The stakes are high for the first students at the Arizona College of Nursing’s new school in Fairview Park.
They started classes on Jan. 3, as a snowstorm disrupted travel across Fairfax County and the surging omicron variant of the coronavirus strained hospitals locally and nationwide.
Yet, reports of an overwhelmed healthcare system have not deterred the 22 students in the school’s inaugural class from pursuing a career in nursing. In fact, some of them made that choice because of the pandemic, according to Yolanda Turner, dean of nursing for Arizona College of Nursing-Falls Church.
“We have seen students come in with an interest in nursing, especially those who feel the need to help that was compelled by the images that they saw on national television, what was occurring in the hospitals and emergency departments and ICUs across the country,” Turner said. “So, we do have a group of students who came in because they felt a calling to come in and help.”
The pandemic was already underway when Eduvision Inc., the company that operates Arizona College, submitted plans to Fairfax County for a new nursing school in August 2020.
However, Turner says the workforce shortage that led the college system to establish its first Virginia campus predates COVID-19.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the D.C. metropolitan area ranks 10th in the country in terms of the number of registered nurses employed, but the concentration of nurses in the area is well below the national average, as of May 2020.
With school enrollment trailing demand among the factors behind the shortage, the Arizona College of Nursing hopes to improve the area’s workforce pipeline by offering an accelerated program where students can obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in three years or less.
“Our nursing program employs a mixture of classroom learning and hands-on training in our state-of-the-art simulation labs and through clinical rotations,” Arizona College of Nursing President Nick Mansour said in a statement. “Nursing is all we will teach at this location so students can be confident that our accredited, career-focused, BSN program will prepare them for a fulfilling nursing career.”
Located near Inova Fairfax Hospital, which could eventually be connected via pedestrian bridge over I-495, the new school opened at 3130 Fairview Park Drive on Nov. 17.
Turner says the initial cohort mostly comes from Northern Virginia and surpassed the college’s goal of 18 students. The campus has a capacity of 400 students and is expected to expand in three to five years.
“That interest that’s been generated, we’re excited, because it’s more than we predicted…and our team is growing to accommodate that interest,” she said.
Classes are being conducted both in-person and virtually, with the liberal arts and social sciences online and all nursing, natural science, and math courses in the school building.
In addition to following mask and social distancing protocols, students will need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 once they start clinical work, in accordance with the federal mandate for healthcare workers.
The pandemic has also filtered into the curriculum, putting an increased focus on topics like public health, disaster preparedness, infectious control, ventilation management, and mental health for both patients and staff.
Emphasizing these subjects will help prepare students for a future in health care, Turner says, as the field reckons with issues exacerbated by the pandemic, which has led nearly 1 in 5 workers to quit.
Aware that students can experience burnout too, the Arizona College of Nursing provides counseling services as well as tutoring and learning resources. The small student body also enables strong personal connections between staff and pupils.
“The feedback that we got [on the first month] from our students is very positive, from the students, the staff, and the faculty,” Turner said. “The level of excitement and motivation remains very high.”
