The regulations are still in flux, the faculty yet to be hired, but the head of the "traditional" school slated to come to Prince William County in fall 2000 has been named: Joyce Boyd, currently assistant principal at Woodbridge Middle School.
The traditional school, so called because of its expected focus on discipline, high academic standards, uniforms and student/parent behavior contracts, is one of an array of specialty schools scheduled to open in Prince William in the next few years.
All high schools, most middle schools and several elementary schools will have a specialty, such as fine arts at Woodbridge Senior High School (scheduled for 2001) and information technology at Forest Park, the new high school that opens next fall. Students will be able to transfer freely among those schools to pursue their special interests, if space allows.
The traditional school, for kindergarten to eighth-grade, first came to the forefront after School Board members and Superintendent Edward L. Kelly visited a Chicago school run by educator Marva Collins. Collins's program has been noted nationwide for its adherence to strict discipline, coupled with high academic achievement by poor and minority students.
Collins has packaged her program for sale to several schools across the country. Kelly said the county will not buy the Marva Collins School curriculum but is creating its own instructional program that will adapt some of the same philosophies. The school will be housed in the building that currently serves Pennington High School, an alternative education center.
Boyd, 43, who has been in Prince William County Public Schools for 22 years, began as a work and family studies teacher. She has been assistant principal at Woodbridge Middle for 2 1/2 years. She also had an opportunity to be trained at the Marva Collins Institute before the principalship became available. Boyd said she has high regard for Collins's work.
"I love Marva Collins, and to have the opportunity to go there and train there was something I felt would help me in any job in the future," she said.
Boyd noted that the children in the school were expected to say "ma'am" and "sir," respond to questions in complete sentences, wear uniforms and study daily affirmations. Parents also were expected to adhere to certain rules and to reinforce them at home. Boyd wants to bring all of those ideas to the new county school.
Boyd said her biggest job now is bringing together parents and hiring people who share her thinking.
"I think the PR will be the most important part, to make the community know about what Prince William is offers. Once this is off the ground, I'm sure it'll be a success," she said.
Children throughout the county will be eligible to enroll in the school, which will fill slots on a lottery basis if there are more applicants than spaces.