Police Give TJ Elementary ‘All Clear’ After Lockdown

July 30, 2010 by · 11 Comments 


July 30, 2010

City of Falls Church Police locked down Thomas Jefferson Elementary School at approximately 9:30 this morning after a pedestrian reported observing a man walking on Seaton Lane wearing camouflage and carrying a helmet and what appeared to be an assault weapon. Officers immediately locked down the school and moved the children and staff inside to a central location. Police swept through the entire building, and searched the school property and adjacent area. Nothing was found and police have cleared the scene. As a precaution, police were also sent to Mt. Daniel Elementary School and the St. James School, both of which are running summer school programs.

Police believe that due to the nature and description of the situation, the man was likely carrying a paintball gun or an airsoft gun, which are used for recreational purposes. The man is described as a while male in his early twenties. Anyone with information about this person is asked to call police at 703-241-5050.

Officers will remain in the area to look out for suspicious activity and the school staff has been advised to keep the children inside until dismissal time as a precaution.

FRIDAY 6/4: 10 Tips for a Stress-Free Home? Sign Me Up!

The Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School PTA and the Falls Church Elementary PTA have a great deal for those looking for a free night out — and who would love to kick off the summer with some tips on creating a stress-free, calmer home.

Friday, June 4,  from 7 – 9 p.m. at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School, nationally recognized parenting expert Kirk Martin will  present “10 Secrets to A Stress-Free Home: A Workshop for Moms, Dads (& Teachers, too).” The event is free.

Attendees will learn how to:

  • Create a calm home—eliminate yelling and arguing.
  • Improve focus, attention and behavior in school.
  • Create stress-free mornings and homework time.
  • Relieve anxiety, meltdowns and sensory issues.
  • Eliminate defiance and disrespect.

What’s not to like? Mr. Martin has trained more than 100,000 parents and has a web site, www.CelebrateCALM.com, to learn more.

Although walk-ins are welcome, registration will help the PTA ensure adequate space and handouts. Please take a few seconds to sign up at:


PTA Home & Garden Tour Raises $16,000 for Schools

May 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Falls Church Times Staff

May 27, 2010

It was a gorgeous day on Sunday, May 16, providing the perfect setting for nearly 200 enthusiastic ticket holders to tour seven Falls Church City homes and two gardens during the 3rd biannual Falls Church Elementary PTA Home & Garden Tour.

Thanks to generous donations from major sponsors Home Depot, Don Beyer Volvo, GreenBuilt Homes, Moore Architects, and Pie Tanza; private family donations; ticket sales; and countless volunteer hours donated by PTA members and docents, the event grossed approximately $16,000.

The hefty proceeds will help purchase more SmartBoards (interactive white boards) for classrooms, help fund teacher grants, and support the outdoor classrooms at both Mt. Daniel and Thomas Jefferson elementary schools.

“The Home & Garden Tour has become one of the PTA’s biggest fundraisers, and we could not have done it without the generosity of the homeowners, our sponsors, and the dedication of the Home and Garden Tour Committee,” observed Elementary PTA President Terri Tornell. “We are grateful for the support of so many in our community. The event was a huge success, and we are especially grateful to the eight homeowners who offered up their houses and gardens for this year’s tour and to the City of Falls Church for opening Cherry Hill Farmhouse. It was a great event, and it’s very rewarding to see such hard work and dedication result in thousands of dollars for our schools.”

Baxter, Lovette to Leave Falls Church City Schools

May 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Falls Church Times Staff

May 26, 2010

Last night, the Falls Church City School Board accepted the resignation of Thomas Jefferson Elementary School principal, Vincent Baxter, effective June 30, 2010.  Mr. Baxter became principal of TJ two years ago when the former principal, Trudy Taylor, retired.  He had previously served as assistant principal at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School.

In April, Gail Lovette, the assistant principal who was hired to replace Mr. Baxter at MEHMS, also submitted her resignation to the School Board. She is leaving MEHMS on June 30 to attend the University of Virginia to obtain her doctorate in Reading Education.

In a press release from FCC Public Schools, Mr. Baxter announced his decision to leave as “personal” and said:
“I’ve had four wonderful years here in Falls Church City . . . [my leaving] stems from a desire to work a little closer to home so that I can be more involved with my own children’s lives as well as the lives of the students I serve in school.”

Dr. Lois Berlin announced that Bob Palermo, assistant principal at TJ, would be promoted to principal and that the school’s Primary Years Program (PYP) coordinator, Mary Kay Howard, would assume the responsibilities of assistant principal at TJ.

“At this critical time, it is important that there’s a continuum,” Dr. Berlin said.  “Mr. Palermo and Ms. Howard have been a part of the school culture for many years, they are well-respected by the faculty, staff, students and parents, and they are well-versed in PYP and its attributes.  All of this will help ensure a smooth transition at TJ.”

