Chairman Thoburn Recommends Successor

Jo Thoburn, chairman of the Tenth Congressional District Republican Committee, has announced that she will not seek a third term as party chairman. Thoburn was first elected as chairman in 2015 to replace John Whitbeck when he became chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. As Thoburn's term comes to an end, Thoburn will resign when the Tenth Congressional District Republican Committee picks her successor on January 18th.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your Tenth Congressional District Republican Party Chairman. I am so very thankful for the support from my Republican friends across the tenth district who have placed their trust in me. It has been a pleasure to work with Congresswoman Barbara Comstock. Her exceptional leadership and commitment to Republican principles serve our district well. She will always have my continued support."
Jo Thoburn has been a member of the Republican Party of Virginia State Central Committee for five years and has been elected and re-elected Chairman of the Tenth Congressional District Republican Committee.  The Fairfax Christian School, where Thoburn serves as CEO, is opening a new campus in Dulles Virginia. The move and increasing enrollment will occupy her attention in the coming months.
“We so appreciate Jo’s years of leadership and success for the Republican Party,"  said Congresswoman Comstock.  "She was an integral part of so many winning elections while she simultaneously juggled all of her duties as a Mom and at the helm of The Fairfax Christian School, a growing academic institution that is currently undergoing a significant expansion that Jo is overseeing.  We appreciate her dedicated leadership and appreciate that she has cultivated so many leaders in academia as well as politics.” 

Comstock and Thoburn have asked State Central Committee member Andrew Nicholson to run for Chairman.  Andrew is the former Clarke County Republican Committee chairman who currently serves on the Republican Party of Virginia State Central Committee.  “Like Jo, Andrew has been a grassroots activist who has served in many roles for the party," said Barbara Comstock.  "We appreciate his willingness to step up to another leadership role.”

First K-12 School to Receive Presidential Award from the Department Of Commerce

Vienna, Virginia — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today presented the Fairfax Christian School with the “E” Award for Exports at a ceremony in Washington, DC. The President’s “E” Award is the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports. 

The Fairfax Christian School has demonstrated a sustained commitment to export expansion.  The “E” Awards Committee was very impressed with The Fairfax Christian School’s dedication to providing quality education to students from around the world.  The school’s adaptation of its curriculum to accommodate non-English speakers was also particularly notable. The Fairfax Christian’s School’s achievements have undoubtedly contributed to national export expansion efforts that support the U.S. economy and create American jobs,” said Secretary Pritzker in her congratulatory letter to the company announcing its selection as an award recipient.  

The Fairfax Christian School is a kindergarten through twelfth grade university-prep school.  While most of their students in the school are American, the school has been accepting international students since 1963.  The Fairfax Christian School has an intensive English as a Second Language program and homestay program for international students.  

“It is a great honor to be the first K-12 school to receive this award for our work with our international students,” said Jo Thoburn, the President and CEO of the Fairfax Christian School.  “Education has been overlooked as an “export.”  Providing the highest quality education and teaching international students American principles and values insures stronger relationships and influence around the globe.”

In 1961, President Kennedy signed an executive order reviving the World War II “E” symbol of excellence to honor and provide recognition to America's exporters. Today, Secretary Pritzker honored 123 U.S. companies with the President’s “E” Award for their outstanding work to reduce barriers to foreign markets and to open the door to more trade around the world.

In 2015, U.S. exports totaled $2.23 trillion, accounting for nearly 13 percent of U.S. GDP. Nationally, exports contributed to the U.S. economy, supporting an estimated 11.5 million jobs.

U.S. companies are nominated for the “E” Awards through the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service office network, located within the Department’s International Trade Administration, with offices in 108 U.S. cities and more than 70 countries.  Record years of successive export growth and an applicant’s demonstration of an innovative international marketing plan that led to the increase in exports is a significant factor in selecting the winners.

Turn It Off: Electronic Downtime

Posted from the April 2016, edition of The Cardinal.

