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Daniels Run ES students at Jingle Walk DRES students dressed like super heroes FHS band Photo of three Providence students Photo of students reading to each other. Photo of panther made out of recycled materials Photo of FHS graduates Photo of Innovation sign Photo of Fairfax High School

City of Fairfax Superintendent Named 2017 Educational Leader

Dr. Pajardo will be recognized at the 21st annual Northern Virginia Leadership Awards on Thursday, November 9.

Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Pajardo will be recognized by Leadership Fairfax for their 2017 Educational Leader award. The award recognizes an individual teacher or administrator at the primary or secondary school level who has demonstrated a long-term and consistent pattern of excellent leadership in the educational field.

Dr. Pajardo began as an elementary classroom teacher in 1981 and held a number of leadership positions throughout Fairfax County Public Schools during her 34 year career. Dr. Pajardo became a consulting teacher, assistant principal, principal, staff developer, project manager, cluster director, and cluster assistant superintendent.

From 2011-2015, Dr. Pajardo was the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources for FCPS where she was responsible for recruiting, hiring and developing a diverse workforce for the district. In 2015, Dr. Pajardo became the Assistant Superintendent for the City of Fairfax Schools and was unanimously named by the City School Board as superintendent in August of 2017.

Dr. Pajardo earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Virginia (U.Va.) and her master’s in education from George Mason University (GMU). She completed her doctorate in education from U.Va. in 2009. She completed the executive leadership program for educators through the Curry School of Education and the Darden School of Business at U.Va.  She serves as an adjunct faculty member in leadership preparation/development for GMU, UVA, and Virginia Tech as well as ASCD and  has given presentations at national, state, and local conferences.

Founded in 1987 by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Fairfax is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to build a base understanding about our community, educate and inform and to ultimately engage individuals to become agents of positive change in Fairfax County and the Northern Virginia region. For more information, please visit the website.


Providence ES Class Participates in National Geographic Explorer Challenge

Students were able to meet mapmaker and activist Hindou Ibrahaim after studying her throughout the school year

Photo of paper quilt made by students of Hindou Ibrahim's life

Photo of paper quilt made by students of Hindou Ibrahim’s life

Emma Zuidema third grade students were filled with curiosity and wonder. When she saw the National Geographic 2017 Explorers Festival, she knew it would be a good match. National Geographic highlighted several emerging explorers across a number of fields and were looking for classrooms to pair the explorers to create a biographical project about the explorer’s life and work. Ms. Zuidema’s class was selected and were matched with Hindou Ibrahim, a mapmaker and activist from Chad.

The students can be seen on the National Geographic video project along with other classes.

Ms. Ibrahim tireless efforts in Chad focuses on expanding and utilizing a 3D mapping system to spread knowledge in order to stop climate change and is also a strong advocate for girls’ education. Ms. Ibrahim spoke at the April 2017 Paris Agreement for climate change.

Ms. Zuidema’s students researched Ms. Ibrahim and read stories that connected them to her part of the world. The students specifically learned about indigenous knowledge, climate change (the water level decrease in Lake Chad), and learned about the importance of education (highlighting education for girls).

The students made a quilt based on their study and research. The quilt, made by paper pictures drawn by the students, tell the story of Ms. Ibrahim and her activism. “We loved learning about Hindou because through her we could share in her story and her hope to change the world,” said Ms. Zuidema.

“When we sent our project to her and to National Geographic, her response was so genuine and supportive. She created a space for each child to feel like they could change the world themselves — her presence was absolutely amazing.”

Students gather around Hindou Ibrahim

Students gather around Hindou Ibrahim

The highlight of the experience for the third graders was getting to meet their new hero in person. In the spring of 2017, Ms. Ibrahim surprised the students in class. “As soon as she walked in the door, Hindou even gave every person in the room a hug,” said Ms. Zuidema. “She shared with us some of her story, her fears for the future, and she asked the class for advice. One of our students in the class responded, ‘Hindou, never give up!’  She invited each child to present their quilt square that showed a piece of her story that stuck with them.  Then, she showed us examples of her 3D mapping project and invited comments and potential solutions from the class.”

