Herndon High School students and parents will have plenty of new names to learn this year, as more than a dozen new teachers and several fresh staff members and community volunteers get set for the 2007-2008 school year.
The injection of new faculty is the result of a combined necessity due to retirements, administrative transfers and an expanded staff roster, according to Herndon High School principal Frances Ivey.
"We’ve made sure to hire a variety of staff, both brand new teachers and very experienced teachers," she said. "We worked all summer in hiring and reviewing, and they weren’t just administrative decisions. We had staff members from all over the school sitting on the panels that hired these new staff members."
"And they’re all committed to high student achievement and academic excellence that our students and parents have come to expect."
Alongside the 16 new teachers that will start their first year at Herndon High School this September are two new counselors, a new Fairfax County Police school resource officer, a 10th grade assistant principal and a new PTSA president, Ivey said.
HAVING THE OPPORTUNITY to start this school year at Herndon High School was a dream that was realized after just a few months for school counselor Sonya Williams. During an observation period with Herndon student services director Peggy Perry last spring, Williams fell in love with the school.
"I really like it, so I made sure that Peggy knew that if there were any openings that she give me a call," said Williams, a five-year FCPS employee. That request was filled when Williams was notified of a vacancy at the school.
"I felt that they had a real strong sense of community here, and that intrigued me," Williams said. "And the opportunity to work in an environment as diverse as Herndon’s was very interesting."
The school’s strong academic record were what hooked 12-year marketing teacher Dave Petruzzi from Mount Vernon High School to Herndon.
"This is exactly the place that I wanted to be," Petruzzi said. "They have a veteran [marketing] department where people know what they’re doing and they have a lot of experience working with students in this field."
While the PTSA programming is expected to stay its course as it focuses on connecting teachers, parents and students and offering alcohol- and drug-free alternatives to students, it will be operated with the direction of a new PTSA president for the first time in seven years, as Reston resident Ann Marie Ruskin will take over for Lisa Lombardozzi.
"We have a real nice mixture of really involved new parents and some long-time veterans, so we’re looking forward to see how we will all work together," Ruskin said. "We’re very fortunate to have a staff and faculty that is so involved with the PTSA program."
THE INFLUX of new names and faces will be a trademark of the area’s public schools system in the coming years, according to Williams.
"I think it’s one of the new signs that we’re seeing in the county more and more," she said. "With more people retiring, you’re finding that there are plenty of young people willing to fill those vacancies."
As a rule, gradual change with a refreshed faculty roster is good for a school to retain sharp interest among students, Petruzzi said.
"In the education industry, anytime you get new ideas and new people together it adds a new element of excitement," he said. "I think that it’s important, especially as kids get older, to keep them expecting new and different things, keeping them on their toes."
BUT IT MIGHT not be just the new faces among the staff that keep Herndon High School’s students feeling rejuvenated next year, as school technicians are finishing a half million dollar replacement of essential air conditioning piping and ducts, according to Ivey.
Workers, who were putting the finishing touches on the new air system last week, were expected to finish the project in time for the start of the school year.
"The result should be much more comfortable air for our students and faculty," Ivey said.
This year students an also expected a more advanced and experienced "Stinger Time" program, as teachers and school administrators have been able to evaluate the study program after its first full year in effect. The 30-minute periods each day which offer students a chance to meet with teachers and tutors for extra help in selected courses will be more efficiently and flexibly presented this year, Ivey said.
"We had a lot of success with the program last year, and for the most part, the students have really come to like it," she said. "But we hope to continue to fine-tune it this year and get more help for those kids who might need a little extra assistance with their homework assignments."
Keeping the students on track with the help of a network that connects them more easily with parents, teachers and administrators will be the continued focus of faculty this year. This process is expected to be aided as well with an expanded mentoring and orientation period for students in advanced placement courses, as well as greater parent-teacher conference opportunities and parent connection to courses over the Internet, Ivey added.
"I always say that it takes a village to raise a child, and this is what we’re trying to facilitate," she said. "The easier that a parent can keep in touch, the better we can all work together to ensure student success."