Ahead of the Curve
Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board
May 23, 2006

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 last week and students in elementary and middle schools began testing this week. 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 arrived in Virginia Beach, they were sorted and distributed to our schools and then will be 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 school and middle school sites. Online student results are available sooner than paper/pencil results. Other SOL assessments implemented for students with disabilitiesare the Virginia Grade Level Alternative Assessment and the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program. These alternate and alternative assessments are being scored locally. The 83 individuals hired by the Department of Accountability to score the approximately 2,500 portfolio-based assessments are working at the Laskin Road Annex during the months of April and May 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!

In May, many of our schools also include a tribute to mothers-- in recognition of Mother's Day-- into their school activities. For example, at Princess Anne Elementary School first-grade teacher Tammy Thrasher and her students hosted a tea party. Students served their mothers refreshments and shared selective writings that they had prepared for the event.

On April 25, all elementary schools hosted Kindergarten Registration and Orientation for the 2006-2007 School Year. During this event, children who have reached their fifth birthday on or before September 30, 2006 and their parents had the opportunity to participate in activities such as tours of the school, classroom visitations, an explanation of the kindergarten program, story time, bus rides, and brief skits. School staff were ready to assist parents with the registration process which includes documentation of proof of residence/address; a certified birth certificate; a physical examination report and current immunization record; the child's Social Security Number; and two emergency contact phone numbers. Kindergarten registration will continue at all elementary schools during regular school office hours between now and August 11, 2006. Parents are encouraged to register their child prior to the start of school. The first day of school for the 2006-2007 school year will be Tuesday, September 5. For students attending one of the school division's four year-round elementary schools ( Corporate Landing, Plaza, Point O'View, and Seatack) the first day of school will be Monday, July 24. More detailed kindergarten registration information can be accessed on the
“Student Registration” page found on the school division's home page.

Speaking of year round schools, interested families can apply for attendance to a year-round school --year round! There is the opportunity for students to attend a year-round school even if their home school is not one of the school division's four year-round elementary schools – Corporate Landing, Plaza, Point O'View, and Seatack.If parents believe that their child could benefit from the flexibility of a year-round calendar, they may want to consider enrolling in one of these four schools for the 2006-2007 school year, providing that space is available. To begin the process for consideration, parents may complete a Student Placement Request Form for Elementary School and return it to the year-round school of their choice. The Student Placement Request Form is available in every school office and can be accessed from the school division's website – vbschools.com. Please note that year-round school provides the same number of days of instruction as a traditional school; it is just arranged over 12 months rather than the customary 10-month schedule.

Community service is certainly alive and well at First Colonial High School! FC Baseball players recently had the opportunity to work with players of a local Challenger division of Little League Baseball.The junior varsity and varsity teams both served as 'baseball buddies' to the younger players.

In addition, First Colonial High School SCA Officers Jimmy W., Kelly M., Sarah W., and Ashley S. initiated a community service activity that honored the Virginia Beach Fire Department Station 8. As a result of the activity, the fire station was the recipient of a new grill and the students had the opportunity to exhibit leadership in fundraising, planning, and completing this event.

First Colonial High School students, staff, and community also recently participated in “ Discover Languages”,a national initiative to promote foreign language learning and celebrate diversity. Foreign language teachers at First Colonial worked with other disciplines for the second year in a row to highlight Art, the Gifted Program,Catering,Marketing and Advanced Computer Information, and their Music(orchestra) and Theater departments. The project, which was dedicated to the memory of former teacher Susan Puckett, engaged as many freshmen as possible, which also helped to support the school's Continuous Improvement Plan.

On Saturday, April 22, the Office of Transportation Services sponsored its annual Virginia Beach City Public Schools' Bus Safety “Roadeo” at Larkspur Middle School. Fifteen of the school division's bus drivers participated in a variety of driving skill exercises such as backing up, parallel parking, pupil stop, railroad crossing, stopline, straight-line, offset alley, and diminishing clearance. The bus roadeo is a wonderful opportunity for our bus drivers to demonstrate their driving skill and qualify for regional, state, and even international competition by accumulating points based on their performance during the competition.

Congratulations to Cheryl Ruffin for earning the title of “conventional bus winner” and Tyler Reynolds for earning enough points to garner the title of “transit bus winner”. Both Cheryl and Tyler are eligible to compete in the regional bus roadeo along with 2 nd and 3 rd place winners Carolyn Gathagan and Wendy Mathews.

