November 19, 2002
Mr. Chairman, members of the Board, and citizens of our community, my report this evening features some recent events and accomplishments of students and staff.
Through the National Youth Leadership Initiative, Social Studies students at First Colonial High School recently participated in the largest on-line mock election in the nation earlier this month --using electronic "cyber-ballots" to cast their votes for Virginia's Senate and House of Representatives seats. Government and History students had been studying local and state issues in their classes and had established roles as candidates and poll workers in the school halls. To cast their votes, students used the school's laptop computers, which were set up in one of the U.S. Government classrooms. Two additional voting machines, like the ones currently used in our city, were also available to students.
Staff has continued to participate in professional development activities - for example, two hundred and thirty-four educators registered for "Quality on the Brain," a Saturday training opportunity that brought "quality" professionals to our system to share their expertise and knowledge with Virginia Beach educators.
Our capital improvement projects continue. . . on October 21, we dedicated the completely newly renovated Thalia Elementary and celebrated the addition of it's new wing. Now all students are enjoying classes inside the building, as there are no longer any portable classrooms at Thalia.
The first wave of students entered the new Advanced Technology Center on November 12th. Phase one of the center is now open to students enrolled in classes such as CNA (Certified Network Administrator), Cisco Academy, A+ Computer Repair, and I-Net +. Phase two will most likely see students from programs such as telecommunications and the Oracle Internet Academy enter the new facility in mid- December.
The Virginia Beach Public Schools Education Foundation awarded $40,000 at its annual TGIF (Teacher Grants Improve Futures) event. The funds, raised from private sector dollars, were awarded to educators for the implementation of educational projects and activities. This is the fourth year that the Education Foundation has awarded grants to teachers -109 grant applications were received and 46 grants were awarded for individual projects ranging from $250 to $1000.
On November 4, employees were introduced to another new electronic communications venue--an opinion board called YourView. This on-line message board, which is available on the school division's Intranet site, is designed to assist the school system leadership by soliciting the opinions of employees on education-related topics. Our first posted topic asked employees to "weigh in" on a School Board goal----initiating on-line education in our school system. Educators' opinions will be shared with school system personnel who are involved with the posted topic. For example, the opinions presently posted on YourView will be shared initially with the departments of Curriculum and Instruction and Technology. YourView is yet another strategy that was recommended to the Board by the School Board Teacher Communications Committee. Over the past six months, you have seen many of the committee's initiatives become a reality. These include an on-line subscription service, VBschools X-tra, which is accessible through the school division's website -- -- and home access to the Intranet.
Last week, we also unveiled a new feature that provides parents, school volunteers, and partners with the opportunity to subscribe to publications produced by selected elementary, middle, and high schools. This new feature -- MySchool-Mail -- is specifically designed to increase the opportunities for school staff to communicate with external communities using a timely and convenient method of delivery. Although the initial rollout of MySchool-Mail is offered at eleven schools, it is anticipated that additional schools will soon provide this online subscription service. MySchool-Mail is currently available for the community of: Creeds, Old Donation Center, Holland, Princess Anne, Strawbridge, Windsor Oaks, and Thoroughgood Elementary Schools;--Independence, Kemps Landing Magnet, and Lynnhaven Middle schools; and Princess Anne High School. Windsor Oaks Elementary helped to launch MySchool-Mail by serving as the pilot site during the development stages for the past year. Parents and members of each school's community are encouraged to take advantage of this new feature that reinforces the school division's commitment to providing relevant and timely information to community, parents, and partners. To access MySchool-Mail, select the "vbschools X-tra" button located on the homepage and look for the MySchool-Mail button, then select the school of your choice.
Several congratulations are in order this evening. . .
On November 8 the Virginia Beach Reading Council announced their reading teacher of the year. This year's honor goes to Debbie Field, a fourth grade teacher from New Castle Elementary School. Ms. Field was selected from a pool of 55 reading teachers of the year--one from each of our elementary schools. She has been an employee of Virginia Beach City Public Schools for 14 years and has spent the past 4 years at New Castle. As the Virginia Beach Reading Teacher of the Year, she will compete at the state level for the Rubin Professional Development Award.
Congratulations to Samuel Caraballo, Luxford Elementary's Security Assistant, who received the "Reading with Energy" Hispanic Children's Book Award for his bilingual picture book Estrellita se despide de su isla/ Estrellita Says Good-bye to Her Island. The "Reading with Energy" Hispanic Children's Book Award seeks to address the need for more culturally relevant, bilingual reading materials for Hispanic children by encouraging more authors to create works for this growing audience. The award is presented at a fundraising gala in Houston, Texas. Mr. Caraballo's next children's book, a story about grandparents, will be published in late 2003.
Congratulations to Richard Rigg, Virginia Beach Middle School's Orchestra Teacher, whose original works and arrangements will be featured in the new edition of the Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music, a reference work that has been in print since 1990. This Encyclopedia has been called "the most important band and wind ensemble document of the 20th century".
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my report for this evening.