Superintendent's Principal Advisory Council

Superintendent's Principal Advisory Council

The purpose of the Superintendent's Principal Advisory Council (SPAC) is to ensure our principals’ voices are centered in decisions that directly affect their staff, students, and community. The SPAC will serve as an instrumental forum for collaboration between principals and Division leaders. 

The SPAC is comprised of solutions oriented elementary, secondary, nontraditional, and traditional school principals from across the county. As a collective body, the SPAC will act to strengthen and improve the Division as a whole, not address isolated issues taking place at individual schools.

SPAC members will be responsible for :

  • meeting every other month to discuss and provide input on presentations from Division leaders related to proposed policies and initiatives.
  • representing their peers and communicating with their level associates and fellow principals about their ideas and experiences to bring an inclusive perspective to the SPAC .
  • serving as liaisons who share information and updates with their level associates and fellow peer principals.

Elementary Schools

Shelley Pohzehl

Shelley Pohzehl, Bennett Elementary School

Shelley Pohzehl is currently serving in her fourth year as the principal of Bennett Elementary School. Pohzehl began her career as a teacher in the primary grades in Fairfax County and moved to PWCS in 2002. In 2009, Pohzehl was hired as a Title I literacy coach to serve Priority schools in School Improvement. She moved to the role of assistant principal in 2017.

In addition to her roles with PWCS, Pohzehl also served as a consultant with the South Region Education Board where she reviewed and revised the Oklahoma Department of Education Reading Standards. This was exciting work that impacted the current guiding educational reading Standards for the state of Oklahoma.

In her free time, Pohzehl is a mother of three adult children and two wonderful grandchildren. She loves to spend time with her family and two dogs at the beach in North Carolina. She is a former marathon runner and enjoys running or walking outside in any weather.

Kelle Stroud

Kelle Stroud, Buckland Mills Elementary School

Kelle Stroud is the principal of Buckland Mills Elementary School. She began her teaching career in California, where she taught grades three to five over eight years. She then married a United States Marine and taught grades three to five in North Carolina and Washington over four years. After moving to Virginia, Stroud began working for PWCS. She has been with PWCS for 14 years as a fifth-grade teacher, assistant principal, and principal of Buckland Mills Elementary.

She is originally from California and attended California State University Chico for her undergraduate degree and received her graduate degree from George Mason University. As a member of the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals (VAESP) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), Stroud enjoys attending the yearly conferences.

Stroud and her husband of 20 years have two boys who attend school in PWCS. They enjoy family time, attending sporting and other events for the boys, attending USNA football games (season ticket holders), and traveling as a family. Stroud feels incredibly lucky to work in PWCS and to lead an outstanding staff and a wonderful group of Wildcats at Buckland Mills Elementary each day.

Starr Granby

Starr Granby, Dumfries Elementary School

Starr Granby graduated from Virginia State University with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies specializing in special education. She attended George Mason University and graduated with master’s degrees in the areas of curriculum and instruction for multilingual and multicultural learners and educational administration and supervision.

Granby has worked in Prince William County for over 15 years. She supported students as a special education teacher, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher, first grade teacher, second grade teacher, and Reading Recovery teacher. Granby was the assistant principal at Yorkshire Elementary School and currently serves as the principal of Dumfries Elementary School. She is a member of the National Association for Elementary School Principals.

Granby grew up in Prince William County and currently resides here with her husband and two daughters. She is passionate about serving her community. Her interests include improving equity in access and opportunity for families and students, strengthening inclusive practices, and helping students find their love for reading.

Laura Gazda

Laura Gazda, Ellis Elementary School

Starting in 2000, Laura Vasquez Gazda started her journey as a preschool and kindergarten teacher with a passion for ensuring all students succeed, especially in literacy. This interest in growing great readers and writers influenced her to focus on gaining her English endorsement and teaching at the high school level and middle level. The more Gazda worked with families, teachers, and students, she realized her heart focused on early reading and writing intervention, sparking her interest in administration. As an administrative intern at The Nokesville School and then assistant principal at Haymarket Elementary School, her focus expanded beyond literacy to all aspects of intervention from math and science to behavior.

