By Karen Corbett Sanders
Alexandria, VA – Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Reid is getting to know Fairfax County students and families through community conversations. Dr. Reid can better understand the unique challenges of each of the pyramids through these conversations.
Conversations have taken place with the Edison, Hayfield, Mount Vernon, and South County, and West Potomac Pyramids.
In addition to the Pyramid Conversations, Dr. Reid has met with military-connected parents and special education parents. She will share what she has learned and how that will inform her leadership of FCPS during her State of the Schools presentation in January 2023.
Dr. Reid believes that the conversations are actually listening tours. She often begins with the statement, “Learning happens best in community and the health of our community is reflected in the health of our schools.”
A common theme in conversations in Mount Vernon has been that parents care passionately about education, they believe that FCPS teachers care about students, but more resources are needed.
Among military families, a common theme is that there needs to be a better understanding among staff and students about the challenges that our military-connected students face with parents who have multiple deployments, changes in orders, and differing requirements for graduation in different jurisdictions.
At South County’s meeting, parents focused on the importance of meeting the needs of students with disabilities. Of particular concern was the impact of COVID closures, special education staffing shortages during the school year and extended school year, and the Individualized Education Planning Process.
During the Mount Vernon meeting, community members focused on the importance of Dr. Reid understanding the unique attributes and challenges facing their schools. Community members emphasized the strengths of the diversity, enthusiastic staff, and talented students. They recognized the innovation that takes place in Title 1 schools. However, they expressed concerns about the unique challenges these schools face due to poverty and mobility. These include access to transportation and raising funds to support programs such as band uniforms, sports equipment, and after-school clubs.
Other concerns included the drop in school ratings, the lack of a Middle School AP program, and the continuity of staffing. One parent asked how we can fulfill the promise of meeting every child by name and by need when the resources are not available.
The conversations will be helpful to Dr. Reid as the board and the superintendent engage in the strategic planning 2030 process. Students, staff, families, and the community will be invited to engage in building the plan.
Karen Corbett Sanders is the Mt. Vernon School Board Representative.