School Days Start Again

School Days Start Again

Fairfax County Schools to open on Sept. 6.

Long, lazy days spent reading, playing games and enjoying the summer sun will soon come to an end, as Fairfax County Schools begin the 2005-2006 school year on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

With approximately 600 students, enrollment at Great Falls Elementary School will remain about the same as last year, said principal Dorothy Clark. "There will be about 20 fewer students, but numbers aren't final yet," she said.

There are 70 staff members at the school, including 21 classroom teachers.

When students return, they will see a fresh coat of paint on the outside of the school. "We're getting a facelift this summer," she said.

Goals for the year include "building of a professional learning community and continuing to develop our teacher as researchers program to help incorporate the best practices we have to help our children succeed," Clark said.

The school has a partnership with Cooper Middle School in which students from Cooper are bused in to Great Falls to help mentor the younger students, she said. "Our goal is to have each child meet his or her potential and maybe even exceed it," she said.

The school also features a Japanese immersion program for students who wish to participate. In the program, half the day is taught in English but math and science are taught in Japanese. Additionally, several performances are conducted in Japanese, and when students leave the school in sixth grade, some have the opportunity to take a trip to Japan to further study the culture, she said.

An open house has been scheduled for Sept. 1 between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. for new parents and from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. for returning families. Back-to-school night will be held for first and third grade on Sept. 19; children in second and fourth grades will have their back to school night on Sept. 20; and kindergartners and fifth- and sixth-grade students will have their chance on Sept. 21, Clark said.

THERE ARE THREE goals for the new school year at Forestville Elementary School, including enhancing individual instruction through the use of technology, incorporating flexible math groups and a focus on "developing the whole child," said principal Matt Harris.

"Through funding from the PTA we've been able to acquire nine smart boards, one digital camera for each grade and a digital video camera for the entire school," he said. Smart boards allow teachers to visually create and teach with images from a computer, he said.

Flexible math groups would allow children to learn math at their own pace without being left behind in the classroom, he said. "Fairfax County has suggested that schools look into this. Students are tested at the end of the first unit and their scores will give us a better idea where they are in terms of background and knowledge of math," he said.

Activities like the Fall Festival and parents helping with SOL-based programs help to enrich the students' education, Harris said. "Character education is very important, so we offer a lot of things to help, like opening the school to the Big Brother/ Big Sister program one Saturday a month to talk about learning and technology to help enrich the students with a variety of ideas," he said. "Our goal is to get together to make a difference in our community."

Heather Luxemberg will be joining the staff as an assistant principal, coming from Union Mill Elementary School in Centreville. There will also be five brand new teachers and five teachers from other schools starting at Forestville this year, he said, teaching 780 students.

Back-to-school nights are scheduled for Sept. 19 for students in fourth through sixth grades, Sept. 20 for second- and third-graders and Sept. 21 for kindergarten and first-grade students, he said. An open house will be held on Sept. 1 between 10 and 11 a.m. for new and returning families.

AT ONE OF THE area's newest schools, about 900 students will be learning at Colvin Run Elementary School for the upcoming year, said Assistant Principal Keith Eck.

"We're looking forward to working with teachers to impact instruction on a greater level and we hope to work with the community as well," Eck said.

A newcomer to Colvin Run, Eck recently served as a physical education teacher at Oakton Elementary School and completed his Masters in Education degree at George Mason University last spring.

The school features a gifted and talented center with students coming in from Great Falls and Vienna schools for enrichment, he said.

"We want to try to learn with everything we do and celebrate what's good about our students and our school," Eck said.

The school first opened three years ago and students and staff are still filling it up and becoming comfortable in the building, he said. "I'm not sure what the maximum capacity of the building is, but we're not there yet," he said.

Two back-to-school nights will be held, he said. The first will be on Sept. 12 starting at 7 p.m. for grades kindergarten through third grade, and the second on Sept. 13 for students in grades four through six.