Technology has made tremendous leaps forward in the last decade. As a result, our children and teens have grown accustomed to using powerful electronic devices for education, social activity and entertainment. We are just beginning to understand the risks as well as the rewards of our digital world.

Students can and do benefit from using technology as a tool in the classroom, and opportunities are available to them that were unheard-of in times past. The risk is that, as young persons spend more and more time absorbed in their devices, they may lose (or fail to develop) the “real-world” skills they will need throughout their lives.

To create and maintain a healthy balance in your family’s life, you should observe how each member of the family uses electronics. If students use their school iPads primarily for academic purposes, then they are using the devices appropriately. On the other hand, if they mostly use their iPads for gaming or other nonconstructive activities, an adjustment may be necessary. Pay special attention if your students try to hide their electronic use from you or spend more time on their devices than away from them.

Limiting children’s “screentime” (free time consumed by the use of electronics) to one or two hours per day has many real benefits. Without electronic distractions, students spend more time in verbal conversation, engage more readily in physical activity and even experience improvements in their sleep patterns.

To ease the transition from constant to limited use of electronics, find other activities to occupy your students. Sports, family board games, arts and crafts projects, books and other non-digital activities are excellent ways to keep your students engaged mentally and socially. Encourage your students’ interests in areas that cultivate their intelligence, awareness and creativity.

Parents and guardians must also be mindful of their own use of electronics. Students learn from our example. Setting limits for your own “screentime” shows them that the boundaries are not a punishment, but rather an opportunity for meaningful interaction. You and your students will enjoy the benefits of electronic downtime individually and as a truly “connected” family.

Latin: Know Your Roots

Posted from the April 2016, edition of The Cardinal.

Everyone understands why it is useful to learn modern languages, but why should today’s students learn a language like Latin? Why does the Fairfax Christian School include Latin roots and phrases throughout its English curriculum? A background in Latin has many unexpected benefits. 

First, though knowing Latin is unlikely to help you talk to someone who does not know English, it will help you talk to someone who does. English has been significantly influenced by Latin vocabulary, so those who learn Latin words, their various forms, and prefixes will be able to understand and use many more English words. Even better, learning Latin opens the door to a better understanding of the terminology in several important career fields—the legal and medical professions are saturated with Latin terms, as are the hard sciences.

Latin can do more than help students understand the vocabulary of other subjects. Its second benefit is that it can help improve reasoning ability through contrast with English.

Unlike English, which is an analytic language, Latin is highly inflected. In other words, English sentences depend on word order to determine their meaning, but Latin determines meaning by changing the endings of words to show their relation to other parts of the sentence, regardless of word order. Once students grasp this way of constructing meaning, they will better understand how English works by contrast, and will be able to think more deeply and logically about how thoughts are put together and relate to each other.

A final reason Latin is useful is because of the culture it embodies. Roman culture had a major influence on Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, and its influence continues today. To know a culture deeply, you must learn its language, because it is a window into the culture’s thought. Learning Latin helps students understand where many parts of western culture came from. Such knowledge is not only interesting, but also useful. You can most effectively shape the culture of the future when you know both what it is and where it came from.

Cursive Is Beautiful

Cursive Is Beautiful

Many government schools which have adopted Common Core, and even some private schools following their lead, have dropped cursive writing from their curriculum. This tragedy involves more than just penmanship. It affects how well students learn, think and write. 

“Cursive writing helps train the brain to integrate visual, and tactile information, and fine motor dexterity,” states Dr. William Klemm of Psychology Today. “School systems, driven by ill-informed ideologues and federal mandate, are becoming obsessed with testing knowledge at the expense of training kids to develop better capacity for acquiring knowledge.” 

Penmanship is a foundational skill which allows students to acquire skills and integrate knowledge in reading, spelling, composition, critical thinking and memory. Brain scans have shown that when students write in cursive they use both hemispheres of their brain and activate the regions involved

in thinking, language and working memory. Writing in print and typing do not have the same effects. 

