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

Mr. Chairman, members of the Board, citizens of our community, my report this evening provides a brief sampling of recent school system events and some of the accomplishments of our students and staff.

Each year in March, we celebrate Youth Art Month. Our annual elementary and middle school student art shows are being held at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia where our students’ work is on public display. Exhibitions and receptions for our high school students are scheduled for May 16th through June 1st .

Approximately 1,500 students from 18 of our elementary schools qualified to participate in the Shamrock Marathon’s “ShoreBreak Final Mile” last Saturday at the Oceanfront. The ShoreBreak Final Mile is a fitness program that the Shamrock Marathon has created to promote a healthy and active lifestyle among students ages 7-13. For 10-weeks prior to the event, participating students must have run 25.2 miles. Their "final mile" was completed at the Boardwalk One-Mile Run presented by ShoreBreak Pizza on March 18th . The 18 elementary schools participating were Alanton, Birdneck, Cooke, Creeds, Kempsville, John B. Dey, King's Grant, Linkhorn Park, Luxford, New Castle, North Landing, Princess Anne, Red Mill, Three Oaks, Shelton Park, Thoroughgood, Providence, and Woodstock.

On February 23rd, the Daughters of the American Revolution, one of our long-time partners in education, held their annual recognition ceremony. Several of our students and staff were honored for their dedication to the remembrance and continuance of American democratic principles.

Also on February 23rd, fifteen minority students identified from First Colonial High School’s Community Alliance Initiative and eighteen Legal Studies Academy minority students traveled to Williamsburg for a tour of the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary. The students were invited by Associate Dean of Admissions, Faye Shealy, as part of the Law School Admissions Council’s National Minority Recruitment initiative in February. The students participated in a first year Criminal Law class, and had the opportunity to pose questions to a panel of minority college students. Following the panel discussion, FC students were given an in-depth tour of the law school’s courtroom, which is the most technologically advanced in the world. The visit was a wonderful opportunity for the students to get a first-hand look at college life and the study of law.

Our eleventh annual Career Connection : Transition to the Future event for middle and high school students was held on March 8th at the Advanced Technology Center. Approximately 100 career and community agency representatives offered information about a variety of careers and occupations. Career strands represented included business and marketing; fine arts; health and human services; and engineering and technology. In addition, career fields such as tourism and hospitality, the marine industry, landscape services, and financial services were also represented. Students and their parents were invited to ask questions about the careers of interest to them and they had the opportunity to speak with professionals to assist them in making informed decisions. The event was coordinated by our Offices of Employment Transition Connection and Technical and Career Education.

Students from Birdneck Elementary School are seeing the world in a whole new way, thanks to the doctors and staff at two local eye care centers. Thirty-five students received complimentary eye exams and glasses courtesy of Gilbert Eyecare. The students, in grades kindergarten through fifth, were selected after preliminary vision screenings by the school nurse. Drs. Gilbert and Falsetta along with their staff donated their time and services on Sunday, March 19th , (on their day off) to help fit the students for new glasses! Lenses and frames for the glasses are being donated by Hoya Optical Labs and Clearvision Optical. Birdneck students will receive instruction about the proper use and care of eyeglasses as well.

King’s Grant’s students have been stepping up their recycling efforts by developing a school wide proposal to recycle paper in addition to plastic milk jugs. The School’s Recycle Committee comprised of students, teachers and parents have been promoting the school’s efforts LIVE on closed circuit morning announcements.

Bayside High recently held “Marlin Pride Day Assemblies” that paid tribute to Bayside High School accomplishments.  “Marley the Marlin” greeted all students and guests as they entered the school’s auditorium for the festivities. The SCA Executive Council presented heritage information and the Keynote Speaker for Pride Day, Mr. John Alston, talked about creating and telling each person’s life story and making Bayside High School their home away from home.

Marines from the 24th U.S. Marine Corp’s Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune were in our area this month participating in an urban training mission. During their visit, they also engaged in community service in our school system. At North Landing Elementary, for example, they assisted students and staff in improvements to the Rams Outdoor Campus by weeding and planting in grade level gardens and upgrading and repairing picnic tables and the school’s amphitheater. This interaction with students will help the Marines in their training efforts which include interacting with children during missions near Iraq. Last year, this unit was charged with renovating 43 schools in Iraq, which supported a “back to school” campaign in a region 30 miles south of Baghdad.

