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Leadership Team

Meet our Principal and Assistant Principal
Loren Brody
Principal

Mr. Loren Brody, is the principal at Charles Barrett Elementary School. He joins Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) from the Takoma Education Campus PK3-8 in Washington, D.C. where he has served as principal since 2015. Mr. Brody has also served as a resident principal and assistant principal in D.C. Public Schools. 

Mr. Brody brings with him an understanding of the Kennedy Center Arts Integration Program, a highly-coveted arts program used by staff and students at Charles Barrett to foster a deeper understanding of complex concepts. He has also undertaken multiple Kennedy Center Arts Teaching and Learning training opportunities to support all students.

During his time with Takoma, he increased the district school rating from two stars to three stars by driving student growth in English Language Arts and math across all students.

Mr. Brody holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University and a Master of Science in Educational Administration from Trinity University in Washington, D.C.

Email: loren.brody@acps.k12.va.us

Marcella H. Ahern, MEd
Assistant Principal

Marcella H. Ahern is Assistant Principal at Charles Barrett Elementary School. 

An educator with close to thirty years experience, Ms. Ahern has served as a classroom teacher, instructional lead teacher, math lead teacher and an English Learner (EL) teacher. She joined the staff of Charles Barrett in 2014 and was named Interim Assistant Principal in the summer of 2019.

Prior to which she held teaching positions with Arlington Public Schools, Howard County Public Schools in Maryland, and University City School District in Missouri. She also spent several years working at Colegio Nido De Aguilas, an international school in Santiago, Chile.

Ms. Ahern has extensive experience in serving the needs of culturally, racially, and socio-economically diverse populations, with experience in urban U.S. and Latin American schools. She holds a Masters of Education in Education Leadership from George Mason University.

Email: marcella.ahern@acps.k12.va.us

Principal Loren Brody's 100-Day Entry Goals

Charles Barrett Elementary School is a school community headed in the right direction. Focus groups, survey data, test scores, and conversations with school community members all speak to the strong traditions, record of achievement, and dedication to supporting students that are hallmarks of Charles Barrett. The school’s Kennedy Center Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA) program is highly valued and respected. Teachers shared immediately about CETA’s importance, and their commitment is evident in the 75 percent of Barrett teachers who are fully CETA certified. Other key programs include Barrett’s PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) initiative, which features monthly student recognition through the Premier Panda and Growing Stronger Awards, and the Student Support Team (SST) process. The school’s PTA is highly engaged in supporting the Charles Barrett community with parent leadership and resources. The PTA leadership is eager to engage broadly with the entire school community to support equity and for the benefit of all.
 
Charles Barrett has recently equaled or surpassed the state and city averages in Reading and Mathematics achievement on the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) state assessment. The 2019-2020 School Improvement Plan (SIP) identified language acquisition strategies, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) and specially designed instruction as action steps to increase Reading and Mathematics subgroup performance. An initial review of recent SOL results suggests consideration be given to further support for specific subgroups, including English Language Learners, whose enrollment increased significantly last school year, and African-American students, Hispanic students, and Special Education students. ACPS’s 2025 Strategic Vision comes at a time of national attention on addressing systemic racism. The ACPS Strategic Vision prioritizes a focus on equity and emphasizes promoting racial equity. 
 

Diversity was one of the areas that surfaced related to key strengths and challenges through the on-line survey and focus groups meetings that were part of the Barrett Leadership Profile. Initial conversations with school community members have brought to light a consistent aim to continue to build on Barrett’s inclusive school community and to increase collaboration to promote equity. Several school community members have emphasized the importance of reaching and supporting Barrett’s Latino families. Drilling down deeper into diversity and other key areas from the Leadership Profile will help inform the development of a shared vision. 

