Board Members Remember Erik Gutshall — “The four remaining Arlington County Board members – Chair Libby Garvey, Christian Dorsey, Katie Cristol and Matt de Ferranti – spent several minutes each remembering former Vice Chair Erik Gutshall, who died on Thursday after an 8-week battle with brain cancer.” [Blue Virginia]
School Board Discusses Distance Learning — “There’s both positive and negative news as Arlington Public Schools has pivoted to distance-learning in an effort to squeeze in some education during the COVID-19 lockdown. The good news? At least things have not gone as badly as in neighboring Fairfax County, where that school system’s attempt to re-start instruction collapsed in a technical debacle and ensuing recriminations last week. The bad news? Arlington school officials acknowledge that their efforts are not going to be able to replicate what could be accomplished during more normal time.” [InsideNova]
APS Names Teacher, Principal of the Year — Arlington Career Center Culinary Arts Teacher Chef Renee Randolph is the 2020 Arlington Public Schools Teacher of the Year, while Campbell Elementary’s Maureen Nesselrode has been named Principal of the Year.
Beyer Blasts Trump Immigration Order — “From the beginning Trump has flailed about seeking someone to blame for his own failure… Immigration has nearly stopped and the US has far more cases than any other country. This is just xenophobic scapegoating.” [Twitter]
Legality of County Grant Criteria Questioned — “The Arlington County government announced that it will hand out grants to small businesses based on ‘considerations’ such as whether the business is ‘women and/or minority-owned.’ That ‘consideration’ of race and sex is unconstitutional.” [CNSNews]
VRE Train Strikes Man in D.C. Near Long Bridge — “A man was hit and killed by a train in Southwest D.C. Monday morning and train traffic in the area has been stopped. The man was struck in the 1300 block of Maryland Avenue SW, the D.C. fire department said on Twitter at 7:30 a.m.” [NBC 4, Twitter]
Dr. Gregg Robertson, the beloved principal of Washington-Liberty High School, is retiring at the end of the school year.
With students out until at least the end of spring break as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, Robertson made the announcement yesterday via email. He said he is retiring to go back to teaching, this time at the college level.
Robertson said he’s hopeful the school year will resume and he’ll be able to close out his 17-year tenure as W-L’s principal with a proper farewell.
“I look very forward to when we are all back in school and the current situation is behind us,” he said. “I miss seeing you all in the hallways and can’t wait until we are together again.”
The full letter is below.
I am sending you this message via Naviance because we are currently not together face-to-face. I originally intended to share this information with you in person, but the current situation does not allow me to do so. I will be retiring at the end of this school year. It has been my pleasure to serve as your principal at W-L. I am completing my 17th year at W-L and have loved every single day! I have always claimed to be the luckiest person in the world to have been given the opportunity to get to know all of the current Generals at W-L and all the ones who have come before you. As you know, your high school continues to be one of the best high schools in the country. This is true due to all the wonderful and dedicated teachers, all the hard-working and caring students, and your supportive parents. I have met and gotten to know so many incredible students over the years — many with whom I still remain in contact.
I know each of you are going to do great things in life because you are receiving one of the best educations that can be had. I look forward to hearing about all the great things you accomplish over the years to come. I plan to continue my career in education by teaching at the college level. After all these years as a principal — I still miss being in the classroom. So who knows, maybe I will see some of you in class some day! In the meantime, stay safe and well. I look very forward to when we are all back in school and the current situation is behind us. I miss seeing you all in the hallways and can’t wait until we are together again.
With care and respect for all of you,
Flooding Closes Roads, Prompts Warning — Updated 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
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
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.
“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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
Patrick K. Murphy, Ed.D.
(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.
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.