Connect with County Leaders Podcast: Making Fairfax County Public Schools a Beacon of Excellence

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Image of Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill and Dr. Michelle Reid.


On the August episode of the “Connect with County Leaders” Podcast, Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill is joined by Dr. Michelle Reid, Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools.

Reid brings an exciting new perspective to Fairfax County. And while only on the job a year, she has already visited most of the 198 schools in the county. As she puts it, “You can’t lead people you don’t know or programs you don’t understand.”

Reid prioritizes being present and engaging with students, families and staff. 




They discussed partnerships between the school system and county government. Reid highlighted collaborations already underway with the county Police Department, Health Department, early childhood organizations and other community services. 

As the county implements a new strategic plan, the schools have also developed a strategic plan with five student outcome goals and four pillars for implementation. Workforce development is a key priority. She noted that 65% of today’s students are preparing for careers that don’t exist yet. Reid discussed how the community can support innovation and create “safe spaces to fail” as students build critical lifelong skills.

"Many young people today do not feel safe to fail, which hinders their ability to learn and grow effectively."



Reid advocates for prioritizing safe spaces for children to receive support even in failure or setbacks, where they feel encouraged to explore, experiment, and learn from their mistakes. In her view, failure should be celebrated as a steppingstone to success and innovation.

“It is crucial to create an environment where it is safer to try new things rather than not trying at all. Taking risks is an essential aspect of learning and growth,” Reid asserts.

Reid’s philosophy extends to adults as well. She calls for creating inclusive spaces where teachers, administrators and educational leaders can collaborate, challenge conventional practices and adapt to meet the evolving needs of students. By nurturing innovation and growth in both students and educators, Reid says we can collectively build a brighter future for our communities.

“Innovation starts with creating spaces where failure becomes a launchpad for success.”


"Learning happens best community, and when you have strong community support, that's just really a powerful positive for our children." - Dr. Michelle Reid, Superintendent Fairfax County Public Schools



Fairfax County Public Schools is one of the largest school divisions in the U.S. with 198 schools and centers. We serve a diverse student population of more than 181,000 students in grades prekindergarten through 12, speaking over 200 languages. Nearly 94.6% of students graduate on time (in four years of high school), and more than 92% plan to pursue post-secondary education. Fairfax County Public Schools is also one of the largest employers in Virginia with more than 24,000 full-time employees, and 92.9% are school-based. Its bus fleet is one of the largest bus fleets in the U.S., transporting more than 141,000 students on over 1,600 buses each day.



The “Connect with County Leaders” podcast is a monthly opportunity to meet and connect with Fairfax County leaders, to learn about the latest county news and information, and hear more on specific programs and services in Fairfax County.

Listen of watch past episodes of “Connect with County Leaders” on SoundCloud and on YouTube. For other Fairfax County podcasts, visit, and for additional audio content, tune in to Fairfax County Government Radio at

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