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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
December 15, 2009

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

In this season of giving, I wanted to share Compass to 2015 information regarding various outreach efforts related to Strategic Objectives 3 and 4 – objectives that address closing achievement gaps and helping parents and community members become partners in student achievement and success.  By reaching out and listening, we gain a greater understanding of our students, their families, and their needs.

Bridging gaps for our students and providing support so that they all may achieve success is the aim of our strategic plan and the specific focus of Strategic Objective 3.  Last month, our Director of Equity Affairs, Dr. Monclava-Johnson, led a meeting designed to lay the foundation of what will become the Virginia Beach City Public Schools Equity Council. More than 60 stakeholders from the community and the school division gathered to provide valuable input on how to best address the issues of educational equity. Examples of priority areas identified at the meeting included reviewing: diversity training for school staff, parent access to information, support structures for student success, ninth-grade transition programs, data-driven achievement gap analysis, and parent involvement.  From the results of this discussion, it is apparent that there is commitment to and passion for ensuring that all of our students’ voices are heard and their needs met in every school.  The Equity Council will reconvene in January to further define its work in support of Compass to 2015.

Parent involvement was one of the priority areas identified by the Equity Council working group, and it is one of the key components of Strategic Objective 4, which concentrates on creating  opportunities for parents, community and business leaders to become engaged partners in supporting student  success.  One of the most important strategies within that objective is the effort to reach “underserved” parents through targeted outreach initiatives. The following are two examples of the school division’s programs for underserved parents and families.

Last month, we told you about the school division’s involvement with VA STAR – the Virginia Student Training and Refurbishment Program. Advanced Technology Center teacher John Joanides and his students worked for weeks to reconfigure the computers donated through VA STAR and to load them with free software. Through the division’s Parent Connection program, 20 families were identified and invited to the ATC on December 8th to receive a computer free of charge. The same students who refurbished the machines were in attendance to assist families with their new computers. Families also received a free Parent Connection flash drive and software programs donated by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to help support student academic achievement.

Support to families is also being provided through the Beach Bags program, which we highlighted in early October when the program first started. As you may recall, the program is a collaborative effort between Parent Connection, the Office of School Social Work Services, and the Southeastern Foodbank to provide bags of food to needy children to nourish them over the weekends. The program initially supported five elementary schools, but thanks to the generous donations of individuals, community organizations, and school division students and staff, additional elementary schools and now middle schools are also receiving Beach Bags. As a result of these donations, well over 1,000 extra bags of food have been distributed to date, containing items from a specific list of shelf-stable food. Staff members place the Beach Bags in students’ backpacks so that they may have food over the weekend when school breakfasts and lunches are not available to them.

As you can see, many efforts are ongoing in Strategic Objectives 3 and 4 –all designed to provide the best possible support for students. It is undeniably the collaboration between parents, teachers, administrators and the community at large that makes the school experience rich for them.

And now on to other school division highlights:

Staff members from the Office of Gifted Education have been busy sharing the good news about gifted services in Virginia Beach with colleagues across the Commonwealth and throughout the nation.

  • Gifted assessment specialists presented information related to the division’s gifted eligibility processes at the National Association for Gifted Children conference in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • At both the national conference and the Virginia Association for the Gifted Conference, Old Donation Center teachers presented sessions on working with talented readers, and Dr. Kelly Hedrick, director of the Office of Gifted Education, spoke on designing rigorous curriculum that leads all students toward expertise.
  • Eight additional gifted education staff members shared their expertise at the Virginia Association for the Gifted Conference on topics including: performance-based assessments, service learning, college admissions, and differentiation.

During this holiday season, our students and staff are giving back to the community through a variety of programs. Just a few examples include: 

  • Kemps Landing Magnet School’s students and staff conducted a Thanksgiving food drive, collecting 96 bags of food to benefit the Union Mission, Hope Haven and Parkway Elementary School.  For more than two dozen Parkway families, the school also bought turkeys to provide them with a complete Thanksgiving meal.
  • Princess Anne Elementary School students collected over 125 coats to donate to this year’s Coats for Kids drive.
  • Virginia Beach Middle School became “change bandits,” collecting coins to raise money for the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.  
  • Windsor Woods Elementary School students participated in the Red Cross’ Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign.  Students created handmade cards to send to U.S. troops who are overseas for the holidays.

Giving back to the global community in November was Jenna F., a junior in the International Baccalaureate Program at Princess Anne High School. She traveled to Vietnam as a student volunteer with Operation Smile.  In addition to the service learning experience, Jenna gained a firsthand look at her intended career – medicine. She stood alongside doctors in the operating room for several cleft palate surgeries. Jenna also worked with other student volunteers to educate families and entertain children who were candidates for surgery. 

Ocean Lakes High School hosted students from Australia last week who were visiting the United States with their club basketball teams during summer vacation. The Australian students shared meals with members of the Ocean Lakes girls’ and boys’ basketball teams, shadowed those students for a day of classes, and then played against them in basketball games in front of a packed house.  The team followed their trip to Virginia Beach with visits to several universities in North Carolina.

An article by Technical and Career Education director Pat Konopnicki entitled Sustainability: The Next 21st Century Workplace Skill is featured in the November/December edition of Techniques magazine. The article discusses the importance of nurturing and restoring resources for future generations and highlights the school division’s focus on “sustainability” as one of the 21st century skills identified in Compass to 2015.  

Last week, three of our high school student athletes were honored for excellence in athletics and academics at a Norfolk Sports Club function.  Ocean Lakes High School senior Drew P. and Landstown High School senior Stephanie F. received the 2009 Men's and Women's Outstanding Metro Scholastic Cross Country awards. Cox High School senior Taylor R. received the 2009 Outstanding Metro Scholastic Field Hockey Player Award. Of note is that Taylor’s mother won the same Norfolk Sports Club award when she was a field hockey player for Cox High School.

The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame recognized two Virginia Beach students in a regional awards ceremony on December 6. Kemps Landing Magnet School seventh-grader Abby S. and Rosemont Forest Elementary School fifth-grader Reagan B. each received a 2009 Student Athlete Achievement Award. The award is presented to young athletes from across Hampton Roads who demonstrate “dedication to sport, school, and community.”

Congratulations to eight students from Ocean Lakes High School’s Math and Science Academy for their outstanding performances at Christopher Newport University’s 10th annual Regional High School Mathematics Contest. In the team competition, Ocean Lakes earned first- and second-place awards, and sophomore David S. and senior Zack G. were individual award winners for earning the highest scores in their respective grade-level competitions.  

Lastly this evening, using artwork by Princess Anne Middle School eighth-grader Jessica C., we would like to extend holiday greetings to the School Board, school division staff, students, and their families.  All of the division’s schools will be closed December 23rd through January 3rd, and we wish everyone a happy holiday and New Year.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my report for the evening.

Last Modified on Friday, January 20, 2017