Gazda leads with love and works to create positive, collaborative work and class environments, so all can succeed and thrive. Beyond the school environment she has spoken at numerous national and international conferences, including JEA, NCTE, ASCD and IB about culture/climate, literacy, and engagement.

As a life-long learner, she has membership to ASCD, VAESP and NAESP.  Gazda absolutely loves being the principal of Ellis Elementary, an IBPYP Title 1 School, where the entire community is all in for our students every day to SOAR to success.

Marisa Miranda

Marisa Miranda, Glenkirk Elementary School

Marisa Miranda has served as principal of Glenkirk Elementary School since 2017. Prior to her time at Glenkirk, Miranda served as assistant principal at Dumfries Elementary School and taught fourth and fifth grade at Leesylvania Elementary School. Prior to joining PWCS in 2006, she taught in Fairfax County and for the Department of Defense Schools in Germany.

Miranda holds a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in educational leadership and administration from George Washington University.

Previously, Miranda served on various committees in the county, including the Code of Behavior Committee, Mastery Connect Task Force, and the Language Arts Assessment Committee. She is a member of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals (VAESP).

Michael Kelchlin

Michael Kelchlin, Gravely Elementary School

Michael Kelchlin has served as the principal of Samuel L. Gravely Jr. Elementary since 2016 and has been an educator for 17 years. Prior to Gravely Elementary, Kelchlin served five years as an elementary assistant principal and six years as a physical education teacher.

Kelchlin holds a master's degree in educational leadership from the University of Virginia, and a bachelor's degree in physical education from State University of New York, College at Brockport.

He recently served on the PWCS Return to Learn Task Force and is a member of Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals (VAESP) as well as National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP).

Kelchlin enjoys spending time with his wife and three school-aged children and attending his children's sporting events throughout Prince William County.

Karen Najjum

Karen Najjum, Kilby Elementary School

Karen Najjum is a product of Prince William County Public Schools. She graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a minor in Political Science and returned back to Prince William County eager to serve in her community. She started her career in education as a substitute teacher while she earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with an ESOL endorsement from George Mason University (GMU). Najjum was hired as an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher in 2006 at Kerrydale Elementary School. Najjum was eager to advocate for English Language Learners at an administrative level and went back to GMU and earned a master’s degree in educational leadership.

In 2012, she was hired as the administrative intern at Kilby Elementary School and has since spent the rest of her administrative career there. Najjum was thrilled to return “home” to Kilby, as that is where she began her own personal journey in education as a kindergarten student! In 2018, Najjum was promoted to principal. Najjum leads her school community, with the motto, One Team, One Dream, Student Success, and knows it takes true collaboration and commitment from all stakeholders to ensure every student has an equal opportunity to academic achievement.

Julie Cuocci

Julie Cuocci, Marumsco Hills Elementary School

Julie Cuocci began her teaching career in Prince William County at Coles Elementary  School in 2001. She was a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing for six years. She was an administrative intern at Loch Lomond Elementary School for two years before going to Loudoun County Public Schools as an assistant principal.

Cuocci was an assistant principal for four years, a principal for four years, and a central office administrator for three years while in Loudoun County Public Schools. While in central office, she served as a supervisor of mentoring, coaching, and evaluation as well as a special education supervisor before returning to Prince William County Schools in 2020 as the principal of Marumsco Hills Elementary.

Cuocci is a member of the National Association for Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum (ASCD).

She lives with her husband and two dogs in Aldie. She is an avid Pittsburgh sports fan – Go Steelers and Pens! In addition to serving the Marumsco Hills community, Cuocci serves as the foster coordinator for a local pitbull rescue.

