Ahead of the Curve
Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board
February 21, 2006

Mr. Chairman, members of the Board, citizens of our community, my report this evening includes brief highlights of some recent activities and a few accomplishments of our students and staff.

The seventh annual Custodial Appreciation Day was recently held at Larkspur Middle School on January 30 th to pay tribute to our school division’s custodians. The event celebrates the collective teamwork and positive impact of our custodial staff on the operation of our schools and buildings. During the event, the custodial staff from 18 schools and office buildings received awards for their overall cleanliness, attitude, and efficiency. Staff members at these schools were selected by a committee of their peers and were recognized for their exemplary practices. Our congratulations to the award-winning teams and a thank you to every custodian for the impact they have on the education and development of our students.

Many of our schools have been participating in activities to celebrate Black History Month. From learning about notable Black Americans to celebrations of culture and heritage, students and staff have been engaged in African American literature, music, and art activities throughout the month of February. In addition, several of our schools joined with schools cross the country in participating in the Seventeenth National African-American Read-In, an event that is sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English, the VBCPS Diversity Task Force, and is endorsed by the International Reading Association. Students and teachers participated in this event by reading books by African American authors and illustrators. 

Students also recently celebrated cultural diversity by participating in events that recognize dates such as Chinese New Year. As a cumulative activity for a unit of study on China and the contributions that ancient China had on world history, students at Arrowhead Elementary performed a short skit, held a parade around the cafeteria displaying Chinese masks that they made in class, and experienced using chopsticks to enjoy Chinese food.

For the ninth consecutive year, VBCPS Department of Media and Communications Development sponsored a breakfast for area real estate agents, brokers, and mortgage bankers. The event was held on February 14 th at the Advanced Technology Center. The event provides an ideal venue to update real estate sales and rental agents and brokers and bankers about important school division issues that would be important to their clientele. This year’s the program featured an overview of VBCPS new initiatives, a discussion of proposed redistricting plans, updates on our Academy Programs.

Prior to returning to Japan, one of our current REX teachers, Ikuko Sugioka, has been sharing information on Japanese culture and customs with students in our elementary schools. She completes an 18-month experience with American education this month that is the result of our partnership with the Hiroshima Prefectural Board of Education. The REX (Regional and Educational Exchange for Mutual Understanding) program began in 1990, when our district was one of only 15 sites in the United States selected to participate. For the past 15 years, educators from Japan have been teaching in our schools. . .most recently, teaching Exploratory Japanese at the middle school level. That assignment was completed for Ms. Sugioka at the end of January. During the month of February, our students, like the ones in the Bettie F. Williams “Galaxy After School Program”, have been learning about Japanese culture and crafts.

You may be interested to know that February 9 th marked the 100 th day of school for students following a traditional school year calendar this year. Our kindergarteners often celebrate this day, counting to 100 and making 100 – day glasses. On the 101st day of school at Plaza Elementary for students on the year round calendar, the whole first grade dressed up as the 101 Dalmatians.

In celebration of National Vocational Education Week, the Technical and Career Education Center hosted an open house for prospective students and parents on February 15 th. Parents, students and other guests of the Tech Center had the opportunity to receive an introduction to the exciting world of technical and career education courses that give students an early entry into a variety of professions. The open house showcased 23 elective technical programs in the areas of Trade and Industry, Health Occupations, Family and Consumer Sciences, Business Education and Agriculture. All 23 technical programs offer a license, certification, and/or a National Occupational Competency Test as well as the opportunity for internship. In 11 of the courses, students can earn advanced college credit through an articulation agreement with Tidewater Community College. Rising sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply to the Tech Center-- applications are available in each school’s guidance office.

First Colonial High School Legal Studies Academy 9 th grade students in English Teacher Jim Godfrey’s class have been volunteering their time after school to support early learning opportunities for preschoolers and their parents. Their involvement with the City’s “Ready to Learn” program encourages family involvement in a young child’s learning and promotes reading as a fun and participatory activity. The students plan to support an entire preschool class through Ready to Learn’s Raising a Reader program.

Students in the Virginia Beach Central Academy’s automotive servicing program recently received valuable vehicle donations from Daimler Chrysler. Daimler Chrysler has donated a 2005 Dodge Magnum and a 2001 Dodge Viper, valued at $104,598 collectively. Student technicians will have the opportunity to gain the necessary experience to better meet customer needs efficiently.

Students at Corporate Landing Elementary recently raised more than $3000 to purchase a dolphin from A Dolphin’s Promise Foundation. A Dolphin’s Promise is a foundation that raises funds for cancer research. The 8’ fiberglass dolphin was painted by Matt Jackson, a local muralist and artist, whose work depicted the school’s commitment to education, history, the military and America. Corporate Landing Elementary’s dolphin will be on permanent display in the school.

Several congratulations are in order. . .

Congratulations to Morgan M., a senior at Landstown High School, who won first place in the undecorated cake category at the International Food Service Educators’ Association competition in January at the Chesapeake Conference Center. Morgan has already been accepted to attend Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Hats off to Brennon T., a fifth grader at Centerville Elementary School , who was student named Tidewater’s Safety Patroller of the Year by the American Automobile Association. Brennon and his family will receive an all-expense paid trip to Washington DC in April, at which time Brennon will be presented his award.

Kudos to Landstown High School Technology Academy senior, Nicholas H., who has received the Harry F. Byrd Leadership Award-- and as a result will receive $10,000. Nicholas plans to attend the Untied States Naval Academy after graduation.

Congratulations to First Colonial High School Legal Studies Academy senior, Jessica R., who is the first high school student in recent years to become a certified paralegal after completing a course offered by Old Dominion University’s Executive Business Center in the College of Business and Public Administration.

Kudos to VBCPS art teachers, Anne Baker, Old Donation Center, and Betsy DiJulio, Princess Anne High School for being two of 10 artists selected to participate in a local art show entitled, “Thou Shalt Not”. The art show was held at the Visual Arts Center at Tidewater Community College, Old Towne in Portsmouth.

Hats off to Dr. Hazel Jessee, Principal at First Colonial High School, for receiving recognition from the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission for the establishment and the direction of a Community Educational Alliance. The Alliance was focused on serving minority students and families of low socioeconomic status by implementing strategies designed to address the achievement gap.

Finally, I’d like to conclude my report this evening with a preview of a public safety announcement. You may recall that our director of transportation, David Pace, recently presented a list of initiatives for improving bus safety. In an effort to raise community awareness, we are developing a series of regional public service announcements (PSAs), featuring bus drivers and transportation officials from across Hampton Roads. Topics of the PSAs include: tips for motorists when driving near a bus, safety tips for students, and reminders of the most common challenges bus drivers encounter on the road. I am pleased tonight, to give you a preview of these informative announcements.

In total, ten public service announcements are being produced. They will begin airing in early March on city cable channels and our local TV stations.

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

Last Modified on January 10, 2007
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