Recognizing Best Practices – Model Partnerships
Starting in 2001, Virginia Beach City Public Schools began recognizing outstanding partnership practices that support mutually beneficial relationships between schools and business/community organizations. Through a nomination process and selection committee comprised of school and community representatives, each year Model Partnerships are selected that represent exemplary community involvement in our school division.
Model partnerships are chosen based on the following criteria:
- Clearly articulated purpose/goal(s) of the partnership and how it supports the school division’s strategic plan, Compass to 2020;
- Detailed activities and programs implemented as a result of the partnership;
- Specific results and the impact of the partnership to promote student achievement, aspirations and social emotional development; and
- Mutual benefit to the school and students and the partnering organization.
Learn how to establish a partnership with Virginia Beach City Public Schools
2016 Model Partnerships
NEXCOM and the Advanced Technology Center
Students from the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) use their technical and soft skills to participate in practical, work-based experiences with Partner in Education NEXCOM (Navy Exchange Service Command). Since 2006, NEXCOM has provided ATC students opportunities to use their marketing knowledge and abilities in information technology (IT), software, game design and website development to solve authentic problems in the workplace. They not only gain confidence in executing innovative solutions to improve retail operations and management, but also their presentation of information to peers and large-scale organization executives provides invaluable career-readiness skills. Students have been exposed to a wide range of retail skills, such as ordering and receiving merchandise using NEXCOM’s Oracle-based system as well as database management and IT customer service. Two students had the opportunity to design a mobile app that allows NEXCOM government associates access to mandatory training while adhering to strict Department of Defense security guidelines. “Thanks to this partnership and the authentic work experience provided, students are being challenged as they build life skills. They are gaining a keener understanding of the needs of their ‘client,’ having to meet their customer expectations and becoming more cognizant of the military’s diverse needs,” shared ATC assistant director Ann Marie Garvey.
GrowSmart, a division of the VB Dept. of Economic Development and Bayside, Point O’View and White Oaks Elementary Schools
The Virginia Beach READS mentoring program is a collaborative partnership between Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS), Virginia Beach GrowSmart and the Virginia Beach Office of Volunteer Resources. This mutually beneficial reading mentorship program has been in place at Bayside, Point O'View and White Oaks Elementary Schools for the past two years. Through the program, trained adult mentors volunteer to serve as positive role models for at-risk first grade students twice each week for 25-30 minutes. To date, over 125 volunteers from a variety of organizations, agencies and businesses have served more than 230 students. Mentors provide yearlong academic support in literacy through hands-on, interactive, reading/language/writing activities while fostering the personal development of these young learners. Students gain confidence and self-esteem, improve their communication skills and achieve independence in reading and learning while improving chronic absenteeism in schools. This mentorship demonstrates how city government and the school division can pull together community stakeholders to tackle the critical issue of ensuring reading proficiency by third grade. As one mentor shared, “I knew the sessions had been not only an educational experience for the children, but also an emotionally enriching one for me when I noticed how disappointed they were about the sessions ending in May. Our relationship is a testament to the fact that in the process of helping a child understand the value of reading, the relationships we build with them are crucial. It probably goes without saying, but I learned just as much as the children did.”
Sentara Leigh Hospital and Bayside High School
Since 2010, Sentara Leigh Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) has hosted over 100 Bayside High School Health and Sciences Academy juniors and seniors to shadow nursing professionals and interact with medical staff. They learn firsthand what it is like to be a nurse and care for critically ill patients. They see the personal side of nursing as they watch registered nurse Jody Frame Lee, Bayside alumnus and charge nurse in the ICU, interact with other hospital staff, patients and patients’ families. In addition, students have an opportunity to observe surgical procedures, intubations, colonoscopies, patient resuscitation and administration of medications. As members of the ICU staff perform various duties, they explain procedures, ensuring students understand the scope and purpose of the care being administered. As a result of these observations and interactions, academy students have learned that health care providers need to be confident, excellent communicators, to think fast on their feet and to be knowledgeable so they can provide the best care possible. “Being able to work with professionals in the nursing field who demonstrate an enthusiasm for their jobs and a passion for touching the lives of others in the most meaningful way—to promote good health—is a vital part of helping students determine their educational pursuits and career paths,” said Health and Sciences Academy teacher Luisa Zirkle. “Thanks to these positive mentors, students have the opportunity to see how the fruits of their education will not only impact their futures, but also affect the lives of others.”
