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Highlights: Press conference with Superintendent Scott Brabrand

Superintendent+Scott+Brabrand+answers+a+student+reporter%27s+question+during+the+press+conference+he+held+on+Oct.+21.++Brabrand+seeks+to+increase+transparency+between+students+and+administrators%2C+as+well+as+encourage+students+to+talk+to+their+administrators+to+resolve+school+issues.
Superintendent Scott Brabrand answers a student reporter's question during the press conference he held on Oct. 21.  Brabrand seeks to increase transparency between students and administrators, as well as encourage students to talk to their administrators to resolve school issues.

Superintendent Scott Brabrand answers a student reporter's question during the press conference he held on Oct. 21. Brabrand seeks to increase transparency between students and administrators, as well as encourage students to talk to their administrators to resolve school issues.

Christine Zhao

Christine Zhao

Superintendent Scott Brabrand answers a student reporter's question during the press conference he held on Oct. 21. Brabrand seeks to increase transparency between students and administrators, as well as encourage students to talk to their administrators to resolve school issues.

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Superintendent Scott Brabrand held a press conference with student journalists from Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) high schools on Oct. 24.  During the conference, Brabrand addressed topics relevant to each school as well as the county as a whole, ranging from bus schedules to mental health.  Here are some of the key topics Brabrand touched on during the conference.

Friday School Visits

Christine Zhao
Brabrand converses with student journalists from FCPS high schools.

Brabrand outlined his plan to spend Fridays visiting schools across the county for as long as he is the FCPS superintendent.  

“It’s not just a two-month stint or a first year thing,” Brabrand said.  “For the rest of my career, every Friday I’m going to be visiting schools or visiting departments to see folks who should be helping in schools.”

The reasoning for the Friday school visits stems from Brabrand’s desire to interact with school systems and speak directly to students and teachers to hear their concerns–rather than staying in his office.  

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” Brabrand said.  “Students are the main thing.  This is an office full of adults.  If I want to know the deal, I need to be out in schools and seeing students, not just sitting in my office.”

 

Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) and Jefferson

Brabrand wasn’t expecting to hear that LCPS might prevent students from applying to Jefferson in future years, but interprets the news as a chance to rethink the school and its place in FCPS as a whole.  

“I think it’s an opportunity for us to think about what we want to continue to do with TJ,” Brabrand said.  “I was surprised to see that–apparently they want to create their own TJ–but I think it’ll be an opportunity to think about what we want to do.”

LCPS will vote again next year to decide whether or not to continue sending students to Jefferson; Brabrand thinks there is a good chance they will vote to stop.

 

tjTODAY’s spot at the press conference roundtable.

Issues with the Fairfax Commute to Jefferson

Brabrand was surprised to learn about the issues Fairfax Jefferson students have faced in getting to school with their new bus stops, as well as the frequent bus and transportation delays.  

“That’s something I’m gonna have to look into a little bit more,” Brabrand said.  “We have programs in this county, but they’re all over the place, so we have to move to them.”

However, he encourages students to brainstorm ways to address the transportation issue.

“How do we solve some of these problems from a student perspective?” Brabrand said.  

 

Mental Health

When asked about mental health, Brabrand mentioned the fourth annual FCPS Mental Health and Wellness Conference held on Oct. 21, and expressed a desire to have more students in attendance at future mental health conferences.  He discussed both facilitating more activities like the Oct. 21 summit and fostering connections between students and their school counselors and social workers.

“For kids that are struggling and not doing well, their issues are not academic–their issues are more social-emotional,” Brabrand said.  “I think we’ve got to help students feel more comfortable asking for help from a counselor when they’re having issues–how do we take the stigma out of saying ‘hey, I’m stressed’?”

Brabrand also recommended making school social workers and psychologists more available and prominent to students so they feel more comfortable with trusted adults’ names and faces.

“We’ve got to do more to support having social workers and psychologists and making sure students actually know who they are,” Brabrand said.  “What if there were office hours you could just stop by, or a drop box?”

 

Sexual Harassment

The superintendent noted that Virginia has less male teachers in schools than does almost any other state in the country, with 18 percent male teachers.  He stated that FCPS needs more men in schools, especially at elementary schools, to model respectful behavior for young boys at an early age.

“We need to set a standard for our boys and explain clearly what’s okay and what’s not okay,” Brabrand said.  

Brabrand also mentioned an initiative used during his time in the Lynchburg City School System called “Ouch, then Educate,” encouraging students to say “ouch” when a behavior from another person hurts them to let others know what actions and words are and aren’t acceptable.

“You want people to be able to say what they’re feeling, but they need to hear when eight people go ‘ouch,’” Brabrand said.

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The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Highlights: Press conference with Superintendent Scott Brabrand