APS News Release

School Board Appoints New Administrators, First Division Counsel and Other Leaders

The School Board approved six leadership appointments at its July 29 meeting:

Principal and Assistant Principal Appointments
The School Board approved the following Principal and Assistant Principal appointments:

  • Tracy Gaither – Principal, Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary School: Gaither has been an educator for over 27 years, and has served as an elementary teacher, math coach, and assistant principal at Drew Elementary for the last 4 years. As an educator who is passionate about student success, she is well-known for creating a welcoming and collaborative environment for students, families, and staff. She is also a champion of project-based learning and STEAM, and she inspires students to connect their learning to real-world advances. Gaither assumes this position July 30, 2021.
  • Catherine Han – Principal, Barrett Elementary School: Han is currently the Assistant Principal at Hoffman-Boston Elementary School. Han is an experienced educator who has served as a lead teacher, Resource Teacher for the Gifted, and Assistant Principal. She has implemented a Young Scholars program, bolstered STEM initiatives, and led the development of cross-curricular project-based learning experiences. She received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with endorsements in Middle School Science and Language Arts from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Han earned her Masters of Education in International Education Policy from Harvard University. Han has worked in Chicago Public Schools, Fairfax Public Schools and previously taught at Barrett. Han assumes this position July 30, 2021.
  • Jason Love – Assistant Principal, Kenmore Middle School: With 15 years as an educator, Love has taught at the middle school and high school levels in several special education settings, including MIPA, self-contained classrooms, co-taught courses, and intensified level courses for twice exceptional students. Love has been a special education teacher at Wakefield High School, and he also worked as a summer school assistant administrator in 2018 and 2019, currently serving as administrator of the middle school Summer School program at Kenmore.

These appointments begin July 30.

Additional Leadership Appointments
The Board approved the following additional leadership appointments:

  • Christine Smith – Division Counsel: Christine Smith has been appointed APS’ first in-house Division Counsel. Smith is the Legal Director at Children’s Law Center (CLC) in Washington, D.C. Smith spent the first six years of her legal career at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) as both a staff and supervising attorney. She earned her J.D., graduating summa cum laude, from Whittier Law School in 1997. Her appointment begins Sept. 1.
  • Jason Ottley – Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Ottley is an Assistant Professor at the Bagwell School of Education in Georgia. He has a diverse background in education spanning 17 years in a variety of settings, including, teacher, director of student support, principal, consultant, adjunct faculty, college administrator and college professor. Ottley received a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy from West Virginia University, a M.Ed. in special education from George Mason University, and a B.A. in English from West Virginia University. His appointment begins Sept. 1.
  • Claudia Mercado – Clerk of the School Board: Mercado is currently the Deputy Clerk of the School Board and brings experience providing direct support to the Chair, Vice Chair and Board Members and managing public contact with the Board office, scheduling, and Board-related documents. She is a former APS student and brings over 20 years of experience. Mercado has served in multiple capacities in APS including in the Payroll Department, Department of School and Community Relations, and most recently in the School Board Office as the Deputy Clerk/Communications Liaison. Mercado’s appointment begins Sept. 1.

Next School Board Meeting:
The School Board will hold its next Regular Meeting (2110 Washington Blvd.) on Thu., Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. The agenda will be posted one week before the meeting on BoardDocs. Masks are required in Board Meetings until further notice.

For More Information:
Community members who want to comment on any items discussed at the School Board meeting should email the Board at school.board@apsva.us or call 703-228-6015.

School Board meetings are also broadcast live on Comcast Cable Channel 70 and Verizon Fios Channel 41; live-streamed on the APS website, and re-broadcast on Fridays at 9 p.m. and Mondays at 7:30 p.m. immediately following the meeting. All materials and minutes will be posted to the website at www.apsva.us/schoolboard upon School Board approval at a subsequent meeting.