Superintendent Peter Noonan

Falls Church City Public Schools (FCCPS) started their new academic year with an inspiring note, as Superintendent Dr. Peter Noonan took center stage at Meridian High School's auditorium. Addressing an enthusiastic gathering of over 250 school division employees, Dr. Noonan's powerful words were both a reflection of past achievements and an inspiring call to action for the year ahead.

"Being a part of this educational journey with all of you is the privilege of a lifetime," Dr. Noonan expressed, adding, "You were made for this moment. Embrace it and have fun. Go forth and be brilliant.” His words were not only a testament to his dedication but also a reminder to live in the present, cherish every moment, and make the most of it.

His confidence in the school system was echoed by the recent independent Citywide survey results. A remarkable 93% of Falls Church City citizens rate the school system as "excellent or good." Further emphasizing the positive environment within the schools, the survey revealed 90% of employees see them as "good places to work," and the same percentage of parents deem the system safe for their children, highlighting excellent communication and quality of education. A heartening 96% of students said they had an adult in the system they could turn to when in need.

But what makes FCCPS stand apart? Dr. Noonan believes the secret lies in the school system's commitment to "investing in people.” FCCPS has prioritized competitive salaries and market benefits for all staff levels. This includes unique provisions like funding language classes, six weeks of paid family leave (a first in the state), additional religious leave, and even health insurance for part-time employees. These offerings stem from the division's focus on "wellness, equity, and belonging" - which Dr. Noonan fondly terms as their "secret sauce."

However, Dr. Noonan emphasized that beyond all strategies, it's the "culture" of FCCPS that is its true strength. Quoting the significance of culture in the educational ecosystem, he remarked, "culture eats strategy for breakfast.” He urged everyone to ponder, "What is the culture of the school?" and stressed the importance of elements like climate, mission, vision, norms, values, and beliefs. According to Dr. Noonan, culture isn’t just about what's spoken, but also about actions and feelings.

"Culture is a powerful source of leverage, transcending beyond what we say to what we do, and how we make people feel," he mused, emphasizing "purpose, positivity, and care."

With such an uplifting start to the academic year, the sentiment was clear: there's indeed a lot to smile about at FCCPS.