Studies in Psychological Science have shown that students who write their class notes by hand have a higher retention rate than those who type their notes; higher retention shortens the time needed to review for tests. Researchers have also found that students who learn and use cursive writing have higher grades and long-term academic success. 

Writing in cursive is faster than printing. Students can get their ideas on the page more quickly and organize their thoughts. University admissions and Advanced Placement tests often require handwritten sections. The inability to write in cursive can seriously hamper a student’s success on these tests. 

There is also a concrete value in knowing how to read cursive. Historic documents, like the Declaration in Independence and the United States Constitution, are written in cursive. The value is also practical. Most American adults write in cursive. The inability to read cursive will preclude employment at doctors’ offices or law firms. It is an essential communication tool. 

Cursive is a beautiful and practical art. It is essential for students to learn it, use it and see its benefits.

Six Great Homework Tips

Six Great Homework Tips

Strong study habits lead to good grades and lower stress. Here are some handy tips to optimize homework time.

Designate a homework-friendly space. There should be a place set aside to complete homework with good lighting, WiFi access (if necessary) and paper, pens and pencils handy. This area should be free from distractions such as TVs, loud music, phone calls or disruptive siblings who may break concentration.

Use JupiterEd. JupiterEd is a great tool to help students and parents plan homework during the week. Review the calendar weekly to know what the homework load will be each night. Help students plan their study time and space out assignments. For example, if there are three papers, two tests and a quiz on Friday, start the work on Monday and tackle a reasonable portion each night until the assignments are complete. Waiting until Thursday night could be a disaster.

Schedule Study Time. Students should be able to complete their homework before 9:00pm Monday through Thursday if planned well. Homework should be started when students arrive home and finished as quickly as possible. Don’t allow time for electronics or play until all homework is finished.

We recommend allowing snacks and a five-minute break for every twenty-five minutes. This technique, called the Pomodoro Method, is used in business to maintain focus and efficiency. Students can use a Pomodoro App on the iPad to track their study time.

Don’t overload your schedule with too many after-school activities, which may distract from academics. Extracurricular activities are exactly that: extra. They should never take priority over mastering the curriculum.

Follow The Honor Code. Students are expected to do their own homework. Parents and guardians can explain concepts and answer questions, but they should not be “doing” the students’ work. Homework assignments are intended to reinforce student learning.

Sleep. A good night’s sleep is critical for success in school. Set household rules to turn off all electronics at 9:00pm. Explain to students that is to rude to call, text or email friends after 9:00pm. Students need eight to twelve hours of sleep a night. Setting up a schedule which allows a good night’s sleep will greatly improve students’ ability to succeed.

Academic Success & Tutors. The FCS Academic Success Program is free to all full-paying Middle and High School students and available for a nominal fee for all others. Students meet from 2:45pm to 4:15pm, Monday through Thursday for specialized help. The school can also arrange for teachers to tutor specific subjects. Please call the school office at 703-759-5100 for details. 

Get Ready For The New SAT

Get Ready For The New SAT

Students may have concerns about the redesigned SAT and PSAT/NMSQT. To help students prepare for these tests, we would like to explain the changes in format and spotlight free online resources for study.

The redesigned PSAT/NMSQT will be used in October of this year. However, the redesigned SAT will not be in place until March 2016. The Class of 2016 (rising 12th Grade students) should continue to use the old SAT prep resources available at for testing through January 2016.

We recommend that rising 10th and 11th Grade students create an account on the Khan Academy site at to access their exclusive updated resources for SAT and PSAT prep. Through Khan Academy, students can take a practice test (online or in print) to familiarize themselves with the new format. The practice test enables the site to personalize each student’s test prep experience based on individual results. Students planning to take the PSAT/NMSQT in the fall should use the updated resources from Khan Academy over the summer.

We anticipate exemplary results from our students on the revised tests. Take full advantage of these authorized resources to optimize your testing experience.

