Student Opportunities; FCPS' Executive Expectations; Apply for a Board Committee; and more!

To read this newsletter in other languages, please visit our website.

Para leer este boletín en otros idiomas, visite nuestro sitio web.

ይህንን ዜና መፅሄት በሌሎች ቋንቋዎች ለማንበብ፤ እባክዎን ድረ ገፃችንን ይጎብኙ

이 소식지를 다른 언어로 읽으려면, 우리 웹사이트를 방문하시기 바랍니다.

.يرجى زيارة موقعنا الألكتروني لقراءة هذه النشرة الإخبارية بلغات أخرى

Dear Community Members,

I hope the new school year continues to go smoothly for students, staff, and families! At the over two dozen school visits I've made since the end of August, I've gathered much input on the successes and challenges. Thanks to those of you who stop to say hi and share an update! As back-to-school nights come to a close, I'll look forward to being at upcoming student events to see them shine and be available to chat (next is Westfield HS' homecoming on 9/22!). 

I'd like to share an important explanation about the new approach to governance work happening on the School Board with the Superintendent.

On the cusp of the new strategic plan being implemented this school year, the School Board is focusing on what’s called “governance”. Governance, according to ChatGPT, “refers to the system and processes through which decisions are made, authority is exercised, and actions are taken in organizations, societies, or institutions. It encompasses the structures, rules, and practices that guide the distribution of power, responsibilities, and resources to ensure effective management and accountability.”

This work aligns with the “Policy Governance” model adopted by the Board, which is a well-established approach to board oversight and management of an organization. The core of Policy Governance is the set of what’s called, “Executive Expectations”. On September 14, after several public meetings on this topic (Board retreats on August 15 and August 29, and a work session on September 12), the School Board adopted a set of 13 Executive Expectations. (Previous drafts and conversations included the terms “Operational Expectations” and “Executive Limitations”; however, “Executive Expectations” is the ultimate, single term being used in FCPS.)

To see the Executive Expectations adopted on September 14, click here, then download the PDF on the page to see red-lined changes to the Board’s Strategic Governance Manual.

The Superintendent will provide an annual monitoring report to the Board on each of these Executive Expectations during a public meeting in the year ahead. At the time of the presentation, the Board will vote to approve the individual Executive Expectations monitoring report or request a corrective action plan, if needed.

Why does this matter to students, families, and staff? It matters because when the Board is clear about priorities and expectations among itself and with the Superintendent, the Superintendent can most effectively do her job to deliver the best instruction for all students! It’s basically ensuring that the Board is keeping its “house in order”.

Finally, I am beginning my year-long term as Chair of the Board’s Governance Committee. I’m eager to help the Board further focus on matters of governance and how work is done in FCPS to best meet the needs of students and employees.  

Academic Matters

Opening of Schools Report 

Opening of Schools 2023 Presentation Intro Slide

The first month of this school year has flown by! Thank you to all of the wonderful FCPS staff and families for supporting our students.

Dr. Reid recently presented the School Board with an "Opening of Schools" report during the September 14 Board Meeting. I hope you will take a few minutes to view this video and the accompanying presentation slides - lots of interesting data!

Compensatory Education Update

At the September 14 Regular Meeting, Dr. Reid presented an update on the COVID 19 Compensatory Education Plan. She shared that FCPS has held more than 30,000 IEP and Section 504 meetings to consider whether students require compensatory services and/or reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses and has provided more than 27,000 compensatory services hours to students and is processing payment of more than $5.5 million in reimbursement to families for private services. See the presentation materials and the recording of the presentation.

Upcoming School Board Meetings

  • Tuesday, September 26, 10:30am: Work Session
    • Proclamation/Recognition Changes
    • Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee Report
    • Human Resources Advisory Committee Report 
  • Thursday, September 28, 7:30pm: Regular Meeting
    • Strategic Plan Presentation
    • Emergency Superintendent Succession Report and Review 
  • Tuesday, October 10, 10:30am: Work Session
    • Policy Governance
  • Thursday, October 12, 7:30pm: Regular 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.

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

Melanie Meren at Westbriar ES

We're a month into this school year and I've aimed to visit as many schools as possible for back-to-school events to connect with the community. More visits are still yet to come!


Melanie Meren at Sunrise Valley PTA Meeting

I’ve also attended numerous meetings of Parent Teacher Associations/Organizations (“PTA/PTO”), including when invited to provide a brief overview of the School Board’s role in ensuring students receive an excellent education, and answer some questions. Thanks to the truly dedicated parents and family members for pouring their hearts into PTAs/PTOs - from meetings for adults to events for students, it’s quite incredible to witness the investment of time and care in our school communities.

