Ahead of the Curve
Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board
June 21, 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.

Our school system has held 13 graduation exercises this month. More than 50,000 family members, friends and staff have gathered at the Pavilion in the past few days to honor the four thousand, four hundred and thirty-two seniors who earned diplomas. To date, the Class of 200 5 has earned $13,630,719.50 in scholarships, with additional awards coming in daily. Congratulations to the VBCPS Class of 2005 and our best wishes for their continued success.

I’m very proud to announce that last week, it was announced our District was awarded the United States Senate Productivity and Quality Award for Virginia --Medallion of Performance Excellence ! This is the highest level of recognition presented to organizations that have been identified as model organizations.  These organizations have demonstrated excellence and maturity in each of 7 categories through their approach, deployment, and outstanding results. The 7 categories are Leadership; Strategic Planning; Customer and Market Focus; Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management; Human Resource Focus; Process Management; and Organizational Results

I’m also pleased to report that our school system has been identified as an “outperforming” school district by Standard & Poor’s, the world’s foremost provider of ratings and indices. Known for its expert data interpretation, Standard and Poor’s recently published an analysis of school districts across the country that could be considered ‘outperforming.’ An outperforming school district is defined as a school district that surpasses the performance of other districts of similar size and demographics in reading and math proficiency. Of the 132 school districts in Virginia, only 16 were named “outperformers”. The criteria used by Standard & Poor’s to identify outperforming school districts are that the school districts must: a) achieve higher levels of student proficiency than peers, b) significantly exceed statistical expectation, and, c) outperform consistently for two consecutive years. A complete copy of the Standard & Poor’s analysis can be found at www.schoolmatters.com.

One hundred and fifty students from 10 elementary schools were recently honored for substantially improving academic performance this year at an event entitled Recognition of Academic Progress—Oceans of Success. The event was sponsored by Chief Judge Thomas Shadrick and Jack Drescher and Jeffrey Breit of Breit, Drescher and Imprevento. The recognition was held at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and included an educational tour, a 3-D movie, boat ride, live animal presentation , and lunch.

Connections between brain-based learning and brain safety were the focus of an event on June 3 rd at Rosemont Elementary where every fourth grader received instruction on bicycle safety and a complimentary bike helmet while participating in an SOL-based lesson on the brain and brain functioning. This opportunity was the result of a generous donation by Gary Chiaverotti and The Lynn Fund, an organization dedicated to prevention of brain injury and assistance to victims of brain injury.

The Green Run High School Football program recently received a $20,000 donation from former student and 1996 graduate Plaxico Burrus. Burrus is currently a wide receiver for the New York Giants—he spent his first five years in the NFL playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers. His generous donation will be used to purchase uniforms, helmets, training equipment, and weights to support Green Run’s football program.

On June 14 th, our district paid tribute to our school/community partnerships at our annual Partners in Education Appreciation Breakfast. The theme for this year’s event was Partnerships...

Oceans of Opportunities, and nearly 500 school administrators, partnership coordinators, and representatives from our business, military, and community partners attended the event. Eighteen models of best partnership practices were recognized at the breakfast. They join the 52 models that are currently touted on our website as examples of exemplary practice in school/community relations.

Several congratulations are in order this evening. . . .

Congratulations to staff and students at three of our high schools for ranking in the top 1,000 in Newsweek Magazine’s annual listing of the top 1,000 high schools in the country. Princess Anne High School ranked #143, Ocean Lakes High ranked # 632, and Cox High ranked # 671. The magazine annually ranks public schools according to the following ratio: the number of Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests taken by all students at a school in 2004 divided by the number of graduating seniors.

Kudos to the students at First Colonial High School’s Legal Studies Academy who have been invited to participate in the Virginia Bar Association’s 67 th annual convention which was held in Virginia Beach this month. Students will be interacting with local judges as well as the president of the American Bar Association and they will have opportunities to participate in a panel discussion entitled “Dialogue on the American Jury”.

Congratulations to Ashley Wooten from Ocean Lakes High School who received the 2005 Principal’s Leadership Award. This award was given by with National Association of Secondary School Principals and Herf Jones to members of the Class of 2005. There were 6,400 nominations and the recipients were selected by high school principals from across the United States on the basis of the student’s leadership skills, participation in service organizations and clubs, achievements in the arts and sciences, employment experience, and academic record.

Hats off to New Castle Elementary principal, Janet Duff, for being selected as a finalist for the 2005 National Distinguished Principal Award. The Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals states that she exemplifies “dedication and excellence in the field of educational leadership. Mrs. Duff has been a principal in Virginia Beach since 1993, and has served New Castle since its opening in 1999.

