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Herndon High School Welcomes New Staff

New teachers get oriented early.

The halls of Herndon High School may be empty compared to how they will look Sept. 7 when the estimated 2,300 students flood them, but on Friday afternoon they bustled with athletes, custodians, administrators and a group of teachers resembling new students wandering the halls.

"Right now we have football, field hockey, the marching band, volleyball and the chorus," joked Janice Leslie, Herndon High School principal, "you wouldn't know school hasn't started."

As the custodial crew blocked off portions of the hallway to wax the floors, the girls volleyball team practiced in the auxiliary gym and a group of eight new teachers trailed slowly behind a HHS veteran who was showing them the various wings of the school.

"We have 12 new teachers who started Thursday and are getting oriented," said Leslie, adding the new faculty comes from across the country.

Along with the new teachers, HHS will have new and old faces in the administrative office filling the three assistant principal positions and a guidance position that opened up in July.

"I was not surprised," said Leslie of the departure of assistant principals Danny Little, Penny Myers and John Werner. "In two of the cases it was a promotion and in the other, the person had been at Herndon for 10 years ... I support all three of their decisions."

The three assistant principal spots will be filled by Jim Hannon, from Falls Church High School; Turnell Sims, a HHS special education teacher, and Shelia Colbert also a HHS teacher.

Another administrator position, director of guidance, was filled by Peggy Perry who is returning to Fairfax County public schools after living in South Carolina.

"They know what they're doing," said Leslie of the challenge of bringing new administrators into the school. "It's exciting to me to have new people to work with, it's always energizing."

Leslie said a major focus for the school this year was to attract more minority students to take advanced placement and honors courses, something the school tried to accomplish by offering summer prep courses to help students place in the higher percentile.

ALTHOUGH THE SCHOOL has no new programs this year, Leslie said there is a surprise scheduled for students in two weeks, although she was "not at liberty to discuss" what it was.

Although the school underwent construction over the summer, there aren't any surprises other than it's behind schedule, but Leslie said it will be ready by the first day.

But, for the group of new teachers walking the empty halls, it's all new, fresh and somewhat nerve wracking.

After the tour of the school, and a glimpse of the marching band practicing in the sweltering heat, the new teachers retreated to the air-conditioned building to head their separate ways and check out their new classrooms.

"I'm excited to get started, and anxious to meet the kids," said Richard Cupolo, a new English for speakers of other languages, or ESOL, teacher to the school.

Cupolo is not only new to HHS, but as a recent Marymont University graduate, he is new to the job, having completed his student teaching internship last year in Arlington.

"It just felt right for me," said Cupolo of his choice to teach at HHS. "It felt very warm and friendly."

As an ESOL teacher, Cupolo has five classrooms he'll have to move from during the day, teaching English literature and basic science concepts.

"I'm anxious ... I feel better now that I am in the school," he said, adding his next step is to create his rules and regulation plan.

PAIGE PFEILMEIER is a new teacher, although not new to HHS.

"I never had a question about staying here," said Pfeilmeier about her choice to teach at HHS after the completion of her student teaching internship last school year. "The kids are awesome, the whole community is so warm and inviting that I wanted to stay."

Because she's already learned the layout of the school, Pfeilmeier took Cupolo around to his various classrooms, while also checking out her room.

"I am really excited to get to see all my angels again," she said, adding she is excited to work with the ESOL students and teach them English literature.

Her other plan for the year is to make sure all students become a part of the classroom, developing their own culture and getting to know her and each other better.

As Cupolo and Pfeilmeier walk down the hall, their conversation stays on the anticipation of school and how to get from one class to the next with the proper supplies and while being on time.

"I just hope I remember what key goes to what," said Cupolo as he jingles the chain around his neck.