Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month is an annual celebration that highlights the many accomplishments and contributions women have made to society throughout the course of history. This year Arlington Public Schools (APS) has decided to celebrate APS principals and assistant principals. The principals and assistant principals will be featured on the APS Women’s History Page, and across APS’ social media platforms. APS is honored to have the opportunity to recognize these women for their dedication and commitment to APS students and their families. Here are just a few of the women that will be highlighted this month.  Check back for additional APS principals and assistant principals throughout the month. Join us on social media using #APSWomensHistory


EllisName: Latisha Ellis

Title: Assistant Principal, Swanson Middle School

What would you tell young women who are pursuing a career in education? What would you like them to know?

I would tell any young women pursuing a career in education that passion is energy, and it is an amazing experience to feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you! I am both excited and energized daily as a teacher and leader.


lisaName: Lisa Moore

Title: Assistant Principal, Dorothy Hamm Middle School

Have you drawn professional inspiration from other women? Tell us about someone who has inspired you.​ 

Every morning that I walk into Dorothy Hamm Middle School, I am inspired by our building’s namesake, Dorothy Hamm.  As a generational family member of the Halls Hill community, I feel so honored and blessed to be a leader of a school building that was historic in paving the way for several African American students.   My hope is that I will pass along some inspiration to the young women here at Dorothy Hamm Middle School.


J DaSilva_Long Branch PrincipalName: Jessica DaSilva

Title: Principal, Long Branch Elementary School

Have you drawn professional inspiration from other women? Tell us about someone who has inspired you.

Every day I find women who inspire me. Women who consistently set goals, reflect on themselves, and meet those goals inspire me. Women who challenge what they see wrong in the world always inspire me. Women like Tarana Burke, Mae Jemison, Joumana Haddad, and Patsy Mink inspire me. But it is not just trailblazers, it is the women who get up every day and greet the world with a gratitude and the tenacity to take on each day and all the challenges the day may bring to their door.


melindaName: Melinda Phillips

Title: Assistant Principal, Carlin Springs Elementary School

What would you tell young women who are pursuing a career in education? What would you like them to know?

I would tell young women that are pursuing a career in education that there is no better job in the world! I would encourage them to create a path that best fits their interests and needs. Working in education is truly a joy because we have the opportunity to serve our community and make a lasting impact on students’ lives.


000Name: Laurel Cerrud

Title: Assistant Principal, Dorothy Hamm Middle School

Have you drawn professional inspiration from other women? Tell us about someone who has inspired you.

As a female educator much of my inspiration has come from other colleagues that I have collaborated with or learned from. Each person mentioned is a true hero who helped me to grow and develop in my role. Dr. Bette Dickerson showed me the importance of working in a diverse team, listening to other’s perspectives. She constantly challenged our implicit biases and encouraged us to grow in understanding at American University. Dr. Michele Goss was my closest colleague when I began at APS. She shared wonderful clinical skills and offered friendship at Gunston MS.  Ms. Evelyn Fernandez showed me what grace, care, and kindness means in leadership. She demonstrated this each day in her work at Key ES. Ms. Felicia Russo taught me how to develop knowledge in one’s role and to speak directly and courageously each day at Long Branch ES. More recently, Ellen Smith has shown me how to be patient and compassionate, building a school from the ground up. Each one of these wonderful professionals remains a hero for me. Their examples guide my practice each day.


IMG_6353Name: Iliana Gonzalez

Title: Assistant Principal, Claremont Immersion School

How are you making a difference in APS?

Every day I work to ensure our students are surrounded by passion and rigor in two languages—students are graduating from our PreK-12 immersion programs as skilled and compassionate bilingual leaders.

 


renF61C-4988-8805-7B1_201_aName: Renee Harber

Title: Principal, Swanson Middle School

What goes through your mind when you think of women who joined the workforce before you?

Women began playing a central roll in education – as teachers and as learners, in formal and informal education settings, since the 1800’s. Today data shows that three-quarters of all teachers are women, but only half of all principals are women, and about one quarter of women make up district leadership. I have had the opportunity to be mentored by some AMAZING women leaders who have supported in shaping my leadership approach.  Marion Spraggins, who hired me in 1997, served as the first African American principal of Swanson. She demonstrated leadership with tenacity and grace. A true role model to me. I am fortunate, and honored, to now serve as Swanson’s second African American principal. I am proud to say that during my time in Arlington, the data sways positively towards women leadership and the evidence of their courage and resilience is apparent throughout APS district structures. My goal is to continue to pave the way for our future women leaders in a manner that was so effectively done for me.


catharinaName: Catharina Genove

Title: Principal, Montessori Public School of Arlington

How are you making a difference in APS?

