Meet the Candidates: Loudoun County School Board

Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Candidates

Meet Dusty Sparrow Reed

Dusty Sparrow Reed

My name is Dusty Sparrow Reed.  I am the mom of three children, married to a county police officer and am an attorney for families and at-risk children.  Helping children realize their potential has always been my passion.

As a product of unmarried, teen-aged parents, I grew up on a farm in Indiana in a hardworking, blue collar family of farmers, plant employees, construction workers and veterans. I began working at the age of twelve.  My local school district in Indiana is similar to Loudoun County, consisting of mostly rural land and today is experiencing explosive suburban growth.  Like Loudoun County, it has always been known for being one of, if not the best school district in my home state. Education was the way I forged a different path for my life.  As I reflect back, and in light of my family's background, decisions I made had a lot to do with the support of educators who helped me along the way and forged opportunities to which I was exposed in school.

While I believe the home environment and parental involvement play a significant role in a child's success, I believe a school that embraces the diversity in the community and addresses the environmental factors among its varying populations is most successful in growing children into successful adults.  I am a strong supporter of the rural communities in our county and doing whatever it takes to preserve our rural schools.  I am also a strong supporter of programs that enhance education for the large population of children in our schools that don't fit the traditional mold – children with disabilities, children with intellectual gifts and talents, children who are economically-disadvantaged, minority children, and our English language learners.

I believe Loudoun County Public Schools provide a well-rounded education for the 'typical child' - children who don't require significant additional resources to reach their education potentials.  It is my goal to be a contributing member of the Board that takes LCPS to the next level – by providing a "world class education", one that inspires all diverse groups of children – the children that school systems often have difficulty reaching effectively – by meeting them where they are, engaging them and catapulting them to their individual potentials.  When every child's learning needs are met, when each child is engaged, inspired, and learning, then all children - including our typical children - benefit from this high-functioning school environment.

My passion for helping at-risk kids succeed and my professional background underlie the perspective I will bring to the Loudoun County School Board.  I am approachable, I am responsive, and I am results-driven.  I can and will be a voice for an innovative, effective “world class education”.  For the Catoctin District, for all of Loudoun County.


Meet Eric Dekenipp

Eric Dekenipp

Eric has been happily married to Elizabeth F. DeKenipp, Guidance Counselor at Briar Woods High School in Ashburn for the last ten years and is the proud father of two beautiful daughters, Ava and Alexa, students at Sycolin Creek Elementary School. Eric is the eldest of 8 children and spent a majority of his childhood trying to keep his siblings together while moving between various family members and foster homes in New York City. After the attacks on September 11th, 2001, Eric voluntarily enlisted and served honorably with the United States Marine Corps and through great mentorship, worked hard to establish a professional post military career and founded, a Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (DVOSB) based in Loudoun County.

Eric currently serves as the Senior Manager of Human Capital at Vencore Inc. in Chantilly, VA. Prior to Vencore, Eric served as the Director, Resource Management with Unisys Corporation where he oversaw financial and resource management initiatives for over 22,000 employees that resulted in business operations and productivity improvements globally. Other leadership roles that Eric has held include serving as a Staff Advisor under Secretary Salazar at the Department of the Interior and oversight of deployment planning for the 3rd Marine Division of United States Marine Corps in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).


We asked both candidates for the Catoctin District a set of questions that relate to how they view the current situation with Loudoun County Public Schools and how they aim to make a difference on the School Board.

What are your thoughts on large class sizes?

Dusty Sparrow Reed It's important that class sizes take into consideration the additional resource needs of special needs students.The more special needs children there are in the classroom, the more large classroom sizes are harmful to student learning.   On the other end, if the teacher is properly trained and equipped, classroom size becomes less of an issue for advanced academic learners.  In general, appropriate classroom size is important, affects overall learning - and one size does not fit all.


