Full text: Letters from Fairfax administrators over ‘challenges’ at Fort Hunt Elementary

September 4, 2013

Fairfax County school administrators acknowledged “challenges” affecting the learning environment at Fort Hunt Elementary, following a Washington Post story highlighting concerns raised by parents and staff at the school.

Fort Hunt Principal Barbara Leibbrandt and her immediate supervisor, assistant superintendent Deborah Tyler, wrote letters to families and faculity about their commitment to the school in the Alexandria section of the county.

Below are the complete letters from Leibbrandt and Tyler:

Message from the Principal
September 2, 2013
Dear Parents, Guardians and Staff:

As the title of the Washington Post article stated Fort Hunt Elementary does have challenges on the opening day of school. Those challenges are to improve the academic achievement of all students, to close the achievement gap for Black, Hispanic, economically disadvantaged and English as a Second Language learners, to offer differentiated instruction that meets the needs of all students and to prepare our students to be productive citizens. It takes every staff member working collaboratively to accomplish these goals.

As the article stated, teachers left Ft Hunt this past year for a variety of reasons including the job transfer of their spouse, promotion to another job, family leave, a shorter commute, retirement, or the acceptance of a full time position at another FCPS school. And, yes, some teachers left because they feel their teaching approach or philosophy does not match those established for Fort Hunt Elementary.

We have a great school. The school is fully accredited and met the Virginia requirements for yearly academic progress. The returning and new staff believe that all children deserve the best education. Yes, we do have challenges, but together we will address them.

I am always available to staff, parents, and community members to listen to your concerns and to hear your suggestions for improvements. I am looking forward to the upcoming school year as we prepare each child in our school to reach their full potential.

Thank you for your support and understanding.
Sincerely,
Barbara Leibbrandt

****

September 2, 2013
Dear Fort Hunt Parents and Staff,

In response to the article posted about our school in yesterday’s edition of the Washington Post, I want to ensure my commitment in working with you to make this school a great place of teaching and learning for all students. I have received many letters that support the need to work together to foster an environment that embraces diversity and provides opportunities for each child to reach their potential. Great schools are built and sustained by the collective efforts of all parents and staff that work together in a positive manner to address challenges that can create opportunities. This is our opportunity to continue addressing these challenges with solutions that will be dependent upon continued dialogue that acknowledges the voices of all stakeholders.

Although this article has painted one perception of the school, we are all aware that there remains a strong body of committed staff and parents. All are in agreement that our charge for this school year shall be joining together in a supportive manner to move beyond these recent events. I have heard from many of these individuals and will continue to direct my support in making this an advantageous learning environment for all. Each child at Fort Hunt Elementary School deserves our unwavering collective effort as the adults who will serve as examples to set a limitless course for their future.

I urge you to continue communicating with me as we work together to support this school.

Sincerely yours,
Deborah L. Tyler
Assistant Superintendent
Cluster 4

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.
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