Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board

Superintendent's Report
January 22, 2008

January is special month in our schools. It's Reading Month which often involves adults visiting schools to read to students. I had the pleasure of visiting several schools to read to students, among them Pembroke Meadows and Malibu elementary schools. It was great to share the joy of reading with the children there. I couldn't have asked for better audiences!

Of course, reading is important all year long. Just ask SPCA volunteer Sharon Thoma and her dog Daisy. They come to Ocean Lakes Elementary every Thursday as part of the Listening Ears program. Selected students who may need additional practice with their reading skills read to Daisy. Sharon offers assistance if needed and supervises each session.

We all know that spelling is an essential element to reading and literacy. To underline that fact, Seatack Elementary sponsors an annual spelling bee for third graders. This year's Bee was held in December and I had the privilege of attending the awards ceremony. The winners are pictured here along with Seatack Principal Larry Ames.

January is also National Mentoring Month and I'm pleased to report that mentorship programs are alive and well in schools across the city. Mentors play an important role in working with our children and youth and the division is fortunate in the number of mentors who volunteer to work with our students.

For example, the First Colonial students I mentioned in last month's report continue to mentor and tutor younger students at Alanton and Linkhorn Park elementary schools.

Kemps Landing Magnet School students also serve as mentors. Once a week they eat lunch with their "lunch buddies" at Pembroke Elementary School. They also participate in such fun activities as movie and popcorn day.  

We know how powerful these one-on-one relationships can be and the tremendous impact they can have on young lives. We salute all our mentors and thank them for their service!

We also thank the Virginia Beach Schools Education Foundation for all that it does for our students and schools. This year it awarded $119,000 to teachers and schools to fund projects designed to enhance student achievement. These awards were part of the Teacher Grants Improve Futures (TGIF) event held at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts. A highlight of the evening was the announcement of this year's winning Education Foundation poster, The Beginning, created by Thoroughgood Elementary School computer resource specialist Dottie Holtz. Congratulations to her and to all who received grant funding.

And speaking of the Education Foundation, Board members are launching a fundraising campaign to raise $600,000 by June 30, 2009. According to Board Chairman Tom Wilson, Board members understand the need for increasing fundraising goals in order to keep pace with student and school needs. The campaign – Go Beyond – is emblematic of our community's willingness to "go beyond" what it may have contributed in the past in terms of support and funding. Not only do our volunteers and partners typically increase what they do for our students and schools, but our teachers consistently "go beyond" what is expected through their efforts to implement their grant-funded projects. 

Several congratulations are in order for this evening:

Bayside Elementary principal Janet Zitt was recently awarded the James D. Mullins Leadership Award. As a recipient of this award, Mrs. Zitt receives the title of Reading Administrator of the Year from the Virginia Beach Reading Council. The award was established in 1994 to recognize administrators who show exceptional support for reading. She will now be endorsed as the Virginia Beach nominee for this award at the state level.

Also honored was Mary Ellen Trivette who was recently named the Virginia Beach Reading Teacher of the Year. Currently, she is a third-grade teacher at Indian Lakes Elementary School. She is known for her ability to connect with and reach students, inspiring even the most reluctant reader. An example of her due diligence is her entire class scoring a perfect score of 600 on the social studies SOL test last spring. Good luck to Mary Ellen Trivette, who now moves on to statewide competition.

Steve LePock, the school division's occupational safety/loss control specialist in the office of safe schools and risk management, was recently honored by the American Society of Safety Engineers' (ASSE) Greater Tidewater Chapter with the Safety Professional of the Year (SPY) Award. Steve is only the second person in chapter history to serve two terms as president.

Congratulations to VBCPS' Department of Technology (DOT) on being featured in a new Microsoft brochure about the use of innovative technology in education. DOT's comprehensive effort to migrate the division's entire enterprise system to a single platform is highlighted in a detailed two-page article. Featured in the article is the fact that in addition to consolidating infrastructure DOT implemented the use of SharePoint to meet the division's educational mission. As a result, students from grades five through 12 now can access their own active directory accounts and private SharePoint sites from anywhere. SharePoint allows students to work securely on individual projects while also accommodating collaboration when needed. In addition, students in lower grades can use SharePoint through generic accounts with auto-logins. To read the article in its entirety, go to the Microsoft website at http://www.microsoft.com/education/partnerships.mspx.

Tallwood High School recently hosted a Living the Dream summit for its ninth- and tenth-grade African American male students as well as its eighth-grade neighbors from Brandon Middle School. Among the events was a panel discussion of African American educators and businessmen who shared stories of how they became successful. The program also focused on topics such as preparing for the Standards of Learning (SOL) tests and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT); building effective relationships with teachers; using technology to improve tests scores; the importance of enrolling in rigorous courses; and how to deal with peer pressure. According to principal Jobynia Caldwell, the summit was developed to address the pressing need to improve the academic achievement of African American males – a goal that is also resident in the School Board's Program of Work for the entire school division.

Several students also deserve our congratulations:

The school division website – vbschools.com – recently added a new section, Green Schools, which focuses on the innovative conservation efforts found in every office and school throughout the school district. Visitors to the site can find out how many plastic milk cartons and tons of classroom materials are recycled each month. On the Green Schools home page, you can also read and subscribe to the school division's sustainable newsletter Green News.

Another feature we've added to the website is podcasting. This new feature is part of vbschools.com's Podcast/Video/Audio Library. Visitors to the library will  be able to listen to and/or view School Board Recognitions, the Superintendent's Report, and How in the World – an original program produced by VBTV. Visitors can either view or hear selections currently available through the Podcast/Video/Audio Library via streaming audio/video. There is also an option to subscribe to the programs that offer a podcast feature. Subscribers automatically receive the new audio or video file over the Internet to a computer they designate. The files can then be downloaded to a portable MP3 or MP4 device such as an iPod and played any where or any time. You can find directions on how to access the podcasts on the home page of vbschools.com.

Governor Kaine recently signed a Certificate of Recognition for the State Board and State Department of Education to recognize the tireless efforts of Virginia's principals in educating our children. In so doing, he named last week January 14-18, Virginia Schools Principals' Week. In light of this certificate, it is my pleasure to officially recognize Virginia Beach schools' principals and to thank them for the outstanding job they do, every day, month, and year. Our school division has not made AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) for three years running and attained full accreditation for all its testing schools for three years without having superior leadership in our schools. Please join me in a round of applause for this dedicated and talented group of professionals. 

Governor Kaine and the Virginia Board of Education also recently announced that 62 of our testing schools have earned awards of excellence. Five schools - Creeds Elementary School, Kemps Landing Magnet School, King's Grant Elementary School, Old Donation Center, and Princess Anne High School – are recipients of the prestigious Governor's Award for Educational Excellence. This is the highest honor under a new incentive program to advance the Governor's Competence to Excellence agenda. The school division as a whole and 35 individual schools earned the Board of Education's Virginia Index of Performance (VIP) Excellence Award while an additional 22 schools received the Board of Education's VIP Competence to Excellence Award. The school division recently sent out a news release linking to a complete list of the schools. You can find it on our website, vbschools.com. I would like to add a special congratulation to these 62 schools, their students, teachers, administrators and support staff.

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


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