Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board
October 17, 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.

As part of my ongoing effort to meet each and every person in Virginia Beach, a welcoming reception was held on September 25th to assist in this process. The theme of the event was "Setting Sail for Student Success," and the theme and décor reflected my personal interest in sailing. There were two receptions held that evening; one for Virginia Beach City Public School staff, and another for any Virginia Beach community members who wanted to drop by and say hello. In total, more than five hundred-fifty people attended the event, and I had the chance to speak with many of them. It was gratifying to be surrounded by such a sea of welcoming faces, and I thank all of you who made the time to attend.

The Office of Community Relations also recently held a Volunteer Certification Training course, which was held each Wednesday in September. School Volunteer Coordinators, along with other PTA members and even some staff members attended to learn best practices in managing volunteer programs. Topics included the process for volunteer management, theories of volunteer motivation, tips for recognizing volunteers, and understanding School Volunteer Guidelines. Attendees who were present at all four sessions earned standing as official "VBCPS Volunteer Coordinators," bringing the total number of Certified Volunteer Coordinators throughout the division to more than one hundred.

This past weekend, the National African American School Board Members Council summit was held at the Doubletree Hotel. This event, which was spearheaded by the tenacious efforts of our very own Sandra Smith-Jones, was a grand success and I am very pleased that Virginia Beach hosted the summit. The conference featured nationally known speakers such as Andrew Young, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, along with the Honorable Tim Kaine, Governor of Virginia. The theme for this year's summit was An Agenda for Success: Increasing Reading, Math, and Science Achievement with Equity, Excellence and High Expectations. Other highlights included Congressman Robert C. Scott moderating the Congressional Black Caucus Forum, along with Virginia Beach City Public School system members who shared details of initiatives in our school division – including year-round school, curriculum strategies, diversity initiatives, technology in the classroom, and parent involvement strategies through the division's partnership with the National Network of Partnership Schools.

Speaking of the National Network of Partnership Schools, training was held yesterday for the nearly forty schools who participate in this parent/family involvement initiative. Action Teams from these schools consist of a cross section of the school community including administrators, Partnership Coordinators, teachers, PTA, and other school staff. Nearly one hundred strong in total, these action team members met for half a day to update their plans for parent and family involvement for 2006-2007 to align with current school data. Special outreaches of this program include breaking down barriers to communication with underserved (or "hard to reach") parents, working with military families, and the latest addition (coming in February, 2007) – meeting the specific needs of single-parent families.

Several congratulations are in order this evening.

Congratulations are in order for several of our school board members who have earned awards from the Virginia School Board Association (or VSBA) for attending the VSBA Academy to improve boardsmanship skills. Tonight, Certificates of Recognition from VSBA have been placed at the seats of Em Davis, Carolyn Weems, Dan Lowe, and Dan Edwards. An Award of Honor and a gold pin have been given to Sandra Smith-Jones. Outstanding effort in earning these awards!

Virginia Beach City Public Schools' Student Portal Project received honorable mention in the Innovation in K-12 Education category during the Seventh Annual Governor's Technology Awards of the Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium (COVITS) 2006. The Innovation in K-12 Education category recognizes the innovative use of technology to provide improved service delivery to Virginia's school children. Specifically, the Student Portal Project is an initiative implemented during the 2005-2006 school year to provide a secure electronic file storage system for approximately 40,000 students in grades 6-12. The Student Portal, developed by the school division's Department of Technology, enables middle and high school students the ability to save their work and submit it electronically to their teachers. Congratulations on the honorable mention!

On another note, David S., of Salem High School, was recently selected as a member of the 2006-2007 Virginia Music Educators Association "Senior Honors" all-state chorus. This elite choir is comprised of seniors who are qualified via a state-wide audition process. 2006-2007 marks the 17th consecutive year that Salem has earned representation in Senior Honors choir.

Speaking of musical talent, Ocean Lakes High School Band Director Leah Greber has impressed Ocean Lakes parents so much that one parent nominated her to be a WTKR "Community Star!" News anchor Kurt Williams made a surprise presentation during the school day on September 22! Ms. Greber's accomplishments are many. She was recently asked to direct the Chesapeake All-City Sixth Grade Band, and her Marching Dolphins won the honor of Overall Grand Champion at the Neptune Festival-Marlin Classic in addition to seven other first place honors in the competition. These are stellar achievements from our "Community Star"!

Another exemplary award was received by Jill Belch, third grade teacher at Cooke Elementary, who was honored as a winner of the 2006 National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and You (NAEHCY) award for Outstanding Individual Working in A Program. Ms. Belch was selected for her efforts on behalf of the homeless children and youth in Virginia Beach. As head of the Anchor Club, an after-school program which helps homeless and other students complete homework, receive a hot meal, and have a safe place to go in the afternoons, Ms. Belch provides an invaluable service to students with unique needs.

This just in from the Department of Technology... Laura Daigle, Desktop Support Technician (and former Kempsville High School Business and Information Technology Student), has been featured in a statewide 2006-2007 Fast Forward Academic Planning Calendar in the month of November. This calendar, produced by the Virginia Career Education Foundation, features recent graduates who completed Technical and Career Education high school programs in high school, highlighting "success stories" among these graduates. The calendar was customized with VBCPS school calendar events and issued to all 9th grade students in Virginia Beach to assist with planning academic and career future goals. Great work!

And last, but certainly not least... the Office of Organizational Development was awarded a grant in the amount of One hundred thousand dollars by the Virginia Department of Education! This leadership preparation grant is designed to reform and strengthen educational leadership and establish principals as the instructional leaders of their schools. This most recent grant enhances and expands upon programs made possible by a one hundred thousand dollar grant received in 2004. The initiative developed on receipt of the initial grant, (and expanded with this most recent addition) is called Leaders Mentoring Leaders, and it will provide professional development that enhances the learning partnership of school leaders and their mentors. Dr. Charles Spivey will manage this program initiative –best of luck with this great program!

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

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