Jan-Marie S. Fernandez
Mantua Elementary School
Fairfax County Public Schools
Fairfax, Virginia

Jan-Marie Fernandez ensures that her school community respects the cultural, linguistic, and learning differences of all students. For example, her school takes measures to make classroom instruction accessible for deaf students and staff members. “We are a very large elementary school with many different programs,” says Fernandez, “but our school operates as one inclusive school.” Fernandez has been principal of Mantua Elementary School since 2000. She previously served for five years as principal of the Mantua Center at the same site. Her suburban school currently enrolls 910 students in preschool through grade 6. Fernandez’s key accomplishments include helping her staff embrace and apply research on the brain and learning in classroom instruction. This “has improved literacy development for our students with learning disabilities and helped many students with focus/attention issues to be more on task,” says Fernandez. Under her leadership, Mantua Elementary teachers also have worked closely together as professional learning teams to improve instruction. Grade-level-based teams of teachers provide for ongoing student assessments, daily use of visual strategies for boosting student literacy, and remedial help for small groups of struggling learners. Results of these efforts include improved test scores for all students, and the effects have been especially significant for those with the greatest needs. Fernandez earned a B.S. at Northeastern University in Massachusetts and an M.A. at Temple University in Pennsylvania.