Eric Dekenipp Class sizes are one of only four, evidenced based reforms that will further Loudoun’s progress toward improving student achievement. Therefore, as a matter of policy I believe the school board must regularly evaluate, report and make significant efforts toward improving our teacher/ student ratios. Whether, the student/ teacher ratio is 45:1 or 15:1- there are proven student achievement benefits to having smaller class sizes and we must strive for continuous improvement with the expectation that these ratio’s will improve over time.

We know there is a heated debate about full day kindergarten. What's your stance?

Dusty Sparrow ReedI support equity in education.  To the extent we offer FDK to any LCPS students, it should be offered to all LCPS students.  FDK should be implemented in all elementary schools within the next 4 years.


Eric Dekenipp I support FDK but am disappointed that we’ve already begun to go down the path of implementation. In all my years as a leader, I’ve never initiated or approved a large scale project without a clearly defined schedule and financial plan. The fact is, full day kindergarten wasn’t properly planned for and as a result, it is now a heated and expensive debate.

With that, I think it’s important that we begin to recognize the strategic value that Western Loudoun schools (a majority of which are located in Catoctin) bring to the table with this discussion- CAPACITY. By using our capacity to meet county demand for full day kindergarten, we have the ability to effectively reduce the need for new construction, alleviate unnecessary boundary changes, help keep western Loudoun schools OPEN and get the additional resources our administrators, teachers and students so desperately need.

What would you do to ensure that Western Loudoun schools have the resources they need (since Eastern Loudoun schools are such a different dynamic)

Dusty Sparrow Reed Again, equity is a primary issue for me.  The facilities and resource support in western Loudoun is lacking.  I will be a staunch advocate for equity ensuring that new schools do not provide advantages over more established Western Loudoun schools.  This is an area of big concern for me.

Eric DekenippIt’s about priorities and making sure our teachers and students have what they need to be successful. The key to ensuring our schools in the west have the resources that they need is 1) ensuring that decision makers know that the need exists and 2) what the needs are and at this point I am not sure the school board does. It still amazes me that we are several weeks into the school year and we still have teachers and students in western schools without basic classroom supplies. At the same time, the rest of the county is talking about building more turf fields and providing computers to all students. Don’t get me wrong, turf fields and computers are nice things to have but until I am 100% sure teachers and students in Catoctin have the basic resources that they need, I will not be comfortable talking about making luxurious purchases that will only further widen the resource allocation gap. I have the support of 6 of the 9 current school board members and I look forward to making sure they are aware of our needs and advocating and providing critical resources for all students in our western schools.

What are the top two issues you will work to change or protect if you win the school board seat?

Dusty Sparrow Reed

Keep our rural schools open.

Bring equity to our schools so that all students receive the same opportunities and appropriate education, regardless of background or location.

Eric Dekenipp

Immediate priorities for me include improving communication with my colleagues on the school board, the public and the Board of Supervisors. I will also be placing significant emphasis on responsible financial management in terms of the administration and support functions of LCPS and addressing various workforce management issues.

By improving communication and ensuring it occurs regularly and consistently, I will be in a position to preserve the values and culture of the Catoctin district and our schools- this includes ensuring we keep all of our schools OPEN.

With proper financial management and forecasting, I will ensure that your tax dollars are effectively and efficiently managed and spent. With that, I can ensure that schools in the Catoctin district are funded and that more money is going toward academic programs and purchases such as investments in STEM, special education and ensuring our teachers and students have the resources that they need to be successful.

Finally, I intend to spend a significant amount of time working with our teachers to ensure we are attracting and retaining the best in the nation. At the end of the day, we all want our children to have a world class education experience and having the right teachers in our schools is absolutely critical to make this happen.

What do you wish most voters knew about you?

Dusty Sparrow ReedThat I am genuinely bipartisan.  I have a strong history of bringing together opposing sides.


Eric Dekenipp

I want voters in Catoctin to know that I share the same concerns as them with regard to our schools. I am a parent with 2 children who attend school in Catoctin and have been very involved in education in Loudoun for years. I want to use my experience to ensure our children are receiving a world class education and bring the skills required to make that a reality.

