FCPS Announces Appointment of New Principals

FCPS Principals

Clockwise from top left: Jennifer Cuneen, David Pietzman, Melissa Miller, and Holly Walker.

Melissa Miller has been named the new principal of Olde Creek Elementary School. She has served as the acting principal at Olde Creek Elementary since February 3. Previously, she was an assistant principal at Deer Park Elementary School from August 2016 to February 2020 and at McNair Elementary School from 2012-16.  During her tenure at McNair Elementary, she also served as the acting principal from June to August 2014.  From 2005-2012, Miller served as McNair’s lead school counselor from 2005 to 2012. Miller earned a bachelor of science in psychology from Virginia Tech, a master of education in counseling and development from George Mason University, and the administration and supervision endorsement from the University of Virginia.

David Pietzman has been named the new principal of Greenbriar East Elementary School. He has served as the acting principal at Greenbriar East since March 2. Pietzman served as an assistant principal at Greenbriar East beginning in July 2019 until being named acting principal.  Previously, he was the assistant principal at Mosby Woods Elementary School from 2014-19 and served as an Extended School Year (ESY) principal in summer 2016.  From August 2010-14, he served as a mathematics specialist and a fifth and sixth grade teacher at Lane Elementary School.  Before joining FCPS, he taught in the District of Columbia Public Schools and in Arkansas. Pietzman earned a bachelor of arts in middle level education from Harding University, a master of education in advanced studies in teaching and learning from Harding University, a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Endorsement, and the administration and supervision endorsement from the University of Virginia. 

Holly Walker, who has served as assistant principal at Poplar Tree Elementary School since 2014, has been named the new principal for Floris Elementary School.  From August 2010-14, she served as an assistant principal at Union Mill Elementary School. She also served as an Extended School Year (ESY) principal during the summers of 2017 and 2019.  From 1993-2010, Walker was a classroom teacher at Fox Mill Elementary, Floris Elementary, and Union Mill Elementary Schools. Additionally, she served as the SOL (Standards of Learning) resource teacher and testing coordinator at Union Mill from 2005-08.  At Poplar Tree, she spearheaded the implementation of the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) Program that extends volunteer opportunities to fathers and grandfathers to serve as positive male role models for all students.  Walker holds a bachelor of fine arts in dance from George Mason University, a master of education in early childhood education from George Mason University, and the administration and supervision preK-12 endorsement. 

Jennifer Cunneen, who has served as the assistant principal at Forestdale Elementary since 2015, has been selected as the new principal of Forestdale, effective June 1. Cunneen has more than 16 years of educational experience in FCPS, including serving as an educational specialist with the Office of Professional Learning and Accountability from where she was the program manager for Great Beginnings; and a classroom teacher at both Kings Park and Laurel Hill Elementary Schools. She earned her bachelor of science in Early Childhood Education from Miami University (Ohio) and her master of education degree in Administration and Supervision (PreK-12) from the University of Virginia.

FCPS Awards 42 Students a Letter of Intent for Teaching Positions

Teachers for Tomorrow

Teachers for Tomorrow students

In an effort to cultivate new teachers for the future, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has awarded 2020 Letters of Intent to 42 FCPS students.  The FCPS Letter of Intent signifies a commitment by the district to offer the recipient a guaranteed interview for a teaching position.

FCPS Letter of Intent recipients must be enrolled in an accredited collegiate teacher preparation program and must reach at least sophomore standing in order to obtain an interview. Interviews will be held during the district’s annual Back2Fairfax Teacher Seminar. Individuals who interview successfully will receive a recruitment contract for future employment as an FCPS teacher. 

Recipients of 2020 Letters of Intent were enrolled during the 2019-20 school year at Chantilly Academy, Lake Braddock Secondary School, Centreville High School, Edison Academy, Falls Church Academy, Hayfield Secondary School, Herndon High School, McLean High School, Robinson Secondary School, and West Springfield High School. 

In 2018, FCPS established Grow Your Own, a program designed to combat the nationwide decline of available teachers.  The program, managed by the Office of Talent Acquisition and Management and the Office of Counseling and College and Career Readiness, includes the Teachers for Tomorrow and Early Childhood Careers high school classes.

Northern Virginia Companies Received $928M in COVID-19-Based Federal Contracts

For decades, companies in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia have provided goods and services to federal agencies. Proximity to the world’s biggest consumer of just about anything has been one reason this region has had a stronger economic base than many other parts of the nation.

