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Morning Notes

Flooding Closes Roads, Prompts WarningUpdated at 8:45 a.m. — Many Arlington residents may be bleary-eyed this morning after being woken up twice overnight: once by thunder, and another time by a Flash Flood Warning that sounded on many phones. Heavy rain caused flooding that prompted the temporary closure of I-66 in Arlington and the HOV lanes of I-395 just before the 14th Street Bridge. A Flood Warning remains in effect until 11:45 a.m. as additional rain is expected this morning. [Twitter, Twitter, Twitter]

Crystal City ‘Makes Parking Garages Cool Again’ — Some national press for the Crosshairs Garage Races in Crystal City: “Unbeknownst to the few at street level, there’s a crowd gathering in a parking garage below an unremarkable office building. Inside, giant speakers blast rock music. Cow bells ring. There’s whooping and hollering, there’s pie and beer–and there are bikes everywhere.” [Citylab]

County Employee Recognized for Preventing Abuse — “Cheryl Fuentes, who has been working in the Arlington County government for more than a quarter-century changing the lives of parents and children, was honored as Arlington’s 2018 ‘Ally in Prevention’ by Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) of Northern Virginia.” [InsideNova]

APS Finalists for WaPo Awards — Hoffman-Boston principal Kimberley Graves and Thomas Jefferson Middle School teacher Timothy Wyatt Cotman, Jr. are among the finalists for the Washington Post Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year awards. [Washington Post]

ACPD to Hold Award Ceremony — “The Arlington County Police Department will hold its annual Principles of Government Service Awards (PGSA) Ceremony on Monday, May 7, 2018, at Kenmore Middle School, 200 S. Carlin Springs Road, at 7 p.m. The ceremony recognizes the achievements of police personnel in service to the community and highlights the Department’s dedicated pledge of duty, honor and commitment.” [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Kathleen Branch

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Morning Notes

Amazon Could Change Conversation — If Amazon were to establish its second headquarters in the D.C. area, it could have wide-ranging effects, including tightening the commercial real estate market and easing antitrust pressures on the company. Writes the Economist: “Having 50,000 employees going to the same country clubs and putting children in the same schools as government officials is a shrewd strategy if Amazon wants to fend off government attacks.” [Washington Business Journal, The Economist]

One Hospitalized During Hazmat Incident — An employee at a catering business was hospitalized after a reported chemical spill at a warehouse along Four Mile Run Drive. [Twitter]

Principal on Leave at Nottingham — Nottingham Elementary School Principal Mary Beth Pelosky is “currently on leave” and former Arlington Public Schools administrator Connie Skelton is taking over as acting principal, according to an email to parents from APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy. No explanation was given for Pelosky’s sudden departure.

No More Early Cherry Blossom Bloom — Initially expected to happen later this week, the peak cherry blossom bloom is, due to cold weather, now expected to occur at the end of March and possibly the beginning of April. [Capital Weather Gang, WTOP]

APS May Take Advantage of Recess Law Change — “The chairman of Arlington’s School Board appears optimistic about a change in state law that will permit school districts to squeeze more recess into the existing school day.” [InsideNova]

Photo via @thelastfc

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Oakridge Principal, Henry Teacher Earn APS’ Top Awards

APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy with Principal of the Year Lynne Wright (photo courtesy APS)The principal of Oakridge Elementary and a third grade teacher at Patrick Henry Elementary are this year’s Arlington Public Schools principal and teacher of the year.

Oakridge Principal Lynne Wright will be honored with APS’ top award for administrators, 11 years after she won the 2004 Teacher of the Year Award while she was at Taylor Elementary School. Wright managed to improve Oakridge’s Standards of Learning test scores while at the helm of Arlington’s most overcrowded elementary school.

“Lynne is an energetic and charismatic leader who creates a positively charged school where students thrive and families are welcomed,” APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy said in a press release. “She recognizes the importance of building relationships with families and community that supports the diverse student population. Lynne is an exceptional educator and dedicated instructional leader who creates connections among staff, families and the community, all leading to the success of students.”

In the 2013-2014 school year, Oakridge raised its SOL pass rate in math from 76 to 85 percent and in reading form 74 to 81 percent. She accomplished this, in part, by integrating technology, data and stronger assessments into her school’s instruction.

