Inside the community
Read Time: 6 min

langley high school

Redux Extra February 3, 2021
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Those of us who have lived in Northern Virginia are familiar with the name Langley High School. It’s one of the nation’s ranking educational establishments and a landmark in the community.

For graduates from 2020, all the way back to graduates who are now parents themselves, and one generation before them — who sent their grandchildren to this educational entity—memories and connections are precious and lasting.

As a parent, I echo such sentiments and connections to this day by turning my head spontaneously while passing the school, reminiscing memories of years when five in my family attended Langley.

In the past few years, as I was witnessing the construction and the structural changes, at least from the outside, I was interested and curious enough to find my way inside — to see not only the expansions and renovations but also what other advances have been made in the past decades in regard to leadership, academic ranking and the overall vision of Langley High School for the coming decades.

The new welcoming and well thought out transformation not only is compatible with time but is an image of close connection to its surrounding community. Langley’s renovations have also won state and national awards.

Principal Kimberly Greer graciously accepted Redux Extra’s request for an interview. She let me in to satisfy my curiosity and to share updates as well as her views and visions with our readers as the Principal of Langley High School.

RE: There has been a massive renovation and remodeling of the school. Please tell us briefly about the history of school, the renovation project, and its overall benefits to the students beyond its obvious aesthetical appeal.

KG: Langley was built in 1965. The school did not have any major face-lift until 2014, when Fairfax County awarded Langley a $59M renovation budget with the James M. Scott Award. The renovation was funded through taxpayer bonds. The project included the expansion of the science, art, athletic and instructional areas by 123,000 square feet while keeping the old structural integrity of the building intact.

With the renovation, students are able to learn in a state-of-the-art facility that really does provide opportunities for them to have a myriad of ways to expand their learning and thinking on a day to day basis.

RE: Tell us about your background and your path to being an educator.

KG: I wanted to be an educator since I was eight. In the first few years of my educational career, I was a struggling reader. My second-grade teacher realized this and assigned me to a remedial reading class. There, I met an incredible teacher by the name of Mr. Crowell. He was kind, patient and positive, but most of all, he believed in me. Over the course of the year, he helped me realize I could do anything. At the end of the year, I was not only reading at grade level, but above it. I received the Most Improved Reader award for his class. This inspired me to help other children. Education is the great equalizer. It’s imperative that every child be given a chance.

RE: What was the impetus for choosing education as a career. Was anyone in your family an educator?

KG: As I mentioned, that was my childhood dream without any particular impetus. But there are several educators in my family: an aunt, my sister, and number of cousins.

RE: What has been your professional journey to becoming Langley High School principal?

I taught middle school English and social studies for 11 years. I was an assistant principal at Westfield High School, South Lakes High School, and Marshall High School for a combined 11 years. I am currently in my third year serving as principal of Langley.

RE: How do you describe Langley High School and its position in our community, its ranking and its rate of graduate admissions to college?

KG: Langley enjoys the well-deserved reputation of being a very high performing school. This is in no small part due to the hard work of our teachers and staff members. They are dedicated to the success of every student. Additionally, we have immense support of our parents and other community members. Our students come to us phenomenally prepared by their previous schools. Our success is truly the result of the combined effort of all stakeholders.

RE: The Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything, including “back to school” this year. In your view, what has been the toughest challenge of all? How have you, as principal, as well as teachers, coped with these challenges? What is the most difficult thing you’ve had to overcome?

KG: Given our current set of circumstances, the hardest part is keeping our school emotionally connected. Also, celebrating our seniors and making this school year a special one for them has been difficult. To overcome these challenges, the staff meets weekly. Also, town halls have been held. For students, I have resumed my weekly segment, Greer’s Greeting, which is aired as part of our school broadcast. Also, members of the administrative team routinely visit classrooms.

RE: How you keep track of attendance and keep the virtual classes orderly with all the emotions, moods and learning capabilities of the students, not to mention the malfunctioning of technology at times?

KG: Overall, our students remain committed to academic excellence. For those who are struggling with attendance, teachers, administrators and other staff members are in communication to provide additional support.

RE: Considering the pandemic, how do you address the social and emotional wellness and other needs of the students?

KG: In response to the pandemic, the school board implemented a social emotional period for all secondary schools. During this time, students are completing activities related to emotional wellness. Also, we are completing activities that align with our commitment to make Langley a safe space for all students — regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. The lessons are designed by school staff, so they align with our school priorities and needs.

RE: What is your vision and what do you mean by BALANCE, please elaborate.

KG: As principal of Langley, I spend a lot of time discussing the 4 Cs, which are Care, Connect, Celebrate and Commence.

we must also make sure we are helping them to develop into kindhearted young adults who find value in all types of people, not only those who look like them or share their backgrounds or experiences.

I lead a high-achieving school, so it is a given that my students will do well in high school and move on to matriculate at the college level. However, what isn’t recognized is the toll the pressure to achieve can have on young people. The 4 Cs clearly offer ways that our school community should help our students to find balance and work toward emotional wellness.

Care references the need to be kind not only to others but also to oneself. This includes seeking help if/when a student feels emotionally overwhelmed.

Connect reminds us that school isn’t only about academics but also extracurricular activities. Students are encouraged to find their passion and to explore it fully, whether it be through participation with a club, on the sports field or on the stage. Everyone should have a reason to get up and come to school besides earning a certain grade.

Celebrate and remember that is important to take time to relish all wins, both large and small. If a student earns a good grade on a quiz or test in a class where he/she has been struggling, that is as impressive as a win a sports team may have had. Celebrate and remember that is important to take time to relish all wins, both large and small. If a student earns a good grade on a quiz or test in a class where he/she has been struggling, that is as impressive as a win a sports team may have had.

Finally, when we think about high school commencement, we think of it as an end. The word commencement actually means to begin.

With this understanding, I believe it is the responsibility of Langley to prepare our students not only to graduate in four years, hopefully having had a phenomenal high school experience, but also to make sure they have the skills and strategies to not only be accepted into college but flourish once they are there. We are preparing our students for adulthood.

RE: As a high school principal, what message do you have for parents and students in our community?

I would share that academics are important. The great news is the vast majority of our students excel academically and are doing amazing things outside of the classroom. However, we need to provide opportunities for all students to experience success. It is also important that we remember that we are preparing our students for adulthood. This means that in addition to ensuring they are intellectually ready to meet the rigors of university and the world of work, we must also make sure we are helping them to develop into kindhearted young adults who find value in all types of people, not only those who look like them or share their backgrounds or experiences. This is my overarching commitment and where I believe the heart of my work is centered.

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