SUNDAY 5/16: Falls Church Home & Garden Tour to Benefit Elementary PTA

May 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Falls Church Elementary PTA has organized a benefit Home & Garden Tour for Sunday, May 16, from 12 to 4 p.m. Six homes and two gardens, all located within the City of Falls Church, will be open for ticket-holders. Read more

UPDATE: Man Banned from City & School Property,
Then Arrested for Loitering in Parks


May 10, 2010

Falls Church City Police arrested and jailed a man Monday afternoon who had been seen loitering around City school property.

The man, of no fixed address, was first taken into custody May 7 and questioned after being seen for two days loitering near or on the campus of Thomas Jefferson Elementary School.

Although no charges were filed initially, he was banned from all City Schools buildings, all other schools located in the City (such as St. James), all City parks, the Community Center, and the library.

A letter describing the suspicious person was sent home to TJ Elementary parents on Friday.

On May 9, police noticed the man in Cavalier Trail Park and issued a citation for violating the banning order.

Late today (Monday afternoon), police saw the same man in Big Chimneys Park. He was arrested and taken into custody for violating the banning order.

The suspect is expected to be released from jail perhaps later this week. Police advise persons to call them immediately at 703-241-5050 or 911 if they see the suspect acting suspiciously. He is described as a white male in his 40s, 5′ 10″ tall, with a beard and receding hairline. He was last seen wearing sunglasses, a dark jacket, dark pants, dark shoes, and carrying a dark backpack. Read more

Plan to Attend Home & Garden Tour Sunday, May 16

Falls Church Times Staff

Which of the below best describes you:

a) I frequently use an alias on Realtor sign-in sheets at Open Houses because I have no intention of buying a house; I just like to look.

b) I like to go trick or treating with my kids so that I can peek inside all the houses while they’re getting their candy.

c) I look up neighbors’ houses on Realtor.com the second they go on the market so that I can check out the interior photos.

d) Puh-leez. I’m not that tacky. I consider myself an aficionado of architecture, home décor, landscaping, and local history.

e) All of the above.

Whether you’re a hopeless voyeur (choice e) or just a lover of great design, mark your calendars for Sunday, May 16, noon to 4 p.m., because that will be the date of the 3rd biannual Falls Church Elementary PTA Home & Garden Tour! (Rain date is Sunday, May 23.)

The self-guided tour will take participants through six homes and two gardens in the City, with featured home styles including three varying Craftsmans, a Virginia Forest custom home, an Ellison Heights “green” Colonial and a contemporary farmhouse. The Cherry Hill Farmhouse will also be home from noon to 2 p.m.

Advance tickets cost $20 per person and can be purchased online at http://www.fallschurchpta.org/hgtour.html. Limited ticket sales will be held the day of the event at the Cherry Hill Farmhouse beginning at 10:30 a.m. for $25 each. (Every tour-goer must have a ticket, regardless of age.)

The tour is a major fundraiser for the Falls Church Elementary PTA, which this year will use proceeds to help purchase more SmartBoards (interactive white boards) for classrooms, help fund more teacher grants, and support the outdoor classrooms at both Mt. Daniel and Thomas Jefferson elementary schools.

“This has been an extremely tough year with the school budget,” said Falls Church Elementary PTA President Terri Tornell. “The PTA is acutely aware of the cuts and wants to be poised to help our teachers—and therefore our City’s children—through the upcoming school year.”

Premier sponsors for the volunteer-run event are Home Depot, Don Beyer Volvo, GreenBuilt Homes, Moore Architects and PieTanza.

TJ Elementary Named Title 1 Distinguished School

March 16, 2010 by · 8 Comments 

By Falls Church City Public Schools Communications

March 16, 2010

Thomas Jefferson Elementary is among 101 schools being recognized by the Virginia Board of Education as a Title I Distinguished School.  The honor is presented to schools that raise the academic achievement of economically disadvantaged students. The awards are based on student achievement on state assessments during 2008-2009 and the previous school year.

To earn the designation of “Title I Distinguished Schools” Thomas Jefferson maintained full state accreditation under the commonwealth’s Standards of Learning program for two consecutive years, met federal benchmarks in reading and mathematics and had average test scores in both subjects at the 60th percentile or higher.

“When provided effective and focused instruction, all children — regardless of economic status — can achieve academic success, and these results confirm that,” said Board of Education President Eleanor B. Saslaw.

Thomas Jefferson Elementary is Falls Church City’s only Title I school.  The school will receive a certificate celebrating its status and achievement.

Title I of NCLB provides funding to school divisions and schools for programs to raise the achievement of students identified as being at risk. The federal education law requires schools and school divisions to meet annual objectives for increasing student achievement on statewide assessments in reading/language arts and mathematics.

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