First Presbyterian Church of Virginia Beach and Birdneck Elementary School
First Presbyterian Church of Virginia Beach has partnered with Birdneck Elementary School since 2010 to generously donate school supplies, clothing and holiday meals, help with school beautification projects and share educational activity bags to prevent the loss of academic skills over the summer. In 2013, the partnership expanded to include 34 volunteers who meet 45 minutes each week throughout the school year to provide one-on-one literacy assistance to support the needs of 20 at-risk first graders. Students read leveled books to their mentor, discuss the content of the story and complete after-reading activities together. They also receive books from their mentors to help build their home libraries. Not only is the academic support helping to build their confidence while they practice reading skills they are learning in class, but they are also gaining the support of another caring adult. Birdneck Principal Irv Beard said, “We are fortunate that some of the volunteers are retired teachers and former school staff who bring their experiences and classroom expertise with them. Others are caring parents and grandparents that, especially for our military-connected students, provide them an extra layer of security if their own parents are deployed or, due to frequent moves, don’t have a chance to share time with a senior.” Volunteers like Mary Clemons, church program coordinator, look forward to their weekly visits with their “young friends” and feel that they are truly making a lasting impression on the lives of these children. “I can look back and remember that there was a special person there for me. I want to be that person for a child, to give them a hand up and let them experience a connection to someone else who cares about them,” Clemons said.
Tallwood High School and Cooke Elementary School
Students helping students—the basis for a very successful nine-year partnership between Tallwood High School and Cooke Elementary School—is improving achievement while meeting the most basic needs of students and families. Tallwood students support the Care by Community (CBC) afterschool program for Cooke students held at Virginia Beach United Methodist Church. Tallwood students bring dinners for students, help them with homework and participate in fun recreation activities. The high school holds fundraisers to provide CBC participants with goodie bags at each visit, and they make sure every holiday is a special memory for their young charges. Teachers note that the one-on-one attention is making a huge difference in students’ attitudes and the quality of their work. This year, Tallwood Spanish-speaking students began volunteering with Cooke’s weekly English as a Second Language (ESL) parent classes. An increasingly large number of Spanish-speaking families have enrolled children at Cooke in recent years, and ESL classes help bring the communication gap between home and school. The support of Tallwood students has helped the school expand the weekly classes to include more parents as well as provide Spanish classes to interested teachers. Parents and teachers from Seatack and Birdneck Elementary Schools also attend. The partnership equips both parents and teachers with tools to help students. One Tallwood student shared, “I am from a South American country like some of these families. I have enjoyed bonding with them in the class and helping them learn more just like I had to! I was an ESL student, and I know how hard it can be to learn a new language and customs and how it feels to not understand or be understood. This is a way for me to help connect with them.”
CH2M Hill and Corporate Landing Middle School
What began as a parent employed by CH2M Hill chaperoning a school field trip has morphed into a thriving partnership between CH2M Hill and Corporate Landing Middle School. In addition to making financial contributions each year to support 75-220 science students involved in the school’s Oyster Restoration Project, CH2M Hill’s staff volunteer to work alongside students conducting field work on the docks to complete experiments and collect data. They use a special habitat float to monitor the growth and development of young oysters until they can be transported to a local reef where the mollusks will continue to grow and flourish. Students are addressing a real-world issue while learning to analyze data to draw more accurate conclusions from their studies. Thanks to this partnership, these young scientists participate in an annual boat trip on the Chesapeake Bay during which they use elaborate equipment and apply knowledge gained throughout the year to conduct more hands-on and inquiry-based scientific work on the floating lab. “We need to do our part to produce the engineers and scientists Virginia will need in the coming years. The oyster program teaches students about environmental stewardship and sustainability, including the importance of water quality to protect our natural aquatic habitats and the value of oysters to help to clean the water through filter-feeding,” said Doug Bitterman, CH2M Hill senior project manager. “Not only are we able to encourage STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and career paths, but students can also see how their present actions will impact oyster populations and the environment in the future.”