I bring many years of leadership experience from the executive levels of the Federal government and Fortune 500 companies and want to use that experience to ensure that we are preserving the values of Catoctin. Those values are why those who are native to Catoctin stay and why I decided to move my family here almost 10 years ago.

I have a steady track record of success and includes being recognized as one of Loudoun County’s “40 Under 40 Business and Community Leaders to Watch” in 2014, awarded “Marine of the Year” by Marine Corps Base Hawaii, managing large budgets and implementing policy and programs across organizations with 80,000+ employees.

With a budget of $980 million, 10,000 employees and 75,000 students at stake, it is absolutely critical that we have someone representing Catoctin with a holistic operational understanding of how LCPS works and that is exactly what I bring to the table.


What is the future of the small school in Western Loudoun?

Dusty Sparrow ReedOPEN and operating, business as usual.




Eric DekenippMy vision for the future of the small schools in Western Loudoun is they are not only able to keep the doors open, but they will thrive and continue to rank as some of the best schools in the state. Our small schools will feel comfortable asking for the resources that they need and not have to worry about “staying off of the radar”. Our small schools will receive the funding we need to restore and upgrade existing facilities.

I’ve advocated for our schools for years and those efforts continue today. As Catoctin district representative, I look forward to representing the community in an official capacity and working to enhance my efforts and deliver measurable results for our smaller schools.


 What do you see happening for next year's budget when it is NOT an election year?

Dusty Sparrow ReedIf I am in office, the budget will be fully funded.  I believe that last year's approach leaves this year's budget problems.  But I also know from experience that I am the type of person who can problem-solve and inspire solutions. I have no doubt that this year's budget will be challenging, but resolved favorably for LCPS.

Eric DekenippThe school board has already begun working on next year’s budget and early projections put LCPS at +10% over last year’s $980 million allocation. With that said candidates from the school board all the way up to our candidates for state delegate agree that education is a top priority for the county and voters.

In my many conversations with members of the board of supervisors, the common denominator is that they are looking for responsibility in the school boards budget. My question is, with the school boards budget accounting for 70-80% of the overall county budget, why aren’t members of the board of supervisors more active in the budgeting process?

This is a key reason why my top priority is communication. By pro-actively engaging the board of supervisors throughout the budget cycle, LCSB can ensure all stakeholders have input, priorities are aligned and we are working together to achieve Loudoun County’s education strategy.


 What about YOU? What issues are at the top of YOUR mind as we get closer to Election Day? How do schools impact your life and what do you think these candidates should be most concerned with?

Lucketts Elementary Meet the Principal

Meet the Principal Carolyn Clement Lucketts Elementary

If you are moving to a new home, one of the biggest concerns may very well be the schools your children will attend! We will be interviewing area principals in Loudoun County and allowing you to get to know them a bit! First up is Mrs. Carolyn Clement, the principal at Lucketts Elementary School.  We had some questions for her and here are her answers!

What is your background in the public schools?

I started my career in Loudoun as a speech/language pathologist.  I became a special education supervisor early on and then went back to work in the schools after about 5 years.  I became a school administrator about 10 years ago and have enjoyed every job that I've taken on.  I truly enjoy the collaboration among teachers, students and parents.  I just celebrated my 30th year as an educator in Loudoun.

Tell us a little bit about your own family?

My parents still live in Springfield, Va in the house in which I grew up.  My siblings are both educators: my brother is a Government and Economics teacher in Fairfax; my sister is a professor of math education at SDSU in San Diego. All of my kids are grown.  I have two step kids - daughter in San Francisco and son is local.  My daughter is in Blackburg and my son is in Boston.  They are all products of LCPS and I'm so proud of who they are.

Lucketts Elementary Logo

What is your LEAST favorite food and why?

I guess it would be clams, oysters and scallops - I'm deathly allergic to them.

What is your favorite color?

I like purple!  It's so warm and vibrant.

If you were given $100 as a "just because" gift, how would you spend it?

