Middleburg Community Charter School will undergo another change in leadership this fall.
David Larson, who has served as its principal since 2015, will leave his post at the end of the school year. The Board of Directors stated in a letter to parents that Larson is pursuing other positions for retirement reasons, but is leaving on a good note.
“We have been very happy with Dave’s performance, so this is in no way a negative thing or a result of the board’s desire to replace Dave,” said Robert Liscouski, president of the school’s board of directors. “The board is very grateful to Dave and the contribution he’s made to the school.”
Larson first stepped in as interim principal in spring of 2015 and later as principal after the charter school’s first principal, Barbara Smith, was denied re-entry into the United States from Canada because of a lapsed visa.
The school had a rocky first year, after opening in the fall of 2014 as the first public charter school in Northern Virginia. Smith could not sufficiently evaluate teachers because she lacked the state-required credentials, and the school failed to meet accreditation standards when its students’ pass rate in science was 14 points shy of the benchmark.
But the board of directors credits Larson to turning the school around.
Under his leadership, Middleburg Charter worked with VDOE personnel and the school system’s School Improvement Office to boost students’ performance. The charter school now boasts some of the best test scores in the county, and has a 100-student waiting list.
“He brought a lot of stability and gave us a great foundation,” said Liscouski, whose son is a student at the charter school.
Larson had experience as a classroom teacher and an assistant principal at secondary schools in Manassas, but Middleburg Charter offered him his first leadership role in an elementary school.
“I owe Middleburg a great deal of gratitude for having faith in me to run the school and try to make improvements on what they started,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of success and I feel confident they can continue to have success no matter who the new principal will be because they have a wonderful, energetic, professional staff.”
The school’s board is working with representatives from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s teaching model, Project Zero Classroom, to conduct a search for the next principal.
A letter from the board of directors stated that it was “seeking a new collaborative administrator that embodies strategic leadership, mentorship, and project-based curriculum experience. Now that MCCS has a solid foundation for growth, we are examining the opportunity to build on our success and optimize our academic environment to allow the school to continue to evolve and flourish.”
Liscouski said leading a 130-student charter school will be an exciting opportunity for the right educator. He described the education model as a “teacher-led school,” where the teachers work together to create the curriculum and work alongside the principal and board of directors to actually govern the school, Liscouski said.
“When your child can’t wait to go to school you know the teachers are doing something right,” he added. “It’s just great to see it work.”