June 4, 2014
After a rocky start to the school year at Fluvanna Middle School, its principal is leaving the division after she said test scores have shown great improvement in student achievement.
"It was a difficult start, but what change doesn't come with challenges?" principal Yardley Farquharson said.
Farquharson faced criticism from many parents that she was tough on students. She entered the school last August facing an accreditation warning in math. But at the beginning of the year, she made a promise.
"A year from now, we'll be doing the story in front of our backdrop that says 'fully accredited,'" she told the Newsplex in August.
Though the formal data aren't in yet, preliminary numbers show Fluvanna Middle School may have turned things around.
"The standards have changed," she said Wednesday. "We had to fill in that gap this year, and that's truly what we've done."
Farquharson takes a data-driven approach to improving the school. She made changes to the fifth-grade schedule to improve math scores, and she had teachers work with each other to improve the curriculum. And those efforts have paid off.
"I had to make an immediate mental shift at the beginning to changes that needed to happen," she said.
But after just one year on the job, Farquharson said she's leaving. She says she's accepted an administrative role, though she wouldn't say where, but it's a position that allows her to analyze data and use them to influence schools' paths.
Some students said they're sad to see her go.
"We were all nervous about the new principal because we didn't really know her, so everybody thought she was really mean, but she turned out really nice," fifth-grader Amelie Shifflett said.
However, some parents off-camera told the Newsplex they still sent their kids to school with concern over how they would be treated.
Still, even though Farquharson won't be in the building next year, she hopes to see the school's path to success continue.
"I would just like to see the things that we've started this year, that we continue with those things and that we are able to build on the things that we've already started here," she said. "And like I said at the beginning of the school year, we could be a Blue Ribbon school. And that's what I'm looking for."