Madison’s Trust Elementary in Brambleton will become Loudoun’s newest school when students return to classes Aug. 29.
The school’s name refers to a notable incident during the War of 1812, when the British burned the White House, and important government documents were temporarily hidden in Loudoun County. The word “trust” refers to the faith President James Madison placed in Loudoun residents to keep the records safe, county public schools spokesman Wayde Byard said.
David Stewart is the school’s principal. Stewart, 43, comes to Madison’s Trust from Guilford Elementary School in Sterling, where he was principal for 10 years. Before that, he taught fourth and fifth grades in Spotsylvania and Loudoun counties, and he was assistant principal at Cedar Lane Elementary School in Ashburn.
In an interview for The Washington Post, Stewart discussed his expectations for the new school, which will open with about 775 students. These are edited excerpts from the interview.
What is your guiding philosophy regarding education?
If you have an environment that’s positive, and you get people that have enthusiasm and a passion for students and learning, and a lot of energy, you can’t go wrong. It makes the kids want to come to school, it makes learning fun and, at the end of the day, the kids are reaching or exceeding their potential.
What qualities do you look for in teachers?
You’ve got to have a passion for it, and you’ve got to be enthusiastic . . . and you’ve got to have a big heart.
We had a two-day retreat with the new [teaching] staff at the end of June, and almost everybody was able to make it. Getting them all together for the first time was humbling for me. But at the same time, I felt like they had the traits that I’m looking for. It was the most positive two days I’ve ever experienced.
What is the most important job of a principal in a new school?
Making sure everybody feels welcome and making sure everyone knows that it’s a team effort. You’ve got to work together.
You’ve got people coming from all over the place, with all kinds of ideas. . . . I just want to make sure I capture it all and do as much as we can to make this a very positive experience.
How was the school mascot name chosen, the Mighty Macaws?
The name of the school came from James Madison. A macaw was his pet when he was president. We put a form on our website and had kids put in what they thought the mascot should be, and then we got about 200 to 300 entries. I just took the top four or five and made it a vote.
Are there any major challenges before school opens?
We need to walk around the school and make sure we have arrival and dismissal procedures, because this is a unique setup. It has three different entrances, because it has a bus loop, a car loop and a parking lot, and none of them are intertwined. So it’s just logistics.
If you had one message for the parents, what would it be?
We’re here for the kids. So whatever they need, we’re going to make sure that every child is met where they are, and make it a positive experience for everyone.
What would you tell the kids?
Be ready for a great year. We’re going to have a lot of fun, and you’re going to learn a lot. And you’re going to love your teachers.