Wright was named Oakridge’s assistant principal in 2007 and was promoted to principal in 2010.

“She is firm and demanding, yet friendly and approachable,” counselor Anne Terwilliger said in the release. “She encourages staff to hold each other to high expectations by modeling how to do so in a comfortable and respectful manner.”

Arlington’s 2015 Teacher of the Year is Dahlia Constantine, who serves as an instructional lead teacher and student teacher host, as well as leading her third-grade class.

APS Superintendet Patrick Murphy gives Dahlia Constantine the 2015 Teacher of the Year award (photo courtesy APS)“Dahlia is an outstanding educator who builds strong relationships with her students and families,” Murphy said in a release. “She has a special talent to inspire children to become lifelong learners and continually seeks ways to involve families in the instructional process to create a comprehensive learning network.”

Constantine came to Arlington, and Patrick Henry, in 2011 after stints teaching in New York City, La Puente and Monterey Park, Calif., and Woodbridge, Va. Her principal, Annie Frye, lauded her use of data to inform her work in the classroom.

“Dahlia’s style, technique and passion for the educational profession are immediately evident when you walk into her room, when you meet her or, better yet, when you see her in action with her class,” Patrick Henry parent Colleen Godbout said. “The children are at such ease in the environment she creates. She respects her students and they can sense it.”

Constantine and Wright will be honored, as well as winning teachers from the other 34 schools in Arlington, at an awards reception at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27 at Washington-Lee High School. The winners from each other APS school can be seen after the jump.

  • Abingdon Elementary School — Linda Cerrato Ellis
  • Arlington Career Center — Sean Matthew Kinnard
  • Arlington Mill High School Continuation — Paula L. Lamina
  • Arlington Science Focus Elementary School — Shyara Michelle Alana Cherubim
  • Arlington Traditional Elementary School — Shaunice Annette Henderson
  • Ashlawn Elementary School — Kelli Benton Then
  • Barcroft Elementary School — Nicole J. Fischer
  • Barrett Elementary School — Jennifer Hodges Flores
  • Campbell Elementary School — Beth Decker
  • Carlin Springs Elementary School — Christopher W. Guyton
  • Claremont Elementary School — Amanda Reynolds
  • Drew Elementary School — Charity Crigger
  • Glebe Elementary School — Stephanie O. McIntyre
  • Gunston Middle School — Sharon T. Kolody
  • H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program — Eleanor Reed
  • Hoffman-Boston Elementary School — Emily Bye
  • Jamestown Elementary School — Lainie Ortiz
  • Jefferson Middle School — Emily Calhoun
  • Kenmore Middle School — Della Rodrigues
  • Key Elementary School — Michael S. Fava
  • Long Branch Elementary School — Kate Kaplow
  • McKinley Elementary School — Maria Sejas Cardenas
  • Nottingham Elementary School — Bobbie A. Pugh
  • Oakridge Elementary School — Elizabeth Pacifico Kuleski
  • Phoebe Hall Knipling Outdoor Laboratory — Neil J. Heinekamp
  • Randolph Elementary School — Rachel M. Staley
  • Stratford Program — Anne Vincent
  • Swanson Middle School — Cynthia Chiu
  • Taylor Elementary School — Alicia Carmody
  • Tuckahoe Elementary School — Traceyanne Danahy Morgan
  • Wakefield High School — Allan Glascok
  • Washington-Lee High School — Douglas B. Grove
  • Williamsburg Middle School — Robert Dudek
  • Yorktown High School — Allyson McKowen

Photos courtesy Arlington Public Schools

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Morning Notes

Bomb Threat on DCA Flight — There were some tense moments at Reagan National Airport yesterday after a flight from Dayton, Ohio was sequestered and searched for explosives. Nothing was found, however. An individual who made a bomb threat at the Dayton airport ticket counter was taken into custody, the FBI said. [Bloomberg]

New Principals Named — Arlington Public Schools have named two new principals. Kenwyn Schaffner has been named the principal of Jamestown Elementary School and Bridget Loft has been named the principal of Swanson Middle School. “Ms. Loft was greeted by cheers and a standing ovation when she was introduced to the Swanson staff after the announcement of appointment,” an insider tells us. [Arlington Public Schools]

