Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board
August 22, 2006

Mr. Chairman, members of the School Board, and 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.

As I continue to get to know Virginia Beach, I have had the opportunity to visit schools, including a recent visit to Seatack Elementary School. I spent some time in classrooms, and even had the chance to read with students. In one classroom, I read Arthur's Teacher Trouble-one of my favorites! At each year-round school I visited, I was gratified to see all the enthusiasm and excitement among students and staff, even though others were still relaxing and enjoying their summer!

While the year-round schools were getting underway, other summer activities continued throughout the school division. From August 7-11, students from the Spartan Prep Academy gathered at the ODU/NSU Center to celebrate their achievements and welcome 32 new students. This program, which was initiated in 2005 as a partnership between VBCPS and Norfolk State University, is designed to help those who would be first generation college students in their families to achieve academic success. Students were welcomed by motivational speaker Marlon Smith – and I had the pleasure of delivering closing remarks. It's so gratifying to take part in the many innovative events that are taking place all summer long!

Teachers have been hard at work as well, honing their skills for the start of a new school year. Staff training was held recently for use of the new Web-based software Pinnacle Plus. Pinnacle Plus is designed to streamline and simplify various teacher functions such as: taking attendance, recording assignments, calculating and reporting student grades and performance. This "grade book" software will be implemented and used by elementary and secondary teachers starting with the 2006-2007 school year and will replace ClassXP and IntegradePro. Since this program is Web-based, it will be accessible from any computer – on or off-site – connected to the Internet. The Department of Technology will train over 6,000 staff members in the use of this software between now and the end of the first grading period, and has a long list of new initiatives and plans for the upcoming year!

Speaking of training, I had the pleasure of attending the VBCPS Administrators' Leadership Conference last week. The theme of the event was "Bridging the Gap, Reaching for Excellence", and drew 410 Administrators to Landstown Middle School to learn strategies for performance excellence and achievement for all students. In addition, this event supports the Department of School Administration's three-year plan for professional development. Dr. Adolph Brown was among the speakers and presenters, along with Jamie Almanzan, Riney Jordan, and Todd Whitaker. Administrators gained skills in bridging achievement gaps, fostering resilience in children, cultivating exceptional leadership skills, among others. The event, which was orchestrated by the Office of Organizational Development, provided an excellent opportunity for administrators to network, share ideas, and learn – all in an enjoyable and entertaining environment!

The VBCPS Annual SCA Summer Student Leadership Workshops were held recently at Virginia Wesleyan College for student leaders from each of our middle and high schools. This year's theme, "Meant to Serve" brought 120 middle school students and 126 high school students to the workshop, each for a week long session. There were also additional forums held relating to debate, forensics, and diversity, along with advisors' and coaches' workshops. The Office of Student Activities coordinates the workshop which is planned and implemented by 26 staff members, all graduates of VBCPS who are now attending college or teaching in our school system. School delegations worked together to develop their leadership skills and to plan school spirit and teambuilding activities that they will take back to their individual schools.

This week marks new teacher orientation, which kicks off each new school year. This training, known as TOCLI, stands for the Teacher Orientation and Continuous Learning Institute, and is being attended by the 336 new teachers who have been hired to date for 2006-2007. Hosted by the Office of Organizational Development, TOCLI was designed to welcome teachers new to our school system. The orientation also provides a networking opportunity for teachers new to Virginia Beach, regardless of their level of experience. I had the opportunity to deliver opening remarks and participate in an activity today that followed up on FISH and Core Values training. I was tremendously impressed by the incredible enthusiasm of the group and delighted to take part in the event. We wish our new teachers well!

Students – when you do get back to school – and some of you are already there, you'll have the opportunity to protect our environment by recycling in your very own school! This year, the Department of Administrative Support services is coordinating and implementing a system-wide recycling program to be sure that all of us in VBCPS do our part to reduce waste. In preparation for this initiative, each and every one of the 4,500 classrooms in the school division has been equipped with a blue recycling container. To encourage students and staff to recycle, every school will receive recycling kits targeted for students and custodial staff. The kits contain a musical rap DVD which features students and custodial staff promoting recycling in the classroom. What a great opportunity for each of us to do our part to take care of our environment and reduce waste!

