Ahead of the Curve
Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board
January 24, 2006

Mr. Chairman, members of the Board, citizens of our community, it is my pleasure to bring to your attention just a few of the many recent activities and accomplishments of our students and staff.

January is designated as “Reading Month.” You may have heard of “Dancing with the Stars”, well throughout this month our students have been “Reading with the Stars” — the stars of our community, that is. Guest readers from all aspects of our community have been sharing stories with our students. Our schools have been immersed in enjoyable reading activities like hosting reading “camp-outs” and sponsoring favorite book character dress-up days.

January is also National Mentoring Month. Our schools have been involved in activities to recognize the value that mentoring relationships add to our students’ school lives. Many of our schools have established formal mentorship programs that are designed to connect students to supportive mentors from the community and the caring adults in our schools. For example, at Thalia Elementary School, staff and students form “dynamic duos” — pairs that meet regularly to talk, listen, and plan for the future. They even participate in collective group activities like trips to Old Dominion Basketball games and “Board Game Bonanzas” at the school. And at Bayside High School , you’ll find “students mentoring students” in a peer-to-peer mentorship program designed to improve the academic performance of African-American males and to publicly acknowledge their high achievement. Members of our community also serve as mentors to our students. Students at the Tech Center and at the Advanced Technology Center, for example, are mentored by professionals in the field as part of the students’ programs of study. These “career mentors” assist students in bringing learning-- in the classroom-- to life on the job. 

Let the judging begin! Students in Business and Technology Education classes at five of our high schools have been busy creating their designs for schools of the future. Members of the firm HBA Architecture have collaborated with educators to implement the School of the Future Design and Scholarship Program for the fifth year. The project, sponsored by HBA, encourages high school students to envision themselves as educational facility planners and recognizes them for their innovative ideas about the future of education and learning environments. Students at Salem, Kempsville, Ocean Lakes, Landstown, and First Colonial High Schools have presented their designs to the judges from HBA Architecture in hopes of garnering scholarship funds of $1,000 at each participating school. Good Luck!

Our academies have held open houses this month to share information about their offerings with parents and students. In addition, students and parents may now participate in a virtual tour of each of our high school academy programs on the school division’s website at www.vbschools.com. The application to attend an academy program for the 2006-2007 school year is fast approaching. . .Academy Applications are available on our website and in guidance offices at each school. Completed applications are due by Friday, February 3, 2006.

Speaking of academies, the Tallwood High School Global Studies and World Languages Academy hosted its first annual Japanese New Year’s Celebration recently. Tallwood teacher Yuko Kimura-Koenig and Ocean Lakes teacher Yuriko Rollins planned the event that was attended by more than 100 students from seven different high schools. Students enjoyed the wide variety of performances and demonstrations.

Over 450 students participated in the annual DECA District Leadership Conference held this month. Fifty-two students will now advance to the State Leadership Conference in March to compete in Competency Based Education events. An additional 30 students will compete in manual and team building events. The purpose of District and State Leadership Conferences are to provide worthwhile activities to assist students in career development as they prepare to be future leaders in marketing, management, and entrepreneurship. Students prepare for the competitions through classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Students who place at the State Leadership Conference will then advance to the International Career Development Conference to be held in Dallas, Texas in late April.

Fourth grade students in Judy Hurwitz’ class at Old Donation Center recently attended a Town Meeting with Governor Tim Kaine where three students were called upon to ask questions. The class had closely followed the fall gubernatorial campaign as part of their unit on Virginia. They compared candidates’ views, watched the debate, and discussed critical issues so they were well prepared to converse with Virginia’s new governor!

Middle School seventh graders participated in a “reality store” simulation this month through a partnership with the Virginia Cooperative Extension and our school system. The event was designed to help students examine their attitudes about their futures and their career aspirations, in addition to motivating them to stay in school and practice healthy behaviors. Volunteers from local businesses supported the effort by serving as loan officers, housing agents, and the like. . . They helped students to determine just how much of their simulated income needed to be spent in each category in order to provide for their simulated daily lifestyle. The event provided a real dose of reality!

