New principals named at four city elementary schools

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Four of Alexandrias public elementary schools have new principals.

Last Thursday night, Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Rebecca L. Perry announced the selection of principals for George Mason Elementary School, Mt. Vernon Community School, William Ramsay Elementary School and Samuel Tucker Elementary School. George Masons principal, Nancy Sparks, left because of health issues; Dr. Lulu Lopez is leaving Mt. Vernon to return to family in California; Carl Smith is retiring from William Ramsay to pursue other things and Patrick McClintock-Comeaux is leaving Tucker to return to Pennsylvania to be near family.

We had an excellent pool of applicants, Perry said. Our children are in extremely capable hands and we will work very hard over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition.

Two of the new principals are assistant principals within ACPS. Dawn Felton, who will become the principal at George Mason Elementary School, is currently an assistant principal at Mt. Vernon. She has served as acting principal in Lopezs absence due to an accident, has been a Performance Evaluation specialist and a teacher. Working at Mt. Vernon, she is familiar with ESL curriculum and population and has experience with the modified (year-round) school calendar.

Tucker will keep their assistant principal, Loretta Scott, who is being promoted. She was instrumental in the implementation of the first modified school calendar program in Alexandria and is experienced in using student test data to assist teachers with instruction. In the past five years, she has worked closely with the current principal to supervise licensed staff, establish and implement high standards of student behavior, sustain a positive school culture and encourage parent and community participation in school activities.

Mt. Vernons principal is coming to Alexandria from Seattle where he is the principal of White Center Heights Elementary School. In his 16-year career, Scott Coleman has been a high school Spanish teacher, summer school principal and elementary school principal. He is fluent in Spanish and enthusiastic about Mt. Vernons dual language program. In Washington, he established a bilingual preschool program to address kindergarten readiness. He also brings a high level of technical expertise to Alexandria, having participated in several technology initiatives.

Catherine Thomas will become principal at Ramsay. She has been a principal since 1999, with a proven track record of success. She is currently the principal at Berkeley Elementary School in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. During her first year there, third grade reading scores increased dramatically. She was one of 10 principals selected to participate in the Virginia School Turn-around specialists program and has experience as an educational consultant to several school districts.

Losing experience
While the parent and staff selection panels are excited about the new principals, the city is losing principals with many years of experience. Carl Smith is leaving Ramsay after 33 years with ACPS, 13 of those as a principal. He came to Alexandria in 1958 and is a product of ACPS schools, graduating from George Washington High School.

I have seen a lot of changes over the years, most of them for the good, Smith said. I have loved working for ACPS and will continue to make my home in Alexandria.

Smith is considering job opportunities in Prince Georges County, both as a principal and as an elementary school teacher. I might really enjoy going back to teaching second or third graders, he said. It would be refreshing, perhaps, to be responsible for 25 children instead of hundreds. We will have to see.

Scott Colemans photo was not available.

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