New in Elementary Schools

New in Elementary Schools

Principals describe new staff, programs.


A new librarian and a new third-grade teacher will make their debuts this fall at Aldie Elementary School, which will also begin Spanish classes for first- through fourth-grade. Enrollment is on par from last year's numbers, said principal Joyce Hardcastle, but she expects about 90 students by the time classes start. The school also got a bit of a makeover this summer with a new paint job changing its visage from yellow to white with blue trim.


Many Algonkian Elementary School students will no longer have to travel to other schools to participate in English as a Second Language or the Futura Program for gifted fourth and fifth graders, Principal Rob Duckworth said.

Algonkian has enough classroom space now to offer them on campus. Some of last year's students have moved to new area schools, making room for ESL and Futura, he said.

"We're thrilled because our children in the past have had to go to other schools," he said.

Algonkian is receiving a new look thanks to Eagle Scout Austin Shangraw. He solicited volunteers and funding to build brick work around the school sign and to create a slate patio and benches for parents to wait for their children at the end of the day. "It's a very nice thing," Duckworth said. "It should be done before school starts."

Back-to-School Night has been changed so parents can visit Algonkian before school starts instead of afterward. It will be held Sept. 2, and students are invited to meet their teachers the next day.

The new school theme is "Reach for the Stars at Algonkian." The students will develop a musical video to the Earth, Wind and Fire song, "You're a Shining Star," he said. The teachers will tie the theme into lessons on astronomy and related subjects.

Duckworth said he did not have to hire any new teachers. Enrollment is expected to be about 550 students, "very close to what was projected for us," he said.

Algonkian's Spanish program will be expanded to the fourth grade. The School Board has funded Spanish lessons for all elementary school children in the county.


A new teacher in every grade level at Arcola Elementary School will infuse the school with new energy this fall, said principal Dawn Haddock.

"That's definitely going to give us a little growth," she said.

This year will also be a test year for the school, as teachers will be investigating the possibility of switching to a "four-block" method of teaching reading for the following year. Each teacher will study one block — self-selected reading, working with words, guided reading or writing time — and eventually help decide if it's a method that the entire school wants to adopt.


It's business as usual this fall at Ashburn Elementary School, where enrollment is expected to be on par with last year's 700. The school welcomes four new teachers and a brand-new parent liaison position.


Belmont Station Elementary School opens this fall under the watch of principal Patricia McGinly.


Cedar Lane Elementary School is adding two new programs this year — first, a preschool program for 2- to 4-year-olds, and second, a Gifted and Talented Center. Students will be bused from other local schools to Cedar Lane once a week to participate in the GT program.

In other news, students will get to meet an astronaut as part of the school's "Reach for the Stars" theme.

Enrollment is down from last year by about 200 to about 750 students.


Enrollment is expected to be on track with last year's 760, said Dominion Trail Elementary School principal Sharon Keegan. Half a dozen new teachers will start the year off.

Students will also have the option of taking Spanish. For the first time, ESL (English as a Second Langauge) students will remain at Dominion Trail for class instead of busing to another school.


Forest Grove Elementary School will be welcoming two new teachers from Australia through the International Visiting Faculty program, said Principal Nancy Torregrossa. They are joining three other international teachers. "That is very exciting. They always add such a nice touch to the school," she said. "They are able to share their culture with us."

Four classes were added this year and four teachers were hired, she said.

The Spanish program will be expanded to the fourth grade.

"We're participating in a Steps to Literacy program (for kindergarten through 2nd graders), which provides very effective strategies in reading and writing," she said. "It focuses on guided reading and word study and gets students to become independent readers at a very early age."

Forest Grove will have three English as a Second Language teachers and three assistants to do team teaching with classroom instructors.

Enrollment is expected to be at 600 students.


Guilford Elementary School is adding a third English as a Second Language class this year. Principal Deborah Cookus and the teachers will assess the students and decide which grade level will benefit from the additional class.

The school has six new teachers.

