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Braddock District high schools among best in Virginia, per U.S. News - Fairfax County now has enough vaccine for all eligible residents
An interview with the Shepherd’s Center's Lisa Carroll
Welcome to Braddock Buzz! It’s been a year since we published our first edition. Writing this newsletter has taught us so much about our community—and introduced us to so many interesting people. Thank you to our readers for all the words of encouragement and support you’ve sent us. We look forward to continuing to be your source for hyperlocal news about the Braddock District in the year ahead.
As always, send news, tips, and more to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to our sponsors:
Realtor Jennifer Mack, whose column this week compares market statistics from March 2021 to March 2020. Reach out to Jennifer with column suggestions or real estate questions at email@example.com
WorkAway Solutions, your neighborhood coworking space in Ravensworth, off Braddock Road and 495. WorkAway offers long-term and short-term coworking space for individuals and teams—along with meeting rooms, business mail service, and more. Book a tour today!
Fairfax County now has enough vaccine doses for all eligible residents: Fairfax County has secured enough vaccine doses for all eligible residents, the Health Department announced. This means anyone 16 or older who hasn’t been vaccinated should now make an appointment through the Health Department, at vaccines.gov, or at the Tysons Community Vaccination Center, which is offering walk-in appointments.
“If you aren't yet vaccinated or know someone who still needs to be vaccinated please know that now is the time,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement. “It is so important to protect yourself from illness and to protect your family. The vaccine is safe and effective and will be crucial to returning back to normal life.”
Braddock District high schools among the best in the state, per U.S. News: U.S. News & World Report has released the latest in its much-discussed annual ranking of best high schools in the country, with Northern Virginia’s most prestigious magnet school earning the top spot nationally for the second year in a row. The Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology scored a perfect 100 on all of U.S. News’ five metrics: percentage of students who took at least one AP exam, percentage of students who passed at least one AP exam, mathematics proficiency, reading proficiency, and graduation rate.
The three high schools in the Braddock District all landed in Virginia’s top 20—with Woodson at sixth in the state, Robinson at 15th, and Lake Braddock at 16th.
Here’s the top 10 list for Fairfax County:
1. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
2. Langley High School
3. McLean High School
4. Marshall High
5. W.T. Woodson High School
6. Chantilly High School
7. Oakton High School
8. Madison High
9. West Springfield High School
10. Robinson Secondary School
State education officials insist there are no plans to eliminate advanced math: There was a firestorm last week after a Loudon County School Board member posted on Facebook that Virginia was looking to abolish accelerated math courses through 11th grade, forcing all students into the same classes by grade level—a claim that was amplified by Fox News and other conservative news outlets. State education officials have since given interviews with newspapers across the state in which they insist this isn’t the case.
Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction, James Lane, “does unequivocally denounce the idea that every student should be forced to take the exact same math courses at the same time without options for acceleration,” Lane’s spokesperson told Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews.
Mathews’ column offers a good explanation of the issue and what might have sparked the rumor—the website for an initiative to revamp the state’s math standards cites two outside organizations that have advocated against accelerated math courses.
And The Virginian-Pilot has a good summary of what’s really going on—the brainstorming phase of a once-every-seven-years review of the state’s math standards, called the Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative. Some participants have suggested major changes to the state’s math curriculum, such as de-emphasizing the importance of calculus and offering alternatives for certain students, such as a finance course for those interested in business careers.
Lisa Carroll to retire after 11 years leading the Shepherd’s Center of Fairfax-Burke
Center provided more than 3,200 rides for older adults last year
In March of last year, as businesses began closing due to the pandemic, Executive Director Lisa Carroll wasn’t sure if the Shepherd’s Center of Fairfax-Burke would be able to continue its most popular program—providing free rides to medical appointments for older adults. But many of the center’s most dedicated volunteer drivers made clear they were determined to carry on. The center ended up providing over 3,200 rides last year, or more than eight rides per day—an achievement that was recognized with the 2020 Leadership Fairfax “Covid-19 Heroes” award.
Below is a conversation with Carroll, who will soon retire after 11 years leading the center, which provides a variety of services to help older adults continue to live independently. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: Hi, Lisa. Congratulations on your coming retirement. What will you be doing next?
I plan to continue volunteering with the Shepherd’s Center. I just won't be doing the day-to-day operational management, but I will take on some volunteer duties. We’re currently seeking my replacement, which is a challenge. It's a weird time to be looking, with Covid.
Q: Can you give a brief overview of the Shepherd’s Center?
There are about 65 Shepherd's Centers, mostly on the East Coast, and six in Northern Virginia. We support older adults with activities and programs to keep them living independently as long as possible. This allows them to stay in their homes—“aging in place,” as people call it. One of our biggest service programs is free transportation—free rides to the doctor. We do thousands of rides annually to medical appointments. We also do rides for shopping.
Q: How many people do you serve?
We have hundreds of people on our rolls, about 300 to 500 at any time. And usually we have about 200 volunteers, but right now that’s down to about 100 because some of our activities have been curtailed due to Covid. I’d say there are about 50 active drivers. We're getting them back as they get vaccinated. The other drivers have really been carrying the load for the last year, and we haven't had one ride we didn't complete.
Q: A year ago when covid was starting, did you expect you would be able to continue the ride program?
