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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Penny Gros appointed principal of Stuart High School

Gros [FCPS]
Prosperanta Calhoun is out as principal of JEB Stuart High School, effective immediately, and is being replaced by Penny Gros, principal of Glasgow Middle School.

Gros has been named permanent, not acting, principal of Stuart, says Fairfax County Public Schools spokesperson John Torre.

An April 15 message from Calhoun to Stuart families says she is leaving immediately “to accept another position with FCPS” and will “work with the FCPS administrative team in the Department of Instructional Services.”

An FCPS employee reports that Calhoun is being “warehoused” to a new position created for her in the human resources office and is keeping her salary. According to FCPS records, Calhouns salary in 2012 was nearly $129,000.

Gros informed the Glasgow community of her new position on April 15. Region 2 “Assistant Superintendent Fabio Zuluaga will announce an “acting principal” for Glasgow tomorrow,” Gros told parents.

“I had the opportunity to provide input in the selection of our school’s acting principal and I am confident this individual will bring exceptional leadership skills to Glasgow ensuring a smooth transition,” she wrote. “Dr. Zuluaga and the Region 2 Office will put an aggressive timeline in place to start the search for our new principal at Glasgow. The goal is to have a new leader in place before the end of the school year.”

Parents in the Stuart community and members of the faculty had expressed a great deal of frustration with Calhoun’s leadership during the past couple of years. Among the problems: low teacher morale, low scores on an FCPS survey of working conditions, and poorly enforced student discipline.

FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza responded in June 2014 by appointing a full-time mentor/coach to the Stuart leadership team, bringing back acclaimed assistant principal Shawn DeRose, and providing additional expertise to develop a master schedule for the school. 

The PTA had scheduled a meeting with Garza for April 22 “to address parent concerns and share her vision for the school.” That meeting had been scheduled before the personnel changes were announced. Now the meeting will include a “meet and greet” with Gros.

Several Stuart parents contacted by the Annandale Blog said they thought Calhoun was in over her head.  When she was appointed principal of Stuart in July 2012, she had never been a principal before. Her previous position was assistant principal at Herndon High School.

As one parent put it: “I feel bad for Calhoun. I don’t think this was all her fault. She was in over her head.” Gros, on the other hand, has a solid reputation among the Glasgow community.

“FCPS remains fully committed in support of the administrators, teachers, and students at Stuart High School, including the structures currently in place to support student achievement,” states a message from Garza to Stuart families. “Although change always brings uncertainty, we are working to ensure that this will be a smooth transition.”

“Ms. Gros strongly believes in building relationships with parents and community members and creating a welcoming school environment for all,” Garza states. “She is eager to work with the highly skilled and dedicated staff at Stuart and is committed to strengthening the school’s culture through collaboration, communication, and a strong team approach.”

Gros says she is “looking forward to my new challenge at Stuart, but I will always stay connected in many ways and at many levels with the Glasgow community. After all, the Stuart High School experience is the culminating event of an incredible journey for our K-12 students in the Stuart pyramid.”

24 comments:

  1. Fantastic. This is a welcome change. The Stuart pyramid was tarnished with principals like Swansbrough and Calhoun. The Stuart pyramid has been shortchanged with inept dolts and criminals posing as administrators. The kids in this community need the best of the best, not the bottom of the barrel. Hopefully Gros will implement the needed changes at Stuart. Stuart is a great school with great kids. It's a shame that resignation and arrests are the only way to make changes at the top. Anyone know what Calhoun's new job title and salary will be? Shouldn't she be required to go back into the classroom and teach?

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    1. Just to be clear, Sandra Swansbrough was the principal at Poe MS, which is not in the Stuart pyramid, when she got arrested. Poe is in the Annandale HS pyramid, and kids at Poe go to either Annandale or Falls Church, not Stuart.

      I do wonder exactly what value Calhoun brings to Gatehouse, but it sounds like the highest priority was getting her out of Stuart sooner rather than later. My guess is that she'll have a brief stint at Gatehouse, and then retire.

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    2. Poe used to be in the Stuart Pyramid, not more than 10 years ago did that change.

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    3. I think we are using the term "pyramid" differently. I'm using it to refer to the "pyramids" identified by FCPS for administrative purposes and in the annual Capital Improvement Program documents. Poe has never been in the Stuart "pyramid" for such purposes.

      There was a time when a small number of students (at Beech Tree and/or Belvedere ES, I believe) went to Poe MS and then Stuart HS, but even then Poe was in the Annandale "pyramid" according to FCPS. Now all of Poe feeds to either Annandale or Falls Church HS.

