Many Changes at Lanier

Many Changes at Lanier

Lanier Middle School is undergoing a major renovation, and now the school adds a new principal to its changes.

When Dr. Scott Poole was in college, he developed an appreciation and respect for his professors and for the teaching profession in general.

He became a teacher after working in the private sector for a few years, and said he has since found his place in life. After working at various Northern Virginia middle and high schools for the past several years, Poole is now taking on the role as principal at Lanier Middle School. Poole and city school board officials offered a meet-and-greet at Providence Elementary School, Wednesday, Aug. 16, since Lanier is still trying to get some construction out of the way before the new school year begins. Poole joins Lanier right when the majority of the construction for the school’s extensive renovation project is set to take place, but Poole said his main priority is to always keep the children constantly learning, no matter what distractions lie in the way.

“Our instructional program is the priority, regardless of the renovations,” said Poole.

George Stepp, superintendent of city schools, agreed with Poole and confirmed his point. Stepp said if any situation arises where the construction distracts from education, the construction would immediately stop until it can resume when children aren’t affected.

“We will not affect instruction,” said Stepp. “It’s that simple.”

POOLE WARMLY greeted parents at Providence Elementary’s entrance as they arrived at the meet-and-greet. More than 100 people showed up, mostly parents, and Poole told them his plans for the school and also gave them some advice on how they can help their children learn. He encouraged parents to stay involved in their child’s education by coming to events, participating with the PTA and by knowing what’s going on at the school.

“I remain dedicated to doing what’s best for kids,” said Poole.

Poole began working in Fairfax County as a teacher at Cooper Middle School in McLean. He went on to teach at Langley High School before coming to Lanier as an assistant principal a few years ago. He served as assistant principal at Centreville High School last year, and said he is thrilled about returning to Lanier and to the community.

“There is a very low turnover in our teaching staff,” said Poole. “We call it the Lanier family.”

Poole told parents he would be sending out a weekly e-mail to let them know about the happenings at the school. He encouraged everyone to sign up for the county’s electronic e-mail system via the county school Web site []. Poole related to parents when he illustrated how most children come home and when asked about what they did in school that day, the instant response is almost always “nothing.” Poole said by keeping in touch with the school and remaining involved, parents have the ability to ask about specific events their children did at school, thus always getting an answer other than “nothing.”

“I’ll listen more than I talk to establish and maintain that culture of respect,” said Poole. “And I will keep instruction the main thing.”

Some parents raised concerns about different aspects of the construction at the school. Most of the athletic fields are torn up and are now home to construction crews and equipment. One mother asked about physical education classes and where activities would be held, since the only usable portion of the fields is the portion farthest from the school buildings. Stepp jokingly told the woman that “part of P.E. is getting there [to the fields].” On a more serious note, Stepp did assure parents that the school would not jeopardize the safety of any child. If traveling out to the available athletic field is in any way unsafe, Stepp said the children would not go. Poole said he is happy to talk with parents individually to address any concerns they have regarding the quality of education at the school during this “challenging time.”

“Whatever accommodations we need to make, I’m all ears,” said Poole. “I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging set of circumstances.”

One thing students can look forward to is the brand new facility they will enter at Fairfax High School, said Janice Miller, chairman of the city School Board. Since that school's renovation will be completely finished by the time Lanier students transition into high school, Miller said it's something they can look forward to in high school.

"This year is going to be a very busy year in terms of construction at Lanier," said Miller. "We will do everything we can to make sure there is as little impact as possible on the education of your children."