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McNair Readies for Second Year

Herndon's newest school, McNair Elementary, is gearing up for its second year of operation when classes begin on Sept. 3. Principal Susan Benezra says she and her staff of 130, including 14 new teachers, are looking forward to the building on the successes of the Thomas Jefferson Drive school's first year.

"This year we will truly be a family because now we know all of each other," Benezra said. "So much of last year was getting to know one another and our routines."

Benezra is also looking forward to having the school's schedule in place before the first day of school, something that wasn't possible during the school's inaugural year.

"Unlike last year, we were able to plan in advance and we know what is going to happen from day one," Benezra said. "Long-term planning helps a school run more smoothly."

<b>WHILE THE SCHOOL</b> is young, it is not immune from many of the same growing pains of some of the region's older schools. Benezra expects to have 1,050 students on the first day of school, more than 100 more than walked through the doors last year. As a result, Benezra has fielded dozens of calls this summer about the four double-wide trailers that recently sprang up on the school's front yard. The trailers will house four classrooms during the upcoming school year.

"Obviously, this has been a cause of concern for our community and I understand that," the principal said. Because of the townhomes on either side of McNair, the principal said this was the only place the portable classrooms could be placed. "Hopefully they will only be here one year," Benezra said. "I am told we will have a more permanent structure here next year."

Benezra credits the housing boom in the Herndon-area with the school's jump in numbers. "Bottom-line, this is just a great place to live," she said. "I can't blame anyone for moving here, it's just a very advantageous place to live. That is why I moved here."

McNair will continue to partner with McDonalds and the school is close to announcing another partnership with a Dulles technology firm, the principal said. In addition, Benezra is "extremely excited" to be partnering with the Kendrick Senior Citizens Apartment again this year. Senior volunteers come to the school every Tuesday to help teachers put together classroom materials and handouts. "We love having them over here and they love to be with the children," Benezra said. "It's a great program."