Principal's Message from Mr. Stokes


Greetings Panthers,

Happy New Year and new decade.  I hope that you had an enjoyable winter break and that these two weeks provided a chance to connect with friends and family or to relax.

Turning the calendar page to a new year offers an opportunity to both think about where we have been and our next stops on this year’s journey.  We closed out 2019 with some great accomplishments.  Every three years, Rachel Carson Middle participates in the Schools to Watch designation.  In alignment with Virginia Middle School Association and the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform, Schools to Watch establishes criteria for a school to demonstrate the impactful work that it does to provide a rich academic and social-emotional experience for students.  You can read more about this process by visiting this link.  We submitted our application and participated in a site visit where educators from other schools came to RCMS to observe our school and provide feedback about our practices.  I am proud to share that we were re-designated as a School to Watch.  Dating back to 2004, this is the sixth time that we have earned this designation.  Further, the re-designation is a marker of the excellent work of our students, the total dedication of our staff, and the great support provided by our community. 

December was an exciting month for our school.  Our tremendous musical talent was on display during multiple occasions.  Our band, orchestra, and choral ensembles displayed their progress during their winter performances.  A few select ensembles treated our student body and rising 6th graders from our feeder elementary schools to several selections during our annual winter concert.  Meanwhile, our gym had the atmosphere of a March Madness showdown as our basketball teams competed against Langston Hughes Middle in a series of games.  In addition, our step team provided even more energy with a stellar performance.  Thank you to all of our student participants and teacher sponsors for making this event possible.

“Our Journey” continues as we enter January.  The mission of providing students with authentic learning experiences remains at the forefront of our work.  Specifically, our teachers use strategies intended to enhance our students’ creative and critical thinking skills.  We believe that by equipping our students to better construct new ideas and use evidence to support their observations, our students will be well-suited to succeed as they progress on their journeys during the school day and beyond.  Believe it or not, January is also a time when we begin to think ahead to next school year.  All students will begin the academic advising process that will help them determine the courses that they will take during the 2020-21 school year.  On January 10, our 8th graders will visit with counselors from their respective high schools.  7th graders will engage in a lesson that walks students through the course selection process for 8th grade. 

Thank you for your support during this year’s journey.  If a question or a need happens to emerge, please reach out to your child’s teacher, counselor, or administrator so that we can help address your need.  We look forward to many positive moments in the coming weeks.



Gordon Stokes



Greetings Panthers,

                As we turn another page in the calendar to November, we take steps forward in our school year.  The theme of “Our World, Our Journey” continues to provide many chances to connect our students’ learning with moments and themes beyond the walls of our school.  With the idea of “our world” in mind, we strive to create experiences that will help students see that they are part of a larger community.  One of these powerful experiences is our annual Veterans Day program and recognition on Monday, November 11. For the fifth year in a row, we hosted 60 active duty and retired veterans from all branches of the Armed Forces.  These men and women spent time speaking with our students in small groups, sharing the stories behind their decisions to serve the country and the impact of their service.  For many students, these conversations broadened our students’ worlds by shedding new light on the work and duty of our service members.  Meanwhile, the veterans appreciated the chance to interact with our students.  Our morning concluded with a music performance from the West Point Alumni Glee Club.  A sincere thank you to each veteran who shared their time and journey with us.

                On the instructional front, our school is immersed in developing impactful instructional practices, in particular – the use of instructional technology.  There are many powerful learning opportunities that are facilitated using digital tools.  We are fortunate to possess a solid array of laptops and other tools for our students to use in different methods throughout the day.  However, it is crucial to understand that technology is another tool in a teacher’s toolkit.  As a staff, we are engaged in learning on how to use technology to supplement the engaging strategies, collaboration, and interactions that form the core of powerful instruction.  During the School Planning day on November 5th, teachers presented to their colleagues on how they use certain tools to meet a variety of learning goals.  This work is part of our learning journey as a staff.  I encourage you to read more about the work going across FCPS through FCPSON to move closer to this 21st century learning environment.

                Another proud element of our school is our outreach to our community.  A key method for this outreach is our Carson Cares initiative.  A committee that collaborates with our SCA and PTA, Carson Cares gathers resources that are distributed families in need within the Carson community or are provided to local organizations.  We are in the midst of our Holiday Food Drive.  All students and families are encouraged to provide non-perishable items for this drive.  Items should be dropped off in the cafeteria during lunches.  Each item donated provides those students and staff members a chance to be selected to choose the warning bell music for a day.  The drive concludes on November 22.  Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

                Thank you for your great support as we continue this year’s exciting journey.


Gordon Stokes



Hello Panthers,

                Greetings from Rachel Carson Middle School.  Reaching different points in our school year offers a chance to reflect on this year’s theme “Our World, Our Journey”.  We are near an important marker on our educational journey as the end of the 1st quarter approaches.  Each day, it is a thrill to see our students engaged in meaningful learning while also building positive relationships with their fellow students and their teachers.  It is also a thrill to see the work being done to help us realize our school mission.  In particular, students are engaged in meaningful learning experiences.  Whether practicing writing by exploring themes in English, improving fitness as a life skill in PE, or understanding a new language, students are consistently involved in building skills that will carry them on their journey far beyond the two years of middle school.  I want to highlight some past and upcoming experiences that are notable landmarks on this year’s journey.

                Last week was Digital Citizenship week.  Students engaged in conversations about the use of technology and its impact on their lives both inside and outside of school.  With technology constantly evolving, it is important to discuss how to use these powerful tools wisely.  We have posted a series of resources to help continue the conversation at home. 

                There are several things to look forward to in the coming weeks.  At the start of November, we will begin a new way of recognizing our students with the Positive Panther program.  Our school thrives because of the many heroes in our midst.  The kind, respectful, and helpful actions of our students bonds and sustains us on each year’s journey.  We intend to provide ongoing kudos to our students for their everyday demonstration of positive character and contribution to our school community.  Each day, two students who are selected by our teacher teams will be highlighted on our morning news program.  It is important for all students to hear about the positive impact made by their peers.  We are excited to build upon this spirit of positivity.

                Monday, November 11 is a special day as we will take part in our annual Veterans Day celebration.  Now in its fifth year, this tradition is a highlight of our school year.  We are honored to host over 60 veterans who will spend their morning speaking with our students in small groups.  These men and women (both active duty and retired) will share their stories of motivation, duty, and sacrifice to help us all better understand the importance of this service to the country.  The morning’s activities will conclude with a performance by the Army Glee Club.  We hope that this experience brings about meaningful reflection about the commitment of the members of our military.

                We will continue with outreach to share important updates.  In addition to our weekly News You Choose messages, please visit our website ( regularly to learn more about our school.  If you are on Twitter, follow us @RachelCarsonMS to see a glimpse of what happens during the school day.  Please reach out to us if a question or concern emerges. 

                Thank you for your great support as we continue on this year’s exciting journey.



Gordon Stokes