Hope Katz Gibbs

CLIENTS

The Inkandescent Group

Business Publications

Education Publications

Alumni Publications

Association Publications

General Interest

Newspapers

Newsletters

Public Relations / Marketing

Projects

Essays

Fairfax City School Close-Up

Latin Lovers [Close-Up / City of Fairfax Schools]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Editor / City School Close-Up
Cover Story, March-April 2004

Why should your children learn Latin? Pull up a chair and watch Marie Davis in action. Not only will she give you all the reasons you’ll need, she’ll teach you something in the process.

Marie Davis is in her glory. It’s a Tuesday morning in February, around 10:30 a.m., and Davis is moving from classroom to classroom at Daniels Run Elementary sharing her love for Latin with students. She seems to enjoy her job as much as the kids who are learning the language from her. After watching Davis in action, it isn’t hard to see why. “What’s the word for hands?” Davis asks Jane Dull’s third grade class. “Manus,” the kids shout back, waving their hands. “Optime,” Davis grins.

Read entire article

START Reading for Success [Close-Up / City of Fairfax Schools]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Editor / City School Close-Up
Photo by Steve Barrett

HOW MUCH DO STUDENTS REALLY need to read? A lot, says educator Richard L. Allington, and he explains why in his book, What Really Matters For Struggling Readers? “A potent relationship exists between the volume of reading students do, and reading achievement,” says Allington, pointing to a 1988 Department of Education study called The Reading Report Card for the Nation. “Researchers found that at every age, reading for longer periods of time is associated with higher achievement scores.” That’s why students need to read at school—and at home, insists Lanier Middle School Principal Peter Noonan. “There is so much data available that tells us students who read for more than 40 minutes a day do better on standardized tests, and have a larger vocabulary, than students who do not,” he says. “It seems only logical to make sure our children are reading for chunks of time throughout the day.”

Read entire article

No Child Left Behind [Close-Up / City of Fairfax Schools]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Editor / City School Close-Up
Cover Story

WHAT’S THE TRUTH BEHIND THE LEGISLATION?

When George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation into law on January 8, 2002, it was acclaimed by the administration as a “landmark Act to ensure that every child receives a high quality education.” The law, however, has flaws, according to many educators at the City of Fairfax Schools. “It would be impossible to disagree with the idea that all children deserve the best education available,” says City Schools Superintendent George Stepp. “I am the first to insist that all of our children work incredibly hard in school and strive to achieve the highest standards in every subject area. On the face of it, this legislation seems to be in favor of public education. But it isn’t well thought out, and the way NCLB grades schools is not fair or realistic.” Stepp points to the fact that of the 185 Fairfax County schools, only 83 passed all of the targets for success last year-despite the fact that 184 schools met the law’s math achievement target and 181 met the English achievement target. A primary reason for this discrepancy, says Nancy Sprague, chief academic officer of the Fairfax County Public Schools, is that students classified as Limited English Proficient (LEP) and disabled students were heretofore exempt by Virginia standards from having to take Standards of Learning tests (SOLs). “Unfortunately, we found out after the tests were administered that those students would not be exempt from the NCLB requirements, and as a result those schools were penalized for not testing them,” she explains.

Read entire article

Understanding the SOLs [Close-Up / City of Fairfax Schools]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Editor / City School Close-Up
Cover Story, September-October 2003

WHAT DO THOSE SCORES REALLY MEAN?

Are you worried about the Standards of Learning exams (SOLs)? “Well, don’t worry,” says Superintendent George Stepp. “But do understand the importance of the SOLS, and help your students prepare and take them seriously.” Stepp knows that students need to master certain information by the time they graduate from high school. “These tests simply make sure that all of our students have learned what they need to know, but the fact is that these are minimum standards,” he says. “Our students should not only be mastering this information—but going above and beyond understanding what they are expected to know for the SOLS. Of course, Stepp realizes that when the Virginia State Board of Education first adopted the SOLs in the summer of 1995, many people—including teachers and administrators, parents and students—were concerned about the ramifications. “Educators feared they’d be forced to ‘teach to the test,”’ Stepp continues. “They were worried that having to cover all the information students need to know for the SOLs would undermine their creativity, and make them less effective in the classroom.” Still, the new standards—which were developed through a series of public hearings and efforts of more than 5,000 parents, teachers, education officials and representatives of business and industry—were mandatory. It was up to the schools to adapt. In the last eight years, that is exactly was they have done. The four City Schools are no exception.