Apply Today for a School Board Advisory Committee

I am seeking applicants for the following School Board Advisory Committee:

  • Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee (MSAOC)
    • MSAOC is a 1 year term length. 
  • Challenged Materials Interdepartmental Review Committee
    • The current version of Regulation 3009, Challenged Library and Instructional Materials establishes an Interdepartmental Review Committee to review challenges of library and instructional materials by residents. Six School Board members (on a rotating basis) will each select an individual to serve a one-year term on the Interdepartmental Review Committee. This committee meets only if a challenge is received by a resident who is not a parent, student, or staff member. Read more.

All applicants must be residents of the Hunter Mill District. For more information about the Advisory Committees, click here.

Apply now!

Colorful hands raised


Hunter Mill Students Named National Merit Semifinalists

National Merit

Congratulations to the many Hunter Mill District students that have been named Semifinalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation for 2024.

All Semifinalists are eligible to compete for 7,500 National Merit Scholarship awards worth nearly $28 million, to be awarded in spring 2024. Semifinalists advance to finalist standing in the competition by meeting high academic standards and other requirements including a recommendation from a high school official.

Reston Multicultural Festival

Reston Multicultural Festival


South Lakes Food Pantry Do It Your Way 0.5K

Do It Your Way 0.5K

The South Lakes HS PTSA Food Pantrywill be hosting its 6th Annual “Do It Your Way 0.5K” FUNdraiser on October 15th from 2-4pm at Lake Anne Plaza - and I’m thrilled to be a Celebrity Starter! Join us for the fun, the energy-boosting treats, the live raffle, and the most rewarding 650 steps you’ll take all year. Plus, this year, the event features a special, can’t-miss dog heat!  Register online here. All proceeds go directly toward food, toiletries, and other necessities for SLHS pyramid families in need. Currently the Food Pantry is serving more than 300 students and families every single week. 

Passing the Torch: A New Generation of Educators

Edison HS principal with her children

Since 2000, Edison High School Principal Amanda Burke (center) has been a familiar face at Fairfax County Public Schools. She started her career teaching at the high school she now leads. Today, Principal Burke’s infectious enthusiasm for education reflects in her two children, who also work for FCPS.

Principal Burke’s daughter, Corinne (left), is in her first year as a multiple disabilities teacher at South Lakes High School! Her son, Zachary (right), is a special education and biology teacher at Woodson High School.

“My South Lakes teams provided me with more support than I could have asked for,” Corinne writes. Both Corinne and Zach also say FCPS’s Great Beginnings program and instructional coaches are valuable resources for new educators. 

Read more about this FCPS family connection, and how Zachary and Corinne got a great start with mentors and support systems.

Additional Information of Interest

Chief of Facilities and Capital Programs Appointed

Janice Szymanski

Janice Szymanski was appointed to the newly created position of Chief of Facilities Services and Capital Programs in August 2023.

Szymanski has worked in the K-12 industry for many years, both in the private and public sectors. She has deep project management skills in the school environment and has demonstrated success in delivering large projects quickly and on budget.

Szymanski came to FCPS from her position as executive program manager in the capital design and construction division of the District of Columbia Department of General Services. Her work with the district's government has given her extensive experience in working with internal and external stakeholders, including government officials and local politicians. Previous to her role in capital construction, she was director of facility planning and design for the DCPS, and she facilitated all communication engagement for facility projects.

Prior to joining the district government, Szymanski worked as a licensed architect and designed many K-12 schools in the Greater Washington area, primarily in Maryland. In 2022, she moved to Fairfax County and is a proud FCPS parent.

School Bonds Benefit Students 

What is a bond?

A bond referendum to benefit Fairfax County Public Schools will be on the ballot this election season. The building and renovation of schools are not financed through the school system’s operating funds, but through bonds. 

Similar to an individual or a family obtaining a mortgage on a residence to spread the cost of home buying over several years, bonds spread the cost of major capital improvements over a number of years. This ensures that current and future residents and users share in the payment. The county’s bonded debt is not likely to be a contributing factor to any increase in local taxes. 

Hear from teachers how FCPS prioritizes safety with bond funding

Read more about the FCPS 2023 Bond Referendum. Learn about registering to vote. Vote on Tuesday, November 7.

Transportation Patience and Safety

School bus with students boarding

Thank you for your patience as we all get used to new routines this school year. We appreciate our families following kiss-and-ride procedures and being patient while waiting for your children’s buses. 

