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Meadowland’s New Principal Truly at Home in Sterling

You don’t get any more Sterling Park than Anna Purdy, the new principal of Meadowland Elementary.

Raised in the eastern Loudoun community, and a product of Rolling Ridge Elementary, Sterling Middle School and Park View High School, Purdy said Sterling remains the community she has always loved.

“I am Park through and through.

“It has changed so much less than people say. It is a very calm, quiet community full of young families moving in just like 1978 when my parents bought their house on Sterling Boulevard. You have parents working several jobs to get things done. They support the public schools. Parents come in for every event and fill the rooms.

“Every parent wants what’s best for their children. Every parent wants a safe school, where the students can go and learn and where they want to be. That hasn’t changed.

“The only thing that has changed is that we’re more culturally diverse, which makes us better. We’re more language diverse. We’re socio-economically diverse, which is better for us all. We need to be exposed to people who don’t look like us. We need to be exposed to people who have different lenses than we do.”

Purdy takes over the principal’s role from Herman Mizell, who left Meadowland to become the principal of Sterling Middle School. The new principal said she’s inherited a strong school culture.

“I feel like we’re on a really good trajectory. I feel like Herman put us in a really good spot. More people know where Meadowland is…We’ve got this positive trajectory going…

 “Teachers who come to Meadowland don’t leave. They are driven by the community. They have experience with the changes in the community. They have really seen – when a community changes – the parents’ desire for their children to be successful does not change. That everybody loves their elementary school. It does not matter where you come from. There is something about an elementary school that is so unique and special, because it’s all about little ones. There’s a lot of hope in that. I think our staff is definitely caught up in that.”

Purdy said new staff members are quick to tap into this vibe.

“They come in with these awesome new ideas that are embraced. But they get the benefit from the experienced teachers that ‘this is our community.’”

Her educational background has prepared Purdy to oversee a diverse school. She’s certified in English learning, general education and special education. Teaching at Guilford Elementary – her major posting in Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) before coming to Meadowland – taught her the power of co-teaching.

“I wanted to be there for any student…

“I am not a minority and I know that. But I needed to know how to consider using different lenses…

“I learned to teach from the perspective that you have to be ready for whatever students bring.”

Becoming the principal brings on many responsibilities not associated with the assistant’s role, Purdy acknowledged. “Always being aware that every single thing I do is going to affect the culture of the school; be it talking to teachers or students to parents, a community member…As an AP you can pass it along… and now it’s me.”

Honoring Meadowland’s culture means maintaining its primary symbol, Charger, the papier mâché horse that’s been linked with the school since it was created for a community parade in 1981 (the art teacher recently gave Charger a makeover). “You have to honor your community and what symbols they hold true… I don’t think I have the right to take that away.”

Charger sports accessories reflecting the time of the year. Currently, the horse is carrying a back-to-school backpack. Before school ended, Charger had a surfboard.

Purdy has a standard deflection when students ask if Charger is a boy or a girl. “I wasn’t there when Charger was born.”

Meadowland’s Code to the Future coding immersion program is something Purdy is especially enthusiastic about. She said it's exciting to see students take the lead in teaching teachers how to use new technologies. “We don’t have to be the expert in the classroom in order to build critical thinkers, communicators, collaborators. We don’t have to be the experts. They can be the experts…

“I want to keep creating that place for the students to shine through their own efforts.”

Reveling in all things Loudoun is something the Purdy family actively pursues.

Purdy’s two children attend Meadowland. Her husband, Jason, a chef and Loudoun County High School graduate, finds ways to donate to the community.

 “We are both extremely dedicated to Loudoun. We love Loudoun…

“We both get to give back to the community where we were raised. That is our goal.”