Herndon High School principal Janice Leslie told her staff Monday, Nov. 29, that she will be leaving at the December holiday break to become the Director of Secondary Education for Fairfax County Public Schools.
"It's disappointing because Jan has been an outstanding principal, ambassador and asset not only to Herndon High School, but also to the Herndon community," said Gary Hall, boys basketball coach.
As basketball coach for 15 years, Hall said, in the six and a half years Leslie was principal, she was supportive and created opportunities for the school.
"She offers the opportunity to do well, she hires good people and lets them do their job," he said, adding he was surprised at the announcement of her departure.
"It was certainly a shock," he said, adding on a lighter note, "I think we were just at the point when we were turning Jan into a basketball fan."
Leslie admitted in her almost seven sports seasons at the school she guessed she may have missed only three football games, adding she tried to support all the extra-curricular activities because it was important to the community.
Linda Waddell, Herndon High School administrative assistant, worked closely with Leslie and said during her term Leslie has led the students and staff of HHS in building a reputation of dedication, commitment and success.
Waddell said Leslie has been one of the most caring and compassionate persons she has met, adding under her leadership the school has been able to put academics first "while continuing to maintain a place of excellence in sports and all other extra-curricular activities."
AS FAR AS accomplishments, Leslie said she does not look at the work she did at the high school as a personal accomplishment, but instead attributes the success to the staff and students.
"I am most proud of how the school adjusted academically to rigors and testing and how well they tried and excelled at it," she said. "It's always a work in progress because at the high school level people move through and move on."
Although always hard to say good-bye, Leslie said HHS stands out as one of the best schools she has worked at in her years of education.
"I know I have said this before and I don't mean to sound trite, but this is the 12th school I have been in and I have never seen a faculty as hardworking and giving as this one," said Leslie. "If the community here could only know all I know about what teachers have done for the kids ... I am very lucky to have worked with them."
As Director of Secondary Education, Leslie said she will be working with high school academic and curriculum programs and superintendent initiatives, and will begin Jan. 3, 2005.
REPLACEMENT EFFORTS to fill Leslie's position began Tuesday, Nov. 30 with an internal email to FCPS high school principals notifying them of the opportunity for a lateral transfer, said Jeff Arwood, the county's human resource person in charge of principal selection.
Arwood said FCPS principals have one week to respond to the email if interested and then the position will be closed and posted for a week on the county's Web site for those outside the system to apply.
During that time Arwood and Denny Dearden, FCPS cluster director for cluster one — Herndon's cluster — will meet with staff, students and parents and members of the community to discuss selection criteria.
Dearden said a meeting will be held, Monday, Dec. 6 with students at 1:30 p.m., staff at 2:20 p.m., and then any interested parents or members of the community at 7 p.m. to gather input toward a potential replacement.
"There will be a lot of rumors, but the cluster director is mainly concerned with finding out ... what kind of principal they are looking for," said Arwood.
After gathering criteria, a panel of staff, students and parents will interview applicants and select top candidates for Dearden's review. From there he will pull two to three qualified applicants for FCPS Superintendent Jack Dale to review for the final selection.
Dearden estimated a new principal will be selected the earliest by mid-January and possibly into February.
Until then, Dearden said either a retired high school principal will work at the school or an assistant principal at the school will be given the opportunity to act as principal for the month.
"We're looking for the best possible leader because we're all in it for the students," said Dearden, adding Leslie will be hard to replace. "She was an outstanding leader who did a remarkable job in not only moving students forward but also mentoring some assistant principals to become principals themselves."