Ahead of the Curve
Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board
May 17, 2005

Mr. Chairman, members of the Board, citizens of our community, my report this evening highlights a few of the many activities, events, and accomplishments that have occurred recently throughout our school system.

It’s May and our annual Standards of Learning (SOL) testing window has begun. Middle and high schools started administering the End of Course (EOC) tests this week and students in elementary and middle schools will begin testing during the week of May 23rd. More than 200,000 SOL test booklets received from Harcourt Inc. are being processed by the Department of Accountability for testing students in grades 3 – 12. Once testing materials arrive in Virginia Beach, they must be sorted and distributed to our schools and then collected again and sent back to Harcourt. Student answer documents are sent separately for scoring. In addition to paper/pencil tests, this year all EOC tests are being administered online at all high schools and 5 pilot middle school sites. Security screens or blinders are attached to the computer monitors. Online student results are available sooner than paper/pencil results.
Another SOL assessment for students with disabilities was implemented by the state this year—the Virginia Grade Level Alternative Assessment. This new alternative assessment must be scored locally. The 30 individuals hired by the Department of Accountability to score the 300 portfolio-based assessments are working at the Laskin Road Annex this month under the leadership of the Department of Accountability and the Office of Programs for Exceptional Children. We wish all of our students well on this year’s tests.

Our elementary schools held Kindergarten registration and orientation for the 2005-06 school year on April 26. This event offered our future students and their parents tours of the schools, classroom visitations, an explanation of our Kindergarten program, an opportunity to meet staff, participation in storytime and snack, and a school bus ride. We encourage parents to register their children who will have reached their fifth birthday on or before September 30, as soon as possible.

Also on April 26th, our Education Foundation held the Grand Opening for House # 5 --the fifth house built by students in the construction trades at the Technical and Career Education Center. The house, located at 916 B street, is listed on the open market at $420,000. Profits from the sale of the house go back into our Education Foundation to support future projects. The house project celebration provided a time to recognize business partners who assisted with the project and to pay tribute to the students and staff at the Tech Center. In addition, the event also served as the groundbreaking for House Project #6.

Our Department of Human Resources recently partnered with Virginia Wesleyan College and WTKR-TV3 to promote the profession of teaching and recruit future teachers. The project , entitled “Your Future”, targets middle school students and young adults who are exploring career possibilities. A 30-minute program and commercials that spotlight various professions have been developed and broadcast. Michael Weatherly, teacher at Pembroke Elementary represented VBCPS in the program that aired on April 23 and in the commercial that will continue to air during May. DVDs of the program will also be made available to guidance counselors in our secondary schools.

The work of fifty-six of our school system’s art specialists will be on display through May 20th at Frame Up Gallery on Princess Anne Road. The “teaching artists exhibit” opened on May 13th with a reception.

On April 30th, elementary school teams competed in the 20th annual Great Computer Challenge held at Old Dominion University. The Challenge is sponsored by WHRO and the Consortium for Interactive Instruction. Fairfield Elementary School earned a good rating in desktop publishing and graphic arts. Indian Lakes Elementary earned an honorable mention in graphic arts and a 3rd place in the internet scavenger hunt and John B. Dey students earned an honorable mention in graphic arts. At this event, two Virginia Beach teachers were honored, as well. Nicole Jefferies, Computer Resource Specialist at Rosemont Elementary was named Technology Educator of the Year and Christina Troxell, 5th grade teacher at Landstown Elementary was named Technology Classroom Educator of the Year.

Birdneck Elementary was recently chosen to participate in the Virginia Best Practice Study conducted by the National Center for Educational Accountability (NCEA), a non-profit research organization at the University of Texas at Austin. Birdneck is one of only 5 elementary schools selected to participate in this study, which will identify practices that high-performing districts and schools across Virginia are implementing.

