Morning Notes

Reston Contractor to Develop National COVID-19 Hotline — “Reston-based government services company Maximus has received a potential $951 million contract to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 national surge support and vaccine assistance hotline.” [Virginia Business]

Reston Farmers Market Opens to Crowds — Reston Farmers Market opened for the spring on Saturday (May 2) “to brisk business” at Lake Anne Village Center. Even with most COVID-19 health protocols still in place, at least 1,900 customers attended, up from 809 customers on the first day of the 2020 season, according to founder John Lovaas. [Patch]

Local Band Teacher Dies — Coates Elementary School Principal Jesse Kraft announced yesterday (Monday) that Kelsey Burch, the school’s fifth and sixth-grade band teacher, had died after a year-long battle with cancer. Before joining Coates four years go, she led the band program at Sunrise Valley Elementary School in Reston for a decade. Sunrise Valley will name its band room in her honor. [Coates Elementary]

Fairfax County Parks Open Registration for Summer Classes — Registration for summer classes, events, and programs from the Fairfax County Park Authority, including at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, begins today. Online registration is available, and spaces in each program are limited. [Friends of Frying Pan/Twitter]

Reston Hospital Named Among Top 100 in U.S. — “Reston Hospital Center has been named to the Fortune/IBM Watson Health 100 Top Hospitals list. This is the first time Reston Hospital Center has been recognized with this honor as one of the top performing community hospitals in the U.S.” [Reston Hospital Center]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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The Washington Post has named Jesse Kraft, the principal of Coates Elementary School, the principal of the year.

Kraft was selected from a group of 19 finalists who lead schools in Virginia, Maryland, and the District. His leadership during stay-at-home orders was highlighted by staff and community members who said that Kraft worked to ensure mental health resources were available students. He also used the school’s Facebook page to share lessons when the school system faced major hurdles with its rollout of distance learning.

Here’s more from Fairfax County Public Schools on Kraft:

 “Jesse has taken strides to make our community feel welcome and to partner with them as much as possible,” says nominator Josie Mani, gifted education teacher. “He has made Coates more inviting and welcoming to all. We have bright, colorful murals and artwork inside, and welcoming signs and banners outside. Jesse invites community members, such as churches, businesses and the Coates family.” And Kraft has worked with these community organizations to encourage their involvement at Coates, including mentoring students.


“He is the face that welcomes these new students to our school,” adds Mani. “He maintains an active social media presence and even learned some Spanish so that he could further connect the school and community. Coates’ parent liaison writes,”Mr. Kraft is always there to listen and support ideas and make them a reality. His example of humility, a love of learning, and care for others motivates everyone at Coates ES to be better employees, parents, and students.” The combination of diverse programs for parents has drawn many additional parents to volunteer at the school.


Kraft is a frequent visitor in classrooms, where he observes, encourages, and teaches.  Math and reading resource teachers are called upon to help build teacher capacities and enhance their practices. Still a teacher at heart, Kraft teaches Positivity Project lessons, quarterly grade-level assemblies, and is teaching upper level students the fine art of public speaking in a series of lessons dubbed “Talk Like a Boss.”

Kraft, who has been the principal of Coates ES since 2016, began his career in FCPS as a teacher at Newington Forest Elementary in 1996. He then served as assistant principal at Westlawn Elementary and Oak Hill Elementary. In 2009, he was the principal of Providence Elementary. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and was named FCPS Outstanding First Year Principal in 2010.

Photo via FCPS

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Jesse Kraft, the principal of Coates Elementary School since 2016, was named Fairfax County Public Schools 2019 Outstanding Principal.

Kraft was recognized for bringing people together and maintaining positivity wherever he goes. Josie Mani, a gifted education teacher who nominated Kraft for the award, said Kraft “has taken strides to make our community feel welcome and to partner with them as much as possible.”

“He maintains and active social media presence and even learned some Spanish so that he could further connect the school and community,” Mani wrote.

Kraft was recognized for gestures like flipping burgers at a school barbecue, offering fist bumps during the morning, and his frequent visits to classrooms. A teacher at heart, Kraft teaches positivity project lessons, offers quarterly grade-level assemblies and teaches upper level students about public speaking.

Parent Christine Crawford told FCPS that Kraft is “always visible at school and connects easily to students at all grade levels.”

Kraft also made sure all teachers were trained in classroom management techniques, which he says are key to a healthy learning environment.

It’s not the first time the educator and administrator was recognized for his accomplishments. He was named the county’s outstanding first year principal in 2010. In 2004, he was also nominated for teacher of the year.

He began his career in FCPS as a teacher at Newington Forest Elementary School in 1996, after which he served as an assistant principal at Westlawn and and Oak Hill elementary schools. In 2009, he was the principal at Providence Elementary School. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh.

Photo via FCPS

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(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) Diners at the Noodles World Kitchen in Herndon tonight (March 20) can support a local public school in Herndon.

