Education Secretary Duncan Takes Teacher Appreciation Tour to Virginia

By Kevin Hart

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan continued his teacher appreciation tour this week with a Thursday visit to George Mason High School, a small, high-performing school in Falls Church, VA.

Duncan is visiting several schools during National Teacher Appreciation Week to thank and honor the nation’s 5 million teachers. The National Education Association had recommended Duncan visit George Mason High School, which provides a strong example of the types of achievement possible when classes are small, students receive individualized attention, and high goals are set.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visits a class at George Mason High School in Falls Church, VA. Photo by Falls Church City Public Schools

Local union president Jonathon Pepper was on hand to greet Duncan and welcome him to the school.

With a student body of about 820 students in grades 8-12, George Mason is one of the smallest public high schools in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. The school is consistently rated as one of the top-performing high schools in American by Newsweek magazine, and has been recognized for Excellence in Education by the U.S. Department of Education.

More than 90 percent of George Mason graduates attend either four-year or two-year colleges, and the school was the first in Virginia to use the International Baccalaureate program in its advanced placement classes.

Duncan visited several classrooms, handled the morning announcements, and spoke with students about the country’s need for more teachers.

Unfortunately, many schools throughout the United States could face program cuts and ballooning class sizes next year as budget cuts threaten teaching and support staff jobs in nearly every region of the country.

That’s why NEA, with the support of Duncan, has been advocating for passage of the Keep Our Educators Working Act, a bill sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) that would save hundreds of thousands of school teaching and support staff positions that would otherwise be eliminated.

To learn more about the Keep Our Educators Working Act and sign a petition urging your Congressional representatives to support the bill, click here.

To view photos and video clips of Duncan’s visit to George Mason High, check out the Falls Church City Public Schools Web site here.