Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board

Superintendent's Report
April 22, 2008

Chairman Edwards, Vice Chairman Bellitto, and members of the Board, I would like to begin my report tonight with information regarding a project we initiated last year – the development of our six-year Strategic Plan for Student Success called Compass to 2015.

We have taken a highly organized, inclusive approach to the development of the new strategic plan which will be presented to the School Board and the community this coming fall. Parents, students, community members, teachers, administrators, and staff are all stakeholders in our public schools, and their input and assistance is central to the strategic plan that will ultimately emerge.

To that end, in addition to conducting focus groups with a cross-section of these stakeholders in March, we invited all Virginia Beach residents to participate in two Compass to 2015 events at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

On April 2, futurist Dr. Marvin Cetron, of Forecasting International, presented his thoughts on likely trends and issues affecting education in Virginia Beach. We know that a crucial part of designing an effective long-range plan lies in being able to anticipate events that may impact our schools, students, and staff in the future. Dr. Cetron shared his forecasts related to population growth, technology, the economy, diversity, job training, and societal values. His presentation was followed by a question and answer session for event attendees.

The public discussion continued last week at our Town Hall Meeting held on April 15. Hundreds of school and community members participated in roundtable discussions regarding their vision of the future for Virginia Beach Schools. Engaging all students in rigorous and relevant instruction and developing 21st century skills for the global information society were among the top priorities identified. Because the division's six-year strategic plan involves the commitment of millions of Virginia Beach citizens' tax dollars in terms of operating budget costs, we want and value their input as we prioritize school division needs to design a plan that offers all of our students the best education possible.

It is our hope that in anticipating future challenges and in eliciting community and school input, we will create a strategic plan that will align needs and wants not only for the immediate future, but for years to come.

In addition to the Compass to 2015 events, there is news to share of recent citywide celebrations, school events, and educational programs followed by our students' and staff accomplishments.
The division recognized our Partners in Education at a citywide Appreciation Reception on March 19. The celebration honors our schools' partnerships with more than 2,100 community organizations, and recognized fourteen schools and their respective partners as 2008 Model Partnerships.

April is National Volunteer Month, and the division honored each school's Volunteer of the Year at a reception on April 17. In addition, the Virginia Beach Council of PTAs selected three citywide Volunteers of the Year: Jowain Brinkley from Bayside High School, Jeffrey Heller from Landstown Middle School, and Mary Richardson from King's Grant Elementary School.

On April 2, the Department of Human Resources held a "Teacher Transfer Meet and Greet" event for priority transfer and voluntary transfer teachers. The event allowed teachers to drop off résumés and to make quick introductions to principals and administrators from all of the division's schools.

Three Oaks Elementary was the site of the inaugural Lunchbox Derby, where fourth-graders created cars made of fruits and vegetables to learn about force, motion, and energy. Cucumbers, carrots, oranges, and lemons were made ready to race with a few toothpicks and rubber bands.

Holland Elementary hosted "Girls Night Out" and "Boys Night Out" in March. Female students heard from guest speakers such as mayor Meyera Oberndorf and ODU Field Hockey coach Beth Anders. "Boys Night Out" featured speakers Kurt Williams from WTKR-TV and ODU baseball coach Jerry Myers, among others.

Students in First Colonial High School's Virginia Teach for Tomorrow class recently visited with members of School Administration to learn more about the education profession. In its inaugural year, the class is being taught at First Colonial, Kellam, Ocean Lakes and Tallwood high schools with plans to add more schools in the future.

Students at Trantwood Elementary are participating in an after-school language class to learn Chinese. Trantwood teacher Angie Munari coordinates the program with the help of Tallwood High School teacher Dr. Nora Zhang.
High school students at Cox, Kempsville, Ocean Lakes, and Princess Anne participated in their schools' Leadership Workshops in March and April. At the overnight weekend retreats, students received leadership skills training and worked in councils on teambuilding activities.

Congratulations are in order for several students this evening:
Advanced Technology Center students on team "Sink Oar Swim" won the Best Design Notebook award in a regional boat design competition in March. The team's boat has been commissioned to be built by a Northrup Grumman apprentice school. A second ATC team, "Chicken of the Sea," also won two first-place awards for construction drawing and performance requirements.

Cox High School students Kathryn S, Noah R, and Caroline G were recently awarded the Virginia Spirit of the Commonwealth Award. The honor is awarded by the Virginia Department of Education and recognizes students who have demonstrated academic achievement, well-rounded participation in school activities, and community and civic responsibility.

Students from Independence Middle, Kemps Landing Magnet, Landstown High, Princess Anne High, and the Advanced Technology Center were award winners in the Senior Division of The Great Computer Challenge. The Challenge is a competitive opportunity for students in grades K-12 to demonstrate their skills in various computer applications and computer programming.

Nine students from First Colonial High School's Legal Studies Academy won first place in the Virginia High School Mock Trial Tournament. The team will represent Virginia at the National High School Mock Trial Competition being held in Delaware in May.

In addition to our award-winning students, congratulations are in order for many staff members as well.
Ginny O'Malley, Kingston Elementary School's Gifted Resource Teacher, was recently honored by the Zonta Club of Hampton Roads with one of its 2008 Women's Achievement Awards. Ginny was one of three regional honorees who were recognized for their contributions to improving the status of women through leadership, advocacy, and service.

Connie Pritchard, Computer Resource Specialist at Independence Middle School, is the recipient of an Excellence in Technology Award from WHRO and the Consortium for Interactive Instruction. She was named "Technology Integrator of the Year" for her work in helping teachers effectively utilize technology in their classrooms.

Art teachers Leslie Barham, Cindy Copperthite, and Kay Hofler were acknowledged by the College Board for submitting an AP Art History syllabus that was cited as being "among the very best for its clarity and comprehensiveness." It stood out among the nearly 150,000 syllabi in 37 subjects from AP teachers around the world. Their syllabus will be used as a model for other teachers in College Board workshops and posted on AP Central as a Sample Syllabus.

Our schools are also winning awards -

Princess Anne High School's program, Using Data to Build a Learning Community, has been awarded a Virginia Tech 2008 Excellence in Education Award. The school will receive a Plaque of Recognition at a ceremony in Blacksburg and a $500 award to support the program.

Lastly tonight - this week, teachers and staff are submitting applications for the Education Foundation's Schoolwide Grants to support their innovative classroom projects. One means of raising grant funds includes the Foundation's raffle of a 2008 Kia Sportage donated by Greenbrier-Lynnhaven Kia. Raffle tickets are available for $5.00 each at most schools and school office buildings. The drawing for the one winning ticket will be held at the Education Foundation annual golf tournament on June 19 at Heron Ridge Golf Club.

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

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