Rachel Carson Middle School’s student body will experience themes and lessons presented over a decade of teaching while at the same time receiving the opportunity to choose from expanded programming and course offerings as well as a new administrative member as they kick off the new school year next week.
This year’s theme, "A Decade of Dreams" looks to draw attention to the number of inspirational themes imparted to students since the school opened its doors in 1998, according to principal Auggie Frattali.
"When we first started we saw an opportunity to have a school where our children can be exposed to new ideas," Frattali said while working with other administrative staff to decorate the school’s media center with items paying homage to the school’s past themes and activities. "For every teacher and every student who comes through these doors, we’ve tried to have an impact on how they will learn and interact with each other, and we feel like we’ve accomplished that."
In honoring the 10-year anniversary, Frattali said that he hopes to point to the track of progress in the teaching method that has occurred over the last decade.
"Through the last 10 years … there’s been so much in education that has happened to change how we see its method," said Frattali, pointing to the introduction of more hands on teaching, greater instructor accountability and the No Child Left Behind Act. "It’s the idea that instead of just the student learning something from a teacher, you’re teaching the whole student."
THIS YEAR’S INCOMING classes will also have a more expansive offering of after-school activities, language tutoring opportunities and course offerings, according to student services director Cheryl Weaver.
"It’s bursting at the seams," said Weaver, of the school’s after-school programs. "We’ve always been strong with our after-school program, but ever since Fairfax County Public Schools has believed in our program, we’ve had more [financial] support and can just do so much."
Some of this year’s new programs include everything from babysitting training courses sponsored by the American Red Cross to karate. In addition, the school will be introducing a new "wellness class" that looks to encourage nutrition and healthy eating habits alongside a proper exercise routine and new Japanese language courses, Weaver said.
"We just want children who can have the opportunity to take a wide variety of classes and have a number of options to expand their horizons," she said.
The programming has opened up opportunities for children that were at one time never thought possible, Frattali said.
"These kids are having experiences that I could never even dream of when I was a kid," he said. "It’s very impressive what these kids do, I experience that every day here."
THE SCHOOL HAS also welcomed new assistant principal for the 7th grade class, Tam Ballou.
"She’s been a leader not only in other schools, but in county positions for several years," said Frattali. "So we’re very fortunate to have someone with her experience that can add to our team."
Ballou, who is a former administrator at Glasgow Middle School in the Baileys Crossroads area of Fairfax County, was excited to receive the transfer position at Rachel Carson Middle School based on its reputation and administration, she said.
"It’s a great school, every time you hear about Rachel Carson Middle School working in the county, it’s only good things," Ballou said. "I’m looking forward to working with the administration, they made feel like a part of the team from the second I walked through the door."
The addition of Ballou will work to further the school’s focus on progress and new ideas merging with historical success over their "Decade of Dreams" theme, said Frattali.
"Not only do we want to challenge our students academically, but we want to consistently expose them to new ideas," he said. "I think having someone with [Ballou’s] level of experience and history will be a tremendous asset for our student body this year."