School History

Washington Mill Elementary School opened on September 3, 1963, with approximately 250 children enrolled in grades one through six. Our first principal was David M. Hampton. Washington Mill was designed by the architecture firm of Graef, Mintz, and Associates, Inc., and was built by the Allen Minnix and Sons construction company at a cost of $496,457.

Black and white yearbook photograph of Washington Mill Elementary School taken in 1972. The trees and shrubs on the school grounds are still quite small. The classroom windows on both floors of the building are propped open.
Washington Mill Elementary School, 1972. Note the open classrooms windows. Washington Mill classrooms did not have air conditioning until the late 1980s.

Washington Mill Elementary School opened at a time when Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) was in the process of racially integrating its schools. This process began in the early 1960s and culminated at the end of the 1965-66 school year. Originally, only white children were admitted to Washington Mill. Prior to integration, African-American children living in our area were bused to Drew-Smith Elementary School located at Gum Springs on Route 1. Today, Washington Mill Elementary School enjoys rich diversity in its population and the school community views diversity as a strength. Our community celebrates family heritage through a yearly program focusing on each student's family history.

Color photograph of Washington Mill students on a field trip to Washington, D.C. There are approximately 27 students seated on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building. Eight unidentified adults are pictured with them.
Washington Mill students on a field trip to Washington, D.C. on December 6, 1988.


Did you know that when Washington Mill opened there were no kindergarteners in our school? A kindergarten program was piloted in several schools in 1967 and proved so successful that one year later FCPS implemented kindergarten county-wide. FCPS enrolled approximately 8,000 children in kindergarten in September 1968.

Photograph of the school song printed in a yearbook. The lyrics are: There are many schools in the nation, but among them were are the best. Working hard to prepare for the future, it's a challenge we put to a test. Working hard I know we will make it, and when our school days comes to an end, we'll look back with pride and say, this is where it all began! The following chorus is repeated three times: Lift it up for Washington Mill, lift it up for the green and white, lift it up for Washington Mill, a brighter future will fulfill.
Washington Mill's School Song from our 1988-89 yearbook.  

Renovations and Additions

From the mid-1970s into the early 1980s, student enrollment began a gradual decline resulting in the closure of several schools in the eastern part of Fairfax County. The closures affected neighborhoods that saw the earliest growth post-World War II.

Black and white yearbook photograph of Washington Mill's Safety Patrol. 30 students are pictured, an even mix of boys and girls. Each child is wearing a distinctive sash and belt, very similar to the ones worn by students today.
Washington Mill's Safety Patrol, 1972

Enrollment at Washington Mill remained relatively stable during the 1970s, averaging between 470 and 420 students. However, enrollment dipped significantly during the 1980s, falling to a low of 371 in 1985. The closure of several schools along the Route 1 corridor, and the subsequent redistricting, rebounded enrollment into the high 400s during the late 1980s. It was during this period that the first addition to Washington Mill was constructed.

Black and white yearbook photograph of Washington Mill's SCA taken in 1981 or 1982. 14 children and a teacher are pictured. They are posed in front of a cherry tree near our main entrance. The tree is not yet in bloom and is much smaller than it is today.
Washington Mill's SCA, Early 1980s

Like most elementary schools constructed in the 1960s, Washington Mill was built without a gymnasium. During the early years, physical education was taught by teachers in their classrooms, or outdoors through structured play. In 1988, Washington Mill received its first building-wide renewal. A new building wing, with a gymnasium and music room, was constructed. And, to the relief of students and teachers alike, air conditioning was installed building-wide.

Color photograph of Washington Mill Elementary School's main entrance taken between 1983 and 1988. The windows are closed and two rooms have window-mounted air conditioning units installed.
Washington Mill Elementary School, mid-1980s

A second addition to our school was constructed in 1996. Four classrooms were added, providing additional space for the School Age Child Care (SACC) program, and our library was modernized.

Color photograph of Washington Mill's library taken in September 2018. Bookshelves of non-fiction materials line the walls and a long worktable with eight chairs is visible in the center of the image.

During the first decade of the 2000s, the student population in southeastern Fairfax County sharply rose. A 10-room modular facility was added to our building in 2007, and by 2013 our population grew to 657 students. Planning for a second building-wide renewal began in 2018.

Color photograph from our 1997 to 1998 yearbook showing two students raising the American and Virginia flags on the pole in front of our school.
Washington Mill Elementary School, 1998

The Colonials

While many things have changed at Washington Mill over the years, one thing has not–our school mascot. Our mascot has remained the Colonials since our founding. However, our school colors have changed many times by student vote, and are currently red, white, and blue.

