Gunnery Sgt. Gordon (left) welcomes new cadets for first-year Marine JROTC class at Mount Vernon High School on the first day of classes, Sep. 6.
Photo by Tim Peterson.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
It might surprise some people, Mount Vernon High School Principal Dr. Anthony Terrell said, but 90 percent of students at his school — with a 54 percent poverty rate — are consistently on time to class.
“That’s phenomenal for me,” said Terrell, who took the reins in March 2016 after an interim principal replaced former principal Nardos King.
“They come for something, we have to make sure we give them something.”
On Sept. 6, the first day of school, Terrell said students were “super excited” to be back in school and that the morning went smoothly, with all but around two buses on time and four shifts of students successfully transported to West Potomac and Edison academies for specialized coursework.
“We welcomed 500 freshmen for the class of 2020,” Terrell said, “they’re ready to go.”
Having a football team with a new head coach and sporting a 2-0 undefeated record also goes a long way for starting the year off on a high note, he added: “It’s a shot in the arm.”
Joining the new students to Mount Vernon are roughly 40 new teachers and instructional assistants. Combining the fresh faces with the school’s established faculty, Terrell is bringing a fresh mission and vision for the school’s next several years.
“Academics is our focus,” he said. “A lot of people flee Mount Vernon, to West Potomac, Hayfield, private school. We want to make Mount Vernon the place to be.”
Among Terrell’s plans are making Mount Vernon an International Baccalaureate World School, implementing a “Renaissance School” student behavioral program and following the IB “learner profile” that puts forth values for student performance in line with the Fairfax County Public Schools “Portrait of a Graduate.”
Terrell also said he wants to change from a “teacher-centered to student-centered instructional mode.”
“It’s just a matter of shifting,” he said, “from students ‘sitting and getting,’ to kids getting up and doing work.”
For Terrell, the year is a “clean slate.” He’s looking forward to see how the students and faculty leave their mark on it.