New Oakton High School principal settles in

Jamie Lane, a former assistant principal at McLean High School, in mid-April became the new principal at Oakton High School. (Photo by Brian Trompeter)

Before becoming Oakton High School’s new principal, Jamie Lane visited one of the school’s Exhibitions of Learning events and came away awed.

One student told Lane about her passion for makeup, another discussed nuclear fusion and a third expounded on songwriting. Afterward, the school’s teachers talked about innovative educational techniques they had tried.

“It’s been fabulous,” said Lane, who took over her new duties April 16. “I was excited to finally get in and get started.”

Lane succeeded 13-year Oakton High principal John Banbury, who had been promoted to executive principal for Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Region 1 and now is serving as interim principal at Lake Braddock Secondary School.

Two years ago, when Lane was an assistant principal at McLean High School, she decided she wanted to become a principal and observed as her boss, principal Ellen Reilly, made decisions. Reilly encouraged her to take risks and provided honest feedback.

“I’m very fortunate to have had a series of mentors who believed how important it is to develop the people around you,” she said. “I’ve learned a very deep sense of reflection and I hope never lose that . . . You always have to be reflecting on how you can get better and improve.”

One key lesson from her mentors: Always listen to and learn from students, staff and parents. Lane now is getting a sense of those groups’ visions for Oakton High, in preparation for developing a five-year plan.

“It has to be everyone’s vision together, not just me,” she said. “I’m the big-picture to put it together and keep us moving in that direction.”

Oakton High, with 2,700 students and 200 staff members, is larger than McLean High and offers myriad opportunities for students to explore their individual ideas and passions, she said.

Oakton High is preparing for major renovations that will extend the front of the building; eliminate the current street in front of the entrance; and add a new main office, library, media center, science wing and collaborative spaces. The four-year project is scheduled to conclude in 2022.

“We already have Cougartown of trailers,” she said. “It’s going to be a really beautiful facility, when all is said and done.”

When hiring educators, Lane looks for those who have a passion for teaching and keep the focus on student learning.

You can teach them the logistics of how to run a classroom, but you can’t teach them to be passionate about what they’re doing and how to relate to students,” she said.

A former cheerleading coach, Lane grew up in Somerset County, N.J., is the mother of two girls. In her free time, she enjoys running and spending time with her family.

Lane’s mother is a special-education teacher and her father a professor at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa.

Lane holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s in educational leadership from George Mason University.

She began her FCPS career 12 years ago as a social-studies teacher at Westfield High School in Chantilly.

As an assistant principal at McLean High, she supervised the special-education, science, social-studies and fine-arts departments and helped improve teaching strategies, which led to yearly increases in Advanced Placement scores, school officials said.

She also improved McLean High’s teacher-mentoring program, implemented better financial guidelines and procedures for the performing-arts program, and enhanced student engagement via a project-based-learning committee, school leaders said.

Lane built community at the McLean High departments she oversaw and  took over the school’s mentorship program, where she infused excitement into student-government leaders, Reilly said.  

“She taught them through a curriculum about the qualities true leaders have and empowered them to explore their own strengths,” Reilly said. “This allowed the student executives to become the decision-makers and make an impact in a student-led program.”

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