Janice Herritt

Janice Herritt, McAuliffe Elementary School

Janice Herritt has worked in Prince William County Public Schools for 28 years.  Herritt currently serves as the proud principal of McAuliffe Elementary School in Dale City. This will be her seventh year at McAuliffe. In 2020, she received the Virginia Association of School Librarians, Principal of the Year Award.

Prior to joining the Challengers, Herritt served as the principal of Piney Branch Elementary School for three years, the assistant principal at Henderson Elementary School for three years, and as administrative coordinator for the Office of Special Education for the students with learning disabilities program for four years. Herritt taught at Rippon Middle School and Penn Elementary School. She also served as a first-grade teacher in Pennsylvania at Plainfield Township Elementary School and as a teacher of students with emotional disabilities at the Episcopal Children’s Center in Washington, D.C. Prior to starting her teaching career, she worked with adults with disabilities in group home settings and students with disabilities in a therapeutic treatment center.

Herritt received her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education and special education from Kutztown University, in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. She received her Master of Education degree in learning disabilities and emotional disabilities from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and her certification in administration and supervision from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Herritt is currently a member of the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals.

Outside of the work environment, Herritt enjoys painting and watching her sons and husband play softball. She also enjoys family game nights. She is a member of Grace Baptist Church.

Deborah Ellis

Deborah Ellis, Minnieville Elementary School

Deborah Ellis was appointed principal of Minnieville Elementary School in July 2019. She served as assistant principal at Minnieville Elementary from 2011-19. In 2010-11, she served as half-time assistant principal at both West Gate and Minnieville Elementary Schools. In 2019, she was named the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals National Outstanding Assistant Principal.

She transferred to PWCS from Alexandria City Public Schools in 2003 and taught at Swans Creek and Mary Williams Elementary Schools . She earned National Board Certification as an Early Childhood Generalist in 2005 and recertified in 2015.

Ellis holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Bennett College, a Master of Arts degree in teaching from Trinity University and certification in educational leadership from Mary Washington University.

Robert Lucciotti

Robert Lucciotti, Pattie Elementary School

Robert Lucciotti earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Delaware. He began his career by serving multiple years as a member of AmeriCorps, where he received leadership training while serving in various positions in non-profit organizations, the last of which included recruiting and training local businesspersons to present career awareness programs in schools. From there, he served as a behavioral interventionist at a Title 1 elementary school in Wilmington, Delaware.

After earning a master’s degree in elementary education from the College of William & Mary, Lucciotti began his career in Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS). Over his 16 years in PWCS, he has taught first and fifth grades, and served three years as an assistant principal before becoming the principal of Pattie Elementary School. He is now in his fifth year as principal and is a member of ASCD and NAESP.

Lucciotti’s professional interests include leadership development, brain-based teaching, and learning and developing positive school cultures.

Dr. Elliot Bolles

Dr. Elliot Bolles, Penn Elementary School

Dr. Elliot F. Bolles has been an elementary principal for the past 16 years. He earned his doctorate in educational leadership from Virginia Tech in 2014 and has been an adjunct professor for James Madison University for five years. He earned his undergraduate degree in history from the University of Rochester.

He was a United States Marine Corps Officer and Helicopter pilot for 21 years, retiring from the military in 1999. Earning his master’s in education from Old Dominion University, he taught middle school for five years in Stafford County. An administrative degree from Virginia Commonwealth University prepared him for an elementary assistant principal position followed by becoming the principal of Winding Creek Elementary for eight years in Stafford.

He left Stafford County and became the principal of Penn Elementary in PWCS eight years ago. He led the turnaround at Penn, and it was nominated for the Blue Ribbon Award in 2020. He is a member of ASCD, NAESP, and the Association of Leadership Educators (ALE). He is married to Rebecca Bolles, the assistant principal at Belmont Elementary in PWCS. They have five grown children in their blended family.

