August 22, 2002
Kilmer Middle School principal Paul Farmer will have something in common with about half of his student body this year. Just like his incoming seventh grade class, this will be Farmer's first year at the school.
"I'm looking forward to the doors opening and the students coming in," Farmer said. "That's what makes a school a school. I can't say that it's scary. I've been in education long enough that, to see a school open, it's more of an exciting time."
From January 2000 until last year, Farmer was an assistant principal at Falls Church High School. Before that, he spent 18 years in the Montgomery County, Maryland school system, starting as a teacher and working his way up into an assistant principal position. For about the past 10 years he has been working toward becoming a principal. Now that he has achieved that goal, he said he will work to provide mentoring and guidance for both teachers and students.
"On a daily basis parents send us the absolute best thing they have to send us," Farmer said. "I don't know a parent who keeps their best child home, and sends the second best. So they deserve the best we, as educators, have to offer."
Farmer will be meeting with his teachers over the following week, to discuss plans for the following year. He has not yet made any concrete decisions on new programs for the school, because he is waiting for input from his co-workers. Teachers are due back in the school building next Tuesday, Aug. 27.
"I want to get the staff in the building and hear what they feel are the needs of the school," Farmer said. "They are residents here, so they have a good understanding of what the students need and what the school needs."
Farmer said he was proud of the school's Standards of Learning scores, which have risen consistently over the past four years. In particular, he mentioned last year's scores for the geometry, biology and algebra 1 portions of the test, all of which were passed by 100 percent of Kilmer students. The school is a center for advanced math, science and technology studies.
"In no way do I mean to take the credit for [the test scores]," Farmer said. "But it means that a lot of good things are happening here. Students are coming to learn and teachers are coming to teach."
This summer will also mark the end of a long-term renovation project at Kilmer. Several sections of the school, on the interior and exterior, have been updated. The construction should be over by the first day of school, and Farmer said the changes will make it seem like teachers and students are walking into a new building.
Another new administrator at the school will be assistant principal Jessica Lewis, who was previously the learning disabled department chair at Madison High School. Farmer expects about 900 students to be enrolled at the school, with more than 100 total staff members.