Janet Lewis

Dominion Trail Elementary School
Ashburn, Virginia

Best Practices

1) Since Janet Lewis has come to Dominion Trail Elementary School, she has always kept the students, families, and staff at the center of every decision she makes. Being the special education designee for our school, this needs to be done every day, and she does it.

She is respected by all in our school community. She truly knows her students and families and goes above and beyond to establish trusting relationships. It is common for Ms. Lewis to be seen at students’ athletic games on the weekend or in the theatre seats for a student performance. This is all done on her own time because she loves the kids.

Assistant Principals deal with sensitive information each day. Janet is honest, trustworthy, and discreet. Her main goal is to be sure students reach and exceed their potential while also providing support for the family as well as the staff. She is extremely knowledgeable and runs our Student Support Team and Eligibility meetings in an organized and positive way. Janet ensures that parents understand the process and clearly explains each step. She is direct, supportive, and establishes an atmosphere of collaboration and thoroughness to reach the goal of best supporting each student and their individual needs. Janet understands the challenges reluctant parents feel in the eligibility process. She communicates with compassion. Teachers feel supported by Janet, knowing all parties in the meeting have the student’s best interests at heart. Janet distinguishes herself as a leader in the Special Education process.

2) Ms. Lewis has high expectations for our staff. Janet has set consistent expectations for herself and the other staff within our special education department. While Janet holds our staff to high standards, she also models those same standards in her daily practices.

Janet consistently supports and offers guidance on handling difficult situations. She will “go to bar for her staff and defend decisions based not only on legality but what is best for the student. When a caseload became overwhelming for a first-year teacher, she provided a substitute teacher so I could have time to reorganize myself, based on suggestions made by Ms. Lewis, to best provide for our students.

Goal setting meetings and classroom observations with Ms. Lewis are both constructive and encouraging. Following an observation, whether it be formal or informal, Janet schedules a time to conference with staff and provide constructive feedback on the lesson she observed. She always starts the conversation asking how someone felt about the observation. When people come out of a post-observation meeting, they feel respected, heard, and have learned something about their practices and interactions.

Janet continues to model best practices and encourages staff to grow professionally by providing time to attend conferences and attend classes. She will be the first to question a decision but also provide comfort during difficult times. Janet brings a sense of calmness and professionalism to any of the meetings she is facilitating. Ms. Lewis brings her expertise in special education, being a reading specialist, and a classroom teacher to each meeting and always puts the students’ needs first.