Redesigned SAT & PSAT/NMSQT

  • The redesigned SAT is simpler and more aligned with school learning and practical vocabulary.
  • The score scale has been adjusted to 400-1600 points, reflecting two 800-point sections instead of three.
  • There is no longer a negative point penalty for incorrect or “guessed” answers. Correct answers are worth one point; incorrect answers are worth zero.
  • The essay section is no longer required on the redesigned SAT, but students may choose to complete an optional essay, which will be graded separately on a two to eight point scale.
  • The redesigned PSAT/NMSQT has the same section structure and rules as the redesigned SAT.

Five Ways To Get Straight A's

Five Ways To Get Straight A's

As the school year progresses, it is important for students and parents to stay focused on succeeding in school. Here are a few tips to help you maintain your ideal GPA.

1. Organize
Staying organized is key to high grades and low stress. A student who comes to class prepared with their books and papers will be able to succeed. Check that you have everything you need before you come to school. If you need books or supplies, ask for them!

It is important to have a quiet, clean, well-lighted space at home for studying. Getting in the habit of working in the same space will bring consistency to the student’s study time and increase focus.

JupiterEd is a great tool for students and parents to stay on task. The calendar gives a quick snapshot of upcoming tests, quizzes and assignments. When parents and students use JupiterGrades as a tool to stay organized, grades improve.

2. Get Help Before Trouble Starts
If your student seems to be having difficulty at school for any reason, let a teacher or other staff member know right away. Our dedicated faculty will work with your student to resolve any issue and optimize their success.

Likewise, if you have any problems logging in to JupiterEd or finding information on our website, contact the school office.

3. Communicate with the School
Parents and students should receive our Weekly Reminders email and monthly Cardinal newsletter. If you are not receiving either of these, please contact the school office.

If you have any question or issue, however big or small, please let us know. Students and parents are encouraged to send an email, call or tell the secretary. We can’t fix problems that we don’t know about.

You are always welcome to offer your feedback or ideas to improve the school. Your satisfaction is our priority. Our staff is here to serve students, parents and families.

4. Eat Well
Students need healthy nutrition to keep their minds and bodies in peak condition. Start each day with a good breakfast, bring or order a healthy lunch and have a wholesome dinner.

Students need healthy foods to fuel their growing bodies and brains. Avoid “junk” foods and foods with food coloring or added sugar, which may decrease focus and cause hyperactivity. A diet of whole foods like fresh vegetables and fruits, grass-feed beef, fresh eggs and whole grains will give students a healthy advantage in the classroom.

5. Sleep Well
A healthy sleep pattern drastically improves a student’s behavior and performance. Ideally, students should go to bed early enough to wake up on their own, without an alarm. Having a “lights out” policy at nine or ten o’clock and putting internet routers on timers so they shut down at the same time, will help students sleep better without distractions. Remind students that calling anyone after 9:00pm is rude. Enforcing this rule with friends will also avoid late-night interruptions.

Radical Old Ways To Educate

Radical Old Ways To Educate

Below are highlights from Mrs. Jo Thoburn’s panel discussion on “Radical New Ways To Educate” from the FreedomFest conference held this month in Las Vegas.

Philosophically, little has changed at the Fairfax Christian School in the past fifty-three years. Our mission is to create scholars who seek the truth. Our “tried and true” methods created a school where learning is the focus and goals are achieved. The Fairfax Christian School is a very traditional university-prep school.

A Fairfax Christian School education does not end with a diploma and an acceptance into a major university. Because our students are well prepared, they can fully apply their education in diverse environments and disciplines. That’s when our students can use the competitive advantages they have gained from their education and thrive.

A focused environment brings success. The campus and classrooms at Fairfax Christian School are designed to provide appropriate creative stimulation for students without distracting them from their studies.

Personal effects for both teachers and students are left at home. Classroom decorations are kept simple and humble to help focus students’ attention on learning. School uniforms and a conservative dress code eliminate distractions from the classroom. Students also develop confidence when they are well dressed. All of our students wear a blazer, our girls wear knee length skirts, and our boys wear ties on Fridays and for special events. Self-discipline is critical for sustaining progress and achieving big goals. By eliminating worldly distractions, students can focus on the topics at hand.

