Tis the Season for Gratitude! - TJHSST November Update

Message from the Principal

Dear TJHSST Families:

The entire TJ faculty and staff extend a heartfelt thank you for supporting our amazing school!  We would not be who we are today if not for your tireless dedication, volunteerism, sacrifice, and pride you bring to us each moment.

We will continue our tradition of giving families the gift of time during major holiday breaks.  No short-term homework will be assigned over Thanksgiving.  This means no new work is due on Monday, November 27, assessments will not be given on that day, and we are discouraging major assessments for the Tuesday and Wednesday of return.  We want our students to enjoy a mental wellness break and have time to safely connect with family and friends.

To that end, you may find valuable this Challenge Success resource Playtime, Downtime, Family Time. The PDF approach for families reaches children of all ages. We also recognize the holiday season can cause stress and depression. Please reach out to a school counselor if you see your child struggling. Families may contact CrisisLink (703-527-4077) or Crisis Text (text NEEDHELP to 85511).

Because we've been so busy, you may have missed all the various accomplishments at TJ. While we don't have space to list them all, we can celebrate that NOVA Magazine listed TJ as the top Northern Virginia school! Our students have been celebrated in media for Eagle Scout projects, op ed letters, publishing books and research, presenting at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, being invited to the National Symphony Orchestra, starting up businesses with innovative apps, College Board Merit and Scholarship qualifications, Coca-Cola semi-finalists,  leading the way in Artificial Intelligence studies, staging plays and concerts, advancing to state cross country competition, winning state publications awards, and so much more!

The accomplishments of our students are a direct outgrowth of their classroom and co-curricular experiences. During the coming month, if you have an opportunity, please reach out to a teacher and/or staff member and express your gratitude. Our faculty continues to find creative ways to reduce workload, emphasize depth over breadth, and give students voice and choice. Teachers remain flexible, consistently refine their approaches, and endeavor to meet the needs of individual students. Teachers are working above and beyond each day to deliver an exceptional educational experience for your children. 

We are a strong community learning together. If you would like to learn alongside our students, consider volunteering to help supervise at lunchtime, or perhaps apply to be a substitute at TJ. When we have highly qualified adults helping cover classes and other duties, we are able to plan for continuity of instruction and support our teachers. Please contact assistant principal Ms. Chrystal Benson cpbenson@fcps.edu  who oversees parent volunteers and substitute arrangements.

Parents often ask what is the best support they can give their child. It is simple. Be there for them and care about what and how they learn. Ask them about their day and one or two things they learned as opposed to asking about a specific grade on a quiz or test. With the start of second quarter, the curriculum continues to build and skills may become more complex.

Remember that free online tutoring services are available around the clock every day of the week for a multitude of courses included AP classes and beyond. Through your child’s Schoology account, sign in to tutor.com. TJ already has over 560 students taking advantage of the service in over 1,000 sessions. The top hits? Physics, Trigonometry, Calculus, Chemistry, and Writing. Our students with high standards rate the tutor.com service with 4.63 out of 5 stars. Now that’s something for which to be thankful!

Enjoy a healthy and fulfilling holiday!


Dr. Ann N. Bonitatibus

Proud Principal, TJHSST 

Thankful for MTSS - How Does it Work?

Note: This is part of a monthly series to help families understand TJ's MTSS system. To see the first article in the series, please visit the October News You Choose newsletter.

MTSS is TJ’s Multi-Tiered System of Support committee. Supports for students are divided into three “tiers”. Tier 1 consists of universal supports that are in place for all students, such as high-quality instructional practices and a system for identifying and addressing wellness needs. Tier 2 intervention is targeted to support a specific skill. Interventions at the Tier 3 level are usually delivered by trained, specialized staff members.

But how does the MTSS committee identify students to focus on for higher-level supports? 

Students are identified through referrals from teachers or counselors. If a teacher notices that a student could benefit from a higher level of support, they write a referral to the MTSS committee, identifying their concern and what they have done to support the student thus far. This referral can be submitted for a student who is having difficulty as well as a student who shows highly exceptional performance.