As the leader of an APS option school, I consider myself fortunate to be at the helm of a school with a 50-year history with APS. I am amazed at how far and long the Montessori program at APS has come and grateful that APS has shown such a commitment to Montessori Education. Dr. Montessori was a role model for so many women and ahead of her time embarking on a medical career at a time when no women were in that field. Her observations of children later in her career inspired her passion and her work. I am honored to work with such a committed staff that are dedicated to bringing her work and philosophy to so many APS students.


jodyName: Jody Olser

Title: Assistant Principal, Williamsburg Middle School

What goes through your mind when you think of women who joined the workforce before you?

I am so grateful for the generations of working women who have come before me – women who were often discouraged from or even forbidden to work outside their homes; women who watched themselves get overlooked for advancement because it was expected that only men could earn promotions or pay raises; women who persisted in the pursuit of employment to support their families or turn a talent for their avocation into a grassroots business. I am proud of these women and grateful to them for opening doors and breaking glass ceilings, often against all odds and against so many who told these women no.


hollyName: Holly Hawthorne

Title:  Principal, Arlington Traditional School

Have you drawn professional inspiration from other women? Tell us about someone who has inspired you.

Many women have inspired me including my mother who always believed in me. Ginny Smith, my cooperating teacher when I was a student teacher influenced me greatly. She was a master teacher and I wanted to follow in her footsteps. We are still friends today! I also found inspiration from Lila Wise, former APS Director of Human Resources. She mentored me as a Teacher Mentor and prepared me to become an Assistant Principal and Principal. I always looked up to her for her strength, wisdom, and kindness.

 


kimJName: Kimberly Jackson-Davis

Title: Assistant Principal, Washington Liberty High School

What would you tell young women who are pursuing a career in education? What would you like them to know?

I would tell anyone pursuing a career in education to keep your eyes on the prize, student success! That is your ultimate goal in this field and your professional moves should be driven by that. Constantly ask yourself, what’s best for the student?

 


Ms.Begley2Name: Mary Begley

Title: Principal, Arlington Science Focus School

What goes through your mind when you think of women who joined the workforce before you?

When I think of the time period I grew up in, woman were just beginning to be hired in administrative roles. I was fortunate enough to have a female principal who was an inspiration to me and afforded me opportunities in leadership traditionally not given to female students such as SCA President, Captain of Safety Patrols, and Class President. These roles and her inspiration to break the ceiling led me to seek leadership roles within and outside of the academic environment. I stayed in touch with her until her passing.  When I was the opportunity to become principal of Arlington Science Focus School, she was my second phone call to let her know of my appointment.  At that time she was in her late 80s.  Know that what you do today with our students will have a lasting impression and that we as teachers and leaders in education spend more waking hours with our students to provide them with “windows and mirrors” of opportunity into the future.


tracy GName: Tracy Gaither

Title: Assistant Principal, Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary School

Have you drawn professional inspiration from other women? Tell us about someone who has inspired you.

As an APS employee for over fourteen years, working with inspirational women has shaped my career. Their admirable qualities of strength and encouragement has established a template which allows me to make a difference in the lives of Arlington students. Growing up, I witnessed the strength of my mother and other female figures in my daily life. Transitioning into adulthood, I saw similar strengths in women who worked and managed households. It became evident that women possess qualities of fortitude, foresight, and fearlessness that help changed the world for the better and positively impact many individuals’ lives. Fortitude is the ability to persevere when faced with adversity. Foresight is the ability to see the future and make the necessary preparations. Fearlessness is standing up for beliefs that represent what is right and good for the whole, even when it is not popular or convenient. I have had the honor of working with individuals who possess these qualities or displayed them from afar. These characteristics encourage me each day to engage in the leadership responsibilities needed to make a difference in our students’ lives. As I continue the work that has positively impacted our students, I will draw upon the many experiences etched in my memory that put students first. I will continually work with women who are at the forefront of creating opportunities and being a voice for our students deserving of all possibilities.