If a student’s bus is delayed, parents/caregivers may access the Bus Delay Notification System or use the Here Comes the Bus mobile app to receive the delayed bus report. Email messages will be sent to announce significant bus delays. Visit the Transportation Services contact webpage to see who to contact with specific questions.To make sure you receive email messages about bus delays, update your contact information in SIS ParentVUE.

Having trouble with the Here Comes the Bus Mobile app? Check online for instructions and frequently asked questions

National Hispanic Heritage Month

From September 15 to October 15, FCPS recognizes and celebrates the histories and cultures of the members of our community who trace their heritage to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Learn more about the heritage months, celebrations, and traditions celebrated in FCPS. Learn more about National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Indigenous Peoples' Day

Indigenous Peoples' Day

Indigenous Peoples' Day honors the histories, cultures, and contributions of Native peoples, past and present. This year, Monday, October 9, is a student holiday and staff development day. Learn more about Indigenous Peoples’ Day from the National Museum of the American Indian. See the complete school year calendar.

Walk and Roll to School Day

FCPS will participate in International Walk and Roll to School Day on Wednesday, October 4, to promote physical activity and reduce traffic congestion and pollution near schools.Students and employees are encouraged to bike or walk to school and work where it is safe to do so on October 4. Parents are encouraged to accompany their children to school and to work with their school and PTA or PTO to assemble bike trains or walking groups for the event. Schools are encouraged to register online with Walk and Bike to School. Get more information about Walk to School Day.

Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow

Attend Today - Achieve Tomorrow

Did you know that missing just 2 days a month (or up to 18 days a year) can negatively impact a student's grades? Every day in class is a chance to learn, grow, and make friends.

Children who show up for school regularly develop fundamental reading and math skills while building a habit of good attendance that will carry them into college and careers.

Learn how families can help form good attendance habits.

Dr. Larry Bussey Family & Community Library 

My first experience with Fairfax County Public Schools was in the early 2000s, serving as an appointed community member on the School Board’s Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee (MSAOC). The Board continues convening this committee to date, and it remains a highly-regarded avenue for input and advocacy to the School Board about the experiences of our students of minority demographics.

The Committee was led by Dr. Larry Bussey, who was very patient to my many questions and ideas – the bulk of which were informed by my work at the time at the U.S. Department of Education. Although I moved on and eventually returned to FCPS in a different capacity, Dr. Bussey continued serving FCPS students, culminating in decades of work in our collective community.

As such, on August 31, the School Board unanimously approved a proclamation to name the library located within the Family Resource Center the “Dr. Larry Bussey Family & Community Library” as a lasting legacy to Dr. Bussey’s commitment to educate and equip families to effectively advocate for the educational rights and needs of their children.

Dr. Bussey served on the Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee under six superintendents from its creation until his death in 2022. He spearheaded the creation of the Parent Advocacy Handbook, which distributed 15,000 paperback copies and is currently available in multiple languages and online. Arguably, very few, if any, have shown a greater, long-term commitment to minority student achievement and parent and family engagement in Fairfax County Public Schools than Dr. Lawrence Bussey. 

Lawrence Bussey Proclamation Board Photo

Student Opportunities

Disclaimer: Opportunities offered by organizations other than Fairfax County Public Schools are neither sponsored nor endorsed by the Fairfax County School Board, the Superintendent, or a specific school. These opportunities may utilize technology tools that have not been assessed by the Fairfax County Public Schools Department of Information Technology. Students should gain permission from their parent or guardian before engaging in any non-FCPS enrichment opportunity and families should review the Terms of Service, User Agreements, and Privacy Policy for any technology platform that the enrichment opportunity may use before participating.

Kids' STEM Camp: Saturday, October 7th

Come spend an exciting day with the Madison High School Robotics Team!  Campers in 3rd-6th grades will rotate through various STEM activities and games, and get a chance to see a demo of their amazing robot, Susan!  Take a tour through the Robotics room at Madison HS and see a laser cutter in action.  Pizza lunch will be provided.

Click here for more information and registration.

Kids' STEM Camp


College Fair and Postsecondary Virtual Events 

Collage of college logos

High school students and their families are invited to attend the annual FCPS college fair and the postsecondary virtual nights. The college fair will feature admissions representatives from more than 250 colleges and universities from across the United States and abroad. The fair will be held at George Mason University’s Eagle Bank Arena on Sunday, October 15, 4-7 p.m. 

The postsecondary virtual nights will be held on Monday, October 16, and Tuesday, October 17, 5-8 p.m. The virtual event will feature workshops related to the college admissions process, financial aid, and other postsecondary educational opportunities. 

Students are highly encouraged to register in advance for these events.

