For the returning students at Aldrin Elementary School the person greeting them at the door this September will be a familiar face, just with a new title. Aldrin assistant principal Marty Marinoff began his new job, as Aldrin principal July 1.
"We're absolutely excited, ecstatic," said Lee Fortna, the outgoing PTA president at Aldrin. "We're all relieved it's someone who knows our students, staff and school. It makes the transition easier."
Marinoff takes over for his mentor, Gina Ross, who opened the school in 1994 and had been the facility's only principal until her retirement this summer. Marinoff had been assistant principal at Aldrin for the past two years, but had also served as Ross' assistant in 1990-91 at Great Falls Elementary.
"In some sense filling her shoes, her legacy will be a challenge. After all, she trained me," Marinoff said. "We do things similarly. We're different, but do things similarly."
MARINOFF, an Alexandria City native, began his teaching career in 1972 as a physical education teacher in Prince William County. Within a year, he switched to Fairfax County Public Schools; where he has remained with the exception of a leave of absence to pursue his graduate degree at Louisiana State and a two-year principalship at a school in Alexandria.
While with the county school system, Marinoff has been a P.E. teacher, an elementary-school specialist, and an assistant principal or a principal at every level. He also taught at Louisiana State while earning his degree.
"When I began in 1972 as a elementary-school physical-education teacher, within the first year I set my sights on elementary-school principalship," Marinoff said. "And everything I did was geared toward that goal. I liked the idea of leadership, of creating a vision, empowering teaching staff, working with adults toward that visions; but still working with children."
It was Marinoff's commitment to children and his experience that sealed the deal, said Fortna, who served on the panel that helped select the new principal.
"We interviewed several candidates for the job. I think it was his experience, he had been a principal before and had been at Aldrin for two years," Fortna said. "His leadership and commitment to the school. His open-door policies for the children, staff and parents, and his communication skills are wonderful."
Fortna said she is prohibited from discussing how many people were interviewed, but for her part, she has no reservations about the choice recommended by the selection committee, which was made up of three parents, three staff members and a representative of the Cluster I office.
She said the committee was given questions and selection criteria from the county school system's Human Resources Department that were written based on surveys completed by parents and staff members.
"The one thing that impressed me, he knows the kids names," Fortna said.
Marinoff, who lives in Fair Oaks with his wife, has three grown children. He knew he got the job when then Cluster I director Joan Wilcox walked in and did not have anyone with her.