The committee then discusses the student’s needs at the next committee meeting and decides on next steps to take. This process allows TJ to ensure that our students are connected to research-based supports in the area of academics, wellness and/or attendance.

Thankful for the Chance to Refocus and Catch Up

After consulting with students on our Student Principal's Advisory Council (SPAC), TJ will schedule a Catch-Up Day once a quarter (starting in second quarter) on a Monday Anchor Day. 

  • Students will have the opportunity to complete previously assigned work including missed assignments/assessments and/or previously assigned longer term assignments that had not yet reached the due date.  
  • It is NOT intended for introduction of new assignments or new material.

At TJ the Catch-Up Days will be: 

  • December 11, 2023
  • March 18, 2024
  • April 22, 2024

Thankful for our TJ Staff - Outstanding Employee Nominations Open Now

Nominations are open for Outstanding Employee Awards!

To submit a nomination for a TJ Outstanding Employee in the categories below, please read the criteria and complete the nomination by using this form.

You CAN use the same form to nominate one employee or multiple employees (for different categories).

All that is required for a preliminary nomination is a paragraph about how this employee demonstrates exceptional work based on the criteria listed.


Outstanding Teacher 

Eligibility: Has at least three years of experience as a teacher (in any school/school district); librarians are included in this category

Nominees must be teachers or librarians who:

  • Instill in students a desire to learn and achieve.
  • Understand the individual needs of students, encourage their talents, and foster their self-esteem.
  • Showcase a thorough knowledge of subject matter and the ability to share it effectively with students.
  • Proactively facilitate cooperative relationships with their colleagues, students, and the community.
  • Demonstrate outstanding leadership.
  • Foster an environment where diversity in all of its forms is valued and appreciated and demonstrate keeping equity at the center of their work.


Outstanding New Teacher

Eligibility: Has up to three years of experience as a teacher (in any school/school district); librarians are included in this category

Nominees must be teachers or librarians who:

  • Exhibit superior instructional skills.
  • Interact exceptionally well with students.
  • Demonstrate excellent ability to communicate and engage with faculty, staff, parents, and the community.
  • Foster an environment where diversity in all of its forms is valued and appreciate and demonstrate keeping equity at the center of their work.


Outstanding Leader 

Eligibility: At least one year of experience in their current position as a Schedule-C or School-Based Administrator scale employee (that is not the building principal):

Common positions in this category: Assistant and Associate Principals, Director of Student Activities, Director of Student Services

Nominees should be school-based leaders who:

  • Provide a unique and exceptional contribution to FCPS through their work.
  • Demonstrate commitment and leadership in their field.           
  • Foster cooperative relationships with colleagues and/or the community. 
  • Foster an environment where diversity in all of its forms is valued and appreciated and demonstrate keeping equity at the center of their work.


Outstanding Professional Employee 

Eligibility: At least one year experience in current position as a Schedule-B employee or other non-instructional employee in a school that supports school leadership

Common positions in this category: School-Based Technology Specialist, Technology Support Specialist, Assessment Coach, Communications Specialist, Career Center Specialist, Instructional Coach, Psychologist, Social Worker, School Counselor, Safety and Security Specialist, Resource Teachers that serve in an administrative role in a school

Nominees should be school-based employees who:

  • Provide a unique and exceptional contribution to FCPS through their work.
  • Demonstrate commitment and leadership in their field.
  • Foster cooperative relationships with colleagues and/or the community.
  • Foster an environment where diversity in all of its forms is valued and appreciated and demonstrate keeping equity at the center of their work.


Outstanding Operational Employee

Eligibility: At least one year of experience in current position as Schedule-A or Classroom Instructional Support Scale employee

Common positions in this category: Administrative and Office Staff, Safety and Security Assistant, Custodial Staff, Food Service Staff, IA, PHA, PHTA, All Parent Liaisons

Nominees should be school-based support employees who:

  • Provide a unique and exceptional contribution to FCPS through their work.
  • Demonstrate commitment and leadership in their field.
  • Foster cooperative relationships with colleagues and/or the community.
  • Foster an environment where diversity in all of its forms is valued and appreciated and demonstrate keeping equity at the center of their work.


