Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board

Superintendent's Message
May 15, 2007

Mr. Chairman, members of the Board, and citizens of our community, my report this evening features some recent school division events as well as some noteworthy accomplishments of students and staff.

I'm proud to begin my report this month by honoring school division's 2008 Teacher of the Year. Erika Hitchcock is a visual arts teacher at Old Donation Center. Last week I made a surprise trip to the school to visit with Mrs. Hitchcock—VBTV's Newscan was there.

The Office of Community Relations recently celebrated the division's Partners and Volunteers in Education at receptions held in their honor at Landstown High School. The event's themes, for partnerships, "No Man is an Island," and for volunteers, "Above and Beyond" reflected the spirit of collaboration that these programs demonstrate. With partnerships, VBCPS currently enjoys more than 2,100 school/community partnerships and several hundred representatives of these collaborations celebrated individual and collective successes at the reception. Seventeen new Model Partnerships were selected this year, representing "best practices" in school/community engagement. Our volunteer program was just as successful. More than 20,000 volunteers serve the school division each year, providing over half a million hours of volunteer service. During the volunteer reception, three PTA Citywide Volunteers of the Year were announced; on the elementary level, Kempsville's Michelle Luchau; Volunteer of the Year Lori Rybolt from Corporate Landing Middle School; and finally, First Colonial High School's outstanding volunteer Dr. William Hunter, Jr. These selfless contributions are truly invaluable to the school division!

In March, teams from Virginia Beach middle and high schools competed in the annual Great Computer Challenge held at Old Dominion University. This event, sponsored by ODU and the Consortium for Interactive Technology, showcases the technology skills students are acquiring in our schools. This year 43 VBCPS teams competed in 17 different categories, earning 7 first place awards. The winning teams represented the following four schools; Kemps Landing Magnet School, Landstown High School, Princess Anne High School, and the Advanced Technology Center. Congratulations to all team members and coaches.

The annual Virginia Society for Technology in Education conference was recently held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. The conference was attended by over 1,200 teachers and administrators from across the Commonwealth who work with schools to integrate technology into instruction. More than 25 Virginia Beach City Public School staff members volunteered their time, doing everything from stuffing conference bags to serving as guides. In addition, Virginia Beach schools sponsored "The Virginia Beach Showcase" which was a venue for exhibiting the division's creative and exemplary uses of technology.

In an effort to raise the level of cultural awareness and acceptance of all students in Virginia Beach, the division recently provided scholarships to 10 members of the VBCPS Diversity Youth Ambassadors to attend a summit sponsored by the National Council on Educating Black Children in Norfolk. The Diversity Youth Ambassadors, comprising a cross section of division middle and high schools, participated in the nationally affiliated diversity awareness program entitled, "Challenge Day: Be the Change." The event challenges students to be the "change" agent within their schools and communities and encourages them to participate in planning and creating a school environment where every child feels safe, loved and celebrated.
Also in March, students at the Virginia Beach Advanced Technology Center (ATC) conducted a video conference with information technology experts from the Walt Disney Parks & Resorts New Technology Group at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The conference marked the first time Virginia Beach students have had such a high level overview of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts' technical environment. Students learned how the wireless network at Disney supports the Parks' distinctive "magic" and discussed with the Disney experts the technical environment and wireless networking used in the Park. High school students in the A+ Computer Repair, Cisco Networking Academy, Computer Network Administrator, Internet Web Professional, Digital Design and Modeling and Simulation classes participated in this exciting event.

The School Nutrition Association of Virginia recently held its 58th annual state conference at the Cavalier Hotel. Food Services employees with 25 years or more of service in the profession were honored by the Mayor at the event. These dedicated employees include Marlene Johnson, cafeteria manager at Landstown High School; Carol Sykes, Operations Supervisor, Office of Food Services; Wanda Mabry, Supervisor, Office of Food Services; and Chris Geary, Supervisor, Office of Food Services. Also honored were retired managers Clara Armond, Brenda Archer, and Barb Larkins.

On April 18, First Colonial High School hosted The Honorable Morrison C. England, Federal District Judge for the Eastern District of California. Judge England is known nationally for his many contributions to public education. He spoke to students and provided insights into the "inner workings" of the legal profession in addition to discussing the importance of goal setting and higher education. A member of the Board of Regents at The University of the Pacific, Judge England is a proponent of Wingspan, a national effort to encourage low income and minority students at an early age to pursue law and law related fields.

