Editorial: Departing T.C. Williams principal a tough act to follow

Editorial: Departing T.C. Williams principal a tough act to follow

Alexandria has many educators who work tirelessly to teach and nurture our city’s children. Few, however, have had the impact of T.C. Williams principal Suzanne Maxey, who announced last week that she is retiring after 40 years in education.

Maxey has accomplished a lot in her five years at T.C.’s helm. On her watch, student achievement, graduation rates and the number of minority students taking AP classes increased, while suspensions decreased. In addition, the school successfully opened the International Academy for English Language Learners, improved the athletic program and became a four-time Blue Ribbon School for the Arts.

She did all of this during a tumultuous time at Alexandria City Public Schools in general, as the district endured financial scandals, transportation issues, the resignation of one superintendent and the hiring of another.

By all accounts, Maxey cares deeply about the students in her care, and is involved with students on a micro level even as she manages overall school operations.

Maxey and her husband Bob, who is director of student activities at Mount Vernon High School, are retiring at the same time and moving to Maryland to be nearer to their children, grandchildren and Maxey’s mother.

Maxey is also to be commended for fulfilling the five-year commitment she made to ACPS when she was hired. Five years is a good amount of time in a post like this: it is long enough to provide stability and allow for real achievement, yet short enough to avoid becoming either complacent or burned out.

Her tenure also stands in contrast to that of recently departed City Manager Rashad Young, who left Alexandria after only three years and left the city to face another costly search for a replacement.

ACPS Superintendent Alvin Crawley said a nationwide search for Maxey’s replacement has begun. The district plans to name a new principal by April and that person will take the reins at T.C. in July.

The school district is seeking input from community members on the characteristics they deem most important for a new superintendent to possess. Alexandria residents can participate in this process either by completing an online survey at www.acpsk12.va.us or by attending a community meeting. We encourage as many residents as possible to give their input to this process.

T.C. Williams has been fortunate to have leaders as capable as Maxey and former, long-time principal John Porter — currently president of ACT for Alexandria — at its helm. Here’s hoping that Maxey’s successor is equally as capable.