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Falls Church High School's New Principal Leads 'A Small School with a Big Heart'

New Falls Church High School principal seeks to continue a tradition of collaboration, encourages critical thinking.

Mike Yohe is the new principal of Falls Church High School Photo credit: Falls Church High School.
Mike Yohe is the new principal of Falls Church High School Photo credit: Falls Church High School.

After more than 25 years of working for Fairfax County Public Schools in roles ranging from from teacher to assistant principal, new Falls Church High School Principal Mike Yohe is ready for his new role.

“It’s been a long journey, but it has been very beneficial,” Yohe explained. “It has prepared me for the role. I’m glad that I have taken this journey. It has provided me with the chance to grow and learn from my experiences.”

Yohe, who most recently served as the Mason subschool principal at Falls Church High School, began his tenure as principal on July 29.

From the day he started his new job, Yohe encouraged open communication and instituted an open door policy with faculty and staff right off the bat. He invites faculty to stop by his office anytime with questions or to talk.

“It is a great opportunity to collaborate over the summer, while things are still quiet,” Yohe said.

Collaboration is key for Yohe, who plans to continue instituting Professional Learning Communities. Professional Learning Communities allow teachers and staff to work off each other’s strengths and creates a culture where new teachers come in and there is a support network already in place. Yohe says the PLCs provide consistency for students, who are given common assessments throughout the school year. The assessments allow teachers to look at students and their abilities as a whole and make adjustments in their teaching based on what they find.

“The county believes in collaboration. That is key,” he said. “We put all our collective efforts together to make a great product. It’s not always easy, at time it can be difficult due to differing philosophies.”

Yohe is improving processes and initiatives already in place to avoid what he calls “initiative fatigue.”

“There has been what’s called initiative fatigue in Fairfax County,” Yohe said. “I want to look at what’s already in place and make it better. I don’t want to overburden our teachers.”

As the new school year begins, Yohe hopes to expose students to a higher level of thinking, encouraging inquiry and critical thinking.

“To me, it creates a more engaging environment,” Yohe said.

The 2012-13 school year was a successful year in terms of student achievement. Falls Church High School participates in the AVID Program, which prepares students with average grades for college. Last year, all 26 participating seniors enrolled in a two or four year college. Over the last 11 years, 100 percent of seniors in the program have enrolled in colleges, Yohe said.

AP scores have increased by about 5 percent since the 2011-2012 school year, with enrollment increasing by 10 students during the 2012-2013 school year. 67.1 percent of students earned a score of 3 or higher, which is higher than the global and state average and 3 percentage points lower than the Fairfax County average, according to Yohe.

Additionally, the Career and Technical Ed program received the Governors Health Sciences distinction. Only two schools in Fairfax County received this honor – Falls Church and West Potomac High School in Alexandria.

Yohe hopes to make Falls Church High School a school that students are proud and excited to attend.

He stated, “I want kids in the feeder schools want to come to Falls Church.”

 

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