Fabio Zuluaga is a very well-dressed man. He walks into the room with an air of mild interest and quiet confidence, speaking quickly and with a light Colombian accent.
He smiles at us, makes some small talk, and sits down. “This to me is a great opportunity to use this as an entry point to the community,” Zuluaga says.
While this is his first year in our region, Zuluaga has been an assistant superintendent for several years in Virginia and used to be a District Director in Kentucky. He was assigned to Region 2, which includes Marshall, after FCPS’s most recent reorganization.
Zuluaga’s first act as assistant superintendent was to choose Marshall’s new principal.
“It was difficult for me to choose [a new principal] because now your former principal is working in my office. Marshall is a very successful high school, it has so much culture, so I thought the next principal has to continue that level of success.” said Zuluaga.
Zuluaga praises Marshall for the positive culture he sees here.
“It has such a vibrant culture where everyone is welcome and appreciated… it is very transparent here. Teachers, principals, students resolve the issues in a very proactive, positive manner, not to say we don’t have issues, we have issues like any high school, it’s just they don’t last long,” he said.
But Zuluaga’s visit to Marshall isn’t just a social call: he has plans and goals for the school. “I want to keep the level of success, while continuing to move forward with the very dynamic IB program,” he said.
For the region, his plans are a little different. “The main vision is to develop the portrait of a graduate… IB already has that portrait of a graduate.”
The idea of the portrait, according to Zuluaga, is to develop inquiry, creativity and critical thinking.
“Good communicators, good writers, good thinkers, no? Kids that can self-reflect. That’s what IB is all about.” His passion on the subject is clear as he continues. “Do I believe that every high school should be and IB school? No. But I believe that every one of our high schools should teach that.”
What Zuluaga loves most about Marshall, however, is the people. “I want that particular culture I see here to be exhibited all across the region that I oversee. You can have all the computers and [funding] that you want, but it’s all useless without that culture of respect that I see here.”
Zuluaga ends the interview on a more personal level-how he manages and maintains the requisite relationships he carries for his position as assistant superintendent.
“I am a very busy man,” he chuckles. “I began my career as a chemistry teacher, I grew up in Colombia in South America…I eventually took a job as a principal, and all of my experiences prepared me for [this job]. I try to be very visible and proactive.”