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Fauquier Schools’ associate superintendent to retire after 40 years in education

Dr. Sandra Mitchell, associate superintendent for instruction for Fauquier County Public Schools, has announced her intent to retire effective Jan. 1, 2017. She will leave FCPS to become a part-time educational leadership instructor and the program administrator for the leadership preparation program for the University of Virginia, Falls Church campus.

Dr. Mitchell has been with FCPS for 40 years. She began her career in Fauquier County as an English teacher. In 1992 she was named Teacher of the Year by the regional affiliate of the Virginia Association of Teachers of English. She supervised the English program for the school division for 13 years and served as director of instruction for two years before assuming her role as associate superintendent in 2001.

In early 2013 Dr. Mitchell served as the school division’s interim superintendent for four months prior to the arrival of current superintendent, Dr. David Jeck.

She is a graduate of Mary Washington College (B.A. in English) and George Mason University (M.Ed. in secondary English education.) and received her doctorate in educational administration from the University of Virginia.

She has authored several publications, is an oft-requested presenter, belongs to several community-related and professional organizations, and has been an adjunct instructor at the University of Virginia, University of Mary Washington and George Mason University.

In October 2013 Dr. Mitchell was the focus of an article, “The Making of a Leader: A Sort of Parable,” by Dr. Carol Ann Tomlinson in Education Leadership, the signature publication of the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Dr. Mitchell said it was “with mixed emotions” that she tendered her letter regarding retirement.

“It has been a joy and privilege to serve Fauquier County as a teacher and administrator,” she wrote to Dr. Jeck. “You are right; there is no better place.”

The highly respected administrator said she will always be an advocate and supporter of Fauquier County Public Schools. “[I will be] cheering you and the educators and children in Fauquier on to all that I know FCPS can be,” she wrote.

With Dr. Mitchell at the helm of the school division’s instructional department for the past 15 years, FCPS has made tremendous strides in instructional innovation, student achievement, teacher support and development, and leadership development and training.

Among many accomplishments Dr. Mitchell has:
• Led the development and implementation of a new teacher evaluation system

• Developed the annual professional development program for 900 certified employees, including an annual conference to showcase best practices

• Initiated an Advanced Placement Potential program to raise academic expectations and increase AP enrollment (the AP class enrollment went from 644 in 2004 to 1,941 in 2015)

• Facilitated various organizational change efforts including state and local school improvement processes

• Planned the annual leadership academy for 75 principals, assistant principals and other educational leaders in the division

• Led the development of an electronic report card for kindergarten through third grade

• Created a new instructional framework with a corresponding lesson plan for division-wide teacher implementation

•  Created an instructional coaching framework and program that paired retired master teachers with novice teachers

• Led the reorganization of middle school programming

• Implemented several programs to increase program equity and access for students including a freshman transition program, an academic coaching program, and a residential camp for a targeted group of rising fifth graders who needed an extra academic boost

• Assisted the division superintendent with instructional consultation in a host of projects to include: a bond referendum initiative, opening of four new schools, opening of a regional governor’s school, strategic plan development, and many budget proposals.

Having worked alongside Dr. Mitchell for the past three years, Dr. Jeck said it would be impossible to put into a few words what she has meant to Fauquier County.

“So much of what she does to help others goes completely unnoticed, and she never wants nor expects recognition. In fact, she typically gives credit to everyone other than herself. She is truly one of a kind,” he said. “Beyond what she does for our school system, she has served as a confidant, sage advice provider, voice of calm and reason, and great friend to me personally. She will be missed terribly.”

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