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2512 George Mason Drive • P.O. Box 6038 Virginia Beach, Virginia 23456-0038   757.263.1000 • 757.263.1240 TDD

Superintendent's Report to the School Board
February 16, 2010

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

Before my Compass to 2015 update this evening, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge our School Board members.  The division is joining the more than 14,800 school districts across the country in celebrating “School Board Appreciation Month”. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Leadership,” and to recognize your leadership, the Virginia School Boards Association sent Certificates of Appreciation, which we placed at your seats.  Likewise, we extend our gratitude for your contributions to the community and for your service to the children of Virginia Beach.  Thank you for all that you do.

In the past several weeks we have been knee deep in dealing with urgent matters, most of them budget or weather-related. As you know, what sometimes gets pushed to the background at times like these are the thoughtful strategic activities that are not crisis in nature.

Let’s all take a deep breath for a moment and take a look at an initiative that thankfully falls into that important, but not-urgent category – Compass to 2015. We are pleased to announce that the action team for Strategic Objective 2, in collaboration with various departments and K-12 teachers, has drafted a continuum for each of the VBCPS 21st century skills. For those parents out there who don’t speak “educationese” let me explain what a continuum is and why it’s necessary.

 In Virginia Beach, we have identified eleven 21st century skills that we are intent on fostering among our students – skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and social responsibility.  But the big question that arises is: How do we assess students on these skills? For example, what does “problem solving” or “social responsibility” look like in its beginning stages and what does it look like at its highest level? This continuum will provide teachers with a clear vision of how to assess student mastery of each of these skills, ranging from the novice to the advanced level. 
When developing this continuum, the Strategic Objective 2 action team met with staff from various departments, community members, and teachers across all levels to obtain feedback. We have since refined the document based on that input and will soon put it out there for your comment.  We will post the continuum soon and ask for parent and community comment via our “On the Mark” blog on vbschools.com. 

And now on to some other good news. The school division honored students and staff involved in the AP Challenge program at a celebratory luncheon last week. AP Challenge was developed by the school division and the University of Virginia last year to increase participation and success of minority students in Advanced Placement courses and in college. The program is funded by a federal grant and includes a system of organized support structures such as: summer residential programs at UVA; structured peer study groups; academic advising; writing and self-advocacy skills instruction; and online AP curriculum and study skills support. Over the course of the project, more than 150 tenth through twelfth graders and their parents will be involved along with 48 teachers and six counselors, all drawn from six schools in the district with significant minority and low-income student populations.

Students at the Virginia Beach Technical and Career Education Center continue to gain valuable work-based experience related to their fields of study.  Recent examples from two programs include:

  • On February 5, dental assisting students sat chairside with local dentists to participate in the American Dental Association’s “Give Kids A Smile” program.  The program is observed every year on the first Friday in February in honor of National Children's Dental Health Month. Students worked with dentists in the Tech Center’s fully-equipped dental lab to provide free dental services to those in need.
  • Students in the Television Communication and Production program helped Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union create a commercial which is airing in a local movie theater. Credit Union professionals collaborated with students to develop the commercial’s concept, which focuses on students saving money for their futures.  Students then wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the commercial, using the Tech Center’s equipment to film and edit the production. In appreciation, the Credit Union presented the students and their teacher with a $1,000 check to be used for classroom equipment.

Linkhorn Park Elementary School kindergarteners are using effective communication skills to connect past events to the present and future. In honor of Martin Luther King, Junior’s birthday last month, students learned about Dr. King’s accomplishments and discussed their own “dreams” for the future. Then they created drawings to share their dreams with the class, which included hopes for peace and friendship.

Students in the Global Studies and World Language Academy at Tallwood High School had the opportunity to discuss foreign and domestic policy issues with Congressman Glenn Nye on January 25. The Congressman spoke of his extensive Foreign Service experience in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan and discussed with students current national security issues affecting the United States.  Congressman Nye also stressed the importance of global studies programs as a means of developing 21st century skills in our public schools so that the United States may compete in the global marketplace. 

Our students continue to give back to the community — in only one week’s time, our middle schools raised more than $10,000 to benefit the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.  From January 7-14, middle school students across the city bought CHKD paper balloons for $1.00 each and displayed them in their schools. On the last day of the campaign, students, staff, and the community were encouraged to “Stuff the Stands” at middle school basketball games to support their respective teams and CHKD. Larkspur Middle School made the largest contribution, raising more than $3300 in one week.

Students throughout the division are also offering their support to the Haiti earthquake relief efforts. There are too many activities to highlight them all in this report, but our students are collecting everything from dollars and cents to stuffed animals and toiletries to aid survivors of the disaster, especially children.  Likewise, schools are donating the proceeds from activities such as talent shows and charity basketball games to organizations that are providing aid to Haiti. 

Congratulations to Cox High School senior Wesley C. who was the Eastern Regional winner in Dominion’s “Strong Men and Women: Excellence in Leadership Student Writing Contest”. The contest is part of the energy company’s annual recognition of African-American History Month, and Wesley’s essay was one of four winners from Virginia. He received a new laptop computer and a $1,000 cash award, which will be spent, in part, on an organization or project of Wesley’s choice at Cox.

Earlier this month, on National Signing Day, several of our high schools held events to recognize their college-bound student athletes. Congratulations to the nearly 50 seniors from across the division who have already earned athletic scholarships and made commitments to their respective schools. We know that they will represent Virginia Beach well as they compete at the collegiate level.

The school division’s Office of Facilities Planning and Construction received two design awards for Outstanding Sustainable Development of Public Facilities from the Virginia Beach Planning Commission. The division received the highest award, an Honor Award, for the Renaissance Academy. The school division also received a Merit Award for its design of Brookwood, Windsor Woods, and Windsor Oaks elementary schools. Congratulations to our staff and to the architectural firms involved with these projects for their exemplary development and execution of sustainable buildings.  

Tallwood High School is one of 20 schools in the nation accepted to the first cohort of schools in the Hanban-Asia Society Confucius Classrooms Network. The start-up award of $10,000 will allow the Global Studies and World Languages Academy to enhance its existing Chinese language programs through unique opportunities such as working with partner schools in China to enhance language-learning experiences and conduct joint projects. Tallwood’s Mandarin Chinese instructor Dr. Zhang authored the proposal and will assist in implementing the grant.

And finally, there are many, many people who give greatly to our schools each and every day. I wish I had the time to thank them all individually in this public venue, but that isn’t realistic. However, every once in awhile there is an example that is so poignant, it’s worth it for us all to pause and reflect on it.  On January 31 The Virginian-Pilot published a story titled, A devoted fan. It told the story of Marvin West, a 66-year old man, who for more than 23 years has been Green Run High School’s greatest supporter. It seems that he hasn’t missed a football game or wrestling match - home or away - in that time span.  He makes good faith efforts to get to other sporting events as well – like track meets and soccer and basketball games. It has been this way since his son, Doug, died in August of 1986. Doug West was an all-state football player and state champion wrestler for Green Run. He went on to play football for James Madison University and was killed in a tragic accident on his way home from practice.  In the story Mr. West was quoted as saying, ‘I made up my mind when Douglas died that I was going to follow the Stallions forever.”  Mr. West has been true to that promise.

And so we thank you, Mr. West, for your support for the Stallions, but most of all for serving as a powerful example for our students.  Indeed, you remind us all that great good really does come from transforming a broken heart into a giving spirit.

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Board that concludes my report for the evening.

Last Modified on Friday, January 20, 2017