Rousselot Endorses Areizaga-Soto — Former Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Peter Rousselot has endorsed Jaime Areizaga-Soto in his primary battle against Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola for state Senate. [JaimeForSenate.com]

ART Drivers File Human Rights Complaint — Striking Arlington Transit bus drivers have filed a complaint with the Arlington Human Rights Commission, claiming “ongoing sexual harassment from county contractor Forsythe Transportation.” [Washington Examiner]

Jogging With Grassley — Part-time Arlington resident Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) recently went jogging through his neighborhood with 15 young constituents who were in town for the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. [ECT.coop]

Flickr pool photo by Christaki

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APS Appoints Interim Williamsburg Principal, Hires Lawyer

Update at 11:10 a.m. on 2/10/11 — APS has clarified that the scope of the “legal services” provided by the outside legal counsel has yet to be determined.

The brouhaha over the resignation of Williamsburg Middle School principal Kathy Francis continues.

Arlington Public Schools announced last night that it had approved the hiring of an outside legal counsel to defend the school system against review allegations made by Francis, who sent a lengthy resignation letter to parents last week. In the letter, Francis accused superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy of “discrimination” and harassment.

APS also announced additional, temporary leadership changes at Williamsburg. Retired Wakefield High School principal Doris Jackson will work part-time as interim principal of the school, alongside Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Meg Tuccillo.

Assistant Principal Dr. Eileen Wentzel will delay her move to another position in order to stay on at Williamsburg through the end of the school year, the school system said.

“I want to thank the Williamsburg staff for the work they have been doing with our children,” Dr. Murphy said in a statement. “I especially appreciate the leadership of this team, particularly during the past week. Finally, I am grateful for the added help of Ms. Tuccillo and Ms. Jackson.  I am confident that this team will work to ensure that the education and success of our students remain the primary focus for the school.”

The school will start the process of hiring a new principal “in the next several weeks.”

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APS Administrator Will Serve As Williamsburg’s Acting Principal

Correction at 12:45 p.m. — Ms. Francis was not escorted out of the building, as we reported earlier, according to APS spokesman Frank Bellavia. Francis did show up at the school in the morning, with a television reporter in tow. When she left, she was not being escorted by an APS staffer, Bellavia said. Police were called to the school later in the afternoon to deal with an expected influx of news media, he added.

It didn’t take long for Williamsburg Middle School principal Kathleen Francis to be told she was no longer welcome at the school she led for more than a decade.

Francis sent a lengthy email to parents Tuesday night announcing her resignation and criticizing Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy. The email was posted on this web site and quickly started garnering thousands of hits and hundreds of comments.

After she went to school on Wednesday, Francis was unceremoniously escorted from the building, according to a source. Police were on hand at the school to oversee security.

With Francis out of the picture, the school board sent a letter of their own to Williamsburg parents. The letter expresses the board’s support of Dr. Murphy, who joined the school system in 2009. It also revealed that Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services Meg Tuccillo would be serving as acting principal at the school.

The letter concludes by inviting parents to attend a PTA meeting at the school on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. Dr. Murphy and the chair and vice-chair of the school board are expected t0 attend the meeting.

Francis, meanwhile, is trying to adjust to her new reality. In an interview with the Washington Post, Francis talked about her decision to send the letter. The Post article noted that school staff have been dropping off flowers at Francis’ house, a gesture that brought her to tears.

See the school board’s letter to parents, after the jump.

APS School Talk: A Letter from the Arlington School Board

February 2, 2011

Dear Williamsburg Community:

All of us on the Arlington School Board join the Superintendent in reaffirming that the students, parents, staff and community continue to be our first and highest priority.

As you know, Ms. Francis has resigned as principal of Williamsburg. To ensure a smooth and effective change in leadership for the school, today Dr. Murphy announced that, effective immediately, Ms. Meg Tuccillo, the APS Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services, will serve as the administrative leader for the school until a more permanent transition team is announced. We are grateful for Ms. Tuccillo’s leadership and support at this time. She is a highly-qualified and seasoned administrator with more than 10 years experience as a school principal, and was previously recognized as an Arlington Principal of the Year. We heartily endorse this decision.