McLean House Fire Started by Candle — An unattended candle placed near combustibles started a fire in the living room of a single-family home in the 1500 block of Dominion Hill Court on Saturday (Jan. 8). No injuries were reported, but the fire displaced two residents and resulted in approximately $919,500 in damages. [FCFRD]
Former School Board Member Named to Key Education Position — Elizabeth Schultz, who represented Springfield District on the Fairfax County School Board from 2012 to 2019, has been appointed by incoming Gov. Glenn Youngkin to serve as Virginia’s assistant superintendent of public instruction. Schultz has opposed protections for transgender students and appeared on Fox News to decry teaching that acknowledges racism. [Virginia Mercury]
No Return of Metro Trains in Sight — “Metro riders can expect the current level of limited rail service to continue for three more months after the transit agency’s top official said Thursday that Metro wants to focus on finding the ‘root cause’ of a defect that has sidelined more than half its rail cars since mid-October.” [The Washington Post]
Tysons Startup Launches “Smart” Grocery Delivery Box — “HomeValet, a D.C. Metro area-based startup that has developed a temperature-controlled smart box for grocery deliveries, is now releasing its smart home product to the public and expanding its partnership with Walmart.” [TechCrunch]
FCPS Superintendent Lines Up New Job — Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand will serve as executive director of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, a nonprofit that provides support to and advocates for the state’s superintendents. Brabrand will leave FCPS on June 30 and assume his new position in July. [PR Newswire]
Relocated Jinya Ramen Bar to Open in March — “Local franchise owner Sam Shoja says the Mosaic District ramen shop outgrew its current space. The new corner location will allow for a large semi-enclosed outdoor patio with fire-top tables and an indoor Japanese whiskey lounge.” [Washingtonian]
Fairfax Connector Offers Metro Alternatives — With Metrorail service limited throughout the rest of the week, Fairfax Connector is reminding commuters that it offers express service to the Pentagon or downtown D.C. from five sites, including the Vienna Metro station on route 698. [Fairfax Connector]
Proposed Redistricting Maps Now Available — “The Board of Supervisors authorized a public hearing on Nov. 9 to consider proposed redistricting plans…There were 64 plans submitted in total by the board-appointed committee established to recommend new maps and the public, and these plans may be reviewed through an online dashboard.” [Fairfax County Government]
International Earthquake Drill Coming Tomorrow — “Every year, ShakeOut Day is the largest earthquake drill ever…What we do to prepare now before the next big earthquake will determine how well we can survive and recover. ShakeOut will occur in houses, workplaces, schools and public spaces at 10:21 a.m. local time on Oct. 21.” [Fairfax County Emergency Information]
County Opens Graham Road “Traffic Garden” — Fairfax County recently introduced a traffic garden near the Graham Road Community Center in West Falls Church to promote traffic safety education. The facility features an intersection with crosswalks and two-way lanes, mimicking real-life street conditions so kids can learn the rules of the road free of hazards. [Fairfax County Health Department]
Wolf Trap Accepting Grant Applications from Local Arts Teachers — “The Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts is accepting applications for this year’s Grants for High School Performing Arts Teachers Program. The grants are available to teachers across the D.C. area. The grant application deadline is Nov. 15, and grantees will be named in December for the 2021-22 school year.” [Patch]
Drop in Domestic Violence Cases Could Be Misleading — “Fairfax County Police data obtained by WTOP showed domestic violence decreased by roughly 190 cases each year since 2019. However, Saly Fayez, who oversees its victim services division, said it’s likely because the crime is underreported…Fayez said the pandemic kept victims from reporting, skewed the data, and gave abusers another tool of control.” [WTOP]
Fish Die-Off Reported in Chantilly Area — “We have received reports of a fish die-off in Rocky Run in the Greenbriar area. Fairfax County Stormwater Management the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which investigates such incidents, have been notified. Our thanks to those who have reported the issue to us.” [Fairfax County Park Authority/Twitter]
MCA Wants to Keep McLean Together With Redistricting — “The Greater McLean area should be kept intact when new Fairfax County magisterial districts are redrawn, according to a Sept. 18 letter from the McLean Citizens Association to the 2021 Fairfax County Redistricting Advisory Committee…MCA’s membership area includes not only McLean, but also portions of Tysons, Falls Church and Great Falls.” [Sun Gazette]
Health Department Launches Literacy Initiative — “The Fairfax County Health Department has begun a new initiative to improve health literacy among local African-American, African and Hispanic communities. Named ‘Stronger Partnership, Stronger Community: Using Health Literacy to Increase Resilience (Stronger2),’ the program seeks to improve health outcomes by cultivating an individual’s ability to find, understand and use health information and services in a manner that is culturally and linguistically appropriate.” [FCHD]
The first Virginia franchise location of the Celebree School has officially opened in Tysons.
Focusing on early childhood education, the Celebree School of Tysons-Jones Branch serves infants through pre-kindergarten children. It is located on Valo Park’s 16-acre campus at 7950 Jones Branch Drive and operates from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“Tysons was the perfect community for us to open our first Celebree School. It is a vibrant neighborhood with both a residential and business presence,” Tysons franchisees Kate and Brian Mulcahy said in an email.
“We love that we can support the families who live and work in the area and as McLean natives ourselves we enjoy supporting our hometown. Valo Park provides us with extensive campus for our students to explore with varied natural and artistic elements. The children love visiting the koi ponds, sculptures and plant life all around us. We also love that our school has many unique architectural and design elements that the Valo Park location provides.”
