FAIRFAX, Virginia — On Nov. 7, registered voters in Virginia will be tasked with electing officials to represent their communities. One of these candidates is Cassandra Aucoin, a long-standing resident and alumna of Lake Braddock Secondary, who is stepping into the political limelight to run for the Fairfax County School Board At-Large.
Hailing from a military family, Aucoin’s early life was marked by transitions — moving across states from California to New York — and even overseas to France. This nomadic childhood gifted her with rich experiences, ultimately culminating in her education in the Fairfax County public school system (FCPS), which was then recognized as a top-performing school district.
“I attended FCPS at a time when the district was near the top of all schools nationally regarding academic achievement and high-quality teachers,” Aucoin told Vision Times.
Leveraging her vast leadership experience, Aucoin aspires to spearhead this rejuvenation across the school board. “The Fairfax County School Board has tended to lean one way politically. Family values do not appear to be revered or important to the board.” she shared.
Aucoin furthered her academic interests at Virginia Tech, where she secured a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. Her career trajectory then took her into the realms of finance and management. With esteemed tenures at the Department of Defense, the National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Organization, she honed her expertise in budgeting, and organizational management.
You are now signed up for our newsletter
Check your email to complete sign up
“My experiences working with [these] organizations allowed me to grow my skill set and competencies at a high capacity,” she reflected.
Beyond her professional endeavors, Aucoin’s personal life is marked by service and strong family ties. Married to a Navy veteran, she is also a mother to two children who largely attended Fairfax County public schools. Her family’s moves for military commitments took them across international borders, including Japan. While overseas, Aucoin served many key roles, including senior advisor for the Japanese Wives Club and advisor for the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Aucoin witnessed first-hand the challenges the educational sector faced — with her own daughter graduating amid these trying times. The inconsistent stances on mask mandates following the election of Governor Youngkin only intensified her desire to influence positive change.
Fairfax County — known for its high-quality living — owes much of its appeal to its exceptional schools and rigorous academic standards. However, recent times have witnessed a shift, with politics and partisan agendas overshadowing the educational prerogatives. “Politics have become increasingly problematic in Fairfax County Public Schools in recent years,” observes Aucoin.
“Fairfax County is a wonderful and beautiful place to live,” says Aucoin, pointing out that “many families have been attracted to the excellent quality of life in [the county] for many decades.” However, FCPS is now in urgent need of transformative measures in order to bring the schools to their former glory, she notes.
Aucoin’s vision for FCPS centers on several key tenets, including:
- Addressing the drop in SOL and SAT scores and bridging the racial and ethnic disparity.
- Forging a symbiotic partnership between parents and schools to reinstate their say in crucial decisions concerning their children.
- Promoting merit-based admissions, notably for elite institutions such as Thomas Jefferson School of Science and Technology (TJHSST).
- Addressing the educational setbacks since the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Prioritizing the recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers.
- Streamlining the FCPS budget to prioritize learning and school safety over administration.
“Our current school board is good at identifying problems, but falls short in problem-solving,” says Aucoin. But with her extensive professional experience and a proven track record, she believes she possesses the acumen to lead FCPS towards excellence. “I have based the success of my career around being able to understand the function of large organizations with a focus on multi-million and billion-dollar budgets,” she shares.
With a clear vision and a steadfast commitment to excellence for all students, Aucoin seeks to chart a new course for education in Fairfax County.
Virginia’s general and special elections are slated for Nov. 7, 2023. Early voting began on Sept. 22. For more information, visit Aucoin’s official campaign site here.