Our Departments of Curriculum and Instruction and Media and Communications recently launched a formal parent involvement initiative aimed at improving and increasing the meaningful involvement of parents in public education. Training sessions, patterned after the research-based work of Dr. Joyce Epstein at Johns Hopkins University, were held during the month of April for action teams from 38 schools. Staff from those schools left the training with formal action plans that will be implemented during the 2005-06 school year.

Students in many of our schools have been enjoying career days that provide them with opportunities to learn about a variety of professions. From architecture to aeronautics, career week activities have focused on assemblies, panel discussions, and even the completion of electronic interest inventories that help students to match their talents with future career possibilities.

On May 4th, our school system celebrated the many contributions of school volunteers at our Volunteer of the Year Recognition Dinner. Eighty-seven volunteers, from seniors to parents to youth, were honored for their service to public education in Virginia Beach. The theme for this year’s event was “Volunteers. . .our good fortune” . . .and they truly are. Annually, our district benefits from the service of approximately 20,000 volunteers.

Several congratulations are in order this evening. . .

Congratulations to staff from the Ocean Lakes High School’s Math and Science Academy who were recently invited to participate in Maryland’s Patuxent Partnership’s Open Forum on Advanced Instructional Education Models. Academy coordinator Carolyn Keen, Academy Advisor Nancy Moskway-Vadersen, and Department Chair Mark Clemente shared information about academy activities, particularly the mentorship project that requires students to establish relationships with mentors working in professional fields that align to the student’s selected area of research and study. The academy students complete 100 hours of independent work in the mentorship project and prepare a multimedia presentation of the experience, along with a written summation.

Kudos to Trevon Talbot and Glenn Burwell, students at the First Colonial High Legal Studies Academy, who were chosen to try a mock appeal before Supreme Court Justices during the model judiciary supreme court round of regional competition.

The Virginia Beach Association of Educational Office Professionals (VBAEOP) recently announced their award recipients at their annual Bosses Night Dinner. Hats off to Terri Skidmore, Executive Office Associate in the Department of School Administration for being named Office Professional of the Year, and congratulations to George McKay, principal at Pembroke Elementary, for being named Administrator of the Year by the association.
In addition, kudos are in order for Linda Hayes, principal at Newtown Road Elementary, for being named Administrator of the Year by the state association for educational office professionals.

Congratulations to Paula Raines, Princess Anne High, for being named our district’s Outstanding Teacher of the Gifted. Ms. Raines has been described as a model teacher as she is focused, dedicated, and effectively communicates the need to differentiate instruction in order to meet the needs of high-end learners.

In addition, hats off to Susan Pucket, First Colonial High, who was also selected as an Outstanding Teacher of the Gifted for our district. Ms. Pucket has been said to exemplify the best of the profession, remaining committed to providing the exemplary education for gifted learners throughout her career. Susan Pucket has also been selected as the Region II Gifted Teacher of the Year and will be honored at the Virginia Association for the Gifted’s convention in July.

Congratulations to Salem High School for receiving awards from the Virginia State Police Association and the Virginia Department of Education for their 2004 Graduation Project. Spearheading this project were Laura Schnuit, Chair of the Project, and Beverly Fifield, Salem PTSA President.

Kudos to Kingston Elementary for being selected as a 2005 winner of the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Excellence in Education Partnership Award from the National PTA. The award recognized the collaborative efforts with parents, families, educators, and community members that promoted hands-on lessons about the Chesapeake Bay. More than twenty agencies, organizations, and businesses collaborated with the Kingston PTA to provide resources for the Chesapeake Bay Initiative Program which provided students with opportunities to adopt seven acres of neighborhood wetland, raise 8,000 baby oysters, trek through 42 field and boat trips, and even help save a baby seal.

Congratulations to Bruce Phelps, coordinator of student activities, who was recently selected to receive the Virginia High School League’s Torch of Honor for his exceptional contributions to VHSL activities.

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

Last Modified on June 22, 2005
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