By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Richard Moniuszko, a former school psychologist and longtime educator who was hired by the Fairfax County public school system as deputy superintendent, begins work today.
As the right-hand man for Superintendent Jack D. Dale, Moniuszko will oversee curriculum, instruction and teacher training. He'll also work with the School Board as it sets out new goals and begins working to meet them.
Moniuszko said in a phone interview last week that he would begin his tenure by visiting teachers and students.
"I'm hoping to get out to some schools and take a peek into the classroom to see what teaching and learning look like in Fairfax County," Moniuszko said.
Moniuszko, 55, who most recently worked as deputy superintendent in Columbia, S.C., replaces Brad Draeger, who left the district in February to become schools chief for the Livingston public schools in New Jersey.
Moniuszko is the second top administrator hired by the district in recent weeks. Last month, Terri L. Breeden, a former administrator in Nashville, was hired as assistant superintendent of the department of professional learning and training, a new position.
Dale said Moniuszko's breadth of experience made him a good candidate. Moniuszko started his career as a school psychologist in a South Carolina district. Over the years he has worked as director of instructional accountability, director of pupil services and assistant superintendent. In addition to the Columbia schools, he worked in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district in North Carolina.
He said he enjoys golf and likes to go to football games at the University of Virginia, where his son is a student. But he says he spends most of his free time "thinking about being a school administrator."
He said one of his proudest accomplishments was to help double the number of Columbia students who took Advanced Placement courses. Using a system he helped develop at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, the district in Columbia used standardized test scores to identify students who might excel but whose potential might have gone unnoticed.
"It's the same way you look at athletes with potential," Moniuszko said. "We generated reports that gave guidance counselors a list of kids and gave them the opportunity to sit down and talk with students and their parents about AP."
Ida Thompson, director of instructional technology services for the district in Columbia, said Moniuszko is an easy administrator to work with. She recalled going to Moniuszko a few years ago with a complaint that the district's libraries were sorely outdated.
Moniuszko listened quietly, she recalled, and then asked what she needed to make the collection current.
"A lot had happened in the world since 1984," Thompson said. She pointed out that the books were, on average, 20 years old. "He said, "We have to do something about this.' "
Thompson said that Moniuszko began to push for funding and that eventually $3 million was devoted to the libraries over three years. Now, she said, students have access to a current collection.
Thompson joked that the only hard thing about working with Moniuszko was learning to pronounce his name. "It took us about two weeks to get the tongue to roll right, and then we got it," she said (it's Mun-uz-ko).
Moniuszko, who grew up in Baltimore, received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Virginia. He has a master's degree from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and a doctorate in education from the University of South Carolina.
Moniuszko is married and has three grown children. His son attending U-Va. is the youngest. His wife, Linda, a school principal in South Carolina, is finishing the school year and will move to Virginia over the summer. Moniuszko said that they had not yet decided where to live and that he was "trying to figure out the traffic patterns."