Susan Danielson

Susan Danielson, Rosa Parks Elementary School

Susan (Sue) Danielson is currently the very proud principal at Rosa Parks Elementary School, an International Baccalaureate Primary Programme School. She has served in this capacity for the last 11 years. Prior to serving as the principal, Danielson was the assistant principal at Rosa Parks Elementary when it opened in 2006.

Danielson holds a Master of Education degree in educational leadership from George Mason University, a Master of Arts degree in education specializing in student personal services from Virginia Tech. and a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education and elementary P.E from Kearney State College in Nebraska. Prior to going into administration, Danielson was an elementary school counselor for 17 years. She has served PWCS for the past 35 years.

In 2020, Danielson received the National Distinguished Principal Award representing the state of Virginia. She can often be heard to say that she has the best job in the world. She also was recognized as the PWRCA Elementary Counselor of the Year and the PWRCA Counselor of the Year in 2000.

One of her greatest accomplishments was being selected to participate in the Life Touch Mission Trip to the Dominion Republic in 2014, where she helped build a school. Every year that she attends the NAESP conference she volunteers to help build playgrounds in various locations around the U.S. Her motto is "Live your life as a model for others" (Rosa Parks).

Danielson lives in Montclair. She loves to travel, hike, and visit the beach. She loves to find great coffee shops and share her love of coffee with her friends. Recently she has been on a mission to deliver the “Be Kind” signs around Prince William County and around the United States. She loves her school, her teachers, and her Rosa Parks Golden Eagle students. It is always a great day to be a Golden Eagle.

Kimberly Werle

Kimberly Werle, Rosemount Lewis Elementary School

Kimberly Werle has spent 19 of her 24 years in education working for PWCS. She taught kindergarten and first grade as a classroom teacher and math and science enrichment for grades K-5 before becoming a school administrator. Werle was principal at Loch Lomond Elementary School for eight years, where she worked with students, staff, families, and community organizations to raise student achievement. Under her leadership, Loch Lomond Elementary was nominated twice for the National Title I Distinguished School Award for closing the achievement gap between student groups.

This school year, Werle is overseeing the virtual learning program for elementary school students throughout the School Division. Werle will open the new “Rosemount Lewis” Elementary School in Manassas in August of 2023.

Werle holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from Carlow University and a master’s degree in administration and supervision from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Andrew Buchheit

Dr. Andrew Buchheit, T. Clay Wood Elementary School

Dr. Andrew Buchheit has been a principal in PWCS for 20 years. Prior to becoming a principal, Dr. Buchheit was an assistant principal, site-based K-5 Gifted Education teacher, and fourth grade teacher. He is currently the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals’ (VAESP) representative to the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). He has served as President of VAESP.

Dr. Buchheit is an adjunct professor in the Educational Leadership program at George Mason University. He hosts a weekly Twitter Chat on educational topics. Dr. Buchheit has been the Prince William County and Washington Post Principal of the Year and has received the VAESP School Bell Lifetime Achievement Award and Professional Development Award. He has earned the Principal of Distinction Endorsement by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).

Dr. Buchheit served on the VDOE Recovering, Redesign, Restart Committee and other state committees including the Committee of Practitioners. He is also a member of the Cognia Advisory Board.

Dr. Buchheit is a strong believer in the potential impact that principals can have at their school and communities and is a strong advocate for students, families, schools, and public education. He is looking forward to working on behalf of all stakeholders as a member of the Superintendent’s Principal Advisory Council.

Middle Schools

Joe Graczyk

Joe Graczyk, Benton Middle School

Joe Graczyk is in his fifth year in Prince William County Public Schools, all as principal at Benton Middle School. Prior to joining PWCS, he worked in a variety of instructional and administrative roles for 12 years in Fairfax County Public Schools at Poe Middle and Rocky Run Middle Schools.