In the area of school leadership, Charles Barrett has experienced considerably more change in the last two years than it had in the previous several years. The previous Principal, Seth Kennard, led Charles Barrett for 10 years. Barrett’s long-time Assistant Principal, Nancy Ritter, departed at the same time. Mr. Kennard is credited with outstanding leadership that empowered staff and guided Barrett to its current stature. Last school year, Barrett was led by Interim Principal Kellie Conlan and Interim Assistant Principal Marcella Ahern, who had the huge responsibilities not only of handling a major leadership transition but also the Covid-19 pandemic. In the 2020-2021 school year, Ms. Ahern is staying on as Interim Assistant Principal to support continuity for the school community. Change can be both a challenge and an opportunity, and relationship and trust building will be critical during this transitional time for the school community.

This transitional time for the school community is also happening during an extraordinarily challenging time in society when so many school, work, and life routines have been disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to the context already mentioned, working closely with the ACPS central office team and City of Alexandria officials to support the Charles Barrett community during this time of pandemic must be priority.

I have crafted these entry goals and shared them with the Charles Barrett Community to take an important step toward a shared vision. Developing a shared vision should begin with developing a shared understanding of the state of the school community, including its challenges and its opportunities. Developing a shared vision will further strengthen our relationships and align our collective efforts. Furthermore, our path will be transparent and inclusive, and build on all the talents found throughout our school community.

Goals, Objectives, and Action Steps 

GOAL 1: Building relationships and getting to know the Charles Barrett and ACPS communities.

Fostering strong, trusting relationships will be the foundation for all current and future collaboration. To begin to do this, I will engage all school community members in individual and group conversations to seek their valuable perspectives on Charles Barrett, to learn their roles and goals, to learn about school culture, and to understand their needs. 

GOAL 2: Gaining proficiency with the systems and procedures at Charles Barrett and within ACPS.

Transitioning successfully to a new school district and school requires quickly becoming familiar with specific systems and procedures that guide professional collaboration, human resources, budget, and other operations. To gain this proficiency, I will reach out to other ACPS Principals, central office staff, and school staff to learn from their experience. In addition, I will participate in school division trainings on these and other important topics.

GOAL 3: Implementing effective systems of communication throughout the Charles Barrett school community.

Ensuring we are all moving in the same direction toward a shared vision starts with strong communication between and among all stakeholders. I seek to start implementing this strong communication by utilizing systems and routines for providing consistent and regular communication to all members of the school community to facilitate effective planning, participation, and trust. Effective communication must also be differentiated to meet different needs and address linguistic and cultural diversity. To begin setting up effective systems of communication, I will engage the school community in a variety of ways while also liaising with the ACPS communications team and central office and school colleagues.

GOAL 4: Understanding and assessing quantitative and qualitative data related to academic achievement and school climate.

Smart, strategic decision-making is best guided by a deep understanding of a school’s context, data, and results. I seek to start gaining this deep understanding by engaging the school community and our partners at central office to understand the successes, challenges, and current state of Charles Barrett Elementary School. This process will involve synthesizing and analyzing from multiple sources the historical and current data – quantitative and qualitative – to construct and communicate an accurate picture of the state of the school.

GOAL 5: Ensuring continued support for the Kennedy Center CETA program.

Maintaining strong support for the school’s renowned CETA partnership with the Kennedy Center is a top priority. I will collaborate with Kennedy Center staff, Charles Barrett team members, and ACPS central office partners to plan for successful program continuation. In addition, I will lay the groundwork together with Barrett CETA co-directors and strategy keepers for further enhancing the program.

GOAL 6: Providing a strong launch both to the school year and to further shared visioning work. 

Providing a strong launch to the school year will require partnering closely with ACPS teams and task forces charged with navigating the division’s Covid-19 safety and reopening planning. It also will require timely communication with the school community about both Covid-19 specific school planning and traditional start-of-school operations such as Kindergarten Prep and class placements. 

To lay the groundwork toward further shared visioning work, I will utilize existing structures and create new ones as needed to seek input, share data, and develop consensus toward a shared vision and goals for SY 2020-2021. Together with the school community, I will use comprehensive context and data to set goals, define actions, establish a vision, and develop a plan for success throughout the 2020-2021 school year and beyond.