Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board
September 19, 2006

Mr. Chairman, members of the School Board, and citizens of our community, my report this evening provides an overview of recent school system events and some of the accomplishments of our students and staff.

The new school year is in full swing, with students learning, teachers providing instruction, and parents and the community engaged in schools. Teachers throughout the city have returned to the classroom armed with new tips and techniques provided to them through summer training opportunities. One such opportunity was the Partnership Coordinator training, which was held on August 23rd at the ATC Theater, and was attended by 70 faculty members who are charged with coordinating meaningful community engagement in schools. Topics included; how to effectively engage the media, keeping a strong partnership program going, working with military partners, writing for an Education Foundation grant, and establishing mentorship programs. The theme of the event was"Partnerships…
no man is an island", representing the importance of schools and the community working together for the benefit of children.

The very next day, August 24th, also at the ATC Theater, the Department of Media and Communications held Media Liaison training. The Media Liaison is the designee at each school who is tasked with promoting and sharing good news stories, photo calendar items, and milestones from schools with the newspaper and local television stations. The annual training includes tips for identifying and promoting school news, a presentation from the Editor of the Virginia Beach Beacon, sharing of best practices among liaisons and instruction for working with the program's computer-based submission system. Media liaisons work tirelessly at promoting school news, and their efforts resulted in 2,902 positive media placements last year.

I have still more summer training to report… in June and August, teachers from across the city attended two extremely successful instructional institutes for professional development. Teachers earned APPLE points for their participation in the event, which offered a variety of sessions taught by Curriculum and Instruction coordinators and specialists, along with other educational experts. This staff development event helped teachers further develop their repertoire of best practices, empowering them with tools necessary to meet the needs of ALL students!

Speaking of ALL students, thousands have to get to school every day, and starting on September 11th, the buses that transport them are running on more efficient fuel. On September 11th, Virginia Beach City Public Schools became the largest bus fleet in the state to use biodiesel fuel. Two hundred of the school division's 600 buses are now using this cleaner-burning fuel. The fuel, made from renewable resources, reduces emissions and is more environmentally friendly. Long-term plans are in place to have biodiesel fuel available to the entire school bus fleet in the future. To commemorate the division's use of biodiesel fuel, David Pace, Director of Transportation, reaffirmed the school division's commitment to using a cleaner, environmentally friendly fuel at the opening of the new public biodiesel pump on Southern Boulevard, where 200 of our school buses refuel on a daily basis.

Trantwood Elementary School recently kicked off their participation in the Conscious Discipline Program, which is being initiated in other schools as well. This program is based on developing a school community that revolves around trust, respect, and the building of self worth in students. Teachers at Trantwood kicked things off in style, donning handmade aprons and hats at their classroom doors."What kind of greeting would you like?" was the question of the morning – with children choosing between a heart, snake, butterfly, fish, high five, and even a gorilla that have been adhered to each handmade apron and hat worn by teachers. The resulting gorilla or hissing-snake greeting, along with the ever popular high-five, started everyone's day off right and contributed to the program's great beginning.

If the gorilla greetings and hissing snakes weren't your style, there have been other special events and activities taking place throughout the division as well. One such example is the recent Chinese Zither ensemble performance at the Global Studies and World Languages Academy at Tallwood High School. Hundreds of people were in attendance to enjoy the Zither performance, which is part of a musical tour designed to promote a greater understanding of the Chinese culture.

As you know, September 11th marked the five year anniversary of the terrorist attacks that took the lives of thousands of Americans. To honor the memory of those who lost their lives that day--as well as to recognize our first responders and servicemen overseas-- Virginia Beach joined in a regional event called the "America Supports You Freedom Walk." Close to 1,500 citizens participated in the Virginia Beach walk, including many students from schools throughout the school division. Students and staff were out in force to participate in the solemn occasion--and the Chairman and I were proud to take part as well.

Several congratulations are in order this evening.

Diann Caviness, from Kempsville Middle School, was accepted as a Star member in the Discovery Educators Network (DEN). This award allows participants the opportunity to attend regional and national institutes, participate in DEN activities, and exchange resources and expertise with Discovery Educator Network Field Managers. Ms. Caviness also attended a day of exploration at NASA Langley in August, where she had the opportunity to enter a wind tunnel, build a rocket, network with educators from 5 states, explore the new interface of Unitedstreaming and gain insight into how to use Smart Technologies in schools. Sounds like a stellar opportunity!

Congratulations also to Arrowhead Elementary, Newtown Road Elementary, and Point O'View Elementary for having been published in the 2006"Promising Partnership Practices" compilation from the National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins University. The National Network of Partnership Schools initiative was undertaken by VBCPS in 2005, and empowers school communities with tools necessary to effectively engage parents and families. The"Promising Partnership Practices" recognition showcases best practices in parent and family involvement. Arrowhead's submission outlined their partnership with the USS San Jacinto. Newtown Road's entry highlighted their Science Sci-Fari Adventure, and Point O'View submitted their Beginning of the School Year Cookout for staff and families. These recognitions reflect the dedication of schools to engaging parents and families in their student's education. Thanks for your hard work and commitment!

Hard work and commitment led to yet another recognition for VBCPS educators. Katie Knapp and Norene Skiles of Windsor Oaks Elementary School were selected from a national pool of candidates to participate in the 2006 Microsoft US Innovative Teachers Forum. This forum is one of a series of events hosted by Microsoft around the world, and is designed to recognize and reward outstanding examples of educators collaborating and sharing technology expertise to build collective knowledge. Ms. Knapp and Ms. Skiles comprise one of twenty five learning teams invited to the U.S. Forum. In recognition of their outstanding efforts Microsoft will fund their travel to the Microsoft Corporate Campus in Redmond, Washington, to participate in the forum event on September 21st and 22nd.

Former Hermitage Elementary Principal Kathleen Starr (now Principal at Indian Lakes Elementary) presented at the 14th annual Model Schools Conference back in June, 2006. The conference was held in Kissimmee, Florida, and was attended by more than 8,000 participants. Kathleen Starr, along with teachers Michelle Redick and Mary Ellen Trivette, gave a presentation about strategies used at Hermitage to enhance language arts instruction and achieve student success, despite a high mobility rate at the school. They also discussed the schoolwide staff development model in place at Hermitage, which was recognized as a 2005 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School. The presentation also shared strategies for developing a professional learning community while implementing research-based reading comprehension strategies, skills, and metacognitive reflection. Congratulations on an outstanding presentation!

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

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