Newly hired Assistant Principals Heather Bousman and Gordon Stokes have a lot on their plates—helping Principal with all sorts of tasks, from ordering furniture and hiring 50-plus teachers to writing the school mission statement.
The brand-new $21.95 million middle school opens in September, and the pair seemed cheerfully optimistic in a recent conversation with Patch.
Meet Ms. Bousman
"I love my job, my career," said Bousman, who, along with Stokes, started work last month. "Working with students every day always gives me a new adventure. It's never dull… They don't know it yet but I'm going to be the practical joker. I'm pretty outgoing and goofy."
Bousmann, 37, lives in Centreville, and has a master's degree in special education from Longwood University in Farmville, Va., and a master's in educational administration from George Mason University. For six years she was a special education teacher and department chair at Falls Church High School. She chaired the South County High School Special Education Department from 2006 until her recent hiring for South County Middle School.
"The benefit of being special-ed chair is that I worked with all curricular activities," Bousman said, adding that she knew from an early age that her destiny was to work with students. "I guess I've known since I was in elementary school when I was a peer helper in the fourth grade."
As a vice principal, Bousman will oversee the special education and the science, fine and performing arts and physical education departments. "I believe that everyone has the ability to learn and achieve great things," she said. "I focus on being an open motivator and I want to hear what people have to say."
Meet Mr. Stokes
Gordon Stokes has spent his career in middle schools. "Middle school is the best," he said. "The energy—you can't replicate it. It's fantastic. The kids are funny and intelligent and they're starting to form their personalities."
"You have very innocent, naive students who are just trying to keep their heads above water and then you have kids who think they're mature and all the points in between," Stokes said.
Stokes, 37, lives in the City of Alexandria and received his master's degree in history from the University of Virginia. He was born into a family of educators. His father was a microsociologist professor at George Washington University and his mother was a school administrator and social studies teacher. For nine years, Stokes was a seventh-grade history teacher and later department chair at Rachel Carson Middle School in Herndon. He took FCPS leadership courses in 2005, and, in 2007, was an administrative intern at Key Middle School in Springfield. For the past four years he has worked as an assistant principal at Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church.
"I think I've found really good ways to understand and relate to middle-school students," said Stokes. "Students at this age have a keen idea of respect—how they want to be respected and vice versa, so I always approach every kid with respect."
Stokes will be responsible for the social studies, math and world languages departments. Naturally, assistant principals have a much broader focus than department heads. "As a department head you are focused on one content area," he said. "You look closely at curriculums, assessing student learning and building collaborative groups."
"As an assistant principal, you're looking at an entire building," he noted. "You're thinking about an institutional vision for the school, how to engage the community, and all of the logistical things that it takes to run a school."
News to Know About South County Middle School
- The South County Middle School colors are now officially green, blue and burgundy.
- The school day will begin at 7:55 a.m. and end at 2:45 p.m.
- Rising seventh graders are being asked to weigh in on the school mascot. The choices are: the Broncos, the Colts and the Mustangs.
- South County Middle School will host an open house for the community on Tuesday, June 12, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.