That trend has continued with the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Analysis compiled by ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit news organization, and published yesterday by InsideNoVa shows that companies in Northern Virginia have received $928.4 million in COVID-19 related contracts. At least 125 companies in Northern Virginia have secured contracts worth at least $10,000, according to the analysis.

Companies in Fairfax County have won $782 million, or 84 percent, of the Northern Virginia total. The top COVID-19-related contractor in the area has been RER Solutions, an 8(a) and economically disadvantaged woman-owned small business based in Herndon, that has secured $500 million in work from the U.S. Small Business Administration. 

“We are fortunate to have a strong government contracting sector here,” said Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. “We are so much more than a ‘government town’ now but these companies are a key reason that our economy is far more stable than other regional economies year in and year out.”

Many of the companies have received certifications based on their ownership. Like RER Solutions, Highlight Technologies is a woman-owned business. Liberty IT Solutions and Alvarez are service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, and ViON is a veteran-owned company. Affigent is an Alaska Native Corporation, a small disadvantaged business and a subsidiary of Akima. Also, Federal Government Experts is located in the Baileys Crossroads historically underutilized business (HUB) zone.

Among counties and cities with businesses receiving federal COVID-19 contract dollars, Fairfax County ranks no. 2 behind DeKalb County, Ga., home of the CDC. Companies in Fairfax County won $27.7 billion in federal contracting awards in fiscal 2019, making Fairfax the top county or city in the nation.

Along with the SBA, the top contracting agencies for the local pandemic-related work are the departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services. InsideNoVa cited contracts for services such as telecommunications, networking, hardware and software to help agencies convert to teleworking and arrange virtual meetings, as well as for personal protective equipment and other supplies necessitated by the pandemic. American Type Culture Collection received three contracts for research and storage and processing of samples related to the virus and testing. Deloitte Consulting received a contract with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for “COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration tracking.”

“We are blessed to have so many companies in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia, that can step up to help our government agencies battle this invisible enemy,” said Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. “This spotlights the diverse skills and spirit of innovation that our companies and our workforce can bring to any problem. It is also gratifying to see that many minority-, woman- and veteran-owned companies are key elements in this public health fight.”

For a list of the other companies receiving contracts, visit https://bit.ly/3h4fIqB.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has commissioned BBC Research & Consulting to conduct a study to assess whether barriers exist for minority- or woman-owned businesses that make it more difficult for them to compete for Commonwealth contracts.

Information from the surveys will be used to estimate the availability of minority- and woman-owned businesses for Commonwealth contracts and procurements. Businesses that do work or provide services related to the types of construction, services, and goods that government agencies contract for may be contacted, even if they have never worked with government agencies in the past.

Park Authority’s Ideal Portal Wins National Award

The Fairfax County Park Authority is being honored by the National Association of Counties (NACo) for an innovative program that helps to strengthen services for residents by embracing staff ideas for innovation and change. 

It is all about doing a better job for those who visit parks and enjoy park programs and amenities. The Park Authority has been awarded a 2020 Achievement Award in the category of County Administration and Management for its “Park Authority Idea Portal.”

The Idea Portal is a virtual suggestion box that encourages staff engagement and allows those who submit ideas to track the progress of their suggestion from review through implementation. Ideas are posted to the portal for 30 days to allow comment and discussion from anyone on the Park Authority staff, and the ideas are then passed along to the agency’s leadership team for review and possible implementation. Staff who submit ideas are invited to explain and advocate for idea submissions before a decision is made.

Already, the portal ideas are helping the Park Authority streamline and innovate. Ideas have run the gamut from staff name tags to solar panels, and they have covered subjects ranging from business and financial process, to workforce and customer enhancement, cost savings and revenue generation, to new programs and services. The portal was designed in part to improve communication within the Park Authority, and it has had the added benefit of improving operations and morale, cutting costs, and increasing environmental sustainability, as well as enhancing services for Park Authority visitors. To date, 16 ideas have been adopted, with several more in development or under consideration.

Started in 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Awards program is designed to recognize county government innovations. Each nomination is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received.

Seven EIP Students Win Scholarships to GMU

Seven students from Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) who were enrolled in the district’s Early Identification Program (EIP) have been named winners of scholarships to George Mason University (GMU).

The scholarship winners are:

Elene Lipartiani of Oakton High School; Katherine Fernandez Villalba of Justice High School; Rachelle DeLeon of Mount Vernon High School; Keiry Chicas of West Potomac High School; Jackson Ramos of Annandale High School; Amy Barrios of Fairfax High School; and Miguelangel Romero of Annandale High School.

