Douglas M. Samukai Interview with Dr.Garza


Douglas Samukai

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Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Garza, Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools. The event took place at Gatehouse which is the FCPS Administration Center and lasted from 3:00pm to 5:00pm. I, along with 25 or more other students from different parts of the county representing their school met with Dr. Garza to ask her questions about current things that were happening or were going to happen within FCPS.


Dr. Garza wants to put more technology like iPads, Laptops, and Smart boards, etc. in classrooms for students to use instead of traditional textbooks.  She spoke about new technologies such as the crisis hotline which can be useful to students with emergencies such as depression, suicidal thoughts, and things of that nature. I strongly recommend students take full advantage of that if they or someone they know is going through any of those problems and need emergency help urgently. The number to text the crisis hotline is 703-997-5444.  Another technology that the county wants to come up with is electronic portfolios which will be able to capture students’ academic evolution through school from elementary to high school so when they graduate they will be able to see and have a copy of their own portfolio of their entire journey through school.

I asked Dr. Garza how she would restructure schools to spark interest in students, creating an environment that makes students want to be in school rather than feeling they have to be there:

At one point in the meeting a couple students brought up questions about the budget and how FCPS decides the budget among schools. She said each school budget is set based upon the amount of students in that school, the amount of programs and activities that are going on within that school and the amount of poverty the school is experiencing. The conditions of the building, the amount of staff available to students, the programs and activities that are available to student and staff and the resources that the school needs are some factors that help set the budget for a school. High Schools of course have a much bigger budget than middle and elementary schools because they have more students, staff and resources.


The Superintendent also spoke about immigrant kids living in Fairfax County and attending FCPS. She wants to offer more ESOL classes and help for those students. She wants to put more staffs in the ESOL program.  She brought up an idea that she and the county have been thinking about which is to open smaller specialized schools around the county for students from different countries (ESOL) who are having trouble in their base schools to get the additional help and support they need. This I think will be exciting for the students only if they choose to go and take advantage of the opportunity.


When it came my time to ask Dr. Gaza a question,  I noted she has said she would like to de-emphasis testing, and I asked her how she was planning to do that.  She said she wants to reduce the amount of testing students have to take and she wants stop the testing of every subject every year. I agree with her because i don’t think it’s fair that we get tested on the same subject every year.

Meeting with Dr. Garza was a wonderful and phenomenal moment for me. I am honored to have been selected to represent my school and to join other students from other schools who got together and voiced our questions and concerns to the superintendent of our county. I enjoyed myself very much sitting in the room filled with highly intelligent people. I learned a lot from this meeting and was enlightened by how Dr.Garza answered those questions and really broke down her plans and goals for all of us to understand. I think she is a very intelligent woman who knows what she is doing or wants to do. She appeared capable of executing her plans and doing what is best for this county. I wish her all the best and hope to meet with her again.