Twenty-five years ago, Brad Draeger picked up a conductor's baton to begin his career with Fairfax County Public Schools as director of instrumental music at South Lakes High School in Reston.
Last Thursday, Jan. 22, Draeger, a 25-year Herndon resident whose sons graduated from Herndon High School, was selected by the Fairfax County School Board to orchestrate the school system as interim superintendent while the School Board searches for a permanent replacement for Superintendent Daniel Domenech.
Domenech surprised the School Board on Dec. 3, 2003 by announcing his retirement, effective March 5, 2004.
"Despite the change and the turbulence of looking for a permanent superintendent, the quality of staff will carry the school system as it always has," Draeger said. "I need to send a very strong thank you to the staff for the excellence of the school system," he said.
Draeger, who has an annual salary of $149,162 as chief academic officer, will assume his new role on March 6. The School Board approved a $3,000 monthly supplement to Draeger's salary for the duration of his tenure as interim superintendent.
DRAEGER CURRENTLY SERVES as the school system's chief academic officer. He was the assistant superintendent for human resources from 1996 until November 2003.
Draeger received the Human Resources Professional Excellence in Government Award from HR Leadership Awards of Greater Washington in 2003. In 2000, he was named the Human Resources Executive of the Year by the Local Government Personnel Association.
Under Draeger, the Department of Human Resources reengineered the teacher-hiring process by eliminating paper applications and using resume-scanning software. He developed and implemented an integrated employee disability program and established a human resources call center, web services, employee self-service and manager self-service.
As chief academic officer, Draeger collaborated with Parents for Autistic Children's Education (PACE) and the Department of Special Services staff to enhance the school system's program for students with autism. He also sought to increase diversity of the student body at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology by establishing a national blue ribbon panel of college admission officers to study and recommend changes to admission polices at the school.
DRAEGER BEGAN his career with FCPS at South Lakes in 1979 and created the first summer arts enrichment institute for the school system in 1989. He was a former principal (1990-1993) and assistant principal (1986-1990) of Oakton High School in Vienna.
When he taught at South Lakes, Draeger said he never would have thought about becoming a principal until the opening became available at Oakton. He said he faces a similar situation now and is as excited to lead the school system as he was to lead students in his band class in 1979.
"I'm a very lucky person to be around when opportunity presents itself," Draeger said.
Draeger said he will not apply to become Domenech's permanent replacement.