Skip to main content
Quick Links

We put students first, seek growth, are open to change, do great work together and value differences.

Website Accessibility

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
November 17, 2009

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

This evening I am pleased to share with the Board and our viewing public some important updates on the work achieved thus far on Compass to 2015 — our strategic plan for student success. As you may recall, this school year marks the Year 1-Timeline for implementation.  I am pleased to say that a number of outreach efforts have been deployed to support our strategic goal of ensuring that:  By 2015, 95 percent of our students will graduate having mastered the skills they need to succeed as 21st century learners, workers and citizens.

We all own this goal – teachers, staff, principals, administrators, School Board members and of course, parents and the community as a whole. In fact, reserving part of the monthly superintendent’s report for a Compass to 2015 progress report is testament to the commitment we have to effective collaboration with our community.

On October 28, I had a wonderful opportunity to underscore the power of partnership with our stakeholders, when I presented a State of the Schools message to members of our business community at an event sponsored by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. This presentation was a very candid assessment of our progress to date on Compass to 2015 as well as the challenges we are now facing.  The feedback I received was gratifying. We are fortunate. Our community does “get it.” They understand the need to move our students beyond test taking competency to a state of readiness for college and the work force. In fact, we even had volunteers step forward that day to say they want to be part of Compass to 2015 by mentoring students and providing them opportunities to connect with the proverbial “real world.”

Our schools, too, are very much in tune with Compass to 2015 and have made significant progress aligning their individual Plans for Continuous Improvement, or PCIs, with the objectives of that plan. For this school district it is all about ensuring a laser-like focus on the need to improve student learning. The alignment of the school PCIs with Compass to 2015 is our way of ensuring we are all on the same sheet of music, so to speak. To ensure that alignment between schools and leadership, staff from school administration will be meeting with principals to discuss the PCIs. Additionally ongoing support will be provided to schools throughout the school year.
Support to the schools, as you can imagine, is a crucial component in the successful implementation of any type of strategic initiative, especially in a division our size. How we accomplish that support is a multi-faceted process.

  • One way we are proceeding is working with schools to advance an understanding of Professional Learning Communities, or PLCs, and how they can be used as a vehicle to facilitate improved student learning.  Plans in the works include the development of an overview video that looks at the elements of a well-organized Professional Learning Community and that also examines some Virginia Beach examples under way now.
  • Another way we are bringing focus to the conversations about student learning is through learning walks. Members of my Cabinet, in partnership with building principals, are continuing their learning walks to stay connected to classrooms and to encourage substantive conversations about high-quality instruction at both the district and the school levels. This year we will expand beyond the critical- and creative-thinking look fors, and add another focus area, that of effective communicators and collaborators.
  • As a continuation from last year, our administrative departments are hosting collaborative learning sessions for our principals to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the key instructional elements of Compass to 2015. The Principal Collaborative meetings are designed to enhance the instructional capacity of all principals, as well as serve as a way to share best practices across the division. The focus of this month’s collaborative session was examining successful strategies for incorporating supportive technologies in the classroom as well as the development of the effective communicators/collaborators look fors.

As you can see, we are all very serious about delivering on that goal of ensuring that 95% or more of our students will graduate having mastered the skills they need to succeed as 21st century learners, workers, and citizens.

Other school highlights and briefs from the last month include:

  • Students at the Advanced Technology Center are gaining valuable workforce readiness skills by refurbishing 100 computers donated by the Virginia STAR — Student Training and Refurbishment — program.  The program is a collaborative effort of various state offices to introduce Virginia's students to the field of IT repair by using surplus hardware from state agencies or private companies. The school division’s Parent Connection program initiated the ATC’s participation and is working with the Office of School Social Work Services to identify families in need of a computer for home use. A computer-giveaway celebration is being planned for December, and ATC students will attend to assist families with computer-tutoring sessions as needed.
  • Tallwood High School has welcomed several international visitors this fall, including professor Vera Ivy Yeboah-Badu from Ghana West Africa. She spoke to Global Studies and World Languages Academy classes on the topics of sustainability and resource management, government, and culture of Ghana. In addition, Professor Yeboah met with teachers and staff during a special luncheon and experienced the school’s Homecoming week spirit assembly.  Also embracing Tallwood’s spirit were 10 students from Israel, who were visiting Virginia Beach through the America-Israel Friendship League’s Youth Ambassador Student Exchange