King’s Grant Elementary staff recently invited parents in for a first hand experience of education in 2006.  “The Little Chill”, as the experience has been coined, coincides with their partnering middle school’s “Big Chill” parent day.  During the week of Jan. 9 th, 41% of King’s Grant’s parents made reservations to make classroom visitations. Coordinated by fourth grade teacher Mary Routten and a committee, parents observed Kagan structures, student collaboration, self-assessment, even classroom “cheers”. With the overwhelming positive feedback, King’s Grant Elementary Staff report that they will definitely be planning a Little Chill event once again next winter.

Examples of our staff and students giving back to our community continue. . . the Salem Middle School Rod and Reel Club recently coordinated a project that provided Toys for Tots with $13,000 worth of toys! Club sponsor PE teacher, Reese Bowles, coordinated the event that resulted in students and parents loading 1,470 toys in shopping carts in less than two hours!

Another testimony to the generosity of our employees is the formation of Relay for Life teams through the City and Schools’ Wellness and Prevention Program. Did you know that there were 66 Virginia Beach Public Schools Relay for Life Teams last year? Their walking raised over $180 thousand dollars ($182,690.29) to celebrate the lives and memory of cancer patients. Three of the top 30 teams were The Dreamin Dragons from New Castle Elementary, The Colt Crusaders from Christopher Farms Elementary, and the Alanton Lifesavers from Alanton Elementary.  Also, Lynnhaven Middle School ’s Friends of Justin team celebrated their 5 th year of participation in the event. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to our community.

Several congratulations are in order. . .

Kudos to the International Baccalaureate (IB) Class of 2005 at Princess Anne High School who celebrated success with a diploma and certificate-awarding ceremony in December. Ninety-two graduates were honored for having completed requirements for the IB Program. All students with the exception of one who joined the Marines are currently enrolled in their freshman year of college. The International Baccalaureate Program is based in the liberal arts and is recognized around the world for its rigorous interdisciplinary program of study.

Congratulations to First Colonial High Foreign Language students Joseph R., Katherine S., Alexandra M., Cassie G. and Jane B. for receiving state awards from the Foreign Language Association of Virginia.  

Congratulations to Plaza Middle School students Rhianna S., Sydney L., and Georgia M., who received top awards in the district-wide poster contest sponsored by the Foreign Language Week committee. The students are in Kathryn Spence’s French classes in the Middle Years Academy program at Plaza.

Hats off to the Ocean Lakes High Boys and Girls Soccer teams for receiving the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s High School Team Academic Award, which is awarded to teams with a 3.25 GPA! Only two teams in our state received both the boys and girls awards.

Kudos to Seatack and Plaza Elementary Schools for being named Year-Round Schools of Merit for 2005 by the National Association of Year Round Education. The awards will be presented at the 37 th Annual NAYRE Conference on Feb. 25-March 1 in San Diego, CA.

Hats off to Lisa Hannah, Principal at Three Oaks Elementary, for receiving a Daniel M. Stone Humanitarian Award from the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission.

Congratulations to Corporate Landing Middle School teachers Sherry Kelly and Dawn Garvey for receiving grants from the Virginia Commission of the Arts.

Kudos to Robin Kitsis, specialist in the Office of Organizational Development, for graduating from the National Staff Development Academy after working for 2 years on this goal and attending 12 days of national training.

Congratulations to Cooke Elementary Principal Greg Anderson who was recently selected as the Virginia Beach Reading Council Administrator of the Year. He will now compete for the Virginia State Reading Association’s James D. Mullins Leadership Award.

Finally, I would like to take this time to recognize the members of our School Board as the National School Boards Association has established January as National School Board Recognition Month. The Virginia School Board Association has selected this year’s theme as “School Board Members Lead So Students Succeed.” This observance was established in 1989 to encourage public recognition of the roles and responsibilities of school board members and to highlight the importance of public education throughout the Commonwealth. More than 850 school board members in Virginia are entrusted with establishing goals and policies for 134 local school divisions. From setting educational policies to disbursing school funds, school board members are responsible for serving as advocates for children in our public schools. Tonight, Certificates of Appreciation, a note of thanks, and a small token of our gratitude have been placed at the seats of each of our Board members. . . we appreciate your service to public education in Virginia Beach. Thanks for all you do!

Mr. Chairman, that concludes my report for this evening.
Last Modified on July 16, 2007
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