We know that there are many accomplishments at Williamsburg in which all of us – students, staff and the entire community – can take great pride. We also believe that we can’t stand still. All of our schools should be proud of their accomplishments and should continue to strive to grow and improve.

School officials, both staff and elected leaders, do not discuss personnel issues with members of the public or the press for both legal and ethical reasons. However, because we have received many questions from parents related to the recent events, we want to provide you a framework of the procedures and policies we have in place for our schools and leadership team. More importantly, we want to address how we can work together and move forward as a school community to ensure that we provide the best instruction and support for our children.

Part of our role as an elected School Board includes hiring and supervising the Superintendent. Almost two years ago, after an extensive search process which involved staff, parents and the community, we were pleased to appoint Dr. Murphy as the new Superintendent for the Arlington Public Schools (APS). Since then, he has been dedicated to working with the School Board, staff, parents and the community to help Arlington move from a good school system to a great one. He has worked closely with us to serve the many diverse segments of our community, and we have full confidence in Dr. Murphy’s leadership and commitment to our children.

The School Board policies and procedures outline the process for the evaluation of administrators. The specific criteria that are used include: Planning and Assessment, Leadership, Organizational Management, Communication and Community Relations, and Professionalism. In addition, input from surveys of parents, staff and others are considered in assessing an employee’s performance. The School Board always takes

allegations of discrimination seriously and investigates them appropriately. We want to assure you that all School Board policies and procedures were and continue to be followed.

In the coming weeks and months, the Williamsburg community will have many opportunities to be involved in the upcoming deliberations and selection of a new leader for Williamsburg Middle School. Please know that School Board members are also parents, and we all recognize the disruption and tumult that the recent events have brought to your school community. We look forward to working with you to help the school quickly and smoothly transition to support the new leadership.

On Tuesday, the School Board Chair and Vice Chair and the Superintendent will be joining you at the regular Williamsburg PTA meeting at 7 p.m. While we will not be able to answer questions related to specific personnel matters, we look forward to having a productive conversation with you.

Working together, we can ensure the first priority at Williamsburg continues to be our students, staff and community.

Sincerely,

Libby Garvey

Chair

Abby Raphael

Vice Chair

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Superintendent Responds to Principal’s Letter to Parents

Arlington Public Schools superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy is responding to a lengthy resignation letter sent to Williamsburg Middle School parents by the school’s principal. The letter, first reported by ARLnow.com, accused Dr. Murphy of harassment and discrimination.

Dr. Murphy’s letter to parents toned back some of the language used by the school system last night, when officials described the letter as “regrettable,” “unfortunate” and “very angry” in a statement to the Washington Post.

“We will continue to respond with a high level of professionalism and cannot discuss Ms. Francis’s actions now or in the future,” Dr. Murphy wrote. “However, we deny that there has been any discrimination.”

APS School Talk – A Letter to the Williamsburg Community

February 2, 2011

Dear Williamsburg Parents:

By now we know that you have heard that Ms. Francis has chosen to resign her position as principal at Williamsburg Middle School. I want to assure you that the students, parents, staff and community have been and will remain my first priority during this period of transition.

While I understand that many parents may have questions, it has always been the practice of the Arlington Public Schools that we do not publicly discuss Personnel issues. Therefore, we will continue to respond with a high level of professionalism and cannot discuss Ms. Francis’s actions now or in the future. However, we deny that there has been any discrimination.

At this time, we are exercising our responsibility to make sure that we provide the best educational learning environment for your student. Our primary focus is to take appropriate and immediate steps to put a highly qualified team of administrative leaders in place at the school to ensure that we provide the best instructional support and leadership for our students, their families and the school staff.

Please know that the students at Williamsburg and their well-being will remain our primary focus as we work to ensure that they receive a high quality education in a positive learning environment.

As this process evolves, we will involve the Williamsburg community and keep you apprised of our deliberations and decisions.

Sincerely,

Patrick K. Murphy, Ed.D.

Superintendent

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DEVELOPING — Middle School Principal Resigns, Sends Email to Parents Blaming Superintendent

(Updated at 6:05 p.m.) Williamsburg Middle School Principal Kathleen Francis says she will be resigning in March due to “the untenable and hostile work environment created by Superintendent [Patrick] Murphy.”