The deadline to submit a nomination is Wednesday, November 15, 2023.

Thankful for Building Community in IBEST

Collage of Photos from IBEST activity


One of the most important aspects of the IBEST (Integrated Biology, English, Statistics, and Technology) program is its focus on building community within the cohorts. Teachers will often create unique activities that encourage students to solve problems as a group and build that comradery amongst them.

Last month, the IBEST cohort led by Ms. Hale, Ms. Hampton, Ms. Iyengar, and Ms. Lipman ran an activity where they would post an image on the screen. One member of the group would have their back to the screen, while the others would be looking at it. They would then have to describe what they see to the person with their back to the screen, who would then attempt to draw it solely based on their description. This activity taught the importance of communication, trust, and working together to meet a common goal.

The photo gallery above features pictures from the activity. We thank all of our teacher for their innovative approaches to teaching. 

Dankbar for German Students Earning their GSD Diplomas

collage of photos from German DSD diploma ceremony


For the second consecutive year, several TJ German World Language students went above and beyond in their studies and passed the German DSD exam. This is an exam created by the German Department of Education that allows them to show their fluency in both the language and culture, and qualifies them to attend universities in Germany if so interested. 

On Oct. 27, TJ held a ceremony to celebrate the students who earned this honor, with a representative of the German Embassy on hand to present their diplomas. The photo gallery above is from that event. 

Thank You PTSA for Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration

Collage of photos from the Hispanic Heritage Month


Afterschool on Oct. 13, the TJ PTSA put on its third annual Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration. Celebrating many different cultures, there was music, performances by TJ students and community members (both singing and dancing), a fashion show, and of course lots of delicious food!

Thank you TJ PTSA for all you do in putting on these cultural celebrations. Please enjoy the photo gallery above. You will even see the FCPS Chief of Schools Dr. Ponce addressing our community.

Grateful for the Chance to Be Together, TJ HoCo a Big Success!

Collage of photos from Homecoming dance


Inclement weather postponed TJ's Homecoming Dance back in September. Ever resourceful, the TJ Student Government Association (SGA) was undeterred as they rescheduled the dance for October 21. 

Now with a spooky Barnie's Haunted House theme, students enjoyed a night of dancing karaoke and food, while coming together as a TJ community. Thank you TJ SGA for all your hard work despite all the weather related challenges!

Thankful for our Alumni, TJ Theater Visits Jose Llana on Broadway

photos from TJ Theater trip to New York City


TJ Theater recently had the opportunity to take a trip to New York City. While there they got to see TJ Class of 1994 alum Jose Llana perform on Broadway in the new hit play, Here Lies Love. After the play the students got to meet with Llana and pick his brain about his career (top picture).

The group also took in the play Kimberly Akimbo while on Broadway and afterwards participated in a musical workshop with one of the actors from that play (bottom picture). 

Thank you Ms. Murray for leading our kids on such a memorable trip!

Grateful to put Learning in Action, Future Business Leaders put on Marketplace Competition

FBL club collage of photos


Eighth Period features over 150 clubs, including those that help prepare students for real world scenarios. One such club is the Future Business Leaders. 

Last month they held their Marketplace Competition, where club members attempted to sell small items (all items $5 or less) to see who can make the most profit. It required them to be creative in both how to secure items (some ended up being homemade), properly market them, and then also make a profit while adhering to the price limits. 

Over 100 kids signed up for the event to go shopping and help the Future Business Leaders out. A photo gallery of the competition is above.

Thankful for Voices at the Table

TJ values the perspectives and opinions of students and incorporates them to genuinely shape learning and decision-making at the school.  By actively engaging in the decision-making with students, staff validate TJ’s student voice and advocacy.

TJ students have many opportunities to share their views on school policies, operations, and events.  Committees where students can share their input with TJ staff are as follows: Student Government Association and monthly Open Forums with the Principal, Student Principal's Advisory Councils (Wellness/Instruction and Logistics), Mental Health Coalition, and Human Relations Committee.

