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2512 George Mason Drive • P.O. Box 6038 Virginia Beach, Virginia 23456-0038   757.263.1000 • 757.263.1240 TDD

Superintendent's Report to the School Board
September 15, 2009

Chairman Edwards, Vice Chairman Bellitto, and members of the Board –

This evening I’d like to share with you a brief status report on the division’s new strategic plan Compass to 2015. Since the plan was officially approved by the School Board in October 2008, significant progress has been made to ensure that we achieve our identified target — that by 2015, 95 percent of our students will graduate having the skills they need to thrive as 21st century learners, workers, and citizens.

This, as you can imagine, is a paradigm shift for most in the field of education today, and I applaud our teachers, administrators, and members of the community for fully embracing this innovative approach to educating the students of Virginia Beach. I would also like to thank our Board members for their visionary approach to education and their unwavering support for this plan.
Pursuant to the action steps identified in our Year 1 implementation timeline, the strategic plan was unveiled to more than 480 administrators and other school-based teachers at this year’s Administrators’ Conference. Held on August 20 at Landstown High School, the theme for this year’s conference was appropriately, “Grab your compass. We’re navigating a new future!”
This action-packed day featured presentations from co-chairs of each the five strategic objective committees, an overview of professional learning communities, and planning time for school-based teams to begin working on their individual Plans for Continuous Improvement. The primary objective of this day was to ensure that each of the eighty-five Plans for Continuous Improvement were directly aligned to the division’s mission, vision, and outcomes for student success as identified in the
Compass to 2015.

Feedback received from the conference has been very positive, and I am extremely pleased with the direction we are heading as a division. In the coming months, I will provide additional updates relative to specific initiatives associated with the Compass to 2015.
As you know, our schools welcomed back more than 68,000 students on Tuesday, September 8. I am pleased to let you know that my Cabinet visited each and every school that day to wish them a “happy new year.” Despite the rainy weather, several photo submissions from our schools revealed that students and staff returned to school smiling and ready to start school year 2009-2010. Cabinet members enjoyed their visits and shared news of some great activities. Here are just a few examples:

  • The Bayside Tri-Campus is focusing on Stephen Covey’s The Leader in Me program this year.  Diamond Springs Elementary is broadcasting Covey’s “7 Habits” on its morning announcements, and Newtown Elementary is piloting The Leader In Me program in five classes where teachers are incorporating the “7 Habits” into the instructional day. Williams Elementary will begin book talks this year and are showcasing the “7 Habits” throughout the building.
  • Ocean Lakes High School kicked off its “Passion for Learning Tour,” encouraging staff and students to approach learning with the same kind of enthusiasm we tend to show for a world-class rock band.
  • Hermitage Elementary is partnering with the Navy’s new School Liaison Officers to create workshops designed especially for its military parents. Working together, they hope to address the needs of military families by presenting information of the services both at Hermitage and through the new school liaison program.  
  • The Technical and Career Education Center has made Response to Intervention a priority for its students. Their commitment this year will be to mentor every struggling student.
  • At College Park Elementary Principal Nancy Davenport visited classrooms to meet students and introduce herself to each class individually on the first day.

We are certainly glad the students are back, but as you know we were very busy prior to their return. This year the school division welcomed more than 200 new teachers during TOCLI – the Teacher Orientation and Continuous Learning Institute which is facilitated by the Office of Organizational Development.  In addition to attending various instructional sessions, new teachers spent time at their home schools and met with mentor teachers. We welcome all of the division’s new educators and staff members and look forward to their involvement in this exciting new year for the Virginia Beach schools.

The community is also encouraged to get involved – by reviewing the school division’s new blog On the Mark.  The blog is designed to encourage meaningful dialogue on public education.  Betsy DiJulio, the division’s 2010 Teacher of the Year, started the conversation with her advice on the “picture perfect” school year, and Pembroke Elementary School principal Dr. Linda Hayes shared her observations of the first week of school.  Students, staff, parents, and community members are invited to share their thoughts on blog topics throughout the year.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Last month the school division’s Parent Connection offered a free parent workshop entitled “Making the Most of Middle School.”  A panel of guest speakers offered their advice on topics ranging from lockers and homework to student activities and class schedules. Parents had the opportunity to ask their own questions about the transition to middle school, and they received a free middle school guidebook for themselves and their children.

High schools students were also preparing to make the most of their school experience through Spartan Prep Academy. The academy is a college-awareness program designed to introduce minority students to the advantages of continuing their education beyond high school. More than 140 students participated in sessions related to note taking and career choices, received advice from guest speakers, and took educational field trips. During a final awards assembly, students were honored for academic excellence, community service, and extra-curricular activities.

Lastly this evening, the school division has received a federal Teaching American History Grant of nearly one-million dollars to fund a multi-year initiative entitled SAIL - Shaping America’s Identity and Legacy. Over the next five years, SAIL will provide 100 fourth- and fifth-grade teachers with training to cultivate teacher proficiency in historical investigation and critical thinking analysis.  They will work in Professional Learning Communities to write learning plans and performance tasks, with the goal of preparing students to start thinking like historians – critiquing narratives and analyzing facts to draw reasoned conclusions about history.  Virginia Beach City Public Schools is one of only six grant recipients in Virginia and one of only 123 recipients nationwide.

Mr. Chairman and members of the School Board, this concludes my report for the evening.



Last Modified on Friday, January 20, 2017