In a lengthy email to parents, Francis detailed what she describes as a “long struggle” to resolve a personnel matter with Dr. Murphy. Francis said her efforts, which allegedly upset Dr. Murphy, resulted in “an ongoing series of actions to harass me and mischaracterize my performance and professional reputation.”

Francis defended her record and said she went so far as to file a discrimination complaint.

“The continuing misconduct reached such a level that I was forced to file formal age and gender discrimination complaints,” she said. “In apparent retaliation for my filing these actions, the Superintendent confirmed his threat to place me on a formal Performance Improvement Plan.”

Francis concluded by insisting that she’s not alone in her displeasure with Dr. Murphy’s leadership.

“My situation with the new Superintendent is not an isolated incident,” she wrote. “It is merely representative of a larger problem in the Arlington Public Schools.”

Dr. Murphy was appointed superintendent of Arlington Public Schools in April 2009. We are awaiting comment from the school system.

See the full letter after the jump.

Dear Parents and WMS Community,

Below for your information is an Open Letter to the Williamsburg Community that explains the reasons behind my decision to leave Arlington Public Schools in March.

Williamsburg Middle School

3600 North Harrison Street, Arlington, Virginia 22207 Phone: 703-228-5450

Email: [email protected]

Kathleen Francis, Principal

Open Letter to Williamsburg Middle School Community

February 1, 2011

Williamsburg is an outstanding school with wonderful students and a dedicated staff. I’m proud to have served as part of this community for 18 years and hopefully contributed to its educational excellence. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I inform you I am resigning as Principal and will be leaving WMS in March. I do this recognizing the regrettable disruption this may create. However, it is unavoidable because of the untenable and hostile work environment created by Superintendent Murphy for me and Arlington Public Schools.

At this point, it is unproductive to dwell on all the details of the difficult year long struggle that has precipitated this decision. However, since you may be impacted by this disruption, you deserve to know some of the reasons. In summary, Dr. Murphy, and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Hobbs acting at his direction, has engaged in an ongoing series of actions to harass me and mischaracterize my performance and professional reputation in the hopes of encouraging my departure from APS. These actions were taken in response to my fulfilling my responsibilities to ensure a safe learning environment at WMS and requesting that the Superintendent and Central Office take action on a longstanding and serious personnel situation at Williamsburg. That situation involved an individual with a well-documented, multiple year record of non-performance and who was extremely disruptive to the educational environment of the school. Dr. Murphy refused to act and made it clear that he was concerned about the “perceptions” around such actions and, therefore, did not want difficult personnel matters brought to the Central Office. Following his directive, I fully utilized the limited school-based tools at my disposal, but the situation worsened. When the individual’s behavior became more disruptive, I again requested that Dr. Murphy take action consistent with APS policies. The Superintendent refused to exercise his responsibilities and expressed displeasure at me for bringing it to his attention. Nonetheless, when the situation became a potential safety concern, in the interests of the students and staff, I was obliged to persist in requesting Central Office action. After many months, I finally prevailed and forced action. Although there was overwhelming documentation for removal, the individual was transferred to another school.

In my mind, this resolution should have been the end of the matter. However, as a direct result of my requesting Central Office action on this personnel matter, Superintendent Murphy’s attitude toward me and the WMS leadership team changed dramatically. He became adversarial and initiated steps designed to discredit the academic achievements at WMS, my professional performance and reputation, and force my removal from my position. Some of these actions constitute impermissible discrimination.