Graczyk attended SUNY Brockport for undergraduate studies and earned a master’s degree in education leadership from George Mason University. He is a member of ASCD and AMLE and has a strong background in the AVID program.

In addition to being a middle school principal, he is the proud parent of two PWCS middle school students! Graczyk was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, and is a huge fan of all things related to Buffalo sports teams. He enjoys reading, seeing live music, staying active on the basketball court, and being a cheer/gymnastics dad.

Maria Ramadane

Maria Ramadane, Graham Park Middle School

Maria Lewis Ramadane has 19 years of experience in instructional and leadership roles within PWCS. She began her career as a teacher at Graham Park Middle School and is currently principal there.

Previously, Ramadane served as an assistant principal at Rippon Middle School and as a summer school administrator within PWCS.

Ramadane was honored with the Prince William County Human Rights Award in partnership with the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. Prince William County Chapter for offering a mental health awareness program. Ramadane is currently the middle school representative on the Advisory Council on Equity and the Safe Schools Advisory Council.

Ramadane earned a Master of Education degree from George Mason University. Currently, she is pursuing her Doctor of Education degree from Marymount University. Ramadane attended the University of Virginia Curry School of Education and Human Development’s Leadership Academy Coaching for Change and completed the Leadership Coaching Certification Program (LCCP) in collaboration with the University of Rochester. Ramadane has served as an adjunct instructor and is currently a leadership coach.

Ramadane is the mother of two young men and is dedicated to ensuring all young people recognize their own personal greatness.

James Dutrow

James Dutrow, Lake Ridge Middle School

Jim Dutrow is in his 13th year with Prince William County Public Schools. He began in PWCS as a physical education teacher and teacher on administrative assignment at Lake Ridge Middle School. He spent one year as an assistant principal at Potomac Middle School before returning to Lake Ridge Middle in the same capacity. In 2019, Dutrow was selected to be the principal at Lake Ridge Middle, and he is in his third year in that role.

Before coming to PWCS, he worked in Fairfax County Public Schools at Key Middle School and WT Woodson High School. He attended James Madison University for undergraduate studies and earned a master’s degree in education leadership from George Mason University. He is a member of ASCD and AMLE and trained in Restorative Practices. Dutrow is also a licensed Restorative Practices trainer by the International Institute of Restorative Practices.

In addition to being a middle school principal, Dutrow is the proud parent of five PWCS students! He was born and raised in Prince William County and attended Lake Ridge Middle and is in the Woodbridge High School Athletic Hall of Fame. He enjoys spending time with family, working out, and attending his children's sporting events.

Lisa Warner

Lisa Warner, Marsteller Middle School

Lisa Warner is in her fourth year as principal at Marsteller Middle School. She earned her bachelor's degree from West Virginia University and her master's degree in education from California University of Pennsylvania. Warner came to PWCS in 2018 after an extensive career in Manassas City Public Schools, where she served as a teacher, dean of students, assistant principal, and assistant principal of instruction and student services.

Warner is a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and serves on the site visit team for Virginia Schools to Watch. She has presented at Virginia School Board Association conferences and the PWCS Middle Level Conference. Warner believes in partnering with teachers, school professionals, and parents to provide the best possible experience for all students.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching baseball and college football, and reading.

High Schools

Dr. Katherine Meints

Dr. Katherine Meints, Brentsville District High School

Dr. Katherine J. Meints is proud to be a member of the Tiger Family, serving as their principal. She began her career as a math and physics teacher in Iowa, then taught math at E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg, Virginia. She came to PWCS to help open Forest Park High School in 2000. She taught at Forest Park for six years and then became the secondary math coordinator for the Division. After three years in the central office, Dr. Meints became an assistant principal at Brentsville District High School in the fall of 2009 and became principal in 2011. Her goal for all students is to know their strengths, areas for growth and to learn to advocate for themselves and others so they can continue to grow and develop in a collaborative and supportive environment.