Enrollment is at 380, but will increase before school begins on Sept. 7, she said. "Many people don't realize they should be enrolling their children now. They'll be enrolling them when school starts."

An open house is slated for 1:15 p.m. Sept. 3, so parents and students can meet the teachers and see their children's classroom. "That way they will know where to go the first day," she said. "It won't be as scary. We do this every year."

In keeping with tradition, Cookus will post the names of the teachers and students on both sets of front doors at 3 p.m., Sept. 2. Students are expected to flock to Guilford. "The students will find out who their teachers are and who is in their class," she said. "It's an annual event. It's cute to watch."


Enrollment is staying steady at Hillside Elementary School this year, as it's expected to be on par with last year's 800. Hillside also brings in six new teachers.


Horizon Elementary School will be offering Spanish for the first time. "I think it's going to be a great opportunity for our children," said Principal William Raye. "As our county grows, we are bringing in different cultures. It's nice for these children to learn something about another culture."

Horizon will have eight new teachers, including one from Australia.

Students will be coming back to a school that has been "refreshed," meaning they will have all new computers. Dell PC computers has replaced McIntosh, he said.

School enrollment will be about 750 students, he said.


"We're growing in leaps and bounds," said principal Irene Ellis. Hutchison Farm Elementary School is adding a new classroom to first through fourth grades and welcoming a total of 31 new teachers. Enrollment is expected to peak at just over 800.

One new development this year is that each child will write and publish his or her own book.


Lowes Island Elementary School will celebrate its students this year with the theme "Toad-ally Awesome Year," Assistant Principal Robert Marple said. "We have totally awesome students and staff."

Last year's theme was "Bee the best."

The school has five new teachers: one kindergarten, one first grade, two second grade and one physical education. It also has a new head custodian, he said.

The students will be introduced to Spanish this year, with two teachers providing lessons part-time. First and second graders will receive a 30-minute class once a week, and the third and fourth graders will have two 30-minute lessons.

"It's a very valuable program," Marple said. "I think it's going to be very worthwhile, and it will benefit the kids."


Laura Seck is the new principal of Meadowland Elementary School. She has the challenge of replacing Dennis Young, the first and only principal at the school for the past 25 years. Formerly a reading specialist, she describes herself as a hands-on educator. She plans to enhance the programs that Young had in place. "The school has wonderful test scores and motivated parents," she said.

She is particularly interested in expanding the guided reading program, introduced to students and teachers last year.

Seck has recommended the hiring of three classroom teachers and is looking for a reading teacher. Another reading teacher and two classroom teachers were hired before Seck became principal.

Students will notice new tile floors in the gym and cafeteria.


Last year, many parents who wanted to send a child to Mill Run Elementary School were told they couldn't — the 1000-student-strong school had maxed out classrooms in every grade except kindergarten and fifth.

"This year, we came up with a great new solution," said principal Paul Vickers.

Mill Run will open this fall with two campuses — kindergarten through third grade will remain at the current facility, while fourth and fifth grade will move to a satellite campus as Eagle Ridge Middle School. While the two campuses will have separate offices, Mill Run students of all grades will ride the same buses to school, making a first stop at Eagle Ridge.

Vickers emphasized that Mill Run will still be a single school.

"I'll be spending time at both campuses," he said.

Mill Run also welcomes 14 new teachers this year and a handful of other new staff, such as a librarian and a guidance counselor. Currently, enrollment for the fall is at about 1,100; Vickers expects up to 1,500.


Potowmack Elementary has eight new teachers. It will provide the Steps to Literacy program for the first time this year.

Assistant Principal Matthew Semler said enrollment should be about 550 students.

"Our overall theme is 'Taking a Journey,'" he said. The school had a "team" theme last year.

Students will enjoy a new blacktop for recreation.


Rolling Ridge Elementary School students will be welcoming a new assistant principal, Linda Truitt. She was a third grade teacher at Virginia Beach before joining the Sterling school.

Principal Melinda Carper said Truitt is very knowledgeable about staff development and instructional strategies.