EIP is one of four College Success programs offered to FCPS students that helps prepare middle and high school students for college.  Each year, a limited number of students—who are nominated by a teacher, school counselor, or caring adult—join the program. One hundred percent of EIP students will be the first in their family to attend college, and some receive free or reduced-price meals.  The five-year program guarantees admission to GMU as long as the student follows a pre-college curriculum, successfully completes the program in good academic standing, and meet GMU admission requirements. EIP students apply and interview for various GMU scholarships.

Three Students Named 2020 Coca-Cola Scholars

Three Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) students have been named 2020 Coca-Cola Scholars by the Coca-Cola Company and the Coca-Cola Scholars Program.  

Divjot Bedi of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Justin Hu of Madison High School, and Madeleine LeBeau of Chantilly High School are among 150 students nationwide selected for the honor.

Each Coca-Cola Scholar will receive a $20,000 college scholarship.  Students were selected based on their ability to exemplify superior leadership, service, and academics, and to serve as change agents, positively affecting others in their communities.

A joint effort of Coca-Cola bottlers across the country and the Coca Cola Company, the Coca-Cola Scholars Program is the largest corporate-sponsored, achievement-based scholarship program in the United States. The new class of Coca-Cola Scholars are now part of a group of alumni that have become a force for positive change in the world. Through networking, collaborations, and friendships, the group strives to make a greater impact together.

Riverside Elementary Earns NWF Eco-Schools Green Flag Award

Riverside Elementary School has earned the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Eco-Schools USA Green Flag Award, the highest honor given to schools working on environmental stewardship goals by the National Wildlife Federation.

Schools are required to follow a seven-step checklist to qualify for a Green Flag, including forming an Eco-Action team, conducting an environmental audits for three pathways, creating an Eco-Action plan, monitoring and evaluating progress, providing links to the curriculum, involving the community, and creating an eco-code.

Riverside began its quest in 2016, when the school developed their edible garden, added a composter, and formed an Eco-Action Club, which established a cafeteria recycling program.  The Virginia garden was added in 2017. In 2018, the school launched audits for Energy and Consumption and Waste. In 2019, the students adjusted the audits for Energy and Consumption and Waste, and they added an audit for Healthy Living. Students in all grades are involved in the care and maintenance of the gardens; preschoolers and kindergartners water the plants, and first graders care for the birdfeeders. 

Students and teachers observed a virtual Earth Week in April, when they planted and cared for plants, spent time reading and working outdoors, and created collages and displays made of recycled items.

Thirteen Students Named 2020 National Merit College-Sponsored Scholarship Winners

Thirteen Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) students from six high schools have been named winners of 2020 Merit Scholarship awards by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). The students are part of a group of more than 3,300 National Merit® finalists chosen to receive scholarships financed by higher education institutions. 

Winners of the scholarships, with their probable career fields in parentheses, are:

Shreya Tripathy of Chantilly High School (medicine), National Merit Boston University scholarship.

Daniel Beckstrand of Lake Braddock Secondary School (nanotechnology), National Merit University of Texas at Dallas scholarship.

Amy Smith of Lake Braddock Secondary School (law), National Merit Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, scholarship. 

Sophia Tedesco of Marshall High School (public policy), National Merit University of Chicago scholarship.

Benjamin Hacker of McLean High School (chemical engineering), National Merit University of Southern California scholarship.

Josephine George of Robinson Secondary School (medicine), National Merit University of South Florida scholarship.

Sabrina Atkin of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) (mechanical engineering), National Merit University of Southern California scholarship.

Clara Boles of TJHSST (computer science), National Merit Purdue University scholarship.

Justin Feng of TJHSST (economics), National Merit University of Chicago scholarship.

Rohan Kalra of TJHSST (neuroscience), National Merit University of Southern California scholarship.

Keegan Lanzillotta of TJHSST (computer engineering), National Merit Northeastern University scholarship.

Venkata Somesula of TJHSST (pediatrics), National Merit Florida Atlantic University scholarship.

William Wang of TJHSST (computer science), National Merit University of Chicago scholarship.

Each scholarship winner was evaluated on his or her academic record; an essay and information about extracurricular activities, awards, and leadership positions; SAT scores that confirmed outstanding test performance; and a recommendation and endorsement from a high school official. Each award provides between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the recipient’s scholarship.

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