We were concerned because in the beginning it was so chaotic. At that time, the doctors were shutting down too, so there weren’t many ride requests. But that didn't last that long, especially for people who have to go. If you're on dialysis, it's life or death. So we put in place new procedures that allowed us to continue the program. We wear masks. We used to go into the waiting room when we take people to doctor’s appointments—now we wait in the parking lot.
Q: When did things start to pick back up?
I'd say it was like March to July when the doctors started to gradually reopen, and now we're back to exactly the same levels we were prior to the pandemic. A lot of people are catching up—they have all these doctor’s appointments they put off. So we're very busy. It's a wonderful thing, though. Our drivers say they get more out of it than they ever thought they would because everybody we drive has so many great stories. They just get attached to these people they're driving and become friends.
We have another program, Friendly Caller, which has really ramped up during the pandemic. There are a lot of people at home, isolated, bored, feeling the need for some social interaction. So we have 80 to 85 people who we call on a regular basis. It's about 25 volunteers who are calling one to five different people a week just to chat and check in.
Q: How else has the Shepherd’s Center had to adapt to the pandemic?
We are doing some things on Zoom. We have a book club on Zoom. We’ve also continued our exercise program, which is three days a week, live, with a certified instructor who’s been with us for years and is very popular. We get between 80 and 100 people attending on Zoom. And some of them are not local because a lot of the people that attended told their friends and relatives about it. When we were in person, we had a very nominal fee to attend the class, but right now it's free to attend on Zoom.
During last year, when Covid was peaking, we partnered with Fairfax County's Health Department to deliver food to quarantined families who could not get to a food bank because their entire household was infected. It was contactless. We picked up the food at a food bank and we took it to their home. We left it on their porch. They knew we were coming and when we were coming. I think we delivered food to about 65 families last year. Many of the recipients of the food were Spanish speakers.
Q: Do you have volunteers who speak Spanish?
Yes. We have an entire program just for Spanish speakers. We have several bilingual drivers. We have bilingual phone operators.
Q: Is there anything we haven’t asked that you’d like to add?
I think the important thing is that our volunteers make us who we are because they're the people on the front line helping everybody they can. We are there when people need us for their medical needs, their rides to doctor's offices. For our volunteers, the reward is fulfillment. Every day, you feel like you've helped somebody, or multiple people. That's a great feeling.
If you’d like to volunteer or sign up for the Shepherd’s Center’s services, you can reach the center at 703-323-4788.
WorkAway Solutions offers flexible coworking space in Ravensworth
News in Brief
The Fairfax County NAACP issued a statement expressing disappointment with the process used to select Kevin Davis as police chief, after News 4 Washington reported on two decades-old civil suits against Davis, one involving excessive force. “The core of this process should have included meaningful public participation throughout the selection process,” the NAACP said. “We do not believe the Board conducted as transparent a process as the public deserves.”
The Board of Supervisors tomorrow will adopt an FY22 budget that reduces the property tax by one cent per $100 in assessed value and includes a 1% pay raise for county employees and a 2% raise for teachers.
Jennifer Mack column: A look at the statistics, from the start of the pandemic to today
This week, I’m going to compare real estate statistics from March 2020 to March 2021 to get a sense of how the market has changed since the start of the pandemic.
March 2020 was when reality hit that Covid-19 was going to have a major impact on housing here in Northern Virginia. That month, I had sellers call me to halt their listings so they could wait and see how the pandemic would play out and what safety considerations they would need to make.
A year later, home sales are up 20% in Fairfax County—and the market has seen not just a complete recovery, but a substantial rise in prices. Year-over-year, the average sales price for detached homes is up a whopping 17% and, for townhomes, almost 9%. As a result, many buyers feel priced out of the market and are having to reframe their expectations as to what they can realistically purchase.
In March 2020, homes in Fairfax County were going for 99.5% of list price. In March 2021, they were going for 102%. I expect we’ll find this upward trend has continued once April statistics are released.
A couple notable examples in the Braddock District: 4608 Braeburn Dr. was listed at $549K and sold for $685K, and 8945 Falling Creek Court was listed at $670K and closed over $755K. This has become pretty typical for detached homes in highly sought-after areas.
There are a number of reasons for this, most notably that, for many people, the pandemic has reframed what they want in a home. Being stuck in quarantine and no longer having to commute were strong motivators for many people to seek out new homes where they’d have more space, both indoors and outdoors.
For more information on how the pandemic has changed the real estate market, I invite you to attend a free seller’s seminar that I am hosting online tonight at 7pm. You can register at: http://bit.ly/JMPsellerseminar
I expect the seminar to last about an hour, and I’m happy to take questions in advance by email. Hope to see you tonight!
Jennifer Mack has more than 16 years of experience in the real estate industry, with her team servicing Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 703-672-0038.
Select New Listings
5322 Windsor Hills Dr, Fairfax | 4 beds, 3.5 baths, 3,632 sf | $939,900
8406 Toll House Rd, Annandale | 5 beds, 2.5 baths, 2,568 sf | $874,888
5259 Signal Hill Dr, Burke | 4 beds, 3.5 baths, 4,058 | $849,900
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4227 Holborn Ave, Annandale | 5 beds, 2.5 baths, 2,728 sf | 3 days on market | $860,500
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8904 Stark Rd, Annandale | 4 beds, 4 baths, 2,334 sf | 2 days on market | $830,800
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