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June 15, 2017

Five assistant principal appointments approved

New assistant principals (from left) top row: Patrick Neidich (Liberty), Lashonda Reed (Kettle Run); bottom row: Debbie Diaz-Arnold (P.B. Smith), Jennifer Early (W.G. Coleman) and Kylie Henson (Marshall).
Fauquier’s school board this week approved the appointment of five new assistant principals.

The assistant principals will start July 5 Kettle Run and Liberty high schools, Marshall Middle and Coleman and Smith elementary schools.

Kettle Run High School

Lashonda Reed will succeed Meaghan Brill, the high school’s new principal.

Ms. Reed will earn $79,000 annually.

She most recently has worked as the special education department chair at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford.

Ms. Reed said she is “super excited” about her selection for this position.

“This whole experience is full circle for me, and I am very thankful for this opportunity, especially since I started my teaching career at Kettle Run,” she said.

The Rochester, N.Y., native, came to Virginia when the United States Marine Corps brought her family here.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in social psychology from Park University and a master’s degree in special education and certification in education leadership, from the University of Mary Washington.

Ms. Reed kicked off her career at Kettle Run, spending one year as a science and math special education teacher before moving on to the same position for two years at Colonial Forge.

She has been the special education department chair there for the past three years.

Ms. Reed’s “see-a-need, fill-a-need” philosophy drew her into the field of education.

“I have a child with special needs. We had a couple of really bad IEP (Individualized Education Program) meetings, and I figured I could help from the inside,” she explained.

She moves into administration believing “greater position, greater impact.”

“It is all about embracing challenges, being flexible and making learning fun,” Ms. Reed said.

As an assistant principal at Kettle Run, Ms. Reed wants to “lead by example by setting the tone for a positive learning environment and make learning fun by seeking out innovative ways to engage students and creating a school culture that embraces non-traditional teaching practices.”

Her goal is to “invest in the community by depositing into the people within it.”

As for family and free time, Ms. Reed said, “I've been dating my husband for 17 years, and we have three dysfunctional children – Iyonah, Isyss, and Izaac. The countdown to an empty nest is five years, two months, three weeks, six days, 16 hours, 49 minutes, and two seconds.”  

Liberty High School

Patrick Neidich, the LHS band director for 15 years, will move into administration

Mr. Neidich will fill the position vacated by Nick Napolitano, Taylor Middle School’s new principal.

He will earn $80,500 annually.

Mr. Neidich served eight years as department chair of fine arts at Liberty and three years as the school division’s music lead teacher.

Prior to his work at Liberty, he spent a year as an elementary music specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools.

“I was extremely excited at first, then pleased and humbled that I will be able to continue serving the LHS community in this new role,” Mr. Neidich said.

The Oil City, Pa., native has a bachelor’s degree in music education from Duquesne University, a master’s degree in music performance from University of Michigan, and a master’s of education in administration and supervision from Regent University.

Mr. Neidich became a teacher because he wanted to help others explore and discover the power of music.

“I also was inspired and encouraged to follow my passion for music by my former middle school and high school band directors. I wanted to give back to students what they passed along to me,” he said.

Mr. Neidich applied for the assistant principal position because he wanted to become part of the bigger picture.

“Not only do I enjoy working with my band students, but I have also found a passion for helping all students, regardless of their interests,” he said. “I have also enjoyed collaborating with teachers and other adults who want to grow as individuals and have an overall interest in supporting students.”

Mr. Neidich considers Liberty as “truly a special place” and his “second home.” He said he wants to continue the “great work” already underway at the high school.

“I firmly believe that making and fostering positive relationships breaks down walls and allows us to inspire students to be creative, connected and aware global citizens,” he said.

“Through Leadership, High expectations and Service (LHS), I will continue to be a champion for members of the LHS community and believe that all students can achieve great things and eventually make positive contributions to society as adults,” he added.

Mr. Neidich and his wife Tara, band director at Cedar Lee Middle School, have three children: Alana, a rising eighth-grader at Cedar Lee; Aidan, a rising sixth-grader at Cedar Lee; and Avalyn, a rising second grader at Miller Elementary School.

Mr. Neidich enjoys spending time at the beach or hiking in the woods with his family and searching for the occasional geocache.

He also plans to continue to pursue music.

“I will continue to play trumpet throughout the area and perform as principal trumpet with the Piedmont Symphony Orchestra,” he said.

Marshall Middle School

After two years as assistant principal at Smith Elementary, Kylie Henson will return to Marshall Middle School.

Ms. Henson will replace Les Balgavy, the newly appointed supervisor of assessment and testing.

Ms. Henson will earn $70,000 annually.

She taught business and information technology at Marshall for five years before becoming the assistant principal at Smith Elementary.

“Returning to Marshall brings me great pleasure as this is where I started growing as an administrator with Principal David Graham as my mentor,” she said. “To be able to work with him and collaborate is exciting because I know I will continue to learn and grow as an administrator. Marshall became my home, something I hadn’t felt since I had left West Virginia.”

Born and raised in Wheeling, Ms. Henson has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s degree in educational leadership, both from Wheeling Jesuit University.

She has worked in the Fauquier public school system for 10 years — three at Cedar Lee, five at Marshall and two at Smith Elementary.

