Tell us about yourself.
My name is Cyndy Weldon-Lassiter and I serve as head of school at St. Andrew’s School in Richmond. I hold an Ed.D. in curriculum and early childhood education and have been in the field of education for 23 years.
What is the focus of your work?
St. Andrew’s is a school for families living at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, and our students attend on a full scholarship. We provide a hands-on and engaging learning environment for students in grades K-5.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I have an opportunity to interact with a diverse group of constituents, ranging from students, families and faculty to the board of directors, donors and community partners. The diversity of interactions makes my job exciting and rewarding.
ABOVE: Cyndy talks about the holistic approach that St. Andrew’s takes on developing their students.
What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?
In my first year, our families shared their concern about the school lacking a lunch program. Although it took a lot of financial support, paperwork and planning, within a two-year period we were serving breakfast and lunch to our students, along with a healthy morning snack. By no means was it easy to change attitudes about food, but with a clear philosophy on the importance of eating fresh, healthy and nutritious meals and snacks, we were able to create an outstanding nutrition program.
What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?
I am excited about providing more time for student learning. As part of our strategic plan, we are moving to an extended year/extended day model, where the students will have an extra 20 days in August, as well as a full day of school from 7:30AM through 5:30PM. This year we will serve 75% of our student body in the extended day program, and next year we will complete the phasing of that initiative when we serve all of our students. We feel it is an important part of our overall program because it provides not just extra time in school, but extra time with quality learning and enrichment opportunities.
How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?
We utilize ConnectVA in a few ways. It is where we advertise for highly qualified employees because we feel it reaches the greatest pool of candidates. Several of our staff attend conferences and workshops regularly and come back enthusiastically sharing best practice