Letter from the Principal

Greetings, Warhawks! 

One intended outcome of Deeper Learning is the development of Portrait of a Graduate skills, which are life-worthy skills that we all continually develop over the course of our lives. This month, we will focus on the fourth of five FCPS Portrait of a Graduate skills:  Communication. We all know that communication is one of the skills that we consistently must hone and attend to with care in our academic, personal, and professional lives. 

FCPS  provides this list of Communicator attributes: 

  • Applies effective reading skills to acquire knowledge and broaden perspectives.
  • Employs active listening strategies to advance understanding.
  • Speaks in a purposeful manner to inform, influence, motivate, or entertain listeners.
  • Incorporates effective writing skills for various purposes and audiences to convey understanding and concepts.
  • Uses technological skills and contemporary digital tools to explore and exchange ideas.

This month, I’ve invited three graduating Madison students to share some impactful examples of how they have developed their communication skills these past four years at Madison.  Ella Stratman, Shad Karim, and Vera Nguyen share their experiences: 

Ella: Throughout my time at Madison, I have had the opportunity to be a part of many amazing clubs. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve taken on more and more leadership roles in the clubs I’m in. This year, I am the president of two different clubs at Madison: Amnesty International and Model UN. Both of these roles have given me invaluable experience with leading a group effectively. I’ve discovered that being a leader is primarily about communication. I’ve learned to not only convey my thoughts with club members and fellow club leadership, but I’ve also learned about the importance of listening. Being able to communicate well means being able to share ideas effectively of course, but it also means that you are able to listen carefully to the needs and perspectives of others. I’ve learned to be available and open to feedback about the way my clubs are being run. Communication is a two way street, and in order to be a good communicator, you have to be able to spread information, but you also need to be good at receiving it.

Shad: The way I’ve developed my communication skills at Madison has been in a variety of ways: from presentations in class to speaking to teachers, administrators, and other adults throughout the building, and writing as well. I’ve become much better at writing;  I’m much more specific and focused.  The most important thing I’ve learned about communication is that you can make your point to someone in a variety of ways: directly, indirectly,  short and straight-to-the-point, or detailed and broad. I’ve learned that you don’t always have to go on and on about something;  you can direct your words in a more powerful way to convey meaning.  

Vera:  With the goal of creating a documentary about education across Virginia, I had the opportunity to take an independent study course where I worked one-on-one with a teacher during my junior year. I was determined to investigate the components making up the Virginia education system through interviews, though I lacked the experience of professional interviewing. For months, I worked extensively on how I present and convey my questions and gained experience through practice interviews. As I continued to work toward my project goals, I was adjacently learning how to better listen to understand, convey my thoughts, and speak with purpose. During my senior year, I transitioned to an internship course where I applied these skills in a broader sense as a leader of a student group and collaborator with county education specialists. These roles allowed me to continue learning how to actively invite and listen to different perspectives and present myself in a confident manner. 

Looking forward to June, our last issue of 2022, I will provide a compilation of graduating seniors’ ideas about the importance of being a creative and critical thinker in the world into which they are graduating on June 1st. 

Enjoy the warm, sunny days!


Gregory S. Hood, Principal
James Madison High School
2500 James Madison Drive
Vienna, Virginia  22181
Phone:  703-319-2311
Email:  gshood@fcps.edu
Website:  http://www.fcps.edu/MadisonHS/

One School – One Community – One World