“Smith Elementary is full of amazing people, who work diligently and have shown me the hard work put in before students ever reach middle school,” Ms. Henson said. “I love the Roadrunner family, and I will miss seeing the tiny faces, but I look forward to seeing the students who will come to Marshall from P.B. Smith, and I hope to maintain all the relationships that I have built with the faculty.”

In her free time, she serves as the board secretary of the Fauquier’s Boys and Girls Club and loves to travel throughout the year with family and friends.

“I also enjoy watching my son Nolan on the soccer field and watching my son Shea play his bass guitar and date nights with my husband Ryan,” Ms. Henson said.

Coleman Elementary School

After three months as interim assistant principal, Jennifer Early’s position has become permanent.

A music teacher at Coleman and assistant marching band director at Liberty High School for the past six years, Ms. Early will replace Cindy Carter, who will retire.

Ms. Early will earn $65,000 annually.

The Fauquier native, who attended Pierce Elementary, Taylor Middle and Liberty said she is “excited and grateful” for the opportunity to serve as assistant principal at Coleman.

Ms. Early holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Shenandoah University and a master’s degree in education leadership from George Mason University.

She initially became a teacher because of what she described as a “very positive and successful experience” in high school with music.

“Music activates many parts of the brain and allows students to make strong connections within other core content areas,” Ms. Early said. “I wanted to teach students the importance of music, while allowing them to make connections and make gains in their other classes.”

As she pursued her master’s degree over the last several years of teaching, Ms. Early chose a program that would allow her to continue to grow and learn as an educator. She considers herself someone who loves to learn.

“After I graduated last year, it became a goal to pursue a leadership position within a school,” she said. “Within my program at GMU, I learned different ways to improve instruction, advocate for students and teachers and create a fun, safe learning environment.”

Ms. Early said she believes that every child has the ability to succeed in education. Her experience in teaching music to every student has allowed her to find ways to find different ways to engage students effectively.

“We have to find the best way for students to learn, while understanding that everyone learns differently,” Ms. Early said. “When finding ways to allow students to succeed, it’s important to make connections with the parents and community to provide a supportive environment. Part of my goal is to keep teachers informed and up-to-date with effective ways to engage students and provide access and equity.”

“My knowledge of music made it possible for me to find ways to have students successfully create a product to show their growth and this will be beneficial when working with project-based learning. Education is evolving, and effective ways in teaching students to be successful are constantly changing,” she added.

Ms. Early’s family lives in Fauquier County and has been a huge support system for her.

She loves to travel “and go to a new place every year.” Some of her favorite trips over the past few years have been to Ireland, Alaska and camping in the North Cascades.

Smith Elementary School

Debbie Diaz-Arnold will become assistant principal of Smith Elementary School, filling the position vacated by Kylie Henson.

Ms. Henson will become assistant principal at Marshall Middle School.

Ms. Diaz-Arnold has worked as assistant principal of Lynbrook Elementary School in Springfield for the past four years.

“I am so honored to have been chosen to be part of the P.B. Smith administrative team and to support the students, families and teachers of the P.B. Smith school community,” Ms. Diaz-Arnold said.

Ms. Diaz-Arnold will earn $90,000 annually.

She was born at West Point Military Academy and raised “all over” in Massachusetts, New York, France, Maryland and Virginia.

Ms. Diaz-Arnold has a bachelor’s degree in special and general education from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in special education from George Mason University, and an education specialist degree in administration and supervision/leadership from the University of Virginia.

Ms. Diaz-Arnold spent 15 years as a special education teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools at Key Center, Wakefield Forest, Layton Hall and Bull Run Elementary schools and one year as an inclusion resource specialist supporting three elementary schools — Oak View, Colin Powell and Union Mill.

In addition to serving as assistant principal at Lynbrook Elementary, she worked five years prior to that as an assistant principal at Saratoga Elementary in Fairfax County.

Ms. Diaz-Arnold became a teacher “to be part of children’s academic lives as they become critical thinkers and problem solvers.”

She decided to move into administration for three reasons: “To support building teacher capacity as they hone their skills to support 21st-century learners, to support families as they build partnerships with the school community, and to ensure each student gets the highest quality education we can offer.”

Ms. Diaz-Arnold looks forward to partnering with Principal Linda Smith to build a school community with a clear vision and focus on continuous learning for all students, staff and families.

Describing herself as a “visionary, instructional leader, lifelong collaborator and change agent,” she hopes to help lead the collaborative implementation of her new school’s vision and mission.

Ms. Diaz-Arnold said that as a lifelong learner and collaborator, she hopes to support professional learning opportunities. 

“It is critical to model and demonstrate reflective practice, grit, perseverance, and a strong desire for continuous growth and lifelong learning,” she said. “As a collaborator, I believe strongly in developing teacher leaders and creating an environment of distributed leadership, collective responsibility, and collaborative decision making.”

“I know that as with our students, ‘once-and-done’ is not best practice for teaching and learning; our staff and community members also deserve embedded, ongoing, coordinated learning opportunities,” she added.

Ms. Diaz-Arnold recently moved to a small farm in Front Royal with her parents who moved from Arizona.

In her free time, she enjoys kayaking, canoeing, reading, blogging and cooking.
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