One act came in the form of an Unsatisfactory performance appraisal for the 2009-2010 school year despite my meeting all of the APS performance criteria. Prior to this incident, I had received Satisfactory performance evaluations from a range of supervisors and Superintendents for the entire three decades of my service to APS as a teacher and administrator. Nonetheless, in August, Dr. Murphy informed me that that the educational progress at WMS had suddenly become unacceptable and that my leadership of the school was unsatisfactory. In pertinent part, Dr. Murphy’s evaluation states that, Ms. Francis’ leadership has “not moved the school and the students to an overall higher level of performance.” I know we aren’t perfect at WMS, but I think we do darn well and are always striving for improvement. I know we aren’t “unsatisfactory.” Therefore, this allegation mischaracterizes the hard-earned performance of WMS students, insults the exceptional efforts of the WMS teachers and staff, and discounts the superior support of the WMS parents and community. I strongly objected to Dr. Murphy’s description of WMS performance and provided him with extensive evidence of superior student accomplishments; how all the requirements in my performance standards had been achieved; and, the documented success of WMS on the Standards of Learning tests. In fact, during the 2009-2010 school year, WMS’ achievements on the SOL tests were exceptional, and our initiatives produced the best improvement in student subpopulation performance and surpassed Dr. Murphy’s expectations of 4-year growth in only one year. Although he was unable to contradict the factual evidence, he said the Unsatisfactory performance appraisal would stand. I was advised that it would be best to just go along with his plans. He discussed his belief that the most important characteristic in his staff was personal loyalty to him and agreement with his desires, and that I had failed that standard in pushing for resolution of the personnel matter.

An Unsatisfactory rating is a precursor to a dismissal action. More broadly, I’m aware that such an attitude toward WMS by the Superintendent can adversely impact employee morale and school performance. Therefore, I formally requested reconsideration. As part of that request, I pointed out that schools with lower performance against the APS rating criteria had not been similarly adversely evaluated. Dr. Murphy responded that didn’t matter because he wasn’t bound by the written criteria and could use any basis he wanted for the rating. He dismissed my claim that ignoring the evidence constituted discrimination and made it clear that he was not interested in compromise, arbitration or re-establishing a collaborative working relationship. I told Dr. Murphy that to protect my professional reputation (and the reputation of the WMS staff and community) and future employment prospects, I was obligated to seek redress. However, I learned that, in violation of basic due process, School Board Policies allow no appeal to a neutral party for principals from such an unfair evaluation. This allows the Superintendent to utilize the performance appraisal process for professional bullying of subordinates while cloaked in anonymity.

Disappointed, I nonetheless focused my energy and attention on the responsibilities of running the largest middle school in Arlington County and complying with every request from the Superintendent. However, Dr. Murphy and Dr. Hobbs have made it clear to me they want me to retire despite my commitment to WMS and my plans to work longer to complete the excellent initiatives we have launched. Since September, I have been subjected to further baseless and demanding actions. These include requirements for excessive reporting and innumerable meetings to monitor my performance; violations of APS confidentiality policy by revealing personnel information to unauthorized parties; and discriminatory discussions of my hoped for premature retirement. The latter even included an announcement at a meeting of all APS leadership staff that Dr Hobbs and I had been discussing my retirement. Since I had previously informed both Dr. Murphy and Dr. Hobbs that I had no plans for retirement, this was an attempt to undermine my leadership effectiveness by making me appear to be a lame duck to my peers.

The continuing misconduct reached such a level that I was forced to file formal age and gender discrimination complaints with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Council and the Arlington School Board. In apparent retaliation for my filing these actions, the Superintendent confirmed his threat to place me on a formal Performance Improvement Plan. This would impose enormous additional micro-management of school activities and endless information generation on top of an already demanding work load.

I am confident that if I pursued these claims through the APS and federal procedural and litigation processes, I would prevail based on the facts. Yet, this could take years. I am willing to invest the effort in seeking justice and modeling persistence in defense of my personal reputation. However, my professional responsibilities to put the WMS students first will not allow me to let this unnecessary and corrosive situation to drag on indefinitely. Beyond the personal stress, it is a major distraction from our core educational purpose to have to constantly defend WMS to a Superintendent who should be aware of its outstanding achievements and educational environment. We have exciting initiatives at WMS that I hate to abandon. But, it is ultimately unproductive for the school to have a principal the Superintendent does not want and will not support.

