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Letter to the Editor: Former School Board’s Achievements

— Last week, newly-elected city leaders were sworn into office, and seven members of the Alexandria School Board — Mimi Carter, Yvonne Folkerts, Sheryl Gorsuch, Blanche Maness, Helen Morris, Art Peabody and Charles Wilson — ended their terms of service. As current and former PTA presidents, we are writing to thank each of them for their work, and to recognize some of the significant accomplishments that they achieved during their tenures:

  • A comprehensive award-winning strategic plan that aims to prepare every student for college, work and life, and has as its core principles educational excellence, higher achievement for all, a culture of collaboration, continuous improvement and accountability, and environmental stewardship. http://www.acps.k12.va.us/board/strategic-plan/

  • A 21st-Century Curriculum for all subjects from kindergarten to 12th grade that was custom-designed for ACPS and is the first of its kind in our schools. While presenting a course of studies that exceeds state standards, it focuses on helping our students develop higher-order thinking skills. Parents can view one-page summaries describing the sequence of units for every subject area at http://www.acps.k12.va.us/curriculum/design/course-glance.php

  • A transformed T. C. Williams High School. When T.C. was designated as “persistently low-achieving,” the transformation model of change that ACPS chose included a thorough review of instructional practices with nationally-recognized experts. A record two-thirds of the senior class took the SAT in 2012 and scores increased from the previous year. For the first time, T.C. has been accredited under No Child Left Behind. http://www.acps.k12.va.us/tcw-transformation/

  • A consistent record of delivering responsible budgets to the City Council. These budgets included capping elementary class sizes and reducing per-pupil costs by 2.2 percent over the past four years, even while enrollment increased 20 percent during the same period. Eight preschool classrooms have been added, and the Board has made a priority of ensuring that every child in Alexandria is enrolled in Pre-K. The Board has also implemented the Baldrige Model of Excellence (Plan-Do-Study-Act), which has shown impressive results at Cora Kelly Elementary School, for example.

While many challenges remain, our school division as a whole is markedly stronger than it was five years ago, and is on an upward trajectory. Each year, a higher percentage of ACPS students are graduating on time, attending college, enrolling in and earning passing scores on AP exams and taking more rigorous course loads, and fewer of them are dropping out. The achievement gap is starting to narrow. ACPS students are excelling at unprecedented levels in the classroom, in the arts, and on the playing fields. Forty-one teachers have earned the coveted National Board Certification distinction.

Over the years, these members of the School Board haven’t always seen eye-to-eye on the best way forward for our schools. But they were a model of collaboration and compromise of which our community can be proud, and the accomplishments listed above, along with many others, resulted from those collaborative efforts. We look forward to working with the new and returning School Board members, and we hope that they will continue to build upon the noteworthy progress that our school division has made in recent years.

Cindy Anderson, Past President, Alexandria PTA Council, T.C. Williams High School PTSA, George Washington Middle School PTA and George Mason Elem. PTA

Kay Arndorfer, Past President, Charles Barrett Elem. PTA

Patty Chamberlain, President-Elect, T.C. Williams High School PTSA; Past President, Hammond Middle School PTA and James K. Polk Elem. PTA

Beth Coast, Past President, Jefferson-Houston Elem. PTA

Kelly Dresen, President, Jefferson-Houston Elem. PTA

Maggie Fitzsimmons, Past President, T.C. Williams High School PTSA and Douglas MacArthur Elem. PTA

Julie Forsht, Past President, Cora Kelly Elementary PTA

Mary Giordano, Past President, George Washington Middle School PTA

Priscilla Goodwin, Past President, T.C. Williams High School PTSA and George Mason Elem. PTA

Marianne Hetzer, President, T.C. Williams High School PTSA; Past President, Alexandria PTA Council, Hammond Middle School PTA and James K. Polk Elem. PTA

Lisa Jacobs, Past President, George Washington Middle School PTA and George Mason Elem. PTA

Linda Kelly, Past President, Alexandria PTA Council and Cora Kelly Elem. PTA

Aileen LaGanza, Past President, George Mason Elem. PTA

P. J. Lepp, President, Alexandria PTA Council and Past President, Douglas MacArthur Elem. PTA

Judy Lyons, Past President, George Mason Elem. PTA

Nicole Maaia, President, Charles Barrett Elem. PTA

Cindy Martinez, Past President, Charles Barrett Elem. PTA

Karen McManis, President, George Washington Middle School PTA; Past President, Alexandria PTA Council and Charles Barrett Elem. PTA

Ann O’Hanlon, Past President, George Mason Elem. PTA

Marsha Oshima, Past President, Cora Kelly Elementary PTA

Priscilla Plishker, Past President, Matthew Maury Elem. PTA

Marie Randall, President-Elect, George Mason Elem. PTA

Jennifer Roda, Past President, Charles Barrett Elem. PTA

Becky Sullivan, Past President, George Mason Elem. PTA

Carey Sullivan, Past President, George Mason Elem. PTA

Tom Tyler, President, Cora Kelly Elem. PTA

Annie Vroom, Past President, George Mason Elem. PTA

Katherine Walker, Past President, John Adams Elem. PTA

Rosie Wiedemer, President, George Mason Elem. PTA

Melynda Wilcox, Past President, Alexandria PTA Council, George Washington Middle School PTA and George Mason Elem. PTA

Jeff Zack, Past President, Alexandria PTA Council and James K. Polk Elem. PTA