Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board

Superintendent's Report
October 21, 2008

Chairman Edwards, Vice Chairman Bellitto, and members of the Board –

Earlier this month, the Virginia Department of Education released On-Time Graduation Rates for every school district in the state. As a cohort, Virginia Beach students in the Class of 2008 exceeded the state rate of 81 percent with almost 83 percent graduating on time.  The On-Time Graduation Rate provides a more accurate picture of student achievement than previously reported graduation rates because it is not an estimated rate.  It tracks individual student-level data over the four years of a traditional high school career to determine the percentage of students who graduate on time.  It also takes into consideration student mobility, changes in student enrollment, and policy and instructional practices such as ninth grade retention. The baseline data provided this first year will help school administration set targets and identify areas where additional resources are needed to increase the graduation rate percentages in the future.

As always, students and staff in the division are busy with many citywide and school events —

The annual United Way Campaign began yesterday and continues through November 7.  You may designate all or a portion of your United Way gift to specific charities, agencies, and independent organizations, such as the Virginia Beach Education Foundation which supports teacher grants.  Last year, employee and student contributions to the campaign totaled $515,000, and we look forward to another successful year of supporting the United Way with donations and volunteers.

Last week, the school division honored 89 Teachers of the Year at the “Big Apple for the Teacher” celebration. Finalists Carolyn Dusenbury, Keitha Havey, Camille Grabb, and Melissa Schultz were recognized, and Citywide Teacher of the Year Amanda Ash of Open Campus spoke to the group regarding her experiences with and passion for alternative education.

On October 15, high school sophomores, juniors, and select freshmen took the Preliminary SAT, or PSAT, at their schools.  By taking the PSAT, juniors may qualify for various National Merit Scholarship programs.  Additionally, to help students prepare for the SAT, a new SAT preparatory half-credit course will be offered next semester in all high schools.  The school division has also secured the rights to provide free access to the official College Board SAT Online course to all high school students.  They may request the password in their high school guidance office and may access SAT Online from any Internet linked computer. 

Earlier this month, an advisory group of school and community representatives met to discuss Parent Connection, a new initiative designed to increase student success by supporting parents. In partnership with a host of community organizations, the school division plans to connect parents with resources, classes, and programs on a variety of topics ranging from academics to healthcare.  A Parent Connection kickoff event is tentatively planned for January 2009.

Another new advisory group, Teacher Assembly, met for the first of four sessions to gather meaningful input from the division’s educators.  One representative per school was designated to participate in Teacher Assembly discussions and to then share a briefing of those outcomes with his or her larger teaching staff.  This school year, we will seek input from the Assembly regarding how to most effectively incorporate the three R’s from the Strategic Plan – rigor, relevance, and relationships – into daily instruction.  

PTA Volunteers in Education Coordinators recently completed the Volunteer Coordinator Certification course facilitated by the Office of Community Relations.  Coordinators discussed best practices in volunteer recruitment, orientation, management and recognition.  The training is offered twice each school year and will be offered again in February.

Linkhorn Park Elementary held its 2nd Annual Community Celebration and Kickball Game with support from its school partner Beach Ford.  Over 500 parents, students and staff members attended the event, and LaSalle Blanks, of WVEC-TV, served as guest referee for the staff-versus-parents kickball game.  The parents won the close game, and we are told that Linkhorn staff is already preparing for victory next year. 

Tallwood High School’s Global Studies and World Languages Academy held its 2nd Annual Golf Tournament on October 8.  The event at Red Wing Lake Golf Course raised approximately $5,000 to support educational travel for academy students.

OfficeMax representatives visited five Virginia Beach elementary schools during its national “A Day Made Better” event.  Select teachers at Green Run, Holland, Newtown, Shelton Park, and Williams elementary schools were surprised with over $1000 worth of classroom supplies and honored with an award for making a difference in the community. The event recognized 1300 teachers across the country and is designed to help reduce out-of-pocket expenses incurred by teachers.

Virginia Tech football players recently visited Landstown, Parkway, and Salem Elementary Schools as part of the Herma’s Readers program.  The non-profit organization was created by Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer and his family in August.  It sends current and former Virginia Tech athletes and coaches to schools throughout the state to promote literacy and education.  

Congratulations to Dr. Alveta Mitchell, Director of Guidance Services and Student Records, who was recently named Chair of the newly formed Virginia ACT Advisory Council.  This Council will help facilitate communication between the ACT and school districts, postsecondary institutions, state educational agencies, and other entities that participate in ACT programs. Many students in the division take the ACT standardized achievement examination for college admissions.

Lastly, congratulations to five Virginia Beach teachers who were named 2008 Meritorious New Teacher Candidates by Old Dominion University.  Jessica Sallee, Jennifer Louise Baines, Gabrielle Hurst, Amber Jones and Lauren Parise were honored by the Darden College of Education at a dinner in September.  They were recognized for their outstanding performance with regard to standardized tests, grades and supervised clinical experiences, and the faculty praised their overall commitment to high expectations and standards.

Mr. Chairman and members of the School Board, this concludes my report for the evening.

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