A Thanksgiving Message from the Superintendent

Dear ACPS Families,

These are exciting times in the Alexandria City Public Schools.  We have achieved much success over the past few years, and are well positioned to build on those achievements moving forward.

This fall we saw the unveiling of a dynamic Capital Improvement Program (CIP) that aims to fully address our growing enrollment needs by 2027. The plan includes a new elementary school, middle school and high school building.  In addition, the new West End and Patrick Henry school buildings are scheduled to open in fall 2018. Modernization programs are planned at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School, Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology, George Mason Elementary School and Matthew Maury Elementary School.  We are also in the final stages of a redistricting process that addresses the distribution of students across the city, the first such effort since 1999.  Admittedly, this is an ambitious and aggressive agenda.  However, this work requires a sense of urgency and action if we are going to ensure that our schools have the capacity to meet the needs of our students now and in the future.

ACPS’ work this year continues to be well-aligned with our ACPS 2020 plan. This plan is the roadmap that guides us to becoming a high-performing school division characterized by excellence, perseverance and relationships. It has six distinct but interrelated goals that focus on: academic excellence and educational equity; family and community engagement; hiring and retaining exemplary staff; optimal facilities and learning environments; staff and student health and wellness; and effective and efficient operations. Together, these goals form the cornerstone of our mission statement: Every Student Succeeds. These three simple, but powerful words, reflect our commitment that every child, regardless of their background, has access to an excellent education in optimal learning environments with equitable access to the wealth of opportunities that take place in and outside of our classrooms.

This year, ACPS met, maintained or exceeded performance targets for 93 percent of the Academic Excellence and Educational Equity goals set for the first year of the ACPS 2020 Strategic Plan. All targets were met in the areas of: educational equity; teacher resources and support; cultural competence and an atmosphere of respect; ethics and behaviors for success; early childhood education; adult education and services for adult English language learners. The results indicate that ACPS is on track for fulfilling its mission of seeing every student succeed, while simultaneously educating lifelong learners and inspiring civic responsibility. Between now and February 2017, we will publicly report our accomplishments in the remaining five goals.  I am optimistic that our city will see that indeed ACPS is moving forward in our journey to excellence.

In other areas, ACPS has launched a cycling initiative at Mount Vernon Community School to teach students road safety; increased staff retention rates; and improved internal processes to ensure financial transactions are transparent and efficient.  Our students and staff continue to receive recognition for their accomplishments as we celebrate a successful Titan football season, performance of the T.C. Williams choir at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and the selection of Stefani Lailari as the Virginia School Nurse of the Year.

Results of the first ACPS 2020 survey show overwhelming support for ACPS’ vision of academic excellence.  Survey results also suggest that the ACPS community believes the school division provides a challenging yet supportive environment for students.  A total of 81 percent of respondents felt that ACPS offers academic excellence while 92 percent said they felt welcome to attend school activities and could easily obtain information about ACPS services and activities.

While we should acknowledge the achievements that have been made through the hard work of students, staff, parents, community partners, and volunteers, there is still much more work to be done. This is hardly the time to slow down.

This year, we will listen to the 1,150 parents and guardians who completed the curriculum evaluation survey last February by focusing on strengthening the curriculum, meeting the needs of diverse learners, and providing a range of professional learning opportunities to help staff strengthen their instructional practices. We will continue to build an exemplary staff, promote student and staff health, launch a new website, and use multiple languages and methods to communicate with all our families. Additional program evaluations or studies in the areas of Talented and Gifted Services, Grade Level Configurations, and Special Education are in process.

As superintendent of schools, I am thankful for the opportunity to interact with so many awesome students, parents, staff, volunteers, and elected officials each day.  I am also thankful for the opportunity to live and work in a community that is committed to ensuring excellence for the long-term future of our City and our schools.

Together, we have an exciting and dynamic road ahead.