We are so happy to welcome Carrie Zulanas to the Primary School as a new Assistant Principal! Although she has not been at WIS for very long, Ms. Z says, “I have never felt more welcomed by any environment. This is my fifth independent school, and it feels different here. It is a really strong community, and it feels as if new people are welcomed and immediately valued, which has been nice.”

Before arriving at WIS, Ms. Z spent ten years living and teaching in southern California. “I lived in Orange County, right across the street from the Pacific Ocean. It’s a beautiful place. I knew that there really was only one other place in the United States that I wanted to live, and that was Washington, DC, which is why I ended up here. Originally, I was born in Florida, and I kind of moved up the east coast along the way. I taught a little bit in South Carolina, and I went to school in Tennessee. I was actually at the Potomac School in Virginia before I moved to California.”

When looking for jobs in the DC area, Ms. Z says that she was immediately attracted to WIS because it uses the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program as the framework for organizing curriculum: “I believe very strongly in the PYP program, and to me it really aligns with my own philosophy of education, so it was really important for me to be at a school that had that.” Additionally, “another piece that I love is the idea that the inquiry model goes through everything. It’s even part of faculty meetings, and it’s a part of the way that we as staff talk to each other. To me, that really speaks volumes about the school’s commitment to making sure that children and adults develop that inquiry mindset.” Ms. Z is also excited to work with the Primary School Leadership Team (Principal Lynda Miller, Assistant Principal Sava Vrbaski, and PYP Coordinator Stephanie Sneed): “I was drawn to them immediately when I started interviewing with them. It’s a special mix, it really is. The way that the leadership team supports each other, and looks at the school, and what’s best for kids — every decision is made around what is best for these students, and that is so appealing to me.”

At the Primary School, Ms. Z has several responsibilities. First, “I work with Stephanie (Sneed) and the single subject teachers to support those areas of the curriculum. I also help to ensure that the playground is fully staffed and that the students have a good, entertaining, and safe time. I also get to oversee the Primary School budgets, which is new for me. I’ve had my own personal budget in other schools, but it was not as large and complex as this budget, so I’m growing in that way. One thing we haven’t started yet and that I’m really looking forward to is that I will help lead the Student Council. I’m looking forward to getting to know the students and helping them develop those leadership skills.”

While reflecting on her time at WIS so far, Ms. Z says, “working in a school is serious, but it should also be a lot of fun. We have the best jobs in the world. We work with children — children are joyful, and the faculty and staff at WIS really embrace that joy. They understand that school should be a place where everyone laughs and enjoys each other, and just has a lot of fun. WIS also does a really nice job of helping people stretch themselves, and supporting them along the way. It’s been really nice to have that opportunity.”