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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Terrence Yarborough Named FCPS 2011 Outstanding First Year Principal

Terrence Yarborough, principal at Sandburg Middle School, has been named the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) 2011 Nancy F. Sprague* Outstanding First Year Principal. The announcement was made by FCPS Superintendent Jack D. Dale at FCPS Honors, a new awards ceremony established to recognize the winners of FCPS employee awards.

“He’s everywhere,” says nominator Tara Charity. “You may find him outside at the kiss and ride and the next thing you know, he’s down on the eighth grade hall greeting students or on the second floor making sure everyone is getting to class on time.” Yarborough, who begins his day around 5:30 a.m., is praised for being a positive presence on the school campus and remaining visible, regularly dropping into classes during the school day. “He knew that he had a challenge ahead of him by coming into a middle school that was in need of some extra TLC and improved student achievement,” she adds. “Mr. Yarborough has been ahead of the game ever since.”

Yarborough is praised for taking the time to provide support to staff members, enabling them to support student achievement. He began the year by meeting with teacher leaders, administrators, and PTA members, then held an off-campus retreat for staff members at Reagan National Airport, the school’s business partner, to establish a clear vision for school improvement. In October, he asked teachers of core subjects to administer common formative assessments at least once per month in order to provide data to analyze so that teachers could share best practices, re-teach, and adjust instruction to make sure students master the subject matter. He publishes a weekly staff newsletter that highlights FCPS news, staff development opportunities, and expectations and provides regular kudos to staff members.

One of the first changes he made to the school was to hire a dean of students to support teachers and administrators in addressing minor offenses, a decision made in response to the previous year’s data that showed that tardiness and skipping class were issues of major concern. By making changes to the schoolwide Positive Behavior Supports program, Yarborough stresses clear expectations for students with a daily reminder to do their best and display good behavior as part of the morning announcements. “It is evident that our students are aware of their responsibility to become valuable citizens in and out of the school setting,” says nominator Twyla Banks, a 17-year veteran of the staff at Sandburg. 

“Having worked at Carl Sandburg for the past eight years, I can say without a doubt that this has truly been a year of positive change that will only get better,” states Charity, citing the statistic of just six fights at the school this year compared to 60 during the 2009-10 school year. “When an important decision needs to be made, Mr. Yarborough always steps up to the plate and makes sound, ethical, and fair decisions.”

“Sandburg is made of special teachers that often give extra time, care, and support to students to ensure learning and success,” says Banks. “This school demands a principal who recognizes this, feels the same, and knows what to do to get the best from students and staff.”

Yarborough joined FCPS in 2005 as a subschool principal at Hayfield Secondary School and served in the same role at Robinson Secondary School from 2007 until being selected as Sandburg’s principal in 2010. He began his career as an educator by teaching seventh grade science in Greensboro, N.C., and served as an assistant principal and principal in North Carolina before being hired by FCPS. He earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s of school administration from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 

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*Nancy Sprague served as FCPS’ assistant superintendent for instructional services and chief academic officer; she died suddenly in 2003.
Note: For more information, contact Terrence Yarborough at 703-799-6100 or teyarborough@fcps.edu.