by Jackie Nunnery
Principal Tara Booth and assistant principal Mary Catherine Jones may be new to Lancaster High School, but to students and their parents, they are probably familiar faces.
Booth has been with Lancaster schools for 28 years, most recently as the instructional coordinator for the math, science and gifted programs. Jones has been with the district for 12 years, most recently as the assistant principal at Lancaster Primary School.
They have already built a rapport with one another and many of the families, since Booth said, “most of the kids that are here–I’ve taught their parents.”
There will be other new faces greeting the 385 students currently enrolled at LHS, including:
• Jim Padlock, dean of students. In his 37 years in education, Padlock has been a teacher, coach, athletic director and assistant principal.
• Mark Landon, Spanish. Landon is an LHS graduate and for the past two years has been a teacher at the primary school.
• Hannah Smith, environmental science, earth science, oceanography and astronomy. Another LHS graduate, she is new to education. The main reason she wanted to come back to teach is to give back to the community and school system.
• Allie Hoffman, government and world history II. Also new to education, Hoffman is a recent graduate of Virginia Tech. She has experience in coaching middle school and high school volleyball and she is the assistant coach for the LHS varsity volleyball team.
• Leslie Ege, special education teacher. Ege has 13 years in education, with experience in both middle and high school levels with a strength in high school mathematics.
• Joan Perry, media specialist. Perry has been a teacher for 26 years, 18 of them in the library.
• Courtney Judkins, guidance counselor. Judkins recently moved from New Jersey. She has a master’s in school counseling and has spent the past two years working as a personal and residential assistant, supporting children behaviorally, socially and emotionally.
• Sylvia Fisher, instructional assistant. Fisher is certified in substance abuse counseling and has 25 years of experience working in the field of behavior health and substance abuse in Fairfax County government.
Booth and her team have three main goals: “Create a safe school environment, have a school where students are excited and ready to learn and energize the students, staff and community with school pride.”
As a high school, they have goals for students when they graduate, which Booth and her team refer to as the “three Es.” “Our students should be ready to be enrolled in a college or technical school, employed, or enlisted in a military branch,” said Booth.
In addition to staff changes, there is also a change to the cell phone policy in the hopes of “creating the best possible learning environment for all students,” she said.
Students will be allowed to use their phones in the commons area before school, during lunch and after school. However, once students enter the academic hallways, their phones and earbuds must be put away and silent unless permission is given directly by the teacher for emergency or academic purposes, said Booth. Failure to follow this policy will result in the phone being confiscated and returned at the end of the school day. Additional violations will result in more serious consequences.
“Lancaster County is my home and the students and their parents are part of the family. I hope to put an end to the revolving door of administration at Lancaster High School and help to move all of us forward,” she said.