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    4. Original Poster: I absolutely don't appreciate your implication (I hope I'm misinterpreting you) that sending someone "back to the classroom" is some sort of punishment. It can be, especially given the low salary and ever-increasing and rising demands, but in any profession, some people are simply better-suited for one position or another--labor, management, or executive ranks, for example. Besides; not all schools are alike, and though many who know the details agree that Calhoun shouldn't remain as Stuart's principal, that doesn't automatically mean that she wouldn't be a good principal or assistant principal somewhere else. I've read that Stuart's previous administrator(s) may have actually kick-started the problems that have gotten Calhoun reassigned, and I doubt that former Superintendent Jack Dale helped at any point. I'm not defending Calhoun, but pointing out that this situation is not nearly as simple as some would believe.

      I definitely share your view, though, that the Stuart pyramid students are good kids who need and deserve teachers, admin, and other staff members who are a good match.

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  2. What an unfortunate name for this poor woman...

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    1. What an unfortunate comment from a rude person.

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    2. I think they are saying this because she has the same name as the Mason District Supervisor. It's a tad confusing.

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    3. I believe 5:14 is right, although school children will make fun of any name that leaves even an inch of room.

      I have a co-worker whose name, though differently spelled, is pronounced exactly the same way as a 1970s/1980s pop music star. Although there are worse names by far to give one's offspring, I still have to wonder what some parents are thinking when they name their kids.

      --KD

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  3. What a dumb thing to say.

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  4. Hah! One Penny Gross has been more than enough.
    Now Jeb Stuart is cursed with another?

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    1. Principal Penny Gros is miles more worthy the Penny Gross the supervisor.

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    2. Wow - that was quick. Took less than expected for Mollie's crew to politicize this posting. Way to go!

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    3. Why are you so sure "Mollie's crew" made that statement? There is a Democratic candidate running against Penny in the primary.

      I guess you are simply looking for any possible way to attack Ms.Loeffler.

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    4. Definitely Mollie's crew who is so vocal on this blog... :)

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    5. I would bet you can look at each HS pyramid and find a very tight correlation between the school's performance/rating and the parental involvement in things such as the PTA. It is terrible at Parklawn ES and thus it is very poorly rated. I think the teachers there are great, but there are only about 4 parents on the PTA. That shows a lack of dedication on the part of the parents to make sure their kids are doing well in school.

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  5. Stuart got what refer to as Good Penny (Gros with one s). If she can do for Stuart what she did for Glasgow, Garza got this one right!

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  6. Mason District Resident4/16/15, 8:23 AM

    I remember at the State of Our Schools forum Dr. Garza said and made it clear that Dr. Calhoun had "her full support".

    I wonder what was the exact reasoning for this change at this time.

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  7. I agree, there is more to this story and than is being told.

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  8. I'm a parent of three children who I eventually plan to send to Stuart. I've heard nothing but fabulous things about Principal Gros from Glasgow parents. I'm ecstatic as are all the parents I've spoken with (besides being a little disappointed she is no longer at Glasgow). I'm now optimistic for Stuart's future. I wish Principal Calhoun the best of luck in her new position.

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  9. Penny Gros is an amazing leader at any school. Stewart is lucky to have her.

    I'm excited to see how Dr. Garza will shuffle some of the other ineffective principals!

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    1. Don't leave us hanging, who are the other ineffective principals. LOL. The only excitement is how this has become such a game otherwise it is just sad. Who is behind door number 2 for the principal at Glasgow. Will lemon be taken to the watershed on her discrimination charges? How long will Gros last at Stuart before being promoted or moving on? I put the over/under on Gros at 2.5 years. Wonder if the teachers are running office pools.

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  10. Now, we need Garza to do something to help Bailey's. The principal is running the place into the ground and smiling all the way to the bank. It's unfortunate that her attention is focused on this lawsuit and not on our kids. Garza--Put someone in place who can give our Bailey's kids what they deserve. If this school were in Clifton or Reston or a different community with more vocal parents, she would be out there. And, I just found out our tax dollars are being used to pay for her discrimination defense. A sad state for a school filled with great students. GARZA: Make her pay for her own attorney. Stop wasting our school's money. It's not yours to waste, its tax dollars.

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    1. I thought Bailey's parents loved Lemon. What a circus. Agree, if true, taxpayers should not be picking up the tab for her defense.

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