After 33 years educating Arlington students, Marion Spraggins is ready for a little rest and relaxation. ?I have piles and piles of books that I?ve been lining up to read,? said Spraggins.
The Washington-Lee High School principal is retiring at the end of this year to travel and spend time with family. She?s looking forward to the birth of her second grandchild later this year, and says the time off will allow her to make up for sacrifices to her career over the years. ?[Family members] have been very patient with me in the time I?ve spent,? she said.
Time on the job, and her commitment to students over the past three decades, earned her praise from other educators, like schools Superintended Robert Smith. ?I truly respect and admire the contribution you have made to the Arlington County schools,? Smith said at a reception in Spraggins? honor last week.
Teachers, school officials, parents and students gathered for three hours to present gifts and awards and talk about old times. Col. Christopher Essig, the commander officer at Fort Myer, presented Spraggins with the Commander?s Award for Public Service, for her years of educating children of military families.
?I don?t know what else to say except ?thank you,?? said Spraggins.
SCHOOL BOARD CHAIR Elaine Furlow recalled the day she found out Spraggins would accept the job at Washington-Lee. ?One of the happiest votes I ever cast as a school board member was making Marion principal of Washington-Lee High School,? she said. Spraggins became principal of Washington-Lee three years ago. Before that, she headed the administration at Swanson Middle School. Washington-Lee was in flux when she took over.
?What a difference a leader makes,? said Furlow. During Spraggins? tenure as principal, student test scores on the Virginia Standards of Learning exams improved across the board, and Washington-Lee gained full accreditation from the state board of education last year.
Teachers and parents at last week?s reception attributed the school?s success in no small part to Spraggins? ability to create an environment where teachers and students felt comfortable learning.
It wasn?t just her know-how that impressed her colleagues. Furlow recalled a meeting with parents shortly after Spraggins took the reins at Washington-Lee. Several parents challenged the new principal on educational programs. When a particularly difficult question came up, Spraggins asked for help instead of asserting her authority.
?What a gracious way to be a leader, to say, in a calm way, ?I don?t know everything,?? said Furlow.
SPRAGGINS WILL be replaced at Washington-Lee by Greg Robertson, the current principal at Swanson Middle School.
Spraggins and her husband have two sons who live in Arlington, one of whom teaches at Barcroft Elementary. ?Education is in our blood,? said Spraggins.
Although she looks forward to the change of pace retirement will bring, education will always be a part of her life. ?Of course I?m going to miss the job. I?m going to miss the interaction with people?the students, the staff,? she said. ?And that desire to always improve the transfer of learning.?
Sharon Monde, who served as an assistant principal under Spraggins and currently heads the administration at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, said Spraggins? influence on the school went far beyond education.
?What she brings to education cannot be duplicated, but more importantly, what she brings to life is a joy to be near,? she said.