I appreciate the support I have received during this difficult time from my colleagues. On their behalf, I must note that my situation with the new Superintendent is not an isolated incident. It is merely representative of a larger problem in the Arlington Public Schools. In conversations with my school-based and Central Office colleagues, it is clear there is a widespread concern in Dr. Murphy’s leadership. In his short tenure, he has created an environment of distrust between himself and many of the leadership staff. Rather than building a spirit of teamwork in pursuit of further educational excellence, he has created a divisive and blame-seeking environment. Some of these outstanding educators are dispirited; others are angry; some have been cowed into silence. Unfortunately, a number of individuals are considering premature retirement or are seeking employment opportunities outside the system. Some have already departed because they didn’t wish to work in an environment where they are neither valued nor supported. This is not a case of legitimate professional disagreements on APS direction, means and priorities. While it is hoped that a Superintendent would sincerely seek the input and experience of the leaders on important educational matters, it is the prerogative of the School Board’s appointee to set his own course and for the career staff to try and implement it. Rather, this unfortunate situation is the result of his treatment of those who work for him and disrespect for the opinions of others. It reflects his belief that any disagreement with his ideas is not acceptable professional discourse, but rather personal disloyalty. I have not seen a comparably hostile atmosphere in my three decades of service to Arlington Public Schools. It is contrary to the professional and collaborative approach that has made APS one of the top school systems in the country. I am not alone in this opinion.

In conclusion, I wish to thank you for your personal support during my tenure at WMS. It is gratifying and appreciated. More importantly, thank you for your contributions to the Williamsburg educational community. Our students have benefitted enormously. I will miss you all. You have my best wishes and will be in my prayers.

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New Wakefield High School Principal Named

Dr. Christian Willmore has been appointed as Wakefield High School’s new principal.

Willmore is a recent graduate of University of Virginia’s Doctor of Education program. He began his career with Arlington Public Schools in 1995 and has served as assistant principal at Wakefield since 2002.

Willmore is fluent in Spanish and has taught abroad.

“Chris has been a fixture in the Wakefield community for eight years, and during the interview process, Wakefield students noted that Chris knows them, cares for them and wants them to succeed in the classroom,” superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy said in a statement.

The school system’s press release, which includes three additional leadership announcements, after the jump.

School Board Names New Wakefield Principal

Other Leadership Appointments Announced

The Arlington School Board appointed Dr. Christian Willmore as principal of Wakefield High School at tonight’s meeting. Willmore has been an assistant principal at Wakefield since 2002. The appointment will be effective July 1.

“Chris has been a fixture in the Wakefield community for eight years, and during the interview process, Wakefield students noted that Chris knows them, cares for them and wants them to succeed in the classroom,” said Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy. “As he transitions into his new role, Chris brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience that will benefit the Wakefield students and community.”

Education

Willmore recently completed his Ed.D. at the University of Virginia in administration and supervision. He has a Master of Arts in Teaching from Tulane University and a Bachelor’s in international studies and Spanish from Miami University. He also holds certificates in administration and supervision, English as a Second Language (ESL), and Spanish.

Career

Willmore began his career at APS in 1995 at Key Elementary School, where he taught third and fifth grade. He also assisted in developing APS’s “Global Village Summit” summer school program, served on the task force to redesign the Spanish immersion program at the middle school level, and led a staff development session at Escuela Americana in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Since then, Willmore has held a variety of positions including:

  • Sixth grade social studies teacher at Gunston Middle School (1999-2000)
  • Administrative intern at Key Elementary School (summer 2000)
  • Grade-level administrator at Gunston Middle School (2000-02)

Willmore, who is fluent in Spanish, began his teaching career at Cardozo Senior High School in Washington, D.C., where he served as ESL chair. In 1997, he taught beginning and intermediate Spanish courses and the grammar component of the Spanish language track for the Master’s in international business program at the University of South Carolina. He has also taught internationally at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Guadalajara, Mexico.

During his time at Wakefield, Willmore has supervised the special education department and the building and grounds committee as well as the Spanish immersion program. He has also assisted in the development of the school’s signature ninth grade program, Foundation for Academic Success.

“Chris has a varied degree of knowledge in education at both the K-12 and university levels. It is that broad range of experience that will help Wakefield students achieve at a high level,” said Murphy. He added, “Chris’s hard work and diligence have led him to this point in his career, and his impressive credentials and experience demonstrate his ability to become a successor to the continuing legacy of outstanding principals at Wakefield.”

The Board also approved three additional leadership positions. Marleny Perdomo will become the supervisor for foreign language, Betty Schwoebel-Mills was named the assistant director for assessment, and Suzanne Evans was named assistant principal at Yorktown High School.

Schwoebel-Mills’ appointment will begin June 4 and the appointments of Perdomo and Evans will begin July 1.

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