Every year teachers at Carl Sandburg Middle School meet in the library for their first staff before school opens. This week, Principal Donna Pasteur and the administrators greeted new and old faces, along with two special guests.
Dr. Calanthia R. Tucker, Ed.D., Cluster IV Director, and Dr. Dan Domenech, superintendent, Fairfax County Public Schools, joined the staff meeting. They were there to celebrate the school's full accreditation.
"Becoming fully accredited, it's a wonderful achievement," he said, citing some statistics about the Fairfax County Public Schools system.
"People don't understand the diversity of this system. They are shocked when I tell them that 48 percent of the students are minority, especially in a school system that compares to none."
Domenech then said that the average SAT score in Fairfax County is 1,110. "This is unbelievable and unheard of," he said. "We are the 12th largest school system with 168,000 students, and we graduate over 12,000 kids every year."
Looking at the assembled group, he said, "It happens because of the work you do with them."
Two challeges remained ahead, according to Domenech. The first is that the schools have to look after every child. "We want every child to learn; some students are still slipping through the cracks."
Domenech urged teachers to reorganize. "When you're teaching over 100 kids, you have to make sure that each one is meeting their goals. Everybody has to come together and pitch in," he said.
THE SECOND challenge is to elect people who support the schools. Domenech reminded the group that the elections are coming up in November and at least 5 of the 12 school board members will be replaced.
"Politicians say that they're for education, and then they cut the education budget. Our society has to recognize the value of educators and education. Your job is to be a Goodwill Ambassador and go out and tell everybody about the great job you're doing. What you're doing makes the quality of life in Fairfax County be what it is. You're making a big difference."
Domenech said that he had the opportunity to meet and greet the 1,400 new teachers starting this year in Fairfax County.
"Everyday a miracle happens in one of our schools. You are all miracle workers, and for that, I can't tell you how thankful I am," he said.