I try to give "surprise" money to JDRF.  I have a nephew who lives with Type 1 Diabetes and it's truly a difficult way to live.  Several years ago I started giving to that organization when I found "unexpected money", so I would probably do that.

Lucketts Elementary Boundary Map

Beach, Mountains, Lake or Big City?

That's a toughie.  I love to relax at the beach, but I also like the big city for all the things to do.  I guess it depends on who I'm with!

What did you want to be, as a little girl, when you grew up?

I wanted to be a teacher, always.  I played school and worked on my teaching skills early in life - with younger siblings as my guinea pig students.

What is one thing that very few people know about you?

Being Italian, I make home-made pasta (usually ravioli) at Thanksgiving time.

What is one thing that new parents to Lucketts Elementary can do to best prepare their children for their new school community?

Not just for parents at Lucketts Elementary but for all parents: Early on - from the time children are babies, Talk to them!  Talk with them about your day, talk with them about things they see and hear, talk with them about their day, during dinner, while you're driving, etc. As they get older, model reading for pleasure, reading to learn, and talk with them about what you read.  Show them how excited you are about what you read.

What is your MOST favorite school subject?

MATH!  I love math and always have!  I love seeing students make the connections and apply their math skills to daily life.

Mrs. Clement also would love for parents to know that as an administrator, she truly cares about what is happening for the students of Lucketts Elementary.  She says:

“I’m going to listen to them; that I listen and care about what they think. I care about what is happening for their student. My focus is going to be on the child. Sometimes, teachers or parents think they know what is best and it will be my job to make sure we are focusing on the child and not just worrying about our own feelings and our own beliefs. We’re really looking at what’s best for the child.  If parents know I’m listening to them and that I care about their child first, that’s the main thing.”

From her experiences at raising her own two children in Loudoun County Public Schools, she knows what it's like to be on the other side of the conversation with an administrator:

“I have had the situation where I’ve had to meet with the teacher and with the administrator about my children; I have that perspective. I know that when people work together, we can make sure the student is doing what they need to do and learn what they need to learn.”

Lucketts Elementary School Virginia

From the Great Schools website, some parent reviews of Lucketts Elementary:

Great Schools Lucketts Elementary

Ready to search for your home in Leesburg/Lucketts, Virginia?

Map search here

[idx-listings zip="20176" statuses="1" propertytypes="134" orderby="DateAdded" orderdir="DESC" count="10" showlargerphotos="true"]

Back to School Discounts

Welcome to the first of our Back to School Series!

We will be featuring a special Meet the Principal post, information about STEM/STEAM, discounts for teachers and more! Today, we are talking about back to school discounts, school lunches, this weekend's tax holiday in Virginia and some cool school supplies!

School Lunches:

Ready for school and all of those packed lunches? If you're anything like me, the first week or so is quite fun and invigorating and THEN reality sets in. We loved this tip from Lauri Stewart. Her children will get to pack their own lunches, by choosing from the various bins that are prepared ahead of time, brilliant!

school lunch idea

Bin 1 - popcorn, veggie straws, etc (1 choice)

Bin 2 - goldfish, rice and ritz crackers (1 choice)

Bin 3 - fruit snacks, veggie bars (1 choice)

Bin 4 - fruit cups and apple sauce, fresh fruit (1 choice)

Bin 5 - cheese strings, yogurt tubes (2 choices)

Bin 6 - Meat and Protein (2 choices)

Bin 7 - granola bars, banana muffins, cookies (1 choice)

Back to School Night, tips and tricks:

If you will soon be attending a back to school night, be sure to bring along something to help keep your kiddos busy and entertained! Here is a comprehensive list of all Loudoun County Back to School Nights.

Discounts and Super Cool Supplies:

Big Pencil Case Designed by the StudentHow COOL is this pencil case, called appropriately The Big Pencil Case created by Designed BY the Student. Our family was chosen to review the product and boy, is it a great product!

