Ahead of the Curve
Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board
November 15 , 2005

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

On Wednesday, October 19, our school system celebrated and recognized the lasting contributions of dedicated teachers. Eighty-seven outstanding teachers, selected as Teachers of the Year at their sites, were honored at our 2006 Teacher of the Year Recognition Dinner which was held at the Ramada Plaza Resort Oceanfront. The program included the introduction of each school’s teacher of the year and a presentation by the 2006 VBCPS city-wide Teacher of the Year, Dr. Frances L. Hatzopoulos. A 17-year veteran of the school division, Dr. Hatzopoulos is a second-grade integrated gifted teacher at the Old Donation Center for gifted elementary students. Ned Williams, president of the Virginia Beach Public Schools Education Foundation, presented honoraria to Dr. Hatzopoulos and the four finalists: Debbie S. Field, fourth-grade teacher at New Castle Elementary; Meg Manugo, English teacher at Bayside High; Laura Smart McLamb, third-grade language arts teacher at Strawbridge Elementary; and Debra-Ann F. Raiford, a fifth-grade gifted cluster at Kingston Elementary.

On October 25 th, representatives from school action teams convened to participate in National Network of Partnership Schools training. This day long training, based on the work of Dr. Joyce Epstein from Johns Hopkins University, focused on effective ways to involve parents and families in schools. Four new schools joined the National Network of Partnership Schools at the training, bringing the total number of participating VBCPS schools to forty-one. As a result of the training, school Action Teams devised plans for parent and family involvement that strategically address school goals.

Students and their parents had the opportunity to meet with representatives from nearly 150 colleges and universities during Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ annual College Night, which took place on November 1 st at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. In addition to the large selection of college and university representatives who were on hand to meet with students and parents, financial aid seminars were held to assist with financial planning. College Night, sponsored by the Office of Guidance Services, Student Records, and the high school guidance departments, is targeted for current middle and high school students who are interested in attending college after earning a high school diploma. Those in attendance were able to learn more about their colleges of choice, be introduced to new colleges/universities, and ask questions about admission requirements, tuition, curricula and more.

Two Virginia Beach schools held building dedication ceremonies recently. Arrowhead Elementary School’s students, staff and community members gathered to celebrate the completion of the $10.8 million dollar renovation project, which replaced the original facility which was originally built in 1965. And the newest elementary school in Virginia Beach, Three Oaks Elementary, was officially dedicated on October 25 th. The new $10.4 million dollar school is a state-of-the-art, high energy efficient facility that opened its doors to students on September 6, 2005.

Students from First Colonial High School’s Legal Studies Academy recently visited the law school at the College of William and Mary. Students toured the school, sat in on a first year Torts class, and had the opportunity to discuss the class with Professor Laura Heymann. A panel of law students, professors, and staff members interacted with students and answered questions from students. Students also received an in-depth tour of the law school’s state-of-the-art courtroom. This courtroom showcases the latest advances in courtroom technology and is considered to be the most technologically advanced in the world.

On November 4 th, Princess Anne Elementary School held a breakfast to honor their Partner in Education, the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center. The nineteen year partnership is among the longest running partnerships in Virginia Beach City Public Schools. This partnership supports students through tutoring, mentoring, chaperoning field trips, helping with school events and teacher assistance. The celebration breakfast included representatives from the partnership, faculty and staff, all joining together to kick off another year of meaningful collaboration.

Students, staff and parents from Holland Elementary School recently visited the Children’s Museum of Virginia as part of the SAPLINGS program. SAPLINGS, which stands for Students and Parents Learning Intellectual Growth Strategies , is a result of a Model Partnership between VBCPS’s Office of Gifted Education and Academy Programs and area museums. This parent-education program teaches parents simple techniques for encouraging the development of thinking skills in children. As part of the Emerging Scholars Initiative, the program is designed to encourage identification of students in the VBCPS gifted program. During the event, students tour the museum while parents learn strategies for effectively engaging and interacting with their children. These thinking strategies, called COWLICKS, are designed to make parents feel more comfortable exposing their children to culture-rich activities.

Hampton University has partnered with the Health Sciences Academy at Bayside High School by granting 15 merit scholarships to Academy students.  Scholarships range from partial Hampton University tuition of $6,000, to full tuition, room, board, book stipend, and a personal computer. In the first round of awards, two Bayside students were awarded full tuition, and two were awarded partial tuition.  Other scholarship awards are pending awaiting results of SAT scores.

