Ahead of the Curve
Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board
September 20, 2005

Mr. Chairman, members of the Board, citizens of our community, my report this evening provides just a brief sampling of recent school system events and some of the accomplishments of our students and staff.

New teachers began the 2005-2006 school year by attending TOCLI, which stands for the Teacher Orientation and Continuous Learning Institute. Hosted by the Office of Organizational Development, and held on August 22-25th, TOCLI was designed to welcome teachers new to our school system. The orientation focused on introducing our new teachers to our core values, teambuilding, and student-centered teaching and learning. The orientation also provided a networking opportunity for teachers new to Virginia Beach, regardless of their level of experience. We wish our new teachers well!

On September 1st and 2nd, each of our schools' media liaisons met in the wireless lab at Organizational Development for training on marketing the good news in our schools. Collectively, our media liaisons were directly responsible for a minimum of 2,623 positive print and broadcast placements between September 2004 and June 2005. Included in these placements are success stories and photographs, all of which focus on staff and student achievement. This evening, our Board members have received copies of the compilation of these stories and photographs, which appeared in print during the 2004-2005 school year. This compilation contains the impressive and unique achievements that occur in our schools every day. Without a doubt, our school media liaisons truly serve as their school's "good news" ambassadors.

School partnership coordinators have also attended training recently so that they are prepared to coordinate their school's community engagement initiatives. Last school year, our school partnership coordinators facilitated the initiation of 135 additional partnerships between our schools and our community.

In conjunction with the start of the 2005-2006 school year, Virginia Beach City Public Schools' website - vbschools.com - has added a new feature that is intended to serve as an additional parent resource for students enrolled in the school division. OPRAA - Online Parent Resource for Academic Achievement - has the primary focus of supporting academic achievement for all students and reinforces one of the School Board's goals -- Closing the Achievement Gap. A few of the many academic features found on the OPRAA page include: Early Discoveries Program (preschool), assessment and graduation for students with disabilities, an overview of the middle school years, resources for college and career bound students, educational websites, 2005-2006 testing schedule, homework hotline, steps for writing a research paper, Early College Scholars Program, graduation requirements for all students, and an overview of guidance services. Additionally, the site displays a selected list of SOL tips that will change on a monthly basis. OPRAA can be accessed on the homepage of vbschools.com.

The Office of Safe Schools and Risk Management and the Department of Media and Communications have developed the School Emergency Guide for Parents, in an effort to ensure that parents of all VBCPS students are prepared for an emergency. The guide, which is to be distributed to every student during the first month of school, is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. The guide outlines steps to be taken in an emergency, and can also be accessed through the school division's website, www.vbschools.com.

On August 25th, ground was broken at the site of the new Alternative Education Center. The first phase of the project will be to construct two buildings, with a total square footage of 213,500 square feet. This facility will house 270 staff from the Department of Administrative Support Services including the offices of Safe Schools and Risk Management, School Plant, Custodial Services, and Supply Services. The project is scheduled for completion in 2007.

The State Department of Education is sponsoring a statewide "Test Out" during the month of September to encourage adults to try to qualify for a free GED exam. Adults over the age of 18 will have the opportunity to take a practice test, and if they receive a qualifying score, will receive a voucher to take the GED at no cost to them. This initiative is in conjunction with the state-wide Race to the GED program that supports Governor Warner's Education for a Lifetime initiative. Our Adult Learning Center was selected in 2004 as one of five pilot sites for the Race to the GED program, through which qualified adults can earn a GED in 90 days or less.

Students enrolled in First Colonial's Legal Studies Academy gained first hand experience this past summer by completing a 50-hour law-related internship prior to entering their senior year. The academy staff collaborated with five law firms, area courts, and the police department to help students expand their knowledge and experience in legal fields. Students were paired with mentors who shared their expertise and brought the "law to life" for students.

Virginia Beach City Public Schools is teaming up with Your Newschannel 3 (WTKR) to bring fans the only football highlights show dedicated exclusively to Virginia Beach high school teams. Airing on VBTV, cable channels 47 and 48, The Locker Room will feature the talented student athletes, coaches, and fans of Virginia Beach City Public Schools. Segments will include game clips and interviews from each of the division's weekly high school football games. New episodes of Locker Room, hosted by Newschannel 3 Sports Director Troy Brettson, can be seen each Monday and will air after VBTV's Newscan program 29 times Monday-Friday. Look for the weekly schedule in The Beacon and on the school division website, www.vbschools.com.

Several congratulations are in order this evening. . .

Kudos to Cathy Whittecar, fifth grade teacher at Centerville Elementary, who has been selected for the "2005 Who's Who Among America's Teachers." A 26 year veteran of Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Mrs. Whittecar has taught at Centerville Elementary for past 15 years.

Hats off to Laura A. and Elizabeth S., seniors at the Health Sciences Academy at Bayside High School, who attended St. George's University Medical and Veterinarian Medical Schools this summer for "Med Camp" and "Vet Camp." On the final exam administered at the completion of the camp, Laura A. had the highest score for the medical school camp and Elizabeth S. had the highest score for the veterinary medicine school camp. Well done!

Congratulations to Kelly Hedrick, Coordinator in the Office of Gifted and Academy Programs, for being published in the Fall Issue of the Journal of the National Staff Development Council. Ms. Hedrick's article was entitled Staff Development for Differentiation Must Be Made to Measure. In addition, she has also written a chapter in the latest edition of the book, Parallel Curriculum, published by Corwin Press.

It is my pleasure to congratulate some of our school board members who have earned awards from the Virginia School Board Association for attending the VSBA Academy to improve boardsmanship skills. Tonight, Certificates of Recognition from VSBA have been placed at the seats of Jane Brooks, Ed Fissinger, and Dan Lowe. Awards of Achievement and bronze pins are being presented to Dan Edwards and Michael Stewart, and an Award of Honor and a gold pin has been given to Sandra Smith-Jones. Congratulations to our school board members for garnering these awards from VSBA!

Finally, I am extremely pleased to report that according to information recently received from The College Board, Virginia Beach City Public Schools has nine seniors qualifying as National Merit semi-finalists. This represents a 125 percent increase over last year.

In order to qualify for semi-finalist status, students must take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test during their junior year of high school and indicate on the PSAT application their interest in the National Merit Program.

These scholastically talented seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,200 Merit Scholarship awards, worth $33 million, that will be offered next spring.

The following students who have qualified as semi-finalists now move on to the next phase of the National Merit competition:

Eamon T. D.
Varoon Y. J.

Elizabeth J. G.

John B. B.
Thomas E. S.

Jason H. S.
Stephanie R. W.

Colleen M. K.

Katherine A. H.

Congratulations to all of these students as well as to their teachers.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my report for this evening.

Last Modified on September 23, 2005
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