Students interested in giving voice may contact SGA or the front office to inquire about monthly meeting dates.


In each newsletter we want to give some quick shout outs to TJ staff, students, teams, and alumni.

  • FCPS recently revealed that 17 of its schools were named to the Advanced Placement (AP) Honor Roll. TJ was proud to be named a Platinum Distinction School, which is the top honor. 
  • Congratulations to seniors Lakshmi Sritan Motati, Naisha Patel, and Brian Zhou for being named Coca-Cola Scholar Semifinalists!
  • TJ student journalists brought home three Trophy Class awards from the Virginia High School League (VHSL) last month. Earning the honor in the Magazine Division was the 2023 edition of Threshold. Under the Newsmagazine Division tjTODAY was recognized. Finally under the Yearbook Division, the 2023 Techniques yearbook earned the Trophy Class award.
Marching Band at competition


  • Congratulations to the Thomas Jefferson Marching Band for another wonderful fall season! They earned a finalist-placement, placing ninth at the Bands of America, Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships at the University of Maryland on Saturday, Oct. 21. TJMC was also first place in their class at the Herndon Showcase on Sept. 30, and again at the Woodgrove Classic on October 7 where they were also named the Grand Champion. Good luck to to the marching band as they conclude their season with a trip to Liberty University for the VMBC State Championship and Commonwealth Cup Championships competitions!
  • The TJ Percussion Ensemble has been honored with a selection as a featured performer at the 2023 Virginia Music Educators Association (VMEA) Professional Development Conference at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. They will perform an hour-long concert at 6:00 PM on Friday, November 17 in room E10. In preparation for this event, please join the Percussion Ensemble in the TJ auditorium on Saturday, November 4th at 7:00 p.m. for a VMEA Preview Concert! Admission is free.

Ms. Schmitt and TJHSST students at NCTM


  • A pair of TJ students (along with one from Oakton High School) were brought by Ms. Schmitt to present their work at the poster session of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Research Conference in Washington DC. Their project was titled Calculus for Elementary School Students; Methods for Teaching the Basics of Calculus to a Pre-Algebra Audience. The group engaged a some sixth grade pre-algebra students in activities to explore the concept of infinity as well as the building blocks for derivatives and integrals. 

Thankful for Family - November is Family Engagement Month

FCPS Family Engagement Month Logo

This month reminds us that families are children’s first and most important teachers, advocates, and nurturers.  The importance of family engagement will be highlighted during the month of November as we celebrate and strengthen family-school partnerships together.  

FCPS' Family and School Partnerships Office has provided suggested activities and resources for the Family Engagement Month for schools and families to celebrate this month together. Consider this calendar of great ideas with families to try during November!

Quick Reminders

Here a few quick reminders that TJ Families should be aware of:

  • TJ does not allow food service delivery during the day. Please reinforce with your child that ordering from a delivery service is not allowed. If food is delivered to the main office during the school day, it will be held until the end of the day at 4 p.m. when the student can come pick it up.
  • Please remember that at the end of the day, parents/guardians who are picking up their child should park on the side of the building and wait for them to exit doors 7 and 9. Do not line up in the Kiss and Ride lane, or park in the faculty or visitor parking lots. Thank you for your cooperation.
  • From TJ Assessment Coach Ms. Broadhead - Students who filled out the google form to self-study an AP exams should check their school email for information on joining AP Classroom to finalize the registration process. Students should join AP Classroom no later than Friday, November 10.

JLC Volunteering Opportunity During November and December

Dear TJ Parents and Guardians, 

Thank you again for everyone who has come in to help us during JLC time. This Wednesday (Nov. 8) will be a rare non-Monday Anchor Day /JLC. We can use a few extra volunteers to monitor hallways 12:10 – 12:50 p.m.

In addition, we are looking for more volunteers for any of the remaining Mondays before Winter Break (Nov. 27, Dec. 4, or Dec. 11).