Read entire article

Great Expectations: Superintendent George Stepp [City of Fairfax Schools]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Editor / City School Close-Up
Cover story, November-December 2002

“If, as parents and educators, we expect greatness from our kids, I am confident they will expect greatness from themselves.” — George Stepp, Superintendent, City of Fairfax Schools

STUDENTS POURED INTO FAIRFAX CITY Schools on Sept. 3 with book bags filled with new packages of crayons, markers, pens and notebooks symbols of the infinite potential of the new school year. Anything seemed possible, and indeed it is, says City Schools Superintendent George Stepp. He and the City of Fairfax School Board, principals and teachers are determined that students from kindergarten through grade 12 strive for the highest academic achievements. “I believe children are amazingly intelligent and can learn much more than adults sometimes expect,” Mr. Stepp explains. “However, I also believe children will only achieve their maximum potential if parents are involved in the education process.”

Read entire article

Metro Opens Doors: City School Students Win Metro Poster Contest

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Editor, City Schools Close-Up
City of Fairfax Schools

METRO OPENS DOORS FOR MORE THAN JUST ITS passengers, it seems. Two Fairfax High students—2005 graduate Youkeun, who is now studying at Parsons School of Design, and junior Lim
Oh—are winners of an annual art contest sponsored by the
region’s largest transit company. “Each year, about 450 students from across the region submit entries, so to have two students from the same school win this competition in consecutive years is truly amazing,” says Randy Howes, Metro’s community relations specialist who came up with the student poster contest idea in 1994. “I attribute their success to art teacher, Neil French, who has worked with both women. A student needs to be talented to win, of course, but they also need someone to shepherd that talent. Neil is obviously doing an astounding job.”

Read entire article

Celebrity Grads: William J. Howell [City of Fairfax Schools]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Editor / City School Close-Up
Celebrity Grads

WILLIAM J. HOWELL, Class of 1964

WHEN FAIRFAX HIGH GRADUATE WILLIAM J. Howell was sworn in as Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates on Jan. 8, 2003, sitting in the gallery were several of his Fairfax High school buddies—as well as his favorite chemistry teacher Tucker Winn. “It was a big moment, and my high school friends are very dear to me,” says the Class of 1960 alumnus. “I didn’t want them to miss it.” Interestingly, Howell – who spent most of his youth in Alexandria, VA – was hesitant to make the change back in 1958 when his dad moved the family from Alexandria to a 10-acre dairy farm near Braddock Road. “I didn’t relish leaving my boyhood friends, but within a few weeks of starting school at Fairfax High I’d made even better friends,” he admits.

Read entire article

City School Superstars [Close-Up / City of Fairfax Schools]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Editor / City School Close-Up
City School Superstars, 2006

Hey all you geography whiz kids out there:

Q: Which continent, with 314 of its population living in urban areas, is the most densely populated? South America, Asia, or Europe?

Q: in the summer of 2001, a devastating earthquake hit Arequipa, a city founded during Spanish colonial times. It is the second largest city in what country? Argentina, Peru, or Columbia?

Q: What large geologic feature extends north to south under the Atlantic Ocean and is home to giant worms that depend on sulfur-digesting bacteria for food? The mid-Atlantic Ridge, or the Atlantic Plateau?

Look inside to see the answers …

Read entire article

Celebrity Grads: Astronaut Pierre Thuot [Close-Up / City of Fairfax Schools]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Editor / City School Close-Up
Celebrity Grads / Regular Feature, 2005

WHEN PIERRE THUOT GRADATED FROM FAIRFAX High School in 1973, he had no idea he’d be selected to become an astronaut by NASA in June of 1985, fly into space three times, work as a U.S. Naval Test Pilot and flight instructor, and eventually become an entrepreneur. But back in high school, Thuot did feel the sky was the limit when it came to his potential. “I’ve always been a team player, and always been pretty goal oriented,” says Thuot, now 48. “So when different opportunities came my way, I always made sure I did my best. Things turned out pretty well, I think.” Thuot admits he probably could have done better in high school—graduating in the top 100 of his high school class of about 450 students.

Read entire article

More Fairfax City School Close-Up Articles


"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.

Search