Parents, are you tired of searching for lunch money, or running to the school because your child has lost theirs? Well, your worries are over! Effective September 1, 2006, Virginia Beach City Public Schools will offer the opportunity to make payments – via an online account – for breakfast, lunch, or a la carte items using your Visa, Master Card, or debit card. Simply log on to mySchoolBucks.com, on the school division's website, www.vbschools.com. There, you will find lots of options; you can prepay money directly into your child's account; set up low-balance e-mail reminders; schedule recurring payments – and even monitor the foods your child is purchasing. Kids – no more french fry lunches – your parents can monitor what you buy, so make healthy choices!

Student safety is always among our top priorities. To ensure that our school staffs are prepared to handle an emergency situation in their school, staff from the Office of Safe Schools and Risk Management provided safe schools training for principals and assistant principals last week at Salem High School. Dick Ponti, director of the Office of Safe Schools and Risk Management, provided those attending the workshop with a thorough update of safe school initiative such as: providing a safe environment for students in partnership with the Virginia Beach Police Department--including awareness of issues related to gang activity; reviewing occupational training requirements mandated by OSHA; and reviewing guidelines for school staff to follow in the event of a school emergency. Presenters walked workshop attendees through a tabletop crisis exercise that was intended to prepare school staff to appropriately respond should a crisis occur in their school.

Staying on top of trends for technology educators is a key focus area as well. On August 8-10, I delivered greetings to computer resource specialists from all schools, who attended the first CRS Summer Conference at Tallwood High School. The conference was a new approach to providing professional development for VBCPS computer resource specialists, as each individual had the option to attend breakout sessions that met their individual needs and interests. Attendees chose from among 70 breakout sessions offered during the three days of the conference. Sessions were conducted by computer resource specialists, as well as staff from the Department of Technology, the Office of Curriculum and Instruction, and the Office of Programs for Exceptional Children. One CRS reported that "this was the best week of training we've ever had. It allowed us to experience a variety of sessions and also allowed us to spend a lot of time collaborating with each other."

Throughout my first weeks here in Virginia Beach, I have been amazed by the diversity of programs offered throughout our schools. As one such example, for the first time in school division history, Arabic is being offered as an elective foreign language course. Eighteen students from the Global Studies and World Languages Academy at Tallwood High School will begin Arabic classes in September. Worldwide, Arabic is spoken by approximately 270 million people, and it is the official language of more than two dozen countries and territories. It's outstanding to see such relevant and diverse course offerings for our students.

Several congratulations are in order this evening.

From the Legal Studies Academy at First Colonial High School… Mrs. Leslie Shoemake attended two summer institutes at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Both Institutes, "DNA, Drugs, and the Law", and "A Survey of Forensic Science", will help Mrs. Shoemake create more exciting and hands-on lessons for her Legal Studies Academy Biology and Forensic Science students. Mrs. Shoemake is excited to get back to the classroom to share what she has learned with her students. Great job developing your professional skills!

Congratulations to the Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union for receiving the Outstanding Business/Industry Award 2006 from the Virginia Association of Teachers of Family and Consumer Sciences. This award, which recognizes business and industry partners throughout the state that support family and consumer sciences programs is given in recognition of a partnership that was awarded a Model Partnership distinction in 2006. The Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union serves our schools as a Partner in Education in various ways, including offering financial education to schools, assisting teachers with curriculum development and industry trends, and service on the Partnership Advisory Link. Thanks to this organization for their support, and congratulations on your award!

Congratulations also to Linkhorn Park Elementary School for being honored as one of sixteen national recipients of the 2006 Intel and Scholastic Schools of Distinction Award. This award, which was given to Linkhorn Park for Science Achievement, honors schools for implementing innovative and replicable programs that positively impact student achievement. Linkhorn Park, home of the elementary level Mathematics and Science Academy, will be awarded a $10,000 cash grant from the Intel Foundation at an awards gala to be held on October 5th in Washington, D.C. At this event, one elementary and one secondary school will be named "Best of the Best" from this year's 16 honorees. Best of luck at this next level of competition, and many thanks for a job well done!

Mr. Chairman, It's my honor to bring you some truly outstanding news regarding the division's Standards of Learning test results. Based on the preliminary analysis of data, the Department of Accountability projects that 100 percent of our schools will earn full SOL accreditation! That's right, for the second year in a row, the hard work of our students, teachers, and entire school community has paid off. Our targeted teaching strategies, our collaboration between schools and the curriculum team, and the continued support of our parents are all integral components of our success.

This wonderful news deserves a hearty round of applause. Please join me in celebrating our collective achievement!

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


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