Sign-Up via this link. 

Class of 2026 Parents/Guardians - Join the 10th Grade Parent Book Club "The Emotional Lives of Teenagers" by Lisa Damour, Ph.D

Dear Class of 2026 Parents/Guardians,

We want to invite you to join us for the 10th grade Parent Book Club this year! We will be reading "The Emotional Lives of Teenagers: Raising Connected, Capable, and Compassionate Adolescents" by Lisa Damour, Ph.D. 

According to Amazon: "Parents who read this book will learn:

  • what to expect in the normal course of adolescent emotional development and when it’s time to worry
  • why teens (and adults) need to understand that mental health isn’t about “feeling good” but about having feelings that fit the moment, even if those feelings are unwanted or painful
  • strategies for supporting teens who feel at the mercy of their emotions, so they can become psychologically aware and skilled at managing their feelings
  • how to approach common challenges that come with adolescence, such as friction at home, spiking anxiety, risky behavior, navigating friendships and romances, the pull of social media, and many more
  • the best ways to stay connected to their teens and how to provide the kind of relationship that adolescents need and want

We are planning to have 2 in-person sessions for this book club.  The tentative book club discussions will be in January/February to allow enough time to read the book. More details to come.  If you are interested in joining the book club, please register at this link.  

TJ Athletics Thankful for its Seniors!

Collage of Senior athletes from all fall sports


TJ Athletics wants to thank everyone for a successful fall season. A special shoutout goes to the 46 senior fall athletes! A collage of our Senior Day celebrations can be seen above. 

Winter sports (basketball, sideline cheer, gymnastics, indoor track, swim & dive, and wrestling) start on November 6. All tryout information and coach contacts can be found on the TJ Athletics Website. www.tjsports.org

The TJ Finance Office Thanks Seniors and Families for Clearing Outstanding Financial Obligations

The TJ Finance Office wanted to send a friendly reminder to members of the Class of 2024 about outstanding financial obligations. Currently over 160 seniors have at least one old obligation (overdue from 9th-11th grade). Prior to graduation, all outstanding obligations must be cleared from your child's account. Now is a great time to return/pay for these items.

What are outstanding obligations?

Outstanding obligations may include unpaid course fees (Design & Tech, Robotics and Art), overdue books and materials (textbooks, library books, laptops and chargers), unpaid field trips, or club fees/dues.

How do I know if my senior has any old obligations?

Individual emails will be sent out in the next two weeks to seniors (and parents/guardians) who have outstanding obligations.  If your senior owes more than one obligation, multiple emails (one per outstanding item) will be sent.  The emails will also explain how to return/pay for the overdue items.

Thank you in advance for helping your senior clear their old outstanding obligations.

Questions? Please email the TJ Finance Office at TJHSSTFinance@fcps.edu or call (703)750-8336.  

Follow TJ on Social Media!

Be sure to visit Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology On its official social media channels!

Visit our X (Twitter) account @TJHSST_Official  for news, upcoming events, reminders of important deadlines, and updates of all the fun activities going on at the school.

Visit our Instagram account @OfficialTJHSST for pictures and highlights of those fun events!

We'd love it if you give us a follow!

Important Calendar Reminders

Nov. 6: School Planning Day - no school for students

Nov. 7: Teacher Work Day - no school for students

Nov. 8: This Wednesday will be an Anchor Day - students will attend advisory followed by all 7 of their classes.

Nov. 22-24: Thanksgiving Holiday - no school for students or staff

Nov. 27: This is a modified Anchor Day - there will be a 60 minute advisory and no JLC.

Dec 1: December News You Choose newsletter released.

Dec. 7: Religious or Cultural Observance Day (Hanukkah)Begins in evening, school in session with normal hours, no afterschool activities

Dec. 8: Religious or Cultural Observance Day (Bodhi Day) - school remains in session with normal hours.

Dec. 11: First Quarter Catch-up Day

Dec. 13: Winter Band Concert - 7 p.m. in auditorium

Dec. 18-Jan. 1: Winter Break - no school for students or staff