Thursday, April 23, 2009
Carole Kihm Named FCPS Outstanding First-Year Principal
Carole Kihm, principal at Longfellow Middle School, has been awarded the Nancy F. Sprague* First-Year Administrator Award and has been named the 2009 Outstanding First-Year Principal by Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS).
From establishing Lancer Time, an extra period at the end of the school day that enables students to get extra help with their subjects, to coordinating with the Fairfax County Police Department to solve a traffic issue, Kihm does things that evoke parents' praise for her collaborative style and willingness to create productive relationships in the community.
"Principal Kihm has converted Longfellow into 'a place to thrive,'" says parent Juliana Cofrancesco. "She has created a positive learning environment where students feel a sense of ownership of their school. … She pays attention to detail and creates time for every student without losing sight of the big picture and getting sidetracked."
Cofrancesco praises Kihm's proactive work to solve a traffic problem that occurred during peak traffic times in the morning and afternoon. In order to keep walkers safe when crossing streets and to alleviate traffic jams that caused car and bus riders to arrive at school as much as 15 minutes late, Kihm worked with the local police to help control traffic. Says Cofrancesco, "The result: greater safety for Longfellow students, reduced frustration among commuters and parents dropping off children at the Kiss and Ride, and better relations with our surrounding community."
Longfellow PTA president Wilma Bowers credits Kihm for creating a welcoming environment—not only for parents of Longfellow students but also for parents of the eight feeder elementary schools—and for establishing cordial relationships with the surrounding community, including a neighboring nursing home and synagogue. Kihm holds weekly student pizza lunches to solicit students' ideas and input on how to improve the school and has instituted a Star Student of the Month program to recognize 20 students each month whose photos and accomplishments are publicized in the main hall. Bowers praises Kihm for making parents feel part of a school their children attend for only two years and for encouraging students to become more independent during that time.
Kihm is also cited for improving communication with parents by using the FCPS Keep in Touch system, FCPS 24-7 Learning, e-mail, traditional mail, and parent coffees, and establishing staff committees to debate and decide matters that emerge from those modes of communication. And while instituting Professional Learning Communities at Longfellow, Kihm "provided the faculty with independence and freedom to create new ideas and checkpoints for the curriculum," says Bowers.
Kihm served as assistant principal at Franklin Middle School before being named Longfellow principal in May 2008 and was acting assistant principal and director of student services at Fairfax High School from June 2001 until June 2007. She is a graduate of Ohio University, where she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in education, and she holds an endorsement in administration from George Mason University. She is currently taking doctoral courses at the University of Virginia.
*Nancy Sprague served as FCPS' assistant superintendent for instructional services and chief academic officer; she died suddenly in 2003.
Note: For more information, contact Carole Kihm at 703-533-2600 or firstname.lastname@example.org .