Ocean Lakes High School held its Third Annual Dolphin Dash 5K on Saturday, April 22. Physical Education teacher Christine Thornton was the race chairperson and special education teacher Brooke Thompson coordinated the volunteers. More than 300 runners and 65 volunteers participated and raised $4,400 to benefit the Dolphin's Promise program and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

During the week of April 24, our gifted program hosted a principal from Australia who was in the United States to learn about best practices in differentiation of instruction and gifted education. Kristen Kelly, the principal of a small school in Tazmania, Australia, met with students, teachers and administrators at several schools in our district and reported that she had gained many new ideas she hoped to implement in Australia.

The Dance Education Program at Old Donation Center presented their annual dance concert on April 29 at the Roper Theater in Norfolk. The title of the concert, Dance Like Me, Dance Like You, reflected the program's overarching theme for the year of “Commonality and Diversity.” During their studies, rehearsals and performances, the student dancers developed a broader perspective of dance as a fundamental mode of human artistic expression which crosses cultures and continents. The nearly 300 dancers also performed at 15 elementary schools.

First-grade students in teacher Emily Rudiger's class at Newtown Road Elementary School participated in a “book reading” at Barnes & Noble Booksellers at Pembroke on Saturday, April 29 to share a book they had written in class. Titled My Animal Book, the student authors' creation comprises original short essays written by the children about their favorite animals. The essays are accompanied by computer-art illustrations of each animal chosen by the children. After attending a project-based learning workshop, Ms. Rudiger, along with library media specialist Kris Montgomery, developed the book project to fulfill science and technology curriculum requirements.

Students in Teacher Jim Barger's Engineering Class at Landstown High School and Technology Academy have been studying Automotive Design. As part of the unit, they sketched concept cars, designed a concept car of their own, and built a prototype of their concept car from Styrofoam and vinyl filler and will soon have the opportunity to “test drive” their creations.

WTKR News Channel 3 Reporter of “Classroom Notes” Biannca Martinez recently visited Point O' View Elementary to “co-host” WPOV, the school's morning news show. Computer Resource teacher Patty Fesser, Media Liaison Kelly Kraft, and parent volunteer Alan Hagerman collaborated to get WPOV “on the air” each morning at the school. Student anchors and reporters share the weather and the news and even participate in occasional “on the scene” reports.

Three Oaks Elementary School hosted its First Annual “ Wolf Pup College” recently. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade had the opportunity to sign up for a wide variety of classes taught by Three Oaks teachers and parents, Ocean Lakes High School teachers and students, and community volunteers. The enrichment classes introduced students to many new subjects such as dentistry, photography, and scrapbooking. Principal Lisa Hannah taught a class on calligraphy and volunteered to be a "patient" for the students in the First Aid class. Three Oaks parent and Ocean Lakes High School government teacher Andrea Stover created and organized the program as chairperson of the school's PTA After School Enrichment Committee. High school students from Ms. Stover's government classes volunteered their time to assist with registration and classroom instruction.

Teachers of the Year from Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach and members of our Teacher Forum gathered at the Advanced Technology Center on May 10th for an engaging panel discussion on the power of the teacher voice. The audience was encouraged to ask questions on topics such as teacher leadership, promotion of the teaching profession, recruitment and retention, balancing professional and personal demands, and using the teacher voice for positive change. The event was sponsored by our school system's Teacher Forum.

The Office of Safe Schools and Risk Management have made great strides this school year to ensure the continued safety of our students and staff. I am proud to report that all of our schools are better equipped to handle emergencies and security has improved due to the new comprehensive audit process and our partnership with the City of Virginia Beach's Emergency Medical Services. Our safe schools audits now include a full inspection of the operational systems in all 87 schools and centers. In addition, The Office of Safe Schools and Risk Management and City of Virginia Beach's Emergency Medical Services worked together to place Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in 13 high schools and the School Administration Building.

On May 3,Opportunity Inc. presented a “State of the Emerging Workforce Report” to over 250 business, industry, and education leaders in Hampton Roads. At this event the “Workplace Readiness Skills curriculum”, an 18 month project conducted by the office of TCE and VBCPS teachers was unveiled to the public. After a taped video message from Governor Kaine supporting the creation and use of the curriculum, Judy Begland, President and CEO of Opportunity Inc. honored Dr. Christine Caskey, Dr. Patrick Konopnicki, Dr. Linda Love and Dr. Daniel Smith for their leadership with the project. Opportunity Inc. is South and Western Hampton Roads' Workforce Development Board, which funded and supported this project. They plan to utilize the lessons in their workforce development one-stop training centers. The Workplace Readiness Skills curriculum will be shared with educators in Hampton Roads and later this fall throughout the entire state.

Tallwood High School Global Studies Academy students and staff have been immersed in activities that bring the local community and the world into the school!

  • Teacher Yuko Kimora-Koenig led the planning for a successful Japanese Partial Immersion Café, held in honor of National Children's Day which is celebrated in Japan on May 5.
  • Teachers Ellen Willner and Kay Shows gave French students the rare opportunity to practice their French speaking skills with eight native speakers from the community and to learn about the French culture when community volunteers representing NATO and the Alliance Francaise, Chapitre deGrasse and a retired Virginia Wesleyan professor shared charming and comical glimpses into the French culture.
  • Latin students in teacher Michele Osborne's class celebrated Rome's birthday with an after-school café as well, complete with presentations on mosaics from a docent from the Chrysler Museum and a local artist.
  • Chinese Immersion Café teacher, Dr. Sarah Tsai lead an event where guest speakers presented-- on The Silk Road, reasons for studying Mandarin Chinese, the difference between traditional and simplified Chinese, and career opportunities with the Chinese language.
  • Students studying global Issues took their study of environmental issues to a new level when they created an Amazon and Congo Rainforest in the classroom. Woodstock Elementary School first graders visited the rainforest on April 25 and Academy students provided hands-on activities and lessons.
  • And recently, students from the Tallwood High School Global Studies Academy were in the Azalea Festival Parade with their float that represented Denmark. Students had the opportunity to work in collaboration with a Danish NATO officer and attend the International Tattoo student matinee. The academy's celebration of NATO culminated with a presentation by a NATO officer of the Royal Navy from Great Britain.

Congresswoman Thelma Drake visited Ocean Lakes High School this week to observe Scholastic's READ 180 program in action. Students in Regina Barnett's class and parents of students participating in the program shared their insights with the Congresswoman as well.

The Virginia Beach Schools Education Foundation has completed Phase I of a newly launched membership drive this month. The first phase was kicked off with a competition that divided Foundation Board members into two teams led by Rick Anderson and Charlie Cortellini. The team generating the least members was rewarded with a yard filled with “foundation” apples! Phase I has resulted in 184 memberships and more than $11,000! To join the Education Foundation visit VBEF.org.

Thirty-one secondary students throughout our district earned recognition at the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) state awards, which were presented at the state conference recently. Their outstanding projects ranged from career investigation to culinary exhibits and health and safety displays. Well done!

Several additional congratulations are in order this evening. . .

Congratulations to First Colonial High School Legal Studies Academy teacher Larry Spruill who has been selected to attend the 2006 Supreme Court Institute sponsored by Street Law. Only 10% of applicants each year are accepted to this prestigious institute which includes sessions led by Supreme Court experts, journalists, authors, and lawyers. This exciting opportunity culminates with a visit to the Court and a private reception with United States Supreme Court Justices.

Congratulations to Din N., eighth grader at Bayside Middle School, who won first place in the middle school level of the Virginia School Boards Association Tidewater Region Student Art Contest. Her artwork, a stylized self-portrait, was the only piece selected to represent Virginia Beach in the middle school division of the contest. Din's work will be publicly displayed for a year --rotating between the offices of the Secretary of Education, State Superintendent, and the Virginia School Boards Association. Din is a student in Susan Carden's advanced art class at Bayside Middle School.

The junior division of the Great Computer Challenge for elementary schools recently took place at the Webb Center on the campus of Old Dominion University. Congratulations to the schools and teams that participated. At this event, the Excellence in Technology awards for the elementary school level were presented. This year Virginia Beach staff members received all three awards! The Elementary Classroom Technology Educator of the Year was awarded to Brooke Rogers, a 1 st grade teacher at Lynnhaven Elementary School. Jody Carroll, Computer Resource Specialist at John B. Dey Elementary School, was selected as the Elementary Technology Educator of the Year. The Elementary Technology Educator of the Year was awarded to LouAnne (Rheins) Metzger, Principal at Shelton Park Elementary School. Congratulations!

Kudos are also in order for Landstown High School and Technology Academy students who earned first place in the Computer Aided Drafting competition at the Great Computer Challenge, sponsored by WHRO and ODU. The team of Crystal Z., Jimmy L., John L., and Ryan C. competed against 12 other schools to capture the top honor. The team's sponsor was LHS teacher Eric Nestor.

Kudos to Kempsville Middle School's gifted resource teacher, Melissa C. Sullivan, for receiving an Outstanding Teacher of the Gifted Award from the Virginia Association for the Gifted. Ms. Sullivan has led Virginia Beach City Public Schools in the use of the Schoolwide Enrichment Model and enrichment clusters in both elementary and middle schools. Old Donation Center second grade teacher, Dr. Frances L. Hatzopolous, was also awarded an Outstanding Teacher of the Gifted Award. In addition to her selection as Virginia Beach Public Schools Outstanding Teacher of the Gifted, Dr. Hatzopolous has also been awarded Virginia Association for the Gifted Region II Outstanding Teacher of the Gifted for 2006. Congratulations!

Hats off to Ocean Lakes High School marketing teacher Jim Cartwright who has been selected as a Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year. Mr. Cartwright was informed of this honor in a surprise ceremony on May 9. As a result of his selection, Mr. Cartwright will receive a $1,000 educational grant from the Wal-Mart/SAM'S CLUB Foundation to benefit the school, and an honorary Wal-Mart polo shirt. Winning teachers also have the opportunity to apply for state and national Teacher of the Year honors.

Kudos to Elizabeth (Beth) Connelly Bianchi, a teacher at Trantwood Elementary School, who was recently chosen as the “Outstanding Master's Graduate Student in Educational Leadership” at a Students Awards Ceremony at Old Dominion University.

Congratulations to Kempsville High School students Stephanie M. & Stephanie E. who placed in the top 16 in the Nation at the DECA National Conference in Dallas, Texas! They competed in the Business & Financial Services Marketing Research Event.

Hats off to Ocean Lakes High School Student, Kihong "Sam" S., who qualified to compete in the Aurora Japanese Language Scholarship Foundation All-USA High School Japanese Speech Contest in Los Angeles last weekend. Sam is one of fifteen students in the United States that participated in this national event. He hopes to become a tri-lingual diplomat in the future, who can speak Chinese, Japanese and English.

Kudos to Thalia Elementary student, Christopher S., whose artwork was selected for the Program Cover Contest sponsored by the Tides Baseball Club. Christopher's winning artwork will be displayed on the cover of the Norfolk Tides program sold at all 72 home games this season! Art specialist Heather Piccoli encouraged students to complete the project as an out-of-class assignment.

Kudos to Marilyn Draughon, school counselor, at Red Mill and Thoroughgood Elementary Schools for being recognized by the Hampton Roads Counselor's Association as the 2006 Counselor of the Year.

Hats off to Terry Skidmore, Executive Office Associate in the Department of School Administration, for being selected as the 2006 Office Professional of the Year by the Virginia Association of Educational Office Professionals.

And, congratulations to Dr. Maynard Massey for being named 2006 VBCPS Administrator of the year by the Virginia Beach Association of Educational Office Professionals.

Congratulations to the Ocean Lakes High School Scholastic Bowl Team who were recently honored at the Battle of the Brains Reception and Awards Ceremony in Williamsburg for being named the 2006 Southeastern Division champions! They were presented a $4,000 scholarship from the Virginia Lottery. Members of the team include senior & captain Ray L., junior Kunle D., junior Chris L., and sophomore Peter M. Alternates are Kathryn T. and Jerry K. The team is coached by Teacher Regina Barnett. In addition, Kunle D. was honored as a Virginia All-Star and received a $100 cash prize for winning the All-Star challenge. Congratulations to Princess Anne High School Battle of the Brains team including senior & captain Michael Z., senior Grace H., junior Ian M., and sophomore Victor M. They were also recognized at the event for their third place win. The PA team, coached by Judy Petykowski and John Harrison, won a $1,000 scholarship.

Congratulations to Patricia McGloine for being named the Virginia Beach City Public Schools 2007 Citywide Teacher of the Year! Patricia teaches social studies at Princess Anne High School and is a 20-year veteran teacher, with all of these years devoted to teaching at PA. Ms. McGloine was cited by the Teacher of the Year Selection Committee for her remarkable ability to engage her students in authentic learning experiences.

Congratulations as well to our 2007 Teacher of the Year finalists…
Christopher Buhner, Salem High School, visual arts/metalsmithing,
Beth Estill, Malibu Elementary School, reading specialist,
Susan McCarvill, Windsor Oaks Elementary School, special education, and
Kristine Troch, Plaza Middle School, sixth-grade social studies.
Choosing the citywide teacher of the year is a process that involves three phases, application review, classroom observation, and personal interview with the selection committee. While each and every one of the individual school/center teachers of the year is a master teacher, these five finalists represent all that is exemplary in teaching. Congratulations to the “final five”!

Finally, I am pleased to report that according to Newsweek's 1,000 Top High Schools in the United States, the following Virginia Beach Schools have been ranked accordingly:

Princess Anne --# 144
First Colonial--# 556
Ocean Lakes --# 645
Cox--# 684

Also, Standard and Poor's has identified several Virginia Beach Schools for their progress in narrowing the achievement gap for one or mores subgroups. The following schools have been named:

Brandon Middle
Brookwood Elementary
Cox High School
Landstown Middle, and
Thalia Elementary.

In this report, Virginia Beach is highlighted as one of the few school divisions in Virginia with 5 or more schools being recognized for progress in this area! Well done!

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

Last Modified on May 30, 2006
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