Several congratulations are in order this evening. . .

Congratulations to Tallwood High School band Director Stephen Panoff for being nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his participation in the “Writings on the Wall” project, a recording of the music of composer Stephen Melillo. This musical endeavor is inspired by the history of World War II, and marks the 60 years since the end of the war. Mr. Panoff traveled to Japan to produce this work in collaboration with 143 members of the Japanese Air Self Defense Band. Mr. Panoff blended his experience producing this piece with his work as a teacher at Tallwood by sharing the history of Japan in World War II with students and by performing “Writings on the Wall” in concert for veterans in our community.

Congratulations also to Frank Garcia, director of bands at First Colonial High School, for receiving an ALLI award from the Hampton Roads Cultural Alliance-- recognizing his contribution to the arts in our community.  This annual award is given to individuals, groups, and community members who have been outstanding supporters of culture and the arts. Cited in the award was the Model Partnership between First Colonial and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. This partnership has been sustained by Mr. Garcia’s vision for an in-depth artistic and educational interaction between the region’s premier professional orchestra and the school. Although it is unusual for a teacher to receive an ALLI award, Mr. Garcia’s dedication to teaching and promoting the arts at First Colonial is truly outstanding. Great job!

On October 25 th, Virginia Beach Public Schools received a 2005 Department of Rehabilitation Services award from the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce at their Annual Employer Awards Breakfast. This award recognizes employers who have successfully employed workers with disabilities. The breakfast event coincides with National Disability Employment Awareness Month and celebrates the vital role people with disabilities play in the Commonwealth’s workforce.

Hats off to Lusia Zirkle, lead medical sciences teacher at Bayside Health Sciences Academy, who has been invited to join the Case Study Teaching discussion group for the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. This group is sponsored through the State University of New York at Buffalo.  Mrs. Zirkle was selected to participate in this group (which is comprised largely of college professors) due to her unique and valuable contributions to the Bayside Health Sciences Academy.

Kelly Hedrick, a Coordinator with the Office of Gifted and Academy Programs, received an Outstanding Doctoral Student Award from the National Association for Gifted Children on November 11 th. Ms. Hedrick was recognized at the group’s annual convention in Louisville, Kentucky, for her exemplary work in research, publications, and educational service in gifted education. Congratulations!

Kudus to Kathleen Starr, principal at Hermitage Elementary School, who recently gave a presentation at the SOL Expo—State Superintendent’s Conference on October 17 th in Roanoke, Virginia. Her presentation was titled “Instructional Strategies Ensuring High Student Performance At All Levels.”

Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ girls high school field hockey program was highlighted in the October issue of National Federation of State HighSchool Associations magazine. The program was recognized for its strong and dominating athletic presence throughout the years. In the article, Cox High School was cited for its 13 state championships, a record that places it first in the VHSL record book for most state championships. Former Cox High field hockey coach Nancy Fowlkes’ record 392 wins during her 28-year stint as head coach positions her as the field hockey coach with the most wins in the National High School Sports Record Book and first in the VHSL.

Kudus to Mhina W., fifth grader at Thalia Elementary School for being awarded a community star plaque from WTKR. Mhina performed a valuable community service when she raised $641.00 for the SPCA --by having yard sales, lemonade sells, and collecting donations from friends.

Indeed, many of our schools have stepped up to the plate in supporting other communities in need . . . for example, Seatack Elementary SCA recently presented a check to the American Red Cross for $1,007 to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. Students emptied their piggy banks for this worthy cause, showing their generosity and concern for others.

Finally, at this time, I’d like to ask Chairman Edwards and Vice Chair Sandra Smith-Jones to move to the front of the dais for a special presentation from Stephanie Enzemann and members of the Administrative Cabinet. . . On October 26 th several members of our staff were invited to attend the Virginia Quality Conference and Forum for Excellence in Williamsburg and were presented with the Senate Productivity and Quality Award at that time. VBCPS was one of only three organizations in the state to receive the Medallion of Performance Excellence. Former Superintendent, Dr. Tim Jenney was invited to accept the award on our behalf.

Stephanie would like to make a presentation to the Board at this time.

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

Last Modified on March 30, 2006
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