As she reflects on the project, Ms. Zuidema is proud of her students and their connection to Ms. Ibrahim. “I am grateful to National Geographic and their outreach to educators for providing the opportunity for our students to make that connection with an amazing individual. I feel confident that they will take their memory of the project forward with them, and apply it in a positive and meaningful way.  I’m really looking forward to creating those moments for my students this year and for years to come – where an authentic connection to an important cause gives each and

Student's picture of Hindou Ibrahim for paper quilt

Student’s picture of Hindou Ibrahim for paper quilt

every student access to true learning and wonderful memories.”

Zuidema continues, “I would also like to thank the supportive Providence ES parent community, especially Kathleen Schwille who pointed out the project to the teachers at PES. We are so lucky to have such wonderful parents in our school.”

City of Fairfax Schools Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Pajardo Releases Entry Plan

Dr. Phyllis Pajardo released her entry plan as she takes the helm as Superintendent of the City of Fairfax Schools. Dr. Pajardo, who was voted unanimously as Superintendent in August, created the entry plan to “build trust, establish positive working relationships, model ethical leadership and develop a comprehensive understanding of the City of Fairfax schools and community.”

The five objectives of the entry plan are listed as:

  1. Develop strong relationships with stakeholders
  2. Seek and utilize feedback
  3. Establish and employ effective communication
  4. Review and assess programs, facilities and budget
  5. Develop future goals and priorities

Dr. Pajardo presented her entry plan to the City of Fairfax School Board at their September work session and plans on addressing each of the objectives at following meetings. The Entry Plan and presentation can be found below.


DRES Teacher Integrates Flexible Seating

Photo of flexible seating options for Daniels Run Elementary School

Photo of flexible seating options for Daniels Run Elementary School

Using City of Fairfax Schools Innovation Grant to Transform Classroom

Students in Michelle Kamiyama’s 6th grade class were in for a surprise when they entered on the first day of school. The traditional chair and desks were gone. The students, many of whom were in her class in the 5th grade and “looped” with her this year, noticed a wide variety of flexible seating options.

“Their faces on the first day of school were priceless when they saw our classroom transformation,” said Ms. Kamiyama.

Kamiyama used funds from the DRES Innovation Grants from the City of Fairfax to partially support her flexible seating project. Over the summer, she raised the rest of the money and transformed her classroom.

Many classrooms around the country are shifting to flexible seating. The seating options allow students to move seats easily and choose the most comfortable seats for them. With the emphasis on collaboration and critical thinking, many lessons are adapting to have the students work in groups to solving problems. There is also benefits to allow students the ability to easily stand and move around to increase blood flow and expense energy if needed.

Photo of flexible seating options for Daniels Run Elementary School

Photo of flexible seating options for Daniels Run Elementary School

“The students love the different seating option and the ability to move seats as needed to help them be most successful,” said Ms. Kamiyama said. “The students are changing their seats daily and sitting with new classmates each day. It has been great to see the students build stronger relationships and collaborating with different groups.”

Fairfax High School Golf Team Wins District, Regionals

FHS Golf Team Celebrating Regional Win

FHS Golf Team Celebrating Regional Win

Will Compete in State Tournament October 9th and 10th

For the first time in 20 years, the Fairfax High School co-ed golf team are Patriot District Champions and continued to dominate as Occaquan Regional Champions. The Rebels will compete in the state tournament on Monday and Tuesday at Magnolia Greens golf course in Moseley, Virginia near Richmond.

In districts, Fairfax was led by sophomore George Duangmanee who had two solid rounds of 71 and 73 for a 144. George was the second place medalist overall. Senior captain Robin Yu had two rounds of 75 and 71 for a total of 146 and placed third overall. Freshman Christina Cupelli also shined with rounds of 78 and 74 for a 152 and sixth place finish. The Rebels beat second place Lake Braddock by 35 strokes with a two day total of 597.

FHS Golf Team Celebrating Regional Win

FHS Golf Team Celebrating Regional Win

“We were excited to have three place in the top six medalist honors,” said Fairfax High School Coach Derek Donnelly.  Donnelly also noted the outstanding performances of freshman James Thomas and sophomore Dro Khachatourain in the district tournament.

In the Regional tournament, Fairfax was again led by Duangmanee, who posted two solid rounds of 69 and 72 for a total of 141 and captured the second place overall medal. Other standouts included Yu, Khachatourian and sophomore RJ Cupelli. The team two day total was 610 which beat second place Lake Braddock and third place Colgan.

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