosting a Community Conversation in Reston at the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation on Wednesday, April 26, from 6:30-8pm. JCRC and Dr. Reid will be providing a forum for members of the Jewish community to share priorities and concerns. 

View more details here, I hope to see you there!


Scrawl Books Hosts Ink Children's Books: April 29

Scrawl Books in Reston is excited to host Ink Children's Books as part of their Independent Bookstore Day celebration on April 29!

11am-12pm will be a story time with Ink.

Ink is a 100% student run nonprofit book company based out of South Lakes HS.

Melanie and students that run Ink Publishing

April Is...

Earth Week (April 17-20)

FCPS Earth Week

All students and staff are encouraged to join FCPS Get2Green in celebrating the division-wide Earth Week 2023 from April 17-20. Earth Week is an engaging way to foster conversation and learning about environmental topics that are essential in developing students as environmental stewards and ethical and global citizens.

Check the Get2Green Earth Week webpage for everything you need to get started.

National 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. Arab Americans have ancestry in one of the world’s 22 Arab nations, which are located from northern Africa through western Asia. The people of these nations are ethnically, politically, and religiously diverse but share a common cultural and linguistic heritage. Learn more about National Arab American Heritage Month here.

Arab American Heritage Month

Month of the Military Child

National Military Child Month

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

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. 

Autism Acceptance Month

School Library Month

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.

Other Information of Interest 

School Board Election Information

Virginia is for Voters

There is a new opportunity now available in Fairfax for registered voters to voice their choice of School Board candidates that will be on the November general election ballot.

School Boards in Virginia are not partisan - there is no “Democrat” or “Republican” listed next to names on the November ballot. There is no official government-hosted primary earlier in the year, either.

In Fairfax, each major political party holds an endorsement process for School Board candidates when the seats come up every four years, like this one. This fills the gap of not having a party affiliation next to candidates’ names, to signal to voters the values a candidate would bring to the position if elected. This is not a primary, and it is not an official county or state election - the Department of Elections does not conduct the election - a party organization does. The winner of each major party’s endorsement goes on to the November general election ballot. Other candidates may also seek to be placed on the November ballot, without either major party’s endorsement.

The endorsement process hosted by the Fairfax Republican Party allows only those who have a paid membership in the local Republican Party organization to vote in the endorsement process, which is a few hundred people. This has already occurred in 2023.

The endorsement process hosted by the Fairfax Democratic Party has a new, online election in 2023 that allows all registered voters to participate in the endorsement process for School Board candidates who would represent them. Voters must first sign up to participate, though, now through May 5; then beginning May 13, a link will be emailed to those who signed up, to actually vote.

All 12 seats on the Fairfax School Board are up for re-election every four years. There are no term limits. 

Free Teletherapy Now Available to High School Students

Student with headphones on laptop

All FCPS high school students now have access to mental health teletherapy services, at no cost to families. Families must first opt-in before requesting service. Find out how to get started: bit.ly/3zdm5lC.

Real Food for Kids Culinary Challenge: April 15

The Real Food for Kids Culinary Challenge will be held Saturday, April 15, at Robinson Secondary School. The event includes a public tasting of student dishes and demonstrations from Chef Ryan Moore of Sababa and Chef Kevin Tien of Moon Rabbit. The student challenge is to create healthy, delicious, and culturally diverse school menu items that meet United States Department of Agriculture guidelines.The public is invited to vote for their favorite dish. Winning dishes have been featured in FCPS and other area school districts. For more information or to register, visit the Real Food for Kids website.

Special Education Conference: April 29

Special Education Conference

Mark your calendars for the 18th Annual Special Education Conference. On Saturday, April 29, some of the industry's leading experts in special education will speak with parents, teachers, and students and share valuable information. Don't miss this opportunity to gain knowledge.

Register today.

You Could be the Next EQAC Student Representative

The Fairfax County Environmental Quality Advisory Council (EQAC) is accepting applications for its student member term running from July 2023 through June 2024. EQAC’s primary function is to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for improving environmental protection and enhancement. The student member application is open to all interested high school sophomores and juniors who are in good standing. Interested students should apply by May 3. Learn more and apply to be the next EQAC student member.

FCPS Named ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year

Fairfax County Public Schools has been selected as a 2023 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year winner for Sustained Excellence. Recent accomplishments that helped earn this sustained excellence award include achieving energy savings greater than 21% and $65 million since 2014, and winning the “Best Project in the Major Renovation” category of the ENERGY STAR Decarbonize Your Design Challenge for the renovation of Crossfield Elementary School.

FCPS has been an ENERGY STAR® partner since 1998.

Energy Star logo

TJHSST Transcript Update

Great News!  TJ Transcripts will be altered after summer 2023 to show all Honors and AP courses–thank you to Dr. Zuluaga in Region 2 for spearheading this change so that all of our TJ students will have their best face shown to any college admissions staff getting transcripts and paperwork from TJ.  A huge thank you to a Dranesville parent for her diligent research to help us highlight this issue and to come to this solution. 

TJ Techstravaganza- May 13

TJHSST Techstravaganza

TJ Techstravaganza, a free STEM activity fair that provides fun, hands-on labs and demonstrations for K-8 students will be held on Saturday, May 13, 2023 from 10am- 4pm at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology(6560 Braddock Rd, Alexandria) Students can register online.

Findings Regarding the NMSC Commended Student Notifications

Dr. Reid shared this letter on the independent third-party investigation into the notification of students designated Commended Students by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). 

Job Opportunities

Interested in Tutoring?

FCPS is now actively recruiting qualified tutors to provide academic support in-person to small groups of students. These new FCPS tutors will be paid an hourly rate of $47.17. The position is flexible, and the number of hours worked and location will be based on the tutor’s availability and qualifications, as well as the needs presented throughout FCPS. Apply now! Contact tutor@fcps.edu for more information. 

Note: Current FCPS staff can only apply to tutor outside of their contracted hours.

Explore other 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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