The location — which is open for interested parents to tour — provides full-time programs for infants and toddlers, as well as full and part-time programs for its preschool programs. At this time, a school-age program is not in the franchise’s near-term plans.
“Our curriculum gives children the opportunity to explore their own interests to develop pre-academic skills and encourages the use of imagination,” the Mulcahys said. “Our use of classroom management philosophy is to empower children so every child can develop confidence in their interactions with others.”
The Celebree School announced on April 21, 2020, that it had signed a franchise agreement with the Mulcahys to open a center in Fairfax or Arlington county. The couple signed a lease agreement with Valo Park on Nov. 10 and held a groundbreaking ceremony for the location on March 31.
Founded in 1994 in Lutherville, Maryland, Celebree School began franchising in 2019 and now has over 40 locations in 12 states that are open or under development, adding franchises in New York, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
“We chose to partner with Celebree because we are excited to deliver the best possible early childhood education to our students,” the Mulcahys said.
“Celebree has a truly unique and specialized approach to early childhood education. As an independently owned and operated Celebree School, we have an opportunity to meet each student where they are as they experience social and emotional growth and gain pre-academic skills.”
County Appoints New Parks Director — “The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors affirmed the selection of Jai Cole as Executive Director of the Park Authority [Tuesday]…Cole, a park professional with more than two decades of leadership experience with award-winning recreation and park agencies will begin immediately, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of…Kirk Kincannon earlier this year.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]
Deadline for COVID-19 Relief Grants Extended — Fairfax County has extended the application deadline for its Active and Thriving Community Grants Program to 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 21. Previously set to close yesterday (Tuesday), the program is intended to help child care providers, community programs, and other small businesses and nonprofits negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. [Fairfax County Government]
Tysons Adapts to Decline in Commuting — With the pandemic keeping many workers at home, local business leaders say a growing emphasis on mixed-use developments like The Boro and Capital One Center will help office-centric Tysons adapt to a world of remote work. Proximity to transit and retail amenities will be key to attracting young employees, ID.me Chief Marketing Officer Jean Rosauer said at last week’s Future of Tysons event. [Bisnow]
Some Teachers Skeptical of Live-Streaming Proposal — “After Fairfax County Public Schools added classroom streaming for students forced to stay home because of COVID-19, some teachers are pushing back…David Walrod, a teacher at FCPS, who also serves as the first Vice President of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, worries that the live streaming will evolve into concurrent learning — which even the superintendent said wasn’t ideal for students.” [WUSA9]
Tysons Security Company Evacuated Clients from Afghanistan — “As U.S. troops began to withdraw from Afghanistan, Tysons-based Global Guardian reached out to its clients there to offer evacuation assistance. On August 5, 10 days before the Afghan government collapsed, the company began evacuating its clients from Kabul and two other cities. By August 18, Global Guardian had successfully evacuated all but one individual, whom it later got out of the country.” [Fairfax County EDA]
Tysons Could Get a Rock Climbing Center — An affiliate of the Manassas-based Vertical Rock Climbing & Fitness Center plans to convert the former Hamilton’s Sofa & Leather Gallery at 8461 Leesburg Pike into a rock climbing facility. The 9,220 square-foot space has been leased and is slated to open later this year, but Fairfax County is still processing permit applications to allow the use at that location. [Washington Business Journal]
Tysons Education Nonprofit Honored by General Assembly — Del. Mark Keam (D-35th) presented a signed commendation to the Center for Excellence in Education (7918 Jones Branch Dr.) during the 38-year-old nonprofit’s annual Congressional luncheon on July 15. The State Senate and House of Delegates both approved a proclamation recognizing CEE for promoting science, technology, engineering, and math education with free programs for students and teacher training. [CEE]
Visit Fairfax Joins Regional Sports Tourism Partnership — “The tourism-marketing organizations of Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford counties on Aug. 10 announced the launch of SportsNOVA, a new regional sports-tourism partnership designed to market Northern Virginia as a premier destination for travel-sports events.” [Sun Gazette]