Carper said she is looking forward to improving the school's teaching practices by assessing the learning environment, taking apart the data, and identifying the strengths and weaknesses.

Rolling Ridge has three new classroom teachers, three special education teachers, two ESL teachers, and four teacher assistants.

It is adding the Steps to Literacy program based on a four block literacy model. "I'll have a consultant come in and do staff development on the program," she said.

Teachers will focus on guided reading, self-selected reading, working with words, and writing. "I'm going to have my teachers do all four blocks everyday within their classroom," she said. "This is just matching strategies to individual student needs."

Rolling Ridge will introduce Spanish courses to all of the students. "I think it's good for children to have more than one language," she said.

Carper said she is looking forward to the children's return to school. "It's lonely here without them."


The halls of Sanders Corner Elementary School could be filled with the sound of students chattering in Spanish this year, as the school is adding two new language programs to the curriculum.

Spanish will be offered for first through fourth grade. ESL will be available for kindergarten through fifth grade. Students enrolled in ESL will travel from other local schools to spend a half day at Sanders Corner.

Another new development for the fall will result in the naming of the Sanders Corner dolphin. Students who participated in a summer math and reading program will get a chance to name the dolphin sometime in September.

While Sanders Corner is not adding new teaching positions this year, it is welcoming seven new teachers to the roster. Because of the opening of Belmont Station Elementary School, enrollment is expected to be in the 700-730 range.

"That's the smallest we've ever been in our 10-year existence," said principal William Prokopchak.


While enrollment as of press time was at about 860, Seldens Landing Elementary School is expecting nearly 1,000 students this fall, said principal Susan Browning.

"It's a big increase from last year," Browning said. Enrollment for the 2003-2004 school year topped out at little more than 700.

Nine new teachers will start this year. Otherwise, Seldens Landing is staying the course. "We'll be continuing what I thought was successful," Browning said.


Sterling Elementary has five new teachers this year. Principal Michele Freeman could not be reached, but school officials say her assistant principal came on board in January. Andrew Davis had been a third grade teacher at Lowes Island Elementary School before joining Sterling Elementary. His father is president of Shenandoah University.


Sugarland Elementary School students will have a new assistant principal this year. Jennifer Steeprow was a music teacher for five years. "I'm responsible for special education," she said. "I would like to continue fostering a happy learning environment in a community-based school."

The school has two new pre-school teachers, two special education teachers and four teaching assistants. The pre-school provides full and part time instruction.

Principal Jennifer Ostrowski said the Parents Teacher Organization is launching a raffle this year to build a $52,000 playground.

Sugarland is continuing its Steps to Literacy program and full-time kindergarten, which started last year, she said. The kindergarten program has been a success.

"It's just fabulous," she said. "The students made tremendous gains in their reading and their writing."

Enrollment is expected to be at 500.

The theme this year is a starfish, "Making a Difference, One Student at a Time." It extends last year's theme "Together We Make a Difference."

Ostrowski hired two ESL teachers, one reading teacher, one music teacher, one special education teacher, and six classroom teachers.



Principal Clark Bower took on his job in January of last year. "It was like jumping on a train that was going full speed," he said. "I had to figure it all out."

The advantage this year is that he is familiar with the staff, the students and the routines. "There are small things I would like to do differently. It's a matter of fine-tuning some things that already have been put in place."

He said he is implementing the Steps to Literacy program and integrating more technology into the classrooms.

Enrollment is expected to be about 425 students. Spanish will be expanded to the fourth grade.

"We've added an ESL program, another teacher to that program," he said. "We're up to three ESL positions."

Under Bower's leadership, the school slogan changed from "Home of the Hornets" to "A Culture of Excellence." They kept the hornet as their mascot.

"We have a very diverse culture. The content or curriculum allows our students to have an excellent education, similar to the county's 'Creating the Climate of Success.'"

Sully Elementary School has a new assistant principal, Kathleen Luckett. She has taught for 27 years in Indiana and Texas, with an emphasis on programs for gifted students, he said. "She has taught everything from inner city schools to a private all boys school."