On Saturday, April 21, the Office of Transportation Services sponsored its annual Virginia Beach City Public Schools' Bus Safety "Roadeo" at Larkspur Middle School. The bus roadeo is a wonderful opportunity for our bus drivers to demonstrate their driving skill and qualify for regional, state, and even international competition. Each driver accumulated points based on his or her performance during the roadeo competition. Twenty-two of the school division's bus drivers participated in a variety of driving skill exercises such as backing up, parallel parking, pupil stop, railroad crossing, stopline, straight-line, offset alley, and diminishing clearance. Following the April 21 roadeo, four of our 22 bus drivers qualified to compete in the regional roadeo on May 19, to be hosted by Virginia Beach City Public Schools at Larkspur Middle School. The four Virginia Beach Bus drivers that will advance to the regional competition include: overall transit winner Tyler Reynolds, along with conventional winners Cheryl Ruffin – first place, Sue Baker – second place, and Kellie Westerman--third place.

A question many elementary school principals are asking is "Parents — have you registered your children for Kindergarten yet?" The school division recently held its annual Kindergarten Registration and Orientation for the 2007-2008 school year. This event was held for students who will have reached their fifth birthday by September 30, 2007. The events featured school tours, classroom visits, story time, and even a bus ride! School staffs were ready to assist parents with the registration process which includes documentation of proof of residence/address; a certified birth certificate; a physical examination report and current immunization record; the child's Social Security Number; and two emergency contact phone numbers. Kindergarten registration will continue at all elementary schools during regular school office hours between now and August, 2007. Parents are encouraged to register their child prior to the start of school. More detailed kindergarten registration information can be accessed on the "Student Registration" page found on the school division's home page.

Teacher Appreciation Week was celebrated last week, and schools throughout the division honored their outstanding teachers in many ways. At Three Oaks Elementary, for example, the PTA purchased Education Foundation Memberships in honor of each teacher at the school. These honorary memberships were part of the "Sow a Seed... Build A Future" campaign which is designed to recognize and thank outstanding teachers by contributing to the Education Foundation. The funds raised through these gift memberships will ultimately be used to fund grants for teachers and schools that will support innovative educational projects. I was on hand at Three Oaks to help award these memberships, enjoy the staff breakfast, and help celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week with the PTA, faculty and students.

Several congratulations are in order for this evening:

Congratulations to William Deck, in the Office of Health and Physical Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, who earned a grant from the Allstate Insurance Company in the amount of $10,000. These funds will be used to initiate the Partners for Safe Teen Driving Program which will educate parents in subjects such as current state driving laws, techniques for coaching their teen driver, requirements for the
40- hour teen driving log, and other important safety information for teen drivers.

Green Run, Hermitage, and Windsor Oaks Elementary Schools were recently named 2007 Title I Distinguished Schools. In order to be worthy of this award, schools must make adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the past two consecutive years, be fully accredited for the past two consecutive years, exceed the annual measurable objectives in English and mathematics for the past two consecutive years, and have a mean scale score at the 60th percentile in English and mathematics on the Standards of Learning assessments. Typically, a Title I Distinguished School is recognized for raising the academic achievement of economically disadvantaged students while exceeding federal objectives and state accreditation standards. Congratulations to students and staff at these three outstanding schools!

Congratulations also to Pembroke Meadows third grader Alainee B. for winning first place in the Virginia School Boards Association Regional Art Contest. Her entry, entitled "My Virginia Beach," will be framed and displayed for one year in the offices of the Virginia School Boards Association in Charlottesville as well as in the Office of the State Secretary of Education and State Superintendent of Public Instruction in Richmond.

First Colonial High School's debate team won 2nd place at the VHSL State Tournament which was held in Lynchburg on April 20 and 21. Mark H. is the state champion in the Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Paul B. took 3rd in Lincoln-Douglas. Team members who advanced to state are Catherine A., Paul B., Mark H., Isaac D., Greg L., and John W. Four of the team members, including Paul and Mark, are students in the Legal Studies Academy. The team is coached by Legal Studies Academy English teacher James Godfrey. Congratulations to all!

Congratulations also to Jo Ann Baxter, seventh grade social studies teacher at Corporate Landing Middle School, for winning the 2007 Teacher Award for Excellence in Holocaust Education sponsored by the Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. Ms. Baxter received her award on April 16th.

Cooke Elementary School's Anchor Club program, which serves needy Cooke students through after-school programs, homework assistance, and a hot meal program, has received a 2007 Excellence in Education Award from the Virginia Tech School of Education. This award recognizes quality programs and significant contributions to education in Virginia. The Anchor Club program was also recognized as a VBCPS Model Partnership in 2003.

On a final note, I would like to congratulate Birdneck Elementary School for achieving 100 percent PTA membership! This is the first time in 20 years that the school has reached this admirable goal. To commemorate the achievement, Principal Barbara Sessoms and yours truly were inspired to take a giant leap for students by doing a tandem parachute jump. VBTV's Newscan captured the big event.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes the Superintendent's Report for the evening.


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