The #1 source for news for Dominion High School students and the Dominion High School community in Sterling, VA

DHS Press

The #1 source for news for Dominion High School students and the Dominion High School community in Sterling, VA

DHS Press

The #1 source for news for Dominion High School students and the Dominion High School community in Sterling, VA

DHS Press

End of Year Interview with Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence

Assistant Editor Callie Stravinski sat down with Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence to discuss his first-year as LCPS superintendent, future plans, and community listening sessions
As+his+first-year+as+LCPS+superintendent+comes+to+a+close%2C+Dr.+Spence+looks+to+improve+Loudoun+County%2C+next+year%2C+with+a+strength-based+approach.
Olivia Columbel
As his first-year as LCPS superintendent comes to a close, Dr. Spence looks to improve Loudoun County, next year, with a strength-based approach.

How would you describe your first year as superintendent?

It’s been fantastic. I’ve had a blast; I have learned an awful lot. I have met a lot of people and been in a lot of schools and I really have enjoyed getting to know more about Loudoun County. 

What has been the greatest challenge you face as superintendent this past year?

Honestly, I think [for] any superintendent right now, the greatest challenges that we’re facing are worrying about our teachers and making sure that they feel really good about where they work, and making sure that our community rallies around our schools [which] comes back to the idea that our schools are really great places for our young people. I think when I got here, there was a lot of concern about Loudoun County Schools;  there were a lot of national headlines around our school system. We’ve been working very hard to listen and understand that, but also to try to change that message and talk to people about how great our schools really are.

Considering you’ve taken over a school district plagued with controversy, how is the narrative about Loudoun County being rewritten?

There’s this old adage, I’m sure you’ve heard before that you have to tell 1000 positive stories for every negative story. We have been really trying to get out and tell the positive story about our school system. I’ve been [to] a lot of community events, and a lot of community meetings. I’ve met a lot of people and everywhere I go, I just try to talk about all the good things that we’re doing and, you know, it’s a great school system. There’s so many good things happening. 

Coming back to positive press, how have the community listening sessions been received?

I think, in general, very positive, we’ve collected a lot of information. We’ve kind of delivered on what we promised to deliver on, which is to really listen, and provide an opportunity for people to share their thinking. We met with a lot of parents, [and] every opportunity for every staff member to come in and meet with us. I heard mostly positives, and we asked about our strengths and we got a lot of them. We asked about opportunities to improve and people were very honest. In June, I’ll be presenting a Post Entry planning report and we’ll be talking about what we’ve been hearing and talking about the kind of opportunities in front of us, the things to celebrate, and the opportunities to continue to move forward and change.

What insight have you gained and applied from them?

As I said earlier, one of the key insights is that the people really like our school system. They believe that our teachers and our staff are really invested in their kids. People were very impressed with the opportunities and the resources that exist in Loudoun County for our students. I think [people] see the opportunity to continue to move forward;  when we asked about things that we have the opportunity to improve upon, people talked about wanting more pathways for students to pursue their passion. People talked about wanting to make sure that we take care of our staff [and] that we treat them well. People talked about wanting to make sure that we build a culture around positivity and transparency. There are people [who] want clarity in terms of our instructional vision and our purpose. I think there’s a lot of good work in front of us. I always tell people I build from a strength-based approach,take the things that you’re good at and then you just work on getting better. I think we do that as human beings; we take the things that we’re good at, and we use that to get better at things that we’re not good at and I think we need to do that with organizations as well. 

Will these sessions continue next year?

We definitely want to find a way. I don’t think we’ll do them at the scale that we did this year, where we do big ones in every part of the county, because it takes a lot of energy and a lot of time for [our] staff. I definitely think we will try to find ways to continue to be out in the community and listen to other people. In fact, that’s one of the recommendations that came out of a communications audit that we did.

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About the Contributors
Callie Stravinski
Callie Stravinski, Assistant Editor
Callie Stravinski is a third-year member of DHS Press and is currently an assistant editor for the publication. Callie joined her freshman year solely to hear bad dad jokes but fell in love with it and has been there ever since. Her favorite things to write include Q&As, news, and feature stories. If she is not on the field practicing or playing field hockey, she will most likely be found reading romance books, hanging with friends, or shopping at Target.
Olivia Columbel
Olivia Columbel, Assistant Editor
Olivia Columbel is an Assistant Editor for DHS Press. She is currently a junior and serving her second year with the program. Olivia hopes to pursue a career in social work and possibly expand to journalism as well. She loves to investigate teachers, sports and students for fascinating feature pieces. If Olivia is not at Dominion, in a classroom or on the field managing a sport, you can find her fast asleep in her own bed, getting food with friends, reading a book or doing her favorite activity, listening to music. 

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