By: Evan Kean
It has been about two years since the JEB Stuart Community was shaken by an infamous survey published by the Washington Post in May of 2014. The survey, known formally as the Working Conditions Survey, is given biannually by FCPS to all teachers, administrators, and other school employees.
Stuart had a low overall score on the survey, with the article specifically referring to the categories of “School is a good place to work” and “Leadership is effective,” which Stuart scored a 32 and 25 out of 100, respectively.
This article, and the survey it contains, is an example of but some of the judgment Stuart has faced over the years. This has slowly but surely affected Stuart’s reputation, until Stuart may no longer be thought by other people as the bright, hardworking school it is, and can be.
In a press conference on September 23, FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza was questioned about the survey and about Stuart’s reputation in FCPS.
“Surveys can somewhat be deceiving because each survey is at any particular time, and it’s much later before the results come in, and so it may not be…a real accurate reflection of what’s currently happening, because of the lag in time,” she began. The very nature of the survey is something that may not be indicative of Stuart, or any school, simply because of time. This is a valid point, but the facts of the survey are still clear and ugly.
Garza continued, saying “I’m not sure it was an accurate reflection, but at the same time we recognize that at Stuart there are a lot of changes being made. We have provided a lot of additional support for Stuart High School, and we’ve made some changes with regard to staffing there.” This is true; Stuart has seen dozens of new teachers this year, with more on the way.
“In fact, I visited Stuart High School this year, and I think there are good things going on. I think the school’s great, I’m very impressed. In fact, I think some of the best teaching I’ve seen is at that school. On the first day of school, every classroom I went in, teachers were actually teaching, and it was pretty great. I saw a chemistry teacher there that was really amazing…Mr. Bell? [Mr. Bellamy?] Bellamy, yes, it was amazing. So I think there are great things going on and, I think, a lot of hard work on the part of the teachers and students.”
Garza made sure not to leave the students out of the equation. “This is important for the student leadership at the school, too. Students can have a very important part in helping people understand what’s great about the school, and also what needs to be worked on.” This is something that is not always immediately thought about, which is troubling. Students are truly the first step in proving that a school is great, and every student and Stuart would do good to remember it.
“And so, I think it was an unfortunate and not very accurate on the reflection on the school as a whole. I do think it was unfortunate, because I think you have a great school.” Now we know Garza thinks Stuart is a great school, and it’s up to Stuart’s community to prove her right.
Photo by Zahid Khan