The management at the Noodles World Kitchen at 2405 Centreville Road will donate 25 percent of tonight’s sales to the Lutie Lewis Coates Elementary School.

Customers who eat the noodle chain — formerly known as Noodles and Company — between 4-8 p.m. can tell the restaurant staff that they are supporting Coates.

Image via Google Maps

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Diners at Not Your Average Joe’s on select days in March can help raise money for a nonprofit that combats student hunger.

On the four Tuesdays in March, the restaurant (1845 Fountain Drive) will donate 15 percent of bills for diners who ask to have their meals support Helping Hungry Kids.

The nonprofit gives food packages to more than 400 elementary school students in Northern Virginia who don’t have enough food on the weekends.

Most of the 12 elementary schools that receive the packs are ones in Reston and Herndon, which include:

  • Clearview
  • Coates
  • Dogwood
  • Terraset
  • Aldrin
  • Armstrong
  • Forest Edge
  • Lake Anne
  • Hunters Woods

Each pack, which contains non-perishable food for two breakfasts, two dinners and several snacks, costs about $6, according to the nonprofit’s website.

File photo

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(Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 4:45 p.m. to remove unclear information about the number of total available seats in the South Lakes Pyramid.)

Local citizen representatives pressed county and school officials on how the school system will mitigate the impact of planned and future development on Reston’s public schools Tuesday night.

The meeting, the third in a series on the county’s proposal to increase the community’s population density, highlighted a major obstacle in managing increased school enrollment: limited and uncertain funding to meet future needs.

Kevin Sneed, who oversees design and construction services for the school system, said new development is not expected to generate many students because of the style of new multi-family units.

Two residential buildings recently built in Tysons generated only 21 students, Sneed said. Student enrollment from new residential development in Reston is expected to increase in the next 20-25 years, he said. Meanwhile, the school system must balance the need for renovations at several schools. 

The site for a new high school in the area — especially along the Dulles Suburban Corridor where McNair, Coates and Hutchison Elementary Schools are served — is critical. However, the school system is constrained by lack of funding to purchase a new property. And current plans to mitigate the future impact of development on schools likely will not kick in until development actually takes place, Sneed said.  Development may go live years after it is approved by the county, he said.

Stu Gibson, a former school board member of 16 years, said building capacity only once the students impact the system is a “disturbing” strategy. Gibson said he was concerned that the county is planning for additional residences before the infrastructure is in place to handle additional growth — a mode of operation that he said goes against Reston’s comprehensive plan.

Instead of purchasing land, the county and the school system are relying on proffers from developers and negotiating with applicants to see if land for a new high school can be provided, according to Leslie Johnson, the county’s zoning administrator. So far, those negotiations have been unsuccessful. But talks are underway on the county-level to change the formula used to determine how much developers pay based on the expected impact of the development on area schools.

Others worried that viable land for a new school may be limited, especially when parking lots and aging office parks that could be the site for a future school are redeveloped into mixed-use projects.

Johnson said the county is closely evaluating the impact of each development proposal on fire services, schools, parks and other public infrastructure.

“We are keeping track of the cumulative impact, but, at some point, there will be a trigger for some type of development,” Johnson said.

When and how that trigger comes forward remains unclear.

File photo

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Three elementary schools in Herndon are part of a group of schools that have “adopted” a Houston-area school district recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Fairfax County Public Schools’ Region 5 — which includes Coates, Floris and McNair elementary schools in Herndon — is raising money to support Fort Bend Independent School District in Sugar Land, Texas. According to information provided by Coates Elementary:

As you are well aware, our nation has recently been impacted by devastating hurricanes in Texas and Florida. We have seen, and been deeply moved by, the images and footage showing this devastation and the impact it is having on families and children. Many FCPS parents, students, and staff have been asking themselves and each other, “How can I help? What can WE do to ease the suffering?” So we decided to start a fundraiser focused on helping schools and students!

Region 5, part of Fairfax County Public Schools, in Northern Virginia will “adopt” the Fort Bend Independent School District in Houston, Texas. Fort Bend ISD serves approximately 74,500 students from very diverse backgrounds which makes them a great match for us.

We are asking all Region 5 schools, made up of nearly 34,000 students, to team up and raise money to help children, families, and schools in Texas. We are a community of learners, and we are committed to supporting learning and families in our nation’s community.

A GoFundMe page set up for the effort shows a little over $7,000 has been collected as of Monday. The fundraiser has a $100,000 goal, according to the page.

Fort Bend ISD’s website reports that numerous schools in the district suffered flood damage during Harvey, and free meals and other services are being provided for students who are homeless or displaced as a result of the storm.

FCPS public information officer John Torre said while he isn’t aware of any similar projects taking place from other FCPS regions, there are other individual schools that have initiated their own hurricane relief efforts.

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