Portrait of a Graduate Discussed

Portrait of a Graduate Discussed

 Braddock District school board member Megan McLaughlin asks for “caring” to be a key component for the school district’s Portrait of a Graduate.

Braddock District school board member Megan McLaughlin asks for “caring” to be a key component for the school district’s Portrait of a Graduate. Photo by Reena Singh.

The heart of the school system’s new strategic plan is closer to being approved.

The Fairfax County School Board discussed the five component Portrait of a Graduate - with some asking for a component emphasizing a caring quality - at Monday’s work session.

“We haven’t truly captured what we’re trying to say with ‘goal-directed,’” said Mason District board member Sandy Evans.

She and a handful of other board members felt the last component, “Goal-directed and resilient” came across as cut-throat. She said the word “caring” needed to be in the heading of the component because character ethics is a priority.

THE FIVE COMPONENTS for the Portrait of a Graduate that was created for approval are Communicator, Collaborator, Global Citizen, Creative and Critical Thinker in addition to Goal-Directed and Resilient Individual.

“You can be all of these things and be a horrible human being,” said Braddock District board member Megan McLaughlin.

She said her reason for needing the heading’s name change stemmed from her social work background.

“It’s one of the most important things we can do, create a young person who cares,” she said.

Hunter Mill District board member Pat Hynes agreed that the name sounded “pushy.”

“It’s really all about ambition - that’s what it comes across as sounding,” she said.

Portrait of a Graduate was announced by Superintendent Dr. Karen Garza last October during an education summit. Since then, stakeholders have sent in a flurry of comments on what the final product should look like.

“We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of people submit feedback to the committee,” she said. “It resonates with a lot of people.”

Even retired teachers, she said, have supported the measure.

FCPS Chief of Staff Marty Smith showed a video about the importance of the five components for a students and what type of student they want graduating from the school system.

“This is what we call the heart of the strategic plan,” he said.

Smith said that Portrait looks at skills even the youngest students might need when they graduate. In addition, he said that everyone, including himself, could identify with the qualities they need to be good at school, their job and their life.

“It’s not changing the ‘what,’” said Garza. “It’s changing the ‘how.’”

She said she wants to honor the committee’s work by keeping most of the wording, but there could be some room to put the word “caring” into the last component’s heading.

Several other board members felt that changing the wording was not necessary.

“We’re at the Queen Elsa moment where we need to just let it go,” said at large board member Ryan McElveen.

Springfield District board member Elizabeth Schultz felt that the words “goal-directed” were being misconstrued. While other members felt that it was pressuring students to become world leaders, Schultz said goals are different from person to person depending on their situation, whether that means having a 4.9 Grade Point Average or dressing themselves.

“Having goals isn’t a bad thing,” she said. “Being resilient isn’t a bad thing.”

BOARD CHAIRMAN Tamara Derenak Kaufax encouraged those unhappy with the name to submit amendments by the end of the week. The board is scheduled to vote on the proposal at the next School Board meeting Sept. 18.

The components for Portrait of a Graduate can be found at http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/fairfax/Board.nsf/files/9NNHVC4A210A/$file/POG%20Chart%20FINAL.pdf.