Circumventing inner Springfield is going to be to Maureen Marshall's advantage as she starts the school year as assistant principal at Garfield Elementary School.
To the east, she was a special-education teacher at Springfield Estates from 1993-99. To the north, she took an administrative internship at Crestwood Elementary in 1999-2000. She spent a year on Capitol Hill with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) before going back to Springfield Estates last year. The demographics are similar in all three schools.
"I think it's such a wonderful community," she said.
Her stint on the Hill gave her experience working with the No Child Left Behind program with Collins, whom she labeled a moderate Republican.
"It was interesting to see it from the federal perspective, it seemed like a natural progression," she said.
Although principal Judy Thompson looked at several candidates, Marshall's experience in the Springfield area was a factor.
"She has the skills that are needed here. She's a perfect match for Garfield," Thompson said.
Garfield was chosen recently to take part in Gov. Mark Warner's PASS initiative, the Partnership for Achieving Successful Schools. PASS is a mentoring program in which Garfield, an academically highly rated school, will be paired with another school around the state that is not scoring as high. Marshall considered the significance.
"We were picked by the governor as a model school. It's pretty exciting to be one out of 26 picked in this area," she said.
MARSHALL IS ORIGINALLY from New York and earned her undergraduate degree at Boston College and master’s degree at Virginia Tech, where she is currently pursuing her doctorate. She has completed her classes in that area and has the dissertation to complete. At nearby Crestwood Elementary, fellow assistant principal Lauren Sheehy is an acquaintance or hers and mentor. The two met at Boston College in the Education Department.
"She had an interest in special ed, and so did I. We're in the same doctoral program, also. I expect to learn as much from her as she does from me," Sheehy said.
Crestwood and Garfield are also in the same cluster and pyramid, so they are trying to coordinate special programs as well this year.
A BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP Garfield Elementary is continuing is a mentoring program with Genesis Credit Union on nearby Backlick Road.
"They do a tutoring partnership with us. I'll be working on that," she said.
With working experience around the highway interchange project, Marshall is aware of the traffic. Living in Washington, D.C., is going against the grain in that area, she feels.
"I have the reverse commute," she said.
There's also an advantage to having part of the project right outside the window at Garfield. Besides the soundproof windows Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) installed while the project was in motion, VDOT is committed to redoing the landscaping as well.
"We're working on a project to beautify the school," Marshall said.