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August 7-9 is Virginia Sales Tax Holiday! Here is the list of the allowable items, HAPPY SHOPPING!

School Supplies, Clothing, and Footwear:

Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness Items:

  • Portable generators - $1,000 or less per item
  • Gas-powered chainsaws - $350 or less per item
  • Chainsaw accessories - $60 or less per item
  • Other specified hurricane preparedness items with a sales price of $60 or less per item
  • Detailed list of hurricane preparedness items

Energy Star and WaterSense Items:

Qualifying items carrying either the Energy Star or WaterSense label with a sales price of $2,500 or less purchased for noncommercial home or personal use.

  • Qualifying Energy Star items include dishwashers, clothes washers, air conditioners, ceiling fans,  light bulbs, dehumidifiers, and refrigerators
  • Qualifying WaterSense items include bathroom sink faucets, faucet accessories such as aerators and shower heads, toilets, urinals, and landscape irrigation controllers
  • Detailed list of Energy Star and WaterSense items

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Last, but not least, if you'd like to participate in the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce "Rally For Our Kids", here is some great information for you!

Rally For Our Kids Loudoun County Rotary

Donate financially to the Rally For Our Kids Backpack Project

If you are, or know, a teacher or educator in the Northern Virginia area, allow us to say thank you for your time, commitment and service to our communities by giving you 25% of our commission back at the time of buying or selling a home!

Heroes Home Advantage 8th & Home

Speech Therapy in Northern Virginia

Teach Speech MaryFrances Gonzalez Today, we want to introduce you to MaryFrances Gonzalez, the owner and founder of Teach Speech, a fantastic provider of speech therapy in Northern Virginia. We asked her a few questions about her business and how she got started. Consider Teach Speech for all your speech therapy needs.

Teach Speech MaryFrances Gonzalez


How did you decide to become a speech language pathologist?

My first contact with speech therapy was in kindergarten. My two best friends went to speech therapy and it seemed like a lot of fun so I wanted to go as well. During my speech screening I purposely mispronounced words but the speech therapist figured it out and I didn't make it to the “magical room”.  Years later when I was thinking about college careers my mother suggested speech therapy as she remembered my kindergarten folly. I decided to pursue an education degree instead. After a brief career in Fairfax County Schools as a PE teacher, I rekindled my interest in speech therapy and returned to pursue my master's in communication disorders. Turns out—mother really does know best!

Teach Speech MaryFrances Gonzalez


What is the number one need you see facing the children that you treat for communication delays or disorders?

I find that the real need is to empower the parents with knowledge about their child’s challenges, how to advocate for them, and provide them with a “tool box” of strategies they can use at home.

What are some practical tips for parents to work on language with their children?

For younger children I recommend that adults get face-to-face when playing with their children. Children learn through imitation and being at eye level allows them to see how your mouth is forming the words and your expressions. For older children, I always encourage parents to ask questions that don’t require a simple “yes” or “no” answer and always encourage more information by saying “tell me more!”

What is ONE thing you wish more parents knew about speech therapy?

That their therapist really wants you to do the homework they give you because it's crucial to your child’s progress. When I work with a child one or two times a week it will make a difference but the magic really happens when parents practice in the home environment as well.

What ages does your practice serve?

My practice serves children from birth – 12 years who have challenges in their speech or language skills. I work with families to help children become confident communicators and lay the foundation for future success in school and life. I also offer parent coaching, reading tutoring, and a kindergarten readiness program.


Teach Speech MaryFrances GonzalezBorn and raised in Chicago, MaryFrances' big Italian family moved to Northern Virginia during her high school years. After several years of living on the west coast and then in South America, their family returned to Northern Virginia to raise their two young boys.

Her days are spent juggling the joys of marriage, motherhood, and small business ownership. Any spare moments she finds, she spends with her nose in a good book. Her secret passion is DIY home projects and hopes to one day master power tools.

