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How to get into Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST)

How to get into Thomas Jefferson High School (ranked #1 in VA)?

Well, how did Serena Williams become the #1 ranked female tennis player?

Serena Williams didn’t just decide one day to play tennis with the pros.  No, she practiced, and practiced from when she was 4 years old.  She took lessons, attended a tennis academy for several years, and played for many hours every day.

Serena Williams wins the 2013 US Open

Serena Williams wins the 2013 US Open

By the time Serena was ready to participate in the pros, she didn’t just show up at the tournament – she had 10 years of experience playing tennis, and she was ready to compete with the best of them.

So you see, when you want to be among the best, you have to start early to be ready.

Virginia’s best high school:
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST)

In Fairfax County, we are lucky to have one of the best high schools in the entire US (currently ranked #2 nationally by US News): Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (a.k.a. TJHSST, or “TJ”).  But getting in is not easy and students must start preparing early to be ready.

TJ is a school which caters to highly achieving students specifically focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); and although it is located in Fairfax County, it is technically not part of the Fairfax County Public Schools district.  Instead, TJ is a Virginia state-chartered magnet school, which serves students from across several school districts in Northern Virginia.

So, when studying at TJ, students are being challenged by the best of the best in the entire region.

Getting into TJ is like getting into a pro tournament

Just like in a pro tournament, one doesn’t walk into TJ just expecting to get in.  It takes a good dose of preparation to have the best chance.

What’s required to get into TJ?

The first step is to live within the area serviced by TJ, such as the following 6 participating school districts: Continue Reading…

VRE: Top 6 School Boundaries for Commuting to DC

Last Summer, Mike and Susan were planning a move to the DC area.  One of their first considerations was, of course, good schools for their two daughters.

VRE Virginia Railway Express Commuter Train

VRE Virginia Railway Express Commuter Train

But a second consideration (and almost as important) was Mike’s commute to DC.   Mike has pretty long hours at his job and they really didn’t want him spending even more time away from the family.

Since Mike gets a subsidy for taking public transportation into work, being near a rail station was an interesting proposition.

First, they chose to research the school boundaries near the VRE (Virginia Railway Express)

What is the Virginia Railway Express (VRE)? Continue Reading…

The 7 Best School Boundaries For Your Buck

Last Spring, when Andrea and Pete were moving to Fairfax County, they wanted the best possible school for their daughter, Haley.

Choosing the best (and most affordable) school boundary

Choosing among the best school boundaries

But, like most of us, they had to stick to a budget so their challenge was to find the school boundary with the best schools, while still keeping to their budget.

When they started their search, they focused on school rankings

For school rankings, they looked at The Ultimate Fairfax County High Schools Ranking©* (which compiles rankings from The Challenge Index,  average SAT Scores,  as well as the Virginia SOL  (Standards of Learning) Test Results).

This way, they had a list of Fairfax County Schools ranked by academics.  But can they really afford to buy in any one of these boundaries?

Next, they looked at the affordability of homes Continue Reading…

Fairfax County Elementary Schools: Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA)

When you were a kid in school, do you remember acting out the Thanksgiving story?  Or building a “real” volcano?

CETA - Changing Education Through the Arts

The CETA – Changing Education Through the Arts program enhances children’s education.

Of course you remember, because you had a chance to live them, rather than simply read (or be told) about them.  That’s the power of multi-sensorial learning strategies.

Thankfully, the well-known Kennedy Center, based in Washington, D.C., offers an in-depth program to incorporate multi-sensorial learning strategies into schools.  Their program is called Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA)

What is Changing Education Through the Arts – CETA?

You can best see CETA in action in this very cool video, shot at Abingdon Elementary School in Arlington County (Arlington is adjacent to Fairfax County): Continue Reading…

Why you should choose a High School Boundary first

To understand High School boundaries and their relationship with the middle and elementary schools, let’s start by defining the concept of School Pyramids, as they are used in the Fairfax County Public Schools district.

What are School Pyramids?

Fairfax County School PyramidsSchool Pyramids are a way to group schools for administrative purposes.

Most School Pyramids in Fairfax County have one High School, one Middle School, and about six Elementary Schools.  These eight or nine schools all belong to the same School Pyramid.

For example, let’s look at the Oakton Pyramid and the schools that comprise it:

  1. Oakton HS
  2. Carson MS
  3. Crossfield ES
  4. Fox Mill ES
  5. Mosby Woods ES
  6. Navy ES
  7. Oakton ES
  8. Waples Mill ES

How are School Pyramids different from School Boundaries?

In practice, School Pyramids do not translate directly into School Boundaries. Continue Reading…

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