Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board
November 21, 2006

Mr. Chairman, members of the School Board, and citizens of our community, my report this evening provides an overview of recent school system events and some of the accomplishments of our students and staff.

A number of exciting events have taken place throughout the division since I last spoke with you all. For example, Virginia Beach City Public Schools held its Academies Night on October 19. This event, which was held at the Virginia Beach Conference Center, had the purpose of showcasing the division's seven high school academy programs to current eighth-grade students and their parents. The academies featured included the Global Studies and World Languages Academy at Tallwood High School, Health Sciences Academy at Bayside High School, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at Princess Anne High School, the Legal Studies Academy at First Colonial High School, the Mathematics and Science Academy at Ocean Lakes High School, the Technology Academy at Landstown High School, and the Visual and Performing Arts Academy at Salem High School. The event was a great success, attracting over 2,000 students and their parents!

On October 23, 2006, I received a warm welcome from the Filipino Community at the Philippine Culture Center in Virginia Beach.  Lyndon Remias, School Board Member, Ferdie Tolentino, former School Board member, and Ray Obispo, Social Studies teacher at Salem High School, hosted the event to celebrate Filipino American History Month and to recognize the many accomplishments of our Filipino American students, teachers and community leaders in Virginia Beach.  The event was sponsored by the Council of United Filipino Organizations of Tidewater Young Filipino-American Professionals - Hampton Roads, and the Filipino American National Historical Society - Hampton Roads Chapter. Traditional Filipino songs and dances were performed by students from the School of Creative and Performing Arts and the Filipino American Culture Society (FACS- Salem HS). Following the event, I had an opportunity to meet key community leaders, learn more about the Filipino culture, and enjoy a traditional Filipino
meal of pancit and lumpia – which, I must say, was delicious! 

On October 26, we took the opportunity to recognize "the best of the best" – our 2007 teachers of the year, at the annual Teacher of the Year Dinner. 88 of the division's shining stars were honored, including the four finalists and the Citywide Teacher of the Year, Pat McGloine. The event was a stellar opportunity to showcase representatives of the dedicated teachers who grace our classrooms every day and shape the lives of young people both now and for the future.

Speaking of classrooms, Pembroke Meadow Elementary students, staff, and community celebrated its newly modernized/renovated school during a ceremony on Friday, October 27. The $9,723,226 modernization project, started in June 2004, added 28,000 square feet to the original square footage of 50,607 sq. ft. Pembroke Meadows Elementary is now 75, 865 sq. ft, and everything is brand new and state of the art! Teachers, administrators, and former staff of the school celebrated the new facility, along with the enthusiasm that helped keep spirits high throughout the project.

After our crack teaching staff has worked their magic, our students eventually are prepared to leave Virginia Beach City Public Schools and head off to college or the work force. With that in mind, the Office of Guidance Serviced held their annual citywide College Night on November 2. Nearly 150 colleges and universities were represented, along with representatives from proprietary schools and the armed forces. How to pay for it all, you may wonder? Never fear – two financial aid seminars were held as well. Parents and students had the opportunity to find answers to all their questions about college, all at no charge!

Cookies, cakes, pies, and candy – with a supporting cast of vegetable, meat and past dishes – were the stars of the opening of the Technical and Career Education Center's commercial baking and pastry lab. Culinary Arts students had the opportunity to show off their wares at the November 2 ribbon cutting, which was thoroughly sampled and enjoyed by all. The new lab models a bake shop in the "real world". Culinary arts students are exposed to large-scale work experiences in a truly commercial-grade environment. I was told that one of their convection ovens can cook 45 DOZEN – that's 540 – cookies at one time. That's my kind of oven!

Celebrating the school division's rich history is always rewarding – and the division's oldest school, Cooke Elementary, had the opportunity to celebrate its 100 year anniversary in style with a gala two-day event on
November 3 . The public participated in a variety of activities and programs which highlighted Cooke Elementary since its early beginnings in 1906. Interestingly, the school was originally housed in the Virginia Beach Town Hall on 14th street, and classes ran simultaneously (and side by side) with city government business. Since its inception, the original school building had multiple additions, culminating in the complete rebuilding of the school in 2000!

On November 16, the Virginia Beach Public Schools Education Foundation held its annual Teacher Grants Improve Futures (TGIF) celebration. The purpose of this gala event was to award $114,000 in teacher and schoolwide grants to support innovative programs and strategies designed to increase student learning. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $400,000 in grants and scholarships to support student learning.

East met West recently at Tallwood High School's Global Studies and World Languages Academy, when the school hosted a delegation of Chinese educators on November 15. Seventeen teachers and administrators from Beijing, Nanjing, and Changzhou visited the school as part of an international exchange program, sponsored by the non-profit organization Youth for Understanding. As part of the visit, the delegation will observe Academy classrooms and exchange ideas with VBCPS administrators and educators. In addition to Virginia Beach, the group will visit Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York before returning to China.

The Center for Effective Learning and Bettie F. Williams Elementary are both recipients of the research-proven Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Olweus Bullying Prevention is a multi-level, multi-component school-based program designed to prevent or reduce bullying in elementary, middle, and junior high school students. School staff is largely responsible for introducing and implementing the program. Their efforts are directed toward improving peer relations and making school a safe and positive place for students to learn and develop. School staff will receive up to $12,500 in training, materials, site visits, and technical assistance from the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. In preparation for implementing this program, staff from both schools attended a networking conference on October 16 to learn about the program. Funding for the program is provided by the Virginia Department of Health.