Many of our high schools have been hosting annual events that name a school “king or queen.” These school spirit boosting events often serve as fundraisers. The proceeds are typically dedicated to a specific charity or charities. For example, at Bayside High School, Jason A. was recently crowned Mr. Bayside 2006 and at the recent Mr. Kellam pageant, Nick D. was crowned Mr. Kellam 2006. Others recognized this year are Shannon O., Miss Cox High, Quincy C. --Mr. Green Run High, Albert R. --Mr. Ocean Lakes High, Stephen S. --Mr. Princess Anne High, and Jahmal P. --Mr. Salem High 2006.

This week, if you are listening to your radio at home, in your car, or at work you may hear the Adult Learning Center’s radio campaign promoting its Race to GED program. Thanks to funding from the Virginia Department of Education, this week-long campaign hopes to reach a broad audience of adults and inspire qualified individuals to earn a GED. For the past two years, there has been an average of an 11% increase in the number of people tested for a GED. As a reminder, the “fast-track” Race to GED program is designed to help adult Virginians – ages 18 years and up who have not earned a high school diploma – to raise their education level and have the potential of earning higher wages.

Several congratulations are in order this evening. . .

Congratulations to Megan S. and Sarah C., 7th grade students at Princess Anne Middle School, for winning the “What My Vote Means to Me” essay contest sponsored by Kempsville Branch 99 Fleet Reserve Association. The Mayor presented the awards at The Roma Lodge as they celebrated Americanism Night. Sarah Callaway received a $100 savings bond for placing third. Megan Snyder received a $500 savings bond for placing first. In addition, Megan’s essay will be forwarded to the regional competition.

Kudos to the Ocean Lakes High School Scholastic Bowl Team, who won second place in the State Tournament. Seniors Ray L., Kathryn T., David L., and Michael H., and juniors Kunle D., Jerry K., and Chris L. competed in six matches in a row to earn the school's best finish in the state tournament. The Scholastic Bowl team was coached by Ocean Lakes High School Teacher Regina Barnett.

Congratulations to Daniella J., a student at Salem High School, for being recognized at the 16th Annual Celebration of Outstanding Achievements by African Americans as a winner in their writing contest awards program sponsored by Dominion Power. The topic of Daniella’s writing was Maya Angelou --and the theme for the contest was Strong Men and Women, Excellence in Leadership. Daniella was awarded a Dell laptop computer and a $1,000 scholarship.

Hats off to Sandi Maxwell, Administrative Office Associate in the Department of Media and Communications Development, for leading the process to establish in-services for clerical staff through the Office of Organizational Development. Additionally, Sandi participated in the Employee Input process and was instrumental in realigning professional certification classes for clerical staff through our Adult Education program. The classes will begin in September 2006 and will meet employee needs in areas such as technology, school law, and record-keeping.

Now, Mr. Edwards, I know you don’t like surprises from the Administration; however, this next bit of information I think you’ll forgive us for surprising you and the Board. Would you and Mrs. Smith Jones please step down to the front of the dias.

Mr. Chairman, Mrs. Smith-Jones and members of the Board, it is my pleasure on behalf of the administration and school division to announce that our school district has garnered an Honorable Mention in the 2006 Magna Awards program.

The Magna Awards, sponsored by the American School Board Journal and Sodexho, recognize school districts that advance student learning through school board leadership.

At this time, I would like to invite Dr. Christine Caskey, Assistant Superintendent, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and Mrs. Mary Ann Burritt, director of gifted education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction to come forward and present Mr. Edwards and Mrs. Smith-Jones with the plaques for our School Board that recognize our school system’s award winning entry—SAPLINGS: the art of educating.

This initiative, which promotes partnerships between our Department of Curriculum and Instruction and area museums, combines parental involvement and community resources to identify and nurture academic potential in low socioeconomic (SES) status/ culturally diverse students. SAPLINGS which is an acronym for “Students and Parents Learning Intellectual Growth Strategies” began in 2004 with support from an education foundation grant. The project provides students and parents with intellectual growth strategies to help them become confident and successful independent learners within the context of community cultural resources.

The project also serves to increase referrals of low SES students to elementary gifted programs. SAPLINGS supports the overriding Board goal of student achievement, and also supports goals for increasing parental involvement and community partnerships. This initiative will be featured in an upcoming edition of The American School Board Journal.

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

Last Modified on April 25, 2006
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