"Building a foundation for learning, one word at a time"

Mary Frances Gonzalez

Teach Speech Therapy Website


Preschool and Day Care in Leesburg and Lucketts Virginia

Lucketts Daycare Leesburg Preschool

If you have little ones and need to find day care in Leesburg, Virginia or preschool for your littles in Lucketts, Virginia, this comprehensive list will help you in that process!

A Kid's Place 248 Loudoun St., S.W. (703) 777-9012 16 mos. - 12 yrs. 6:30 am - 6:30 pm

A Room To Grow - Ida Lee Recreation Center 60 Ida Lee Drive [703) 737-7335 3 yrs. - 5 yrs. 8:30 am - 11:30 am & 12:15-3:15 pm

Barnesville School 21830 Peach Tree Road, Barnesville MD 20838 (301) 972-0341 preschool - high school

Brighter Day @ Douglass 406 E. Market (703) 989-9759 4 - 21yrs. Special needs 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Douglass Preschool 405 E. Market (703) 771-5913 2 1/2 - 5 yrs. hours vary

Goddard School 601 Tavistock Dr., SE (703) 443-6766 6 wks. - 12 yrs. 6:30 am - 6:30 pm

Kiddie Academy 400 Sycolin Rd. {703) 771-9871 6 wks. - 12 yrs. 6:30 am - 6:30 pm

Kincaid Montessori School 6 Cardinal Park Dr., SE (703) 777-1199 8 wks. - 5 yrs. 7:00 am - 6:00 pm

Kindercare Learning Center 60 Plaza St., N.E. (703) 777-1998 6 wks. - 12 yrs. 6:15 am - 6:30 pm

Leesburg Open Arms 818 S. King St. (571) 223-6736 6 wks. - 12 yrs. 6:30 am - 6:30 pm

Lovettsville Community Center 57 E. Broad St. (540) 822-5381 3 - 5 yrs. 7:00 am - 6:15 pm

Lovettsville Montessori School 4A S. Church St. (540) 822-3090 2 1/2 - 6 yrs 8:30 am - 2:00 pm

Lucketts Community Center After School Care (Kids Collage) 42361 Lucketts Rd. (703) 737-8841 school age

Lucketts Community Center Day Care 42361 Lucketts Rd. (703) 737-8841 3 - 6 yrs. 7:00 am - 6:00 pm

Lucketts Community Center Preschool 42361 Lucketts Rd. (703) 771-5281

T/Th 9-11:30 ( 3 yrs) M/W/F am 9-11:30, pm 12:30-3 (4 yrs) 3 - 4 yrs.

Lucketts Montessori 13470 Taylorstown Rd. (703) 231-0658 6 months - 6 yrs

Minnieland Academy 3 Greenway Dr., SW (703) 771-9656 6 wks. - 12 yrs. 6:30 am - 6:30 pm

Montessori School of Leesburg 166 Ft. Evans Rd. (703) 779-7791 2 - 6 yrs. 7:15 am - 6:00 pm

Mosaic Children's Program (Special Needs) 1241 South King St. (571) 439-4397 2 1/2 - 12 yrs. 8:30 am - 5:30 pm

Open Door Learning Center 601 Catoctin Circle, NE (703) 777-6010 2 - 7 yrs. 8:30 am - 3:30pm

Tiny Saints Christian Academy 850 Edwards Ferry Rd. (703) 779-4886 1 month - 12 yrs. 6:30 am - 6:30 pm

Village Green Day Care (Lucketts) (703) 864-8777 infant - school age 7:30 am - 6:00 pm


18792 Upper Meadow Drive (Lansdowne) 571-207-9981

301 Virginia Wildflower Terr., SE (Leesburg) (703) 777-0052 6 wks. - 12 yrs. 6:30 am - 6:30 pm

Have an addition to this list? Email so we can update our list!

Ready to search for your home in Leesburg/Lucketts, Virginia?

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[idx-listings zip="20176" statuses="1" propertytypes="134" orderby="DateAdded" orderdir="DESC" count="10" showlargerphotos="true"]