Students and faculty of Herndon High School were notified Jan. 14 that current assistant principal and 12th grade advisor, Frances Ivey, will become the school's new head principal.
"I was absolutely delighted and thrilled," said Ivey of the announcement last week. "Everyone here has been quite excited and supportive of me."
Ivey, who first began working at HHS four years ago as an assistant principal, was working as the 2005 senior class advisor — taking the position four years ago when the students were freshmen.
Now, as new head principal, Ivey will have to let someone else take over her role as advisor.
"I am prepared to pitch in," said Ivey about staying close to the senior class. "I want to reassure staff and students that I am the principal now but I am going to be as close as I can and as hands on as I can with the class of '05."
On Nov. 29, 2004 former HHS principal Janice Leslie announced to staff and students that she would be leaving at the December break to become the director of Secondary Education for Fairfax County Public Schools.
Since then Denny Dearden, director of cluster one for Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS); Jeff Arwood, FCPS human resources director in charge of principal selection, and a panel comprised of three HHS staff, three community members elected by the Parent/Teacher Association (PTA) and one HHS student elected by the student government association began the process of selecting a new principal.
"We were both sold on her ability," said Dearden about his and FCPS superintendent Jack Dale's interviews with Ivey. "She was under the tutelage of a great mentor in [former principal] Janice Leslie."
BECAUSE OF HER WORK under Leslie and knowledge of the school and community, Ivey had a leg up on the position that Dearden said had a number of qualified applicants.
"Before they get to me they have to emerge as a front runner from the panel," said Dearden about the selection process. "We had five strong candidates this year."
From the initial interviews the panel passed along five candidates for Dearden to review before he selected two to three for Dale to select from.
"She has a tremendous passion for the students and staff at Herndon High School — that was evident," said Dearden about Ivey's interview. "She is the exact right fit for Herndon High School at this time."
Because she held an assistant principal position at the school and has an understanding of how the administration is run, Ivey will begin her term immediately, while a possible interim assistant principal could fill her former position until she hires someone new.
"I am looking forward to continuing and building on what's already here," said Ivey. "I will continue to work on the academic pieces and make sure we maintain that high quality of excellence in the classroom."
IN ADDITION to picking up where Leslie left off, Ivey said she will also face challenges.
"Maintaining a safe and secure learning environment is always challenging," she said.
In addition, Ivey said she now has the pressure of making the major decisions.
"The overall school is a collaboration with staff," she said. "I want to make sure before I make those tough decisions I have all the information — I want to be student-centered with my decisions."
The first step as head principal for Ivey will be to hire an assistant principal to take her position, which she and Dearden said is similar to the panel process she had to go through.
"She had a good grasp of the Herndon area and a good approach for the staff, students and the community — it was really obvious," said Dearden about her promotion to principal. "The opportunity to bring in [an interim assistant principal] will be her decision."