Dr. Meints holds bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and secondary education and a master’s degree in professional studies in higher education from Iowa State University (CyclONE Nation!). She earned a master’s degree in education administration and a doctorate in mathematics education leadership from George Mason University. Dr. Meints is a member of the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, the Virginia and National Associations of Secondary School Principals, and is president of the local affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Dr. Meints’ most fulfilling role is as the mother of three children. Dr. Meints enjoys spending time with her family, reading, riding her motorcycle, and anything having to do with music.

Neil Beech

Neil Beech, Gainesville High School

Neil Beech has served as an educator in Prince William County since 2001. He started his career in PWCS as a biology teacher at Brentsville District High School, before becoming their Cambridge Programme Coordinator.  Beech then served as an assistant principal at Osbourn Park High School, prior to becoming the principal in 2010. Most recently, Beech was named as the principal of Gainesville High School for the school’s inaugural 2021-22 school year.

Beech maintains membership in the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. As a result of being named the Virginia Milken Educator in 2011, Beech remains active in the Milken Educator Network, collaborating with other Milken Award recipients from across Virginia and the United States on efforts to improve teacher quality and retention. Through these associations and his ongoing interest in professional development, Beech has developed an interest in the technical aspects of teaching and assessment that positively impact learning.

Outside of his professional interests, Beech is a husband, and father of two Prince William County students. He enjoys travel, is a fan of English Premier League Soccer, and participates in endurance events such as triathlons, marathons, and ultra-marathons.

Lisamarie Kane

Lisamarie Kane, Osbourn Park High School

Lisamarie Kane is proud to serve the Yellow Jacket community as principal of Osbourn Park High School. She began her career in education as a chemistry and biology teacher. She taught for 10 years before joining the administrative team at Gar-Field High School as an assistant principal, where she supervised special education, science, and mathematics. Kane is passionate about minimizing barriers to instruction through strong collaborative learning teams, teacher efficacy, and her conviction that no child is “at risk” but rather, all are “at promise.” Kane is a member of the Virginia and National Association of Secondary School Principals and the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Kane received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in food science from the University of Florida (Go Gators!), and a certificate in advanced graduate studies in education leadership from the University of New England. Prior to teaching, Kane worked in the citrus industry as a food scientist, where she developed new methodologies, led research projects, and presented results to industry stakeholders.

Kane’s greatest honor is being a mom to her three children. She is an avid reader and loves traveling and spending time with her family.

Dr. Michael Bishop

Dr. Michael Bishop, Patriot High School

Dr. Michael E. Bishop serves as principal of Patriot High School in Nokesville, VA. This year represents his 29th year in education and 11th in Prince William County Public Schools.

Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, Dr. Bishop received a B.S. in Secondary Education from Youngstown State University (1993), a masters in educational administration (2005) and doctorate in educational administration and policy studies from GWU (2009). He holds an advanced certificate in educational facility planning from San Diego State University and CEFPI (2010).

He previously served as principal of Lee-Davis (now Mechanicsville) High School from 2008-10. He was an assistant principal at Cosby High School (2006-08) and taught AP US history and world history at Brooke Point High School (1997), Courtland High School (1998-2003) and Hanover High School (2003-06). His teaching career began at Stafford Middle School in Stafford, VA (1994-97).

Dr. Bishop has presented at NCPEA (2009), VEFP (2010) and CEFPI-SE (2010) on the topic of educational facilities and is also a member of NASSP. He has been an adjunct professor in the Educational Leadership program at George Washington University since 2009.

In his spare time, Dr. Bishop enjoys completing home improvement projects and watching his children compete on the athletic fields. He and his wife Mary Catherine live in Bristow with their sons Nathan (17), Matthew (15) and Ryan (9).

