After 17 years in the Fairfax County School system, August Frattali is finally the man. For the last five years, Frattali has worked along side principal Gail Womble. Both Womble and Frattali, 48, helped open Rachel Carson Middle School in 1998. Both feel and exhibit a strong devotion to what they both call their "Rachel Carson family." Earlier this year, Womble, the only principal Rachel Carson has ever known, announced she was retiring from the county and a search was begun for her replacement. The county didn't need to look far for Womble's successor, he was just down the hall.
LAST MONTH, the county promoted Frattali into his first principal position. Just who is happier — Womble or Frattali — is up for debate.
"I am very excited," Womble said. "I honestly can't imagine leaving this place to anyone but Auggie. He is the total and complete package. I know this will be a very seamless transition."
For Frattali, this is a dream job. He was overjoyed at hearing the good news, he said. "I didn't want to be just a principal," he said. "I wanted to be principal of Rachel Carson Middle School. This place holds a special place in my heart. We opened this school together."
Frattali, a Scranton, Pa., native, says he couldn't ask for a better mentor than Womble. "She has taught me so much," he said. "I am a lucky man."
But Frattali is not worried about trying to "fill the shoes" of his mentor. "No, I have to make my own shoes," he said. "I am my own man."
FRATTALI BEGAN his county career as a sixth-grade teacher at Chesterbrook Elementary School in McLean. Frattali, who lives in Ashburn, met his future wife when they were teachers at Spring Hill Elementary in McLean. The couple have two children, Austin, 11, and Anthony, 8.
The soon-to-be Carson principal has also worked at Franklin Middle School in Chantilly and Hunters Woods Elementary School in Reston. "Something kept dragging me back to middle school," Frattali said. "I just feel I have a better fit with that age. I just enjoy where they are at this stage. They are independent, but they still have a strong need for you."
Still, despite all the experience and familiarity with Rachel Carson, there is something about being the boss. "If I wasn't a little concerned, I wouldn't be the right man for this position," he said.