Coursera Career Academy Student Pilot Program

Students working on laptops

The FCPS Student Pilot Program with Coursera is open for registration. The program, which is sponsored by our Department of Information Technology, allows up to 1,000 FCPS high school students to access the full contents of the Coursera Career Academy.

Through the program, students can explore popular digital jobs and career paths, from marketing to data science, and learn from experts at leading companies, including Google. 

Interested students should complete the Coursera Student Interest Form. Once it is submitted, their parent/guardian will be contacted for consent.  

Please note: Coursera courses are not recognized by the Virginia Department of Education as industry credentials and do not count toward high school graduation requirements. The pilot program has a limited number of licenses which are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Election Page

Are you at least 16 years old, live in Virginia, and actively enrolled in high school? Would you like to learn more about the electoral process and earn service-learning hours that can be applied towards the Seal of Excellence in Civics Education? The Office of Elections is offering you the opportunity to serve inside a Fairfax County polling place as an election page for the upcoming November election. They also encourage students fluent in a second language to apply. Learn more and apply

Virginia House of Delegates and Senate Page Programs

The Virginia House of Delegate and Senate are now accepting applications for their Page Program. The application deadline for the House of Delegates Page Program is Monday, October 16, 2023, at 5 p.m., and the deadline for the Senate Page Program is Friday, October 20, 2023, at 5 p.m. 

The House Page Program focuses on civics education, the lawmaking process, and leadership development. As non-partisan staff of the House Clerk’s Office, Pages are an integral part of an institution with a long-standing tradition of providing outstanding support and customer service to state legislators and those they represent.

Each year, the Speaker of the House of Delegates appoints 13 and 14-year-olds from across the Commonwealth to work in the House Clerk’s Office as House Pages during the Regular Session of the Virginia General Assembly. They assist the Delegates and staff in the House Clerk’s Office in performing a wide variety of daily duties required for the successful operation of the House.

The Senate Page Program also appoints 13 and 14-year-olds from across Virginia. Similar to a college preparatory program, the Senate Program combines organized learning activities with day-to-day duties servicing the legislature.

The mission of the Senate Page Program is to facilitate a structured environment in which young Virginians accept responsibility and accountability, develop professional characteristics through strict standards of conduct, and engage in the legislative process through work, observation, and discussion.

Find more information about the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate Page Programs on the Capital Classroom website.

Congressional App Challenge

The Congressional App Challenge serves as an opportunity for high school students to be more engaged in coding in their district. Every year, Members of Congress challenge students in their districts to create and submit their original apps for a chance to win the Congressional App Challenge (CAC). Each challenge is district specific. U.S. Representatives publicly recognize their winning teams, and each winning app may be put on display in the U.S. Capitol Building for one year.

Winning apps are eligible to be displayed in the US Capitol Building and featured on the House of Representatives’ website.

  1. Winning students are invited to #HouseofCode Capitol Hill Reception in Washington D.C.
  2. Additional sponsor prizes TBA!

For more information and to register, please visit:

Register Your School’s Volunteer Opportunity for VolunteerFest on October 21

VolunteerFest, a countywide day of service will be held on Saturday, October 21, 2023. Participating students will earn service learning hours and support their community. Make it a family day of service! Learn more about VolunteerFest and apply to add your school’s garden cleanup or other project to the list of VolunteerFest opportunities.

Youth Well-Being Prize Competition

Are you a young person between the ages of 10 and 29 with an idea of how digital tools can be used to help improve other young people’s well-being? Do you have ideas about how we could creatively use technology to increase young people’s knowledge around issues that impact them? The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is looking for creative innovators with solutions to pressing issues around well-being. Is this you? If so, apply today for the Youth Well-Being Prize Competition! Applications are open now and close on September 29, 2023. To apply, please fill out the application form and submit here.

Youth Conservation Leadership Institute

The Youth Conservation Leadership Institute (YCLI) is a program for 9th-12th grade students offered by Virginia’s Soil & Water Conservation Districts. YCLI focuses on volunteer service, environmental stewardship, leadership, and connecting students with environmental issues in their local communities. YCLI students complete a 20-hour project of their choosing throughout the school year, meet with their cohort, and receive the guidance of mentors. Learn more about YCLI and apply by Monday, October 2.

Soil and Water Conservation Poster Contest

Calling all student artists! The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District is seeking students to design posters to submit to the 2023 Youth Poster Contest. The theme for this year is ‘One Water.’ This contest is open to all K-12 students in Fairfax County, and scouts are eligible to earn a poster contest patch. Additionally, this year will feature a new digital poster contest open to students in grades 7-12. Learn more about both poster contests and download your entry form on the Conservation Poster Contest website. Entries are due by September 30, 2023.

Job Opportunities

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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