Heading Back to School

Heading Back to School

New year brings some new faces to area schools.

<bt>With the beginning of the school year approaching, area administrators, teachers and staff have started getting busier as they prepare for the next few months. While some are education veterans with decades at their schools, others like Oakton High principal John Banbury and Thoreau Middle principal Mark Greenfelder are getting acquainted with their new surroundings. Luther Jackson Middle is preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.

Here's what's going on at area middle and high schools:

James Madison High School

500 James Madison Drive

Vienna, VA 22181


Principal: Mark Merrell


Web site: www.fcps.edu/MadisonHS/

Back-to-School Night: Tuesday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m.

Fall Festival at Madison on Thursday, Sept. 2.

According to principal Mark Merrell, Madison is entering its third year of development as a Professional Learning Community. In order to provide Madison students with additional time and support, the 2004-05 school year will see the introduction of an assistance period. "This 35-minute block of time is designed to provide students with additional time to receive the support they need to be successful," wrote Merrell in an e-mail.

The new school year will also see the completion of Madison's seven-year, three-phase renovation. "I hope to have an open house for the community in late November or early December to showcase the school," Merrell wrote.

So far, enrollment is at 1,831, which is an increase of 130 students since last year, and 330 students over a five-year period.

"Madison is excited about continuing with the implementation of the Professional Learning Community concept, and we will continue to pursue the vision of the school as stated on our Web site," Merrell wrote.

George C. Marshall High School

7731 Leesburg Pike

Falls Church, VA 22043


Principal: Leslie Butz


Web site: www.fcps.edu/MarshallHS/

Back-to-School Night: Wednesday, Sept. 22, 7 p.m.

Marshall High School is doing its share to welcome its new students through the Pre-IB program and freshman orientation.

The Pre-IB program took place in July at Marshall as students from feeder schools studied IB courses for three weeks. The program targeted minority students who were not sure if they could handle the IB program when they became juniors in high school.

"The Pre-IB program has been very successful because almost all of the kids have signed up for Pre-IB courses their freshman year," said PTA president Jackie McCauley.

Marshall will continue to sponsor the Professional Learning Community in order to give more academic attention to its students. The program is offered during the lunch periods and is open to any students who wish to receive extra help.

In order to help the freshmen become oriented with the school, Marshall's administrators, teachers and the PTSA will sponsor a potluck dinner on Wednesday, Sept. 1. A representative from Booz-Allen & Hamilton will be present as well to speak to the incoming freshman class.

Students can pick up their schedules on Aug. 26.

Luther Jackson Middle School

3020 Gallows Road

Falls Church, VA 22042


Principal: Carol Robinson


Web site: www.fcps.edu/LutherJacksonMS/

Back-to-School Night: Tuesday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m.

On Sept. 7, Luther Jackson Middle begins its 50th year in existence. When the school opened in 1954, it served as Fairfax County Public School's high school for black students. With the end of segregation, the last senior class graduated in June 1965, and the school re-opened the following September as an integrated middle school.

"Since that time, the school population has increased in numbers, reaching a high of 1,073 last year," wrote principal Carol Robinson, in an e-mail. "The student population has also become very diverse: 50 different languages spoken and 100 countries represented. The school will be hosting a series of celebrations this year honoring '50 Years of Distinction.'"

Also in store for Jackson is a new addition to the school building. "We are expecting to begin building a new section to the back corner of the school [closest to Gold's Gym] in the spring," wrote Robinson. The expansion adds 10 new classrooms, two science labs with storage space and movable doors within and between classrooms. Not only will the addition eliminate the need for Jackson's 13 outdoor classrooms, it will include space for new lockers, which will replace the temporary lockers that currently occupy the hallways.

One of Robinson's goals for the new school year is finding ways to "challenge and motivate" students to achieve in their academics. "This applies to all of our students — all of whom must meet the expectations of Virginia's Standards of Learning while meeting the goals set forth by the federal No Child Left Behind legislature," wrote Robinson. "We are looking at what other schools are doing to support students in order to incorporate best practices to Luther Jackson."

Kilmer Middle School

8100 Wolftrap Road

Vienna, VA 22182


Principal: Paul Farmer


Web site: www.fcps.edu/KilmerMS/

Back-to-School Night: Thursday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m.

There are a few new changes to Kilmer Middle School this year, said Kilmer Middle principal Paul Farmer. The school is interviewing candidates for the assistant principal position, as former assistant principal Jess Hudson has transferred to Liberty Middle. Kilmer has also installed a new sound system for its stage and is preparing for one more mobile computer lab.

Also new are a visitor management program, where all visitors will have a picture identification from the school, and a new band director. The incoming director, J.D. Anderson, last taught at Longfellow.

Continuing this year will be the late bus system, Farmer added. Enrollment as of mid-August is getting closer to 950, a little over the projection of 920 students.

"We hope the late bus days continue twice a week. It provides transportation for students who stay for special programs," Farmer said.

Thoreau Middle School

2505 Cedar Lane

Vienna, VA 22180


Principal: Mark Greenfelder


Web site: www.fcps.edu/ThoreauMS/

Back-to-School Night: Thursday, Sept. 30, 7 p.m.

In his first year at Thoreau Middle School, new principal Mark Greenfelder would like to build on the successes of principal Bruce Oliver, who retired last June.

"My goals are to try and keep all the great things academically going that have been going on," he said. "It's a truly wonderful and great school. I truly believe in the philosophy to leave things better than you find them."

When students arrive in September, they'll find a spruced-up campus. "We're trying to make it a more inviting place," said Greenfelder. Outside, the metal railings have been removed, and new planters have been installed. Inside, lockers have been repainted, and the offices and conference rooms have been refurbished. All of the administrative office furniture has been updated.

Although Greenfelder is new to Thoreau, he's not new to the area. Born in Fairfax County, Greenfelder is a graduate of West Springfield High School. He went on to earn a bachelor of science degree from Virginia Tech and received a master’s degree in education leadership from George Mason University.

He started his education career at Fairfax County as a physical education teacher at Garfield, Cameron Run and Mount Vernon Woods elementary schools. At Irving Middle School, he taught P.E. for 4 1/2 years. Greenfelder was an assistant principal at Greenbriar East in Fairfax for three years. His most recent job was as subschool principal for the Class of 2004 at Robinson Secondary School. He served in that capacity for three years.

According to Greenfelder, he and his wife, Kelly, were high-school sweethearts. They have three children: Kelcie, 7; Kyle, 5; and Keith, 2.

As befitting a former P.E. teacher, Greenfelder describes himself as an avid exerciser and weight lifter. However, he derives his most enjoyment from the time he spends with his students and his family. "I dedicate myself to my children and whatever school I'm in," he said. "I love to read for pleasure and spend time with my children."