Teachers instruct. Our teachers are hired for their passion for teaching and for their ability to connect with the students. It is their responsibility to instruct and to work with the students through the learning process. Our teachers are there to stretch and refine the skill levels of each student, to encourage them to reach their highest goals and to inspire them to be independent learners.

Skills will last a lifetime. Whether a high precision skill like learning grammar rules, memorizing multiplication tables or studying the periodic table – or softer skills like playing in tune with the band, writing creatively or assessing a science experiment – a systematic formula of drill and application gives students a measurable foundation for their education.

Textbooks, whether paper or electronic, are a critical tool in systematic learning. Use of original source materials, whether books, news clippings, audio or video, is strongly encouraged to enhance the learning process. An organized scope and sequence with goals and standards gives the teachers and students a path to success.

At the Fairfax Christian School, we avoid “busy work.” Students drill until they master the curriculum, but they do not do work for the sake of doing it. Reading and writing assignments, studying for tests, watching lesson videos and completing any unfinished classwork are typical homework assignments for our students. Homework is not given on weekends or holidays and tests are not given on Mondays.

Curriculum is critical. What is taught is just as important as how it is taught. Our university-prep curriculum, taught from a Christian worldview, is designed to give students a solid foundation academically, morally and ethically. At the high school level, twenty-three AP classes are offered and all other classes are taught at an honors level. The middle school is a pre-AP program which preps students for university level coursework in high school. Students are also offered a variety of art, music, writing and media classes to stimulate their creativity.

Our coursework in economics and business begins in fourth grade with Biblical principles of the free market. By sixth grade, students tackle monetary policy. In high school, all students are required to take at least one AP Economics class. Classes are also offered in Accounting, Speech and Debate, Statistics, Computer Science, Business Law, Business Math and American Economic Freedom.

Technology is a tool. All middle and high school students have their own iPad. In a backpack, each student carries the world’s largest library. However, access to knowledge does not mean good use of knowledge. Without a solid, structured education, the ability to use the amazing resources available can be lost.

Too often parents and teachers allow students to use technology as a crutch, an excuse not to learn. In the past thirty years, spelling, math and grammar skills have declined. Productivity and creativity are lost when a student continually looks up basic skills instead of mastering and applying them. Many schools have dropped penmanship – a very valuable skill, not only for communicating, but also for developing fine motor skills in young students.

Test, test, test. Tests motivate, add interest to learning and track progress. A test should be considered almost a “game.” Students challenge themselves by counting how many math problems they can solve in two minutes or by spelling words as quickly as they can without error, by writing an creative essay with perfect grammar or by completing an AP Studio Art portfolio or performing for a higher chair in Concert Band. These drills can be addictive as students challenge themselves to improve their hard skills and integrate creativity.

Results matter. The Fairfax Christian School has a fifty-three year track record. One-hundred percent of our graduates are attending colleges and universities; several have gone on to receive Masters degrees and PhDs from some of the top universities in the world.

Our small school has produced amazing alumni including members of the US Congress; local elected officials; entrepreneurs; CEOs; industrialists; leaders in technology; leaders in the international Christian community; artists; an Oscar Award nominee; a few best selling authors and even the Inspector General of the CIA.

So, are we radical? Absolutely. In a world where grade inflation trumps achievement and effort is given the same merit as success, high standards in modern education are rare. Fairfax Christian School stands out as a model for what education should be.

Ways To Avoid Summer Learning Loss

Ways To Avoid Summer Learning Loss

Vacations are important and though there are great benefits to taking a break from the rigors of the academic school year, students can lose aptitude if they fail to use their knowledge over the summer. The average American student has two and a half months of grade level equivalency loss in mathematics and up to two months of loss in reading achievement over summer vacation. However, both math and reading summer learning loss can be easily avoided.

