Letter from the Principal

Dear Madison Community,

Happy New Year! We are excited to start 2020 with the first in a series of MADMemos that will highlight examples of Deeper Learning happening around Madison. In December’s memo we shared a short video, The Future of Work. The video ends with an important question that has motivated us to continue our journey towards a Culture of Deeper Learning: Will our children be ready for their future?

Three years ago, we started the Wings program to provide seniors an opportunity to experience what their future might look like after graduation. Twenty students piloted the program that first year. Now in year three, approximately 250 students have shown interest in participating in the WINGS Senior Internship Program. The WINGS program is an opportunity for seniors to spend the last two weeks of the school year in an internship. Students have a chance to expand their interests and gain professional learning experiences before they leave high school. Internships over the past few years have included: working at a local animal hospital, planning large-scale festivals in Washington, D.C., working with the National Park Service, assisting archaeologists on an active dig site, and shadowing elementary school educators. The Deeper Learning experiences that Madison students experience daily at school are transferred into applied learning and contributions to our community. At the end of the two weeks, students reflect on what they learned and the skills they developed from the experience, then present to their peers and the administration in a WINGS Exhibition of Learning. We will share more information about this year’s exhibition in May – and we hope to see you there!

Tenth grade students were also recently engaged in a Deeper Learning experience that developed cross-disciplinary skills that will prepare them for their future. During the last few days of school before winter break students gave presentations to parents, Madison administration, FCPS Central Office employees, and Ted Dintersmith. Students presented their research on student-selected topics regarding problems they identified at Madison and current educational experiences, provided research, and generated student-focused ideas to improve learning experiences and student mental health. Students read and discussed some of the Deeper Learning sources posted on our website, and excerpts from Dintersmith’s book What School Could Be, students engaged in their own research focused on proposing changes to improve learning experiences and mental health for students.. Student presentations and the project experience will be highlighted on Ted Dintersmith’s Innovation Playlist.

Both of these recent opportunities highlight an important part of our school’s common understanding of Deeper Learning for all: authentic experiences. We all know how powerful learning is often experiential, and as we pursue Deeper Learning, we strive to create more authentic learning opportunities and experiences for our students. We look forward to sharing more examples from across the school in the months to come. Sincerely,

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/