A ceremony was held last week by the Fairfax County School Board to present the 2004 Fairfax County Public School Principal of the Year. Selected was Barbara Gernat of Mountain View School. There were also several finalists, including Donna Pasteur, principal of Carl Sandburg Middle School.
"I thought it was wonderful," said Pasteur. "It's beyond an honor; it speaks of what we do, the students, the staff, the parents. It was a wonderful recognition for all of us."
Pasteur was nominated by Assistant Principal Wendy Eaton, and said in her letter of nomination, "Mrs. Pasteur is well known as a strong educational leader throughout the school system who effectively balances management and leadership.
"Mrs. Pasteur continually engages the community and creates a shared responsibility for students' academic success. Just as she listens to her staff, she listens to the community and allows them to share in the leadership/decision-making process making them active partners.
"She is well deserving of such a prestigious recognition and is an exemplar having the knowledge, leadership, value, beliefs and commitment representative of the quality educational leaders in Fairfax County."
James Bennett, president and CEO, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, has worked with Pasteur as a result of the business partnership with the school. He wrote, "Our employees participate in various school events throughout the years, from track meets and Career Day to technology fairs and awards assemblies, and they never fail to comment on Mrs. Pasteur's stature in the eyes of the students.
"Her very presence commands respect. At the same time, no student is a stranger to Mrs. Pasteur, who knows her students by name and accomplishments."
OTHER ENDORSEMENTS came from Dr. Elizabeth A. Henderson, Ed.D. Assistant Professor, George Mason University and Cynthia A. Jones, Math Department Chairperson, Carl Sandburg Middle School.
Henderson wrote, "As a motivator of strong faculty team spirit and educational leadership, Mrs. Pasteur's skills are unrivaled. Occasionally, teachers from Sandburg will be enrolled in graduate courses I teach. Without exception, each person uses Mrs. Pasteur as an example to follow in preparation for school administration. In a description of her principal, one graduate student state, 'Mrs. Pasteur is the kind of principal I would like to be she has high expectations for herself as well as everybody else.'"
This is Pasteur's 32nd year working in Fairfax County. She has been with the school system since she graduated from Tuskegee University.
"I was right out of school when I started," said Pasteur, whose first position was as a Health and Physical Education teacher at Hollin Meadows. She said that most of her time after that was spent in student services, as a counselor and director.
Pasteur spent two years as a sub principal at Mount Vernon High School before accepting the principal position at Sandburg seven years ago.
Pasteur's sister, Cynthia Buck, also graduated from Tuskegee University and is now a principal at Mount Eagle Elementary School. Between the two of them they have more than 60 years in the school system. Pasteur's husband is a retired school teacher, and their daughter is an occupational therapist at Greater Southeast Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Pasteur is proud of what they have achieved at Sandburg; they became fully accredited last year and she wants to retain that status. She said that they are also working to comply with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) standards.
"We worked diligently. We're building some good people here," said Pasteur.