Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board
December 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.

Let's begin with an opportunity! On behalf of Teacher Forum Leadership Council, I am issuing a special invitation to the School Board. As you know, a day in the life of a School Board member is never dull, but Teacher Forum Leadership Council is poised to make upcoming days super exciting for all of our Board Members as they are offered the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a teacher. The Teacher Shadowing Program will pair a School Board member with a member of Teacher Forum Leadership Council. For those in the viewing public, Teacher Forum Leadership Council comprises past and current Virginia Beach City Public Schools' Teachers of the Year, along with the finalists for this distinction. Teacher Forum provides valuable input to school system leadership on educational issues in Virginia Beach. The Teacher Shadowing Program has been in effect for several years. It allows Board members an up close and personal view of the jobs and responsibilities associated with a typical teacher work day. School Board members able to spend time with a teacher certainly will find this a rewarding experience, as will the teacher, I am sure. In fact, I understand those Board members who have participated in the past have found that it gives them a valuable perspective. We all know this is a busy time of the year so you might even consider participating for a half a day, if your schedule permits. I am pleased to report that I have received the invitation to participate as well and, like board members, will have the opportunity to observe a variety of instructional methods, view classroom management strategies, see how technology is integrated into the classroom, and experience first hand the joys of teaching. In addition, our chance to "walk a mile in their shoes" will provide valuable insights into the power and effectiveness of best practices in the classroom. These visits are slated to begin in the very near future and I look forward to reporting back on the lessons we inevitably will learn!

The holidays are in full swing in Virginia Beach, with schools throughout the division enjoying fun winter holiday activities. At Seatack Elementary, for example, the Tetra Companies (one of Seatack's Partners in Education) recently hosted – for the 11th consecutive year – a holiday party for students. Santa and his elves were on hand for a visit – and each child had the opportunity to talk to him and receive a gift, courtesy of the Tetra Companies. Believe it or not, there was even a real live camel joining in the fun!

This community and its schools certainly know how to celebrate. I recently had the pleasure of serving as the Grand Marshall at the Virginia Beach Holiday Parade which was held at 15th Street and Atlantic Avenue at the Oceanfront. Many Virginia Beach schools were represented there – including a number of marching bands. There were also parade floats, including Santa and his elves, along with plenty of merriment for all.

Merriment abounds in Virginia Beach, but so does good will. Landstown High School's model partnership with Operation Blessing is in full swing, reaching out to others during this holiday season through "A Helping Hand for the Holidays" program. More than 200 students unloaded 29,615 pounds of food and then bagged it into individual meals for delivery to Virginia Beach families on December 14. There was also a silent auction and luncheon held today, the proceeds of which are slated to help needy families during this holiday season as well. These events mark the sixth consecutive year that Landstown students have worked in conjunction with Operation Blessing to reach out to area families.

On another important subject, I am pleased to report that several Virginia Beach City Public Schools staff presented at the annual Technology Leadership Conference in Roanoke in late November. This annual conference provides the opportunity for technology instructional leaders and other personnel to share best practices and become informed about state initiatives. Virginia Beach presenters included Kim Adams, Distance Learning Teacher Specialist; Marty Smith, Coordinator for Quality Assurance and Customer Support; and Bill Johnsen, Director of Instructional Technology.

Speaking of best practices,
Hermitage Elementary's renovation project, completed in March 2005, was recently named a 2005 Merit Award winner by the Virginia Beach Planning Commission. The Planning Commission Design Awards Program annually recognizes creative and innovative development solutions, in the city of Virginia Beach, for projects involving the "built" environment. Hermitage Elementary School, designed by Moseley Architects and built by Oyster Point Construction, earned its Green Building Certification due to the many environmental amenities incorporated into the building and site design. Hermitage Elementary School also has the distinction of becoming the first certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) elementary school in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Now some news from one of our academies... The juniors and seniors from the Legal Studies Academy at First Colonial High School have been very busy this year. During the months of October and November, they have visited Regent Law School, The Marshall-Wythe School of Law at The College of William & Mary, and the forensics and criminal justice programs at Virginia Commonwealth University. The students received in-depth tours of the various campuses. They had a chance to sit in on classes and meet with admissions officers and current students for question-answer sessions. At Regent, the Legal Studies Academy students were invited to participate in a group activity in the Legal Research & Writing class. The trips provided great information for these students as they begin the college application process. VCU even treated the students to lunch in the campus dining hall. It was a great way to experience a day in the life of a college student.