Green News Makes It Debut! The Department of Administrative Support Services recently published its premier issue of Green News. Published quarterly, Green News is an employee newsletter committed to sharing initiatives within the school division that are making a positive impact on the environment. The Fall 2006 issue covers topics such as sustainable schools, biodiesel fuel, LEED schools, and the school division's expanded recycling program. Additionally, the school division now has a Sustainable Schools Committee tasked with the mission to monitor and make recommendations regarding sustainability with the school division. The committee was formed under the direction of John Kalocay, assistant superintendent, department of administrative support services. Green News can viewed on the school division's website, vbschools.com.

Throughout October and November, delegations from Green Run High School, Landstown High School, and Kellam High School have been participating in Student 2 Student training provided (at no cost to schools) through the Military Child Education Coalition. This initiative, which is connected with the VBCPS National Network of Partnership Schools Military Child Initiative, trains students to help other students with issues connected with being part of a military family. These issues, which include deployment, frequent transitions, academic challenges, and many others, can make feeling connected to school difficult for military children. This training, which is being held in San Antonio, Texas, provides students with strategies to help other students adjust and succeed in school.

Several congratulations are in order this evening.

Chris S, a student at the Virginia Beach Tech Center enrolled in Auto Service Technology, was designated as the ten thousandth Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) intern in the nation. Chris will intern at Hall Chrysler Jeep, and received a tool box filled with nearly $3,000 worth of tools as part of his recognition. The AYES program implements a formal intern/mentor relationship in which the dealership is involved in a "grow your own" process. Good luck with your internship, Chris!

The Ocean Lakes High School Dance Team earned several awards at the Eastern Dance Association's camp held last summer. The team won the honor of Camp Champs, which is awarded to the best overall team. They also earned top honors in the Home Routine and Team Routine categories, as well as the title Most Spirited team. Individual Ocean Lakes dancers won three of the four technique awards: Courtney J, Best Turns; Lauren B, Best Leaps; and Andrew A, Best Jumps. Co-captain Courtney J won the honor of Best All-Around Dancer for the entire camp. Five dancers' performances earned them invitations to be performers in the NFL Pro Bowl half-time show in Hawaii: Courtney J, Allyson J, Lauren B, Andrew A, and Kelly B. The entire Ocean Lakes team was invited to dance in the half-time show at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando. Great work!

Several library media specialists from across the division recently attended the Virginia Educational Media Association's annual conference in Hampton, Virginia. Seven VBCPS library media specialists were chosen to present at this conference – Debbie Scott, Hermitage Elementary School, Kristin Hildum, Princess Anne Elementary School, Barbara Inrich, Rosemont Forest Elementary School, Judith Rea, Cox High School, Pat McAbee, Princess Anne High School, Carol Hodges, Lynnhaven Middle School, and Jean Koch, John B. Dey. Thank you all for sharing your expertise with your peers throughout the state!

Finally, congratulations to students from Rosemont Forest Elementary, who were recognized by the Alzheimer Association for their contribution or artwork for the Our Lady of Perpetual Help team that participated in the annual Alzheimer Memory Walk. The Alzheimer Association was so impressed with the contributions that they visited the school to present a framed certificate of appreciation, a Memory Walk t-shirt, a purple Alzheimer wrist band, and other items of appreciation to the students.

And finally, fresh into the second nine weeks and just two days before Thanksgiving, I would like to acknowledge how thankful I am for the incomparable work that has taken place in VBCPS so far. I have learned quickly that we have a superb staff that makes the success of children priority number one.

Recently at the end of the first nine weeks I sent out a brief electronic email to my colleagues to thank them for the hard work they had put forth on behalf of our students. When I hit the send button, I had no idea that the spirit of thankfulness would come hurtling back to me. But it did. Many took the time to respond to me and it was a joy to read how positively they feel about the school system, their individual jobs and most importantly, the children.

If I can ask you to bear with me, I would like to read a few excerpts from the emails I received, because it is after all the Thanksgiving season and sharing thoughts written from the heart underscore what this time of year is all about.

There were those who told me that they are purely and simply motivated by their love of children

Like this one... "I truly think I can say I have worked harder this year than during any other year I have been at the Beach…I am sure the year will get much easier now that I have adjusted to all of the changes. After all, it is my deep love of children that keeps me in this job, and children do not change a great deal. If they trust you and love you, they work their hearts out for you."

Or this one... "Thank you for such a nice message. It's wonderful to know that you appreciate all we do... The children make it all worth while as we see them learning and interested in the world around them. Their hugs and smiles are great rewards. Your nice note is like icing on the cake."

Then there were folks who were happy to know that their hard work is apparent to others. I even had a few invitations to come see them and their students. Like this one issued with an obvious sense of pride…
"I have never received such a nice letter. What a pleasant surprise, an email that just says thanks. Most emails put something on my to do list. If Newtown Road Elementary is on your to do list, please stop by Cottage 10 and visit my fifth grade inclusion classroom. We are not perfect, but as you note in your letter we are working very hard. Thanks for the recognition."

There were many who expressed thankfulness for their career, colleagues and the profession of teaching. Such as this individual:
"I am thankful I am here at KMS with such kind and wonderful administrators and colleagues. I love teaching, especially here!"

And there were those that expressed a deep gratitude for the support they receive each day. I believe this one is indicative of that profound sincerity.
"You're right, the last nine weeks have been a whirlwind, and so much as been accomplished already! I am truly ENERGIZED (and yes, sometimes exhausted) by my responsibilities as a teacher. My job, however, is just a small part of the big picture that wouldn't be complete with the input, support and action from the entire VBCPS community. I appreciate what you are doing to help us meet our goal of giving our children the BEST education possible."

And that is why we are all here – to ensure our children receive a superb education. I know I speak on behalf of this entire work force, when I say it is privilege for which we are all thankful. 

And that concludes the Superintendent's Report for the evening.


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