Pungo-Blackwater Library and Creeds Elementary School
The partnership between Pungo-Blackwater Library (PBL) and Creeds Elementary School demonstrates how a city-school collaboration can support academic growth. Having two adjacent libraries, with a flexible way for people to easily move from one space to the other, has provided countless opportunities for collaboration to benefit students, families and school staff. During school hours, teachers have full access to the collection in the public library to support their teaching needs and bring students to the public library to visit. Managed by the public library, students and families have full access to the Creeds Media Center and school computer lab during evenings and on weekends. The public library serves as a “homework center” for students at all times, providing access to materials in the school media center as well as to materials and electronic databases available through the Virginia Beach Public Libraries to support all content areas. In addition, small group enrichment, guest speakers, summer reading opportunities and other programs created through this partnership directly promote literacy. Creeds parent Annalee Dunne shared that she and her children visit the PBL at least twice a week so she can use Wi-Fi to get her work done while the children are entertained with books and computers. “I pick them up from school, and we walk right over. My kids are voracious readers and check out lots of books. As a special treat, each of them gets to check out a movie for the weekend on Fridays,” said Dunne. Sarah Bell, PBL head librarian, said, “The Pungo-Blackwater Library is a special, unique place because of our relationship with Creeds. All of us are committed to the success of each student, and it definitely enhances our skills as information providers. We have seen an increase in library patronage and more interest in the programs we offer, and students demonstrate a love for reading. We believe this is a direct correlation of the ongoing efforts to maintain this exemplary partnership.”
EQUI-KIDS Therapeutic Riding Program and Great Neck Middle School
Great Neck Middle School students with intellectual disabilities benefit academically, socially and emotionally from the ongoing partnership with the EQUI-KIDS Therapeutic Riding Program. Weekly visits include a riding lesson and classroom activities that facilitate learning in all curricular areas. Students learn to follow recipes by measuring ingredients to make horse snacks, sequence numbers to locate riding helmets, and practice vocabulary as they learn and review the names of horse body parts and grooming tools. Teachers who accompany students on the trips note the best part of each visit is seeing the sense of accomplishment students exude when horses respond to their commands. Students connect with the horses and their bond helps to foster independence and confidence they take back into the classroom. Teachers marvel as they notice the positive aspects of sensory integration related to riding and observe that students have better retention and understanding as well as improved social and communication skills. Special education teacher Diane Campbell said, “Our students, for the most part, are unable to physically or mentally participate in other middle school sports. Horseback riding is their sport, and it gives them a place where they ‘belong,’ and all kids need to feel that. At EQUI-KIDS, students can experience a world free from disabilities.” In addition to weekly sessions, students periodically visit EQUI-KIDS for lunch to work on social and community skills in a casual setting as well as celebrate Christmas and their much-anticipated graduation at the site.
Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art and Green Run Collegiate
How do you help art students better understand the purpose behind contemporary artwork and how it reflects current issues and ideas in our society? If you are Green Run Collegiate (GRC) and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), you provide students with authentic connections to works, concepts, themes and techniques and then introduce them to living artists producing great works. Students experience contemporary art and artists firsthand through authentic learning environments to learn the value of expression and how art can influence change. Through regular visits to view exhibits and engage with artists, students are inspired and gain skills they transfer to their own personal and collaborative works. They learned how Brazilian artist Vik Muniz explores sustainability by producing beautiful portraits made from garbage collected in dumps. They spent a day in the studio creating and examining innovative processes with different mediums such as drawing from thread from Toronto-based artist Amanda McCavour. Students then designed a multi-piece outdoor installation exhibit for MOCA symbolizing tourism and the culture of Virginia Beach after meeting with local renowned artist Ryan McGinness. Students are learning the power of contemporary art with each new experience. “The partnership is a two-way street with all participants benefiting and growing from the experience. The museum is able to enhance curricular objectives for students, and we are fulfilling our mission to foster awareness and exploration of the significant art of our time while gaining a better understanding of art through the students’ observations,” said Rebecca Davidson, manager of school and educator programs at MOCA.
RRMM Architects and Kemps Landing/Old Donation School
By embedding the school division’s sustainability goals as key entry points into the curriculum, Kemps Landing/Old Donation School is capitalizing on the construction of their new school as an innovative teaching tool for students thanks to a partnership with RRMM Architects. Challenged by Principal Dr. Kelly Hedrick to assist with design elements, students in grades 2-8 have learned that true sustainable development improves economic efficiency while protecting and restoring ecological systems and enhancing the well-being of people in general. Second graders utilized blueprints and floor plans to identify and create connections to geometry. By working with RRMM professionals, students gained a better understanding of how the trajectory of the sun across the sky informs not only the layout of the building on the site, but also how the windows should be designed to maximize lighting. Students questioned the way the building’s angles relate to one another and to the strength of the light entering through the windows. Students related the design and selection of architectural materials to the structure of natural objects, such as trees, to incorporate features for both form and function. This led to investigating weather and its potential impact on sustainable features of the building. Including students in the planning and use of the building has done more than familiarize them with the new structure; it has given them a rich look at the complex and interconnected issues that go into designing spaces. Through touring buildings, using aerial photography, testing material durability and other invaluable learning experiences, students across the grade levels addressed topics such as building design, exemplary air quality and acoustical performance. “This exciting partnership has helped students recognize the critical importance of the environment’s sustainability in today’s changing world,” shared teacher Frances Hatzopoulos. “Our students are committed to incorporating sustainable practices that foster environmental, economic and social stewardship.”
Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art and Salem High School
Thanks to the partnership between the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and Salem High School, students in the Visual and Performing Arts Academy have been provided numerous real-world opportunities to enrich their growing artistic skill, enhance their leadership abilities and pursue their professional aspirations. Students have shared their artwork with the community through annual art exhibitions at MOCA’s community gallery since the partnership began in 2004. Additional activities include job shadowing experiences for seniors, facilitating the annual Neptune Festival Student Art Show, assisting/teaching visual arts classes, recording teen audio tours, working directly with MOCA senior staff to develop and implement quarterly “teen takeover nights” and supporting large-scale community projects to promote arts advocacy in the Virginia Beach community. One of the greatest opportunities for students has been the shared masterclasses held at the school and on-site at MOCA. Students learn new techniques, such as woodcut and crochet, from artists and have opportunities to collaborate on new works of art. Art teacher Erin Richburg shares, “Most of the information students are learning about the world of contemporary art is garnered through experience, so these opportunities at this stage of their lives will help students decide their career paths and see how art will fit into their future studies. MOCA has opened their eyes to possibilities for a career in the arts.”