Color photograph of the Colonials mascot printed in our 1997 to 1998 yearbook. It appears to be a needlepoint embroidery on canvas. Embroidered text reads: Washington Mill School, 1980 to 81, Mr. Ringman, 5th Grade. The mascot is three men wearing blue and white American Revolutionary War era uniforms with black boots. Two of the men are beating red drums and a third is playing a flute. One of the men is wearing a blue tri-cornered hat. These colorful figures have been stitched onto a brown canvas backing.

Mount Vernon

Washington Mill Elementary School was built on land that was once part of President George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate. Pictured below is a portion of a map of the estate drawn by George Washington in 1793. The schoolhouse icon shows the present day location of Washington Mill Elementary School.

The image shows a portion of George Washington's map of Mount Vernon. The entire estate was approximately 8,000 acres in size and was comprised of five separate farms. Two of these farms, Mansion House Farm and Union Farm, are visible in this image. The map was drawn with iron gall ink on paper or parchment. The ink has faded to a light brown / gray color and the paper has faded to a light tan. An icon of a schoolhouse has been placed on the map, showing Washington Mill Elementary School was located on forested land adjacent to Union Farm.
Map courtesy of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association

In 2007, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, which owns and operates the Mount Vernon estate, printed 2,000 limited-edition portraits of George Washington for distribution free of charge to schools throughout the United States as part of their "George Washington's Return to School" initiative. In January 2008, First Lady Laura Bush visited Washington Mill and presented the first of these portraits to our school.

Newspaper photograph of First Lady Laura Bush hugging a student with the portrait of George Washington in the background. Behind her, on the left, is Principal Tish Howard. Another student and a representative from the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association are to the right of Bush. The image caption reads: Laura Bush encouraged Washington Mill Elementary students, including Damian Floyd, left, and Riley Bannon, to follow George Washington's example of good citizenship. Also present was Principal Tish Howard, left, and Gay Hart Gaines of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association.
This newspaper clipping comes from a Washington Post article printed on January 16, 2008.

The Washington Post reported: Bush told students they could look up to Washington, who was "a normal person, just like you and I are." He had pancakes for breakfast, played with a foxhound named Vulcan and loved to dance and play games, she said. He also, of course, served the nation. "Every time his country called on him to ask him to do something, he did it," she said. "You can honor George Washington by following his good example of good citizenship."

Photograph of the Washington portrait on the wall in our library. It is a portrait of Washington in later life when he was President of the United States. He is wearing a gold and black or dark blue uniform with gold epaulettes. There is a gray oval matte around Washington and the picture is hung in a black and gold bordered frame.
The portrait of George Washington hangs in our library. It is a reproduction of a portrait painted by Rembrandt Peale in 1823.

Learn more about President Washington and the inspiration for our school's name in this video produced for Fairfax County Public Schools’ cable television channel Red Apple 21.

The Gloria S. Tarr Memorial Library

The name Gloria Tarr may be unfamiliar today, but to the students and faculty of Washington Mill during its earliest years this name had special significance. Gloria Tarr was a teacher at Washington Mill from 1963 to 1964. She passed away in May 1964, and her death was a stunning blow to the Washington Mill community. The P.T.A. established a library fund in her memory and on November 17, 1964 our library was dedicated in her honor.

She was a sincere friend to education: to those children who came under her influence in the classroom, she was a friend, counselor, challenger, inspiration; to her fellow faculty members and school staff, she was a leader and guide, admired and respected for her convictions and ability, and for her devotion to teaching all of the children, and all of the child; to parents, she was the personification of a "good" teacher. Books were her friends, and she made them the friends of the children in her classes.
~ Donald E. Lytal, from the library dedication address.

Our Principals

Washington Mill has had nine principals since our building opened in 1963.

Yearbook portraits of Washington Mill principals David Hampton and Charles Gray.
Principals David M. Hampton (Left, 1963-1970) and Charles P. Gray (1970-1977)
Yearbook portraits of Washington Mill principals Virlinda Snyder and Audrey Montgomery. Snyder's portrait comes from our 1983 to 1984 yearbook, and Montgomery's photograph comes from our 1985 to 1986 yearbook.
Virlinda J. Snyder (Left, 1977-1985) and Audrey T. Montgomery (1985-1988)
Yearbook portraits of Washington Mill principals Norman Lubus, Steven Adleberg, and Robert Keller. Lubus' photograph comes from our 1989 to 1990 yearbook. Adleberg's photograph comes from our 1992 to 1993 yearbook, and Keller's photograph comes from our 1997 to 1998 yearbook.
Norman Lubus (Left, 1988-1990), Steven M. Adleberg (Center, 1990-1995), and Robert Keller (1995-2002)
Yearbook portraits of Washington Mill principals Lizette Howard and Brad Bennink. Howard's photograph comes from our 2011 to 2012 yearbook, and Bennink's photograph comes from our 2015 to 2016 yearbook.
Lizette "Tish" Howard (2002-2013, pictured with Assistant Principal Tim Kasik), and our current principal Brad L. Bennink (2013-Present)