1. Read Something Every Day The Fairfax Christian School requires summer reading for our students. Our required reading lists may not fill your child’s entire summer, but it will help any child maintain and increase their reading levels over the summer months. With the internet and iPads, there are unlimited resources, many of which are free to download.

2. Mathematics There’s an app for that. Visit the iTunes Store and download mathematics games for the iPad. There are dozens of mathematics games which can be downloaded and which will drill everything from basic addition to calculus equations. Many of these apps are free.

3. Camps Fairfax Christian School hosts the Real American Manners Camps at our school at the end of June. This is a great opportunity to perfect table manners, letter writing and general etiquette skills.

Fairfax Christian School’s USACompete holds American Culture Camps during the month of July for international students. USACompete also holds an Intensive English Institute during the month of August for middle and high school students.

The YMCA also offers summer camps at the Fairfax Christian School for students age 5 to 12.

Hidden Creek Country Club offers golf camps which are open to non-members.

Contact the school office for more information on any of these activities.

4. Explore Summer is a great time to take a trip. You don’t need to climb the Great Wall or the Eiffel Tower to have an educational adventure. Nearby, there is George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Great Falls National Park, Old Town Alexandria, Luray Caverns and unlimited things to see in Washington, D.C. Take some time to explore the monuments, museums and natural wonders in the area.

5. Volunteer New environments stimulate learning and deepen understanding of our culture and community. Volunteering in the community allows students to explore occupations and to meet new people.

High school students are required to have ten community service hours each year. They can do these hours in the summertime and apply them to the following school year.

This article was published in the June 2013 Colonial Crier.


Four Tips To Organize Your Child

Four Tips To Organize Your Child

Keeping your children organized is essential to ensure good grades and a peaceful household. Here are four ideas which will help improve your child’s organizational skills.

1. Establish Routines.
Make sure you have daily routines in your household. Children thrive with consistency. Have the alarm clock sound at the same time every morning. Try to eat meals at the same time daily. Have your children do their homework, clean their bedrooms, brush their teeth and take their baths at the same time every day. Established routines give children a sense of security and allow them to focus on school work and other activities.

2. Make Check.
Lists Help your children get organized with daily check lists.

In our household, a homework check list keeps our children on task and focused. Children have a sense of accomplishment when they are able to check off that they have studied for a test or written their book report.

As children get older, they will learn how to prioritize and will only need occasional guidance, but do notassume that since they are well organized with their established routine that they can handle a new project without parental guidance. Review your children’s plans to study for an AP Exam or plans to apply to universities and offer suggestions when needed to keep your child focused and on task.

3. Stay Focused,
No one can do everything. Too often as parents we keep insane schedules for our children. We do not want to deny them any experience which may enrich their lives, yet we find our children and ourselves overwhelmed. I know parents who have every afternoon and weekend filled with extracurricular activities. Often they have three or four children, all with different activities. Choose one or two activities to focus on and find activities your children can do together or that you can do as a family.

Recently, several books have been written on this subject: The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle; Outliers by Malcolm Galdwell and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom by Amy Chua. These books all conclude it is better to focus on one or two activities and do them well instead of doing a little bit of everything.

Colleges and universities have also changed what they are looking for in student activities. They want students who are focused. The nationally-ranked figure skater or champion golfer will have priority over the student who plays soccer, basketball, football and track every year but never excelled in any sport.

4. Don’t Quit.
It is human nature to want to quit when things get tough. At some point, every child will want to quit when they get an “F” on a spelling test, lose a soccer game or spill the paint in art class. As parents, we have to teach our children that failure is part of the learning process. When things are not going well, ask them why and challenge them to analyze what is not working and discuss ways to fix the issues.

When your children are discouraged, unless personal safety is at risk, do not even allow them to quit their activities because things are not going as expected. When a child makes a commitment to an elective, sport or club, insist they finish their commitment. Completing activities, which did not go perfectly, provides a learning experience which will strengthen your children’s planning and decision making skills.

This article appeared in the April 2013 Colonial Crier