Heather Abney

Heather Abney, Woodbridge High School

Heather Abney has been the proud principal of Woodbridge High School, one of the largest and most diverse schools in Prince William County, since January 2016. She was previously an assistant principal at C.D. Hylton High School for four and a half years after serving as a special education teacher at Unity Reed High School for five years. Prior to coming to PWCS,  Abney was a Special Education teacher in Fairfax County for eight years, after starting her career in education as a substitute teacher then teaching assistant.

She is a member of Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals (VASSP) as well as National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). She has presented at several state and national conferences about her passion for student leadership at the school level and beyond.

Abney earned both her master’s degrees at George Mason University, in Special Education and Educational Leadership. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in English from George Mason.

Abney’s goal is for every student to get involved in a club, activity, or sport while in high school. She attends many after-school events and when possible, her husband also attends. She enjoys spending time with family, crafting, and reading in her free time.

Nontraditional and Traditional Schools

Dr. Robert Eichorn

Dr. Robert Eichorn, Independence Nontraditional School

Dr. Robert L. Eichorn believes nontraditional students deserve the best staff, resources, and facilities to remove barriers to equity in education. During his 13-year tenure as a nontraditional school principal and founding principal of Independence Nontraditional School, Dr. Eichorn made this vision a reality for the most underserved populations in Prince William County Public Schools. Schools under his leadership have been recognized nationally for dropout prevention, STEM education, and professional school counseling.

A recognized Fairfax County teacher and Prince William County principal of the year, as well as a national principal of the year, Dr. Eichorn continues his relentless advocacy as the current president of the Virginia Alternative Educators Association. He served as the president of the National Alternative Education Association and as an advisor to the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

A published author and national keynote speaker, Dr. Eichorn holds political and social science degrees from James Madison University, graduate degrees in leadership and special education from George Mason University, and engaged in advanced study in educational neuroscience at The George Washington University where he earned his doctorate.

An avid sports car and outdoor enthusiast, he lives with the love of his life, JoBeth, in Manassas, Virginia.

Maria McDonald

Maria McDonald, PACE West

Maria McDonald became the principal of PACE West in July 2014, following seven years at Battlefield High School as an assistant principal. With over 29 years of experience in the mental health field, she began her career as a teacher in a residential facility outside of Boston. After relocating to Northern Virginia and teaching in Fairfax County for seven years, McDonald became director of a private special education school in Washington, D.C. and later, director of Student Services in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, minutes from her hometown. As director of Student Services, McDonald led the way to the opening of Huntingdon’s first alternative school in 2005. She returned to Northern Virginia in 2007.

McDonald holds a master’s degree in leadership and administration from George Mason University and a master’s in special education from Boston University - Wheelock. She holds a bachelor’s degree from The Pennsylvania State University and is an avid Penn State fan!

McDonald is married to an educator, and they have three boys. They spend any time outside of school on the ballfield. McDonald is committed to encouraging others to spread kindness, pay it forward, and make meaningful contributions to the world.

Amanda Johnson

Amanda Johnson, Pennington Traditional School

Amanda Johnson’s life in education began by helping her mom in her first-grade classroom. This experience led her to a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Clarion University of Pennsylvania.

Upon graduating, she began a 17-year career with Prince William County Public Schools as a fifth-grade teacher at The Nokesville School and then Tyler Elementary School. While teaching, Johnson earned two master’s degrees from George Mason University, New Initiatives in Teaching and Educational Leadership. With those degrees and experiences, she became the assistant principal first at Triangle Elementary School and then at Lake Ridge Elementary School. Along the way, Johnson states that she was extremely fortunate to have worked with strong leadership, all of whom had great faith in her and allowed her the space to grow into the leader she is today.

Currently, Johnson is the principal of Philip Michael Pennington Traditional School, a position she has held for five years. Pennington Traditional exemplifies all that she believes in education – excellence, service, and tradition. Being the leader of this school community has been challenging, growth-producing, and incredibly rewarding. Johnson is excited to bring her life in education and her love for growing a school community to the Superintendent’s Principal Advisory Council.