It's also a treat for me to share that our school system has recently held a major event designed to recognize the dedicated service provided by our employees who have served the division for 25 and 30 plus years. Collectively, 277 school employees who have rendered 7,805 years of service to Virginia Beach City Public Schools were recognized for their contributions at a banquet held recently at the Hilton Oceanfront Hotel. The division's Department of Human Resources coordinated the event to say "thank you" to these long time employees. Each employee received personalized mementos to mark the occasion. Also recognized was one 45-year employee, Barbara McMillan, Guidance Department Chair, Open Campus High School, who received a standing ovation for her many years of dedicated service to the division.As a division we greatly appreciate the contributions of these valued employees.

Several congratulations are in order for this evening:

Congratulations to Kathy O'Brien from Arrowhead Elementary and Becky Horstman from Hermitage Elementary on their winning lesson plans as selected by the Virginia Council on Economic Education. Becky's second place lesson was entitled "Choices, Choices!," and Kathy's third place lesson was called "Walter the Baker." This well deserved honor exemplifies these teachers' commitment to innovation and best practices.

Birdneck Elementary School recently received a $10,000 grant from the Boeing Corporation, one of Birdneck's Partners in Education. This money, which was presented to the school on December 5, will be used for teacher training in the areas of math and science. Training will be provided in the area of Probability for all math teachers at Birdneck. Training will also take place in the use of Probe Sensors and white boards to enhance math and science lessons. In addition, the Boeing Company has purchased 30 microscopes and will provide training in scientific investigation and the use of the new microscopes for grades 4 and 5.

Several Virginia Beach high school students were winners of the ACT-SO Award, which is sponsored by the NAACP. This year-long enrichment program and contest promotes positive self-esteem, academic and artistic excellence, and positive interaction between youth and the adult community. The winners of this award include:

Congratulations on these impressive awards.

From Landstown Middle School, Audreanna P. has taken third place in a contest sponsored by Eastern Virginia Medical School. This contest, which is called "Vaccines 4 Tweens n Teens," is designed to encourage students to get all their required immunizations. Audreanna's award was given for her original logo which promotes student immunizations. Great job!

Paula L., an eighth grader at Lynnhaven Middle School has been selected to serve on the Virginia Board of Education's 2006-2007 Student Advisory Committee. The committee and board members met for the first time in Richmond on Tuesday, December 12. In the coming months, the students will identify and research issues of concern to public school students and report their findings and recommendations to the board in the spring. Nominees must demonstrate solid academic performance, strong communication and leadership skills, involvement in a variety of school and community activities, and an interest in learning about and contributing to state policies related to public education. Congratulations, Paula!

Here's a bit of news from Ocean Lakes High School. Fifteen Ocean Lakes High School students participated in the 7th Annual Christopher Newport University Math Competition in November. The senior team of Neal F., Will C., Eduardo G. and Kunle D. earned first place in the team round. Swarnali S., Adrian A., Sohini S. and Zack G. earned fourth place, and Zack was also the top scoring freshman in the competition.

Also from Ocean Lakes... The boys' and girls' varsity soccer teams earned the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Team Academic Award for exemplary performance in the classroom as a team during the
2005-06 academic year. Only 45 schools in the nation received honors for both their boys' and girls' teams, and Ocean Lakes was one of three schools in Virginia. To qualify for the award, the team had to have had a minimum grade point average of 3.25 for the entire academic year. The boys' and girls' teams are coached by Don Hart and Christine Thornton, respectively. Congratulations!

And finally, this from the Virginia PTA... Debbie McCormack has been selected the Virginia PTA Secondary Volunteer of the Year. This statewide award is given for exemplary volunteerism in schools, and is a reflection of Debbie's volunteer service at Brandon Middle School. As the 2006 Volunteer of the Year from Brandon Middle School and the 2006 PTA Citywide Volunteer of the Year for Middle Schools, Debbie is certainly a deserving recipient of this honor. It is gratifying to have one of our outstanding volunteers win this statewide award, and is also a testament to the outstanding volunteers who serve in our schools every day. Congratulations!

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

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