Philippine Cultural Center of Virginia/CUFOT and Tallwood High School
The involvement of the Philippine Cultural Center of Virginia at Tallwood High School has raised a growing awareness of the Filipino culture by both Filipino and non-Filipino students. In fact, this alliance helped to form the Tallwood Filipino Culture Club, which is open to all students interested in learning more about the Philippines and its culture and language as well as those considering hosting exchange students from or traveling to Olongapo, Philippines. Students hosted the Virginia Beach Fil-Fest kickoff event complete with speakers and a reception to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Immigration Act of 1965. In addition to the historical recognition of how Filipinos have contributed to the fabric of American society, they participated in a traditional Filipino dance, nearly breaking the world record for the most people dancing Tinikling at one time. It’s not all fun and dancing, though. Students quickly jumped in to facilitate a school drive to help the Philippine Cultural Center members provide disaster relief to students in Olongapo. Students have been able to interact with professionals from the community who serve as advisors for senior projects, interviewers for mock interview sessions and judges for Global Studies and World Languages Academy (GSWLA) students. Members of the partnering organization have helped with travel arrangements for students and have generously assisted with the very popular afterschool Filipino Café (standing room only, in fact) by providing large amounts of traditional Filipino food, traditional dress for student performers and speakers for the event. “Students are offered cultural and educational opportunities to learn, grow and gain experience working with others outside the classroom, enabling them to see the world through a new lens,” shared GSWLA Director Rebecca Gurley. “The partnership personalizes the experiences for our students and helps them to connect classroom studies, history and stories with the real world.”
Lynnhaven Mall and Virginia Beach City Public Schools
Lynnhaven Mall’s goal for its partnership with Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) was to transform the mall into a “community center.” Since 2011, the mall has hosted many activities supporting VBCPS students and their families, including VBCPS Beach Bags Food Drives, facilitating fundraising opportunities through DonorsChoose.org and hosting a Celebrate Schools! PEP RALLY to help schools raise funds and provide community awareness of school programs. One of the most noteworthy components of this partnership has been to highlight the unique challenges and accomplishments of the school division’s military-connected youth with a K-12 contest featuring students’ artistic interpretations of what it means to be a military dependent. Each April, during the Month of the Military Child, student artwork is displayed in Lynnhaven Mall. “The Art of Being a Military Child” exhibit has grown to nearly 1,800 entries since 2013 and requires Lynnhaven Mall to relocate a number of events and kiosks in Center Court to accommodate this month-long exhibit. The mall also accommodates a kickoff event for the art exhibit including professional staging, donates mall gift cards for award-winning students and hosts a VIP reception for students, their families and dignitaries. “Being able to collaborate with a business as large as Lynnhaven Mall to offer opportunities to connect schools with the community at large has a number of benefits,” said Dr. Alveta Green, VBCPS Executive Director of Student Support Services. “It makes people aware of the types of learning activities occurring in schools, instilling confidence in community members that good things are happening in public education. It also lets the community know the schools’ needs as they try to meet the educational and social-emotional needs of all students.”
Virginia Beach Courthouse Rotary and Virginia Beach City Public Schools
The Virginia Beach Courthouse Rotary began working with elementary schools in Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) during the 2009 school year. The rotary club, comprised of business and professional leaders from the Courthouse area of the city, provides an opportunity for members to participate in service projects that positively impact the local community. The Rotarians began their partnership with an annual dictionary distribution to all third-grade students at Creeds, Ocean Lakes and North Landing Elementary Schools that has since expanded to include Landstown, Princess Anne and Three Oaks Elementary Schools. Club members visit classrooms to personally distribute dictionaries, and, as of the 2015-2016 school year, had distributed more than 3,400 dictionaries to VBCPS third-graders in the school division. The annual “book swap” by North Landing students also supports literacy. Students exchange half of the donated books to have new reading material for their home libraries, and the other half is picked up by Rotarians who distribute them to schools in our Virginia Beach communities where students may not own personal books. Additionally, Virginia Beach Courthouse Rotary has donated $2,500 to the division’s Beach Bags Program as well as supported related food drives. In May 2015, it presented two $1,000 scholarships in honor of longtime Rotarian and retired Coast Guard Admiral Norman Venzke to NJROTC (Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps) students at Green Run and Salem High Schools. Ocean Lakes Elementary third-grade teacher Elvia Vasquez articulated the benefit to having civic organizations step forward to partner with schools to support students where needed. “The rotary is a perfect example of what good citizenship is all about. It is people reaching out to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Good citizens giving back to their community, just like the Courthouse Rotary is doing,” she said.