Maryland Beltway Project Contract Approved — The Maryland Board of Public Works voted 2-1 to approve a “predevelopment agreement” with toll lanes operator Transurban and financial firm Macquarie to design express lanes on I-270 and part of the Capital Beltway. The much-debated project is seen as critical to the success of Virginia’s 495 NEXT project in McLean, which got key federal approvals last month. [The Washington Post]
Fairfax County Urges Adolescents to Get Vaccinated — The health department will host three COVID-19 vaccine clinics at public schools this week in an effort to vaccinate more people aged 12-17. The Pfizer vaccine, the only one authorized for that age group, takes five weeks to take full effect, so students have to get their first dose by July 19 to be fully vaccinated when the school year starts on Aug. 23. [Fairfax County Health Department]
Madison HS Baseball Player Drafted by MLB — The Chicago Cubs chose James Madison High School graduate James Triantos with the 56th pick of Major League Baseball’s 2021 draft, which started Sunday (July 11). Drafted as a shortstop, Triantos ended his tenure with the Warhawks in June by throwing six perfect innings and scoring the two runs the team needed to win its first state title since 2015. [James Madison HS/Twitter]
Fairfax County Students Build Houses — “Each year, 15-20 Fairfax County high-schoolers hang drywall, use power tools, and learn technical and life skills that come with building a home. None has proved as challenging as the 2020-2021 covid-wrought academic year.” [The Washington Post]
Wolf Trap Welcomes First Go-Go Band — When it takes the stage on Sunday (July 18), Trouble Funk will officially be the first go-go band to ever play at Wolf Trap National Park’s Filene Center, according to frontman “Big Tony” Fisher. The band has been making music for over 45 years and will perform with guests Sugar Bear and DJ Kool. [WTOP]
Summer School Delayed for Special Education Students — The families of roughly 1,200 students with special needs were informed last Wednesday (June 23) that their summer school that was supposed to start Monday (June 28) has instead been delayed to the end of July. Fairfax County Public Schools has only been able to hire 75% of the teachers needed to run the special education program. [The Washington Post]
Vienna Hires New Spokesperson — The Town of Vienna has hired Karen Acar Thayer as its new public information officer, effective yesterday (Monday). Responsible for the town’s communications, marketing, and outreach efforts, Thayer’s past experience includes work as a promotional services manager for the Fairfax County Park Authority and as communications director for Falls Church City Public Schools. [Town of Vienna]
Mary Riley Styles Public Library Anticipates August Reopening — The Mary Riley Styles Public Library expects to have an official ribbon cutting for its newly renovated building in early to mid-August with a grand opening celebration to follow in September or October. Construction has been ongoing since early 2020 and includes the addition of more than 6,000 square feet of space. [Falls Church News-Press]
Supreme Court Declines to Hear Transgender Bathroom Case — “The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a Virginia school board’s appeal to reinstate its transgender bathroom ban, handing a victory to transgender rights groups and a former high school student who fought in court for six years to overturn the ban.” [Associated Press/WTOP]
Inova Will Require COVID-19 Vaccinations for Workers — “Inova Health System is requiring all employees to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, making the Falls Church-based nonprofit the latest in the region to employ such a mandate. Inova, which counts 18,000 employees across the organization, notified staff last week of the requirement, which goes into effect Sept. 1.” [Washington Business Journal]
McLean Swimmer Qualifies for Summer Olympics in Tokyo — “After coming up short at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in 2012 and 2016, McLean native Andrew Seliskar has made the Olympic Team. The 24-year-old placed fourth in the 200-meter freestyle at Trials, earning a spot on the 4×200 meter freestyle relay team.” [WJLA-ABC7 News]
New Tysons Child Care Center Now Enrolling — After breaking ground on its new early childhood education center on Jones Branch Drive in March, Celebree School has opened enrollment for kids from infants through pre-kindergarten. The private school is also currently looking to hire teachers in preparation for its anticipated opening later this summer. [Celebree School]
Wolf Trap Announces More Summer Shows — “On Tuesday, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts announced the following new concerts: The Avett Brothers, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue with Michael Franti & Spearhead, A Tribute to Marvin Gaye featuring Raheem DeVaughn and Friends, and ABBA the Concert. The shows are part of the Filene Center’s 5oth anniversary season.” [Patch]