Kudos to the Landstown High School and Technology Academy’s Eagle A.M. television program, which is broadcast daily on their Eagle Television station, for earning an Award of Distinction at the Videographer Awards 2005. The Videographer Awards, an international awards organization in video production industry, awarded Eagle A.M. the Award of Distinction for outstanding writing, videography, production, and editing.

Hats off to staff and students at First Colonial High for garnering the American Citizenship Award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Principal Hazel Jessee designated June 1 st as American Citizenship Day at FC, encouraging teachers and staff to select a student that they “caught doing something good.”

Congratulations to National WordMasters Challenge top scorers from VBCPS. The WordMasters Challenge is an exercise in critical thinking that first encourages students to become familiar with a set of interesting new words and then challenges them to use those words to complete analogies expressinig various kinds of relationships. WordMasters annually recognizes the top 12 teams in the nation and at our last meeting, you may recall, we recognized the teams and individuals who placed first and second. Tonight, I’d like to congratulate:

Fourth Graders at Old Donation Center for placing 9 th in the nation in the very difficult Gold division of the WordMasters competition. They competed against 274 teams consisting of 7,510 students. The team was coached by Teacher Elaine Johnson.

Fourth graders at NewCastle Elementary placed 4 th in the nation in the Blue Division of the WordMasters competition. They competed against 724 teams consisting of 35,480 students. The team was coached by Debbie Field and Allison Hartraft.

Kudos to Chris Willis, a fourth grader in Mrs. Betty Oliver’s class at Woodstock Elementary, for winning the Epilepsy Prevention Poster contest. “Use a Helmet…Prevent Epilepsy” was the theme for this year’s contest that was open to all fourth graders in Virginia. Only twelve winners were chosen from 612 state entries.

Kudos to Stephanie Enzmann, Specialist in the Office of Organizational Development, who has been appointed to the Board of Examiners for the Malcom Baldridge National Quality Award. As an examiner, Ms. Enzmann is responsible for reviewing and evaluating applications submitted for the Award. She is one of 500 reviewers selected from industry, professional and trade organizations, educational and health care organizations, and government agencies.

Congratulations to Norene Skiles-- Library Media Specialist at Windsor Oaks Elementary School-- for receiving a Governor’s Innovative Technology Award. The award, sponsored by America Online, in conjunction with the Governor and the Virginia Department of Education, recognizes educators who have improved instruction through the innovative use of technology. Ms. Skiles is a 19 year veteran of VBCPS and has been the library media specialist at Windsor Oaks for the past 16 years.

Congratulations to the Kingston Elementary Destination Imagination Fourth Grade Team who recently won first place at the regional competition and second place in the state event earning the privilege to attend the Global Finals. The team placed 23 rd out of 60 in the national competition. Global Finals hosted more than 8,000 students from 47 states and 17 countries. In the category “Dizzy Derby”, the students built an electric car, which had to travel successfully around a triangle track. Students were limited to a $150 budget and had no adult assistance.

Congratulations to students at the Advanced Technology Center for placing first at the state leadership competitions for SkillsUSA.They are now competing nationally in Kansas City. This is the third year in a row that the Internetworking (Cisco) and Digital Design students won the state conference and the 2 nd year in a row that an ATC student won the related technical math event.

In addition, accolades are in order for Katie Williams, a senior in the Cisco Networking Academy and Woody Gordon, a junior in Computer Network Administration who each won first place in the national TestOut challenge. Katie garnered first place in the Cisco Networking exam and Woody won first place in the Security+ exam. The TestOut Challenge is designed to encourage students to pursue technology oriented careers and industry certifications.

Congratulations to Mary (Molly) Gunsalus, seventh-grade social studies teacher at Landstown Middle School, who has been selected as the Preserve American History Teacher of the Year for the state of Virginia. She was honored at an 11:00 a.m. ceremony in the school’s library on Wednesday, June 15, when State Superintendent of Education JoLynne DeMary presented Ms. Gunsalus with her award. As the state Preserve American History Teacher of the Year award winner, she now moves up to the national competition.

Finally, on a personal note, this Superintendent’s Report has always been a pleasure for me to deliver. It has allowed me firsthand to provide a glimpse into our schools, departments, and offices of Virginia Beach City Public Schools. Inevitably, it is the staff, the students and the community members we have highlighted over time that exemplify the excellence and accomplishments reflected in our reputation. As a result, I leave here this evening with continued respect of the many talents you all have, and I marvel at how much everyone in this city and school division has been able to accomplish. I leave with great pride in my association in Virginia Beach Schools. Thank you.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my report.
Last Modified on June 22, 2005
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