Theresa Redd is a principal without a school waiting for Belmont Ridge Middle School to open next fall.
"It's an exciting profession. There's a lot of energy in a school building," said Redd, who started with the Loudoun County School District in July.
Redd's office is housed at Heritage High School in Leesburg, the location of the School District's planning offices for new schools. Redd and John Brewer, new principal for Dominion High School, worked at the North Street Administrative Offices until the district's newest high school was ready for occupancy in mid-August.
"It's fun being at Heritage High School because we do have children. We are in a school setting," Redd said.
As students pass by in the hallways, Redd works at her desk planning for the 2003-04 school year. Belmont Ridge is projected to open with 800 students in a building with a capacity for 1,135 students. Three hundred of the students will be rising sixth graders, while 250 students will be in seventh grade and another 250 students in eighth grade, according to preliminary projections.
"I find it challenging and exciting to put together all the pieces of a new school," Redd said. "You have to make sure everything is there."
Redd has to hire a staff, create a master schedule, write several handbooks and select the school colors and mascot. To make the selection, Redd plans to send a letter to parents in mid-October asking for suggestions, then meet with the students in November so they can take a final vote. She will visit the students at Belmont Ridge's feeder schools, including Selden's Landing, Sanders Corner, Cedar Lane and Hillside elementary schools and Eagle Ridge Middle School.
REDD AIMS to build relationships with the school's new students by holding socials and orientation activities and by starting the state-required School Improvement Plan Process early. Students will be asked to help develop a school improvement plan for the school, along with the school's mission and goals.
Redd will spend time visiting classrooms and make sure she is in the cafeteria and halls when students are there. As for teachers, Redd plans to hold team-building workshops and team-development activities, along with scheduling a variety of social events.
"It will be important for me to listen to what parents and students want," Redd said, adding that she will seek their input on selecting the school's mission, focus and goals, so that they can have a "vested interest" in the school. "I would like Belmont Ridge to be a community school," she said.
"She really promotes family, and you can see it in the way she becomes passionate when she talks about the kids and their needs," said Carolyn Windle, bookkeeper for the school.
Redd said she particularly likes working with middle-school students. "They still have enthusiasm about learning. We can still hook them," she said.
Redd has taught for 15 years and worked in administration for 12 years in Spotsylvania and King William counties. Her latest position was at the Virginia Department of Education in the Governor's Best Practice Center, where she worked with principals on improving schools accredited with warnings. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees and is working on her doctorate in educational leadership.
Redd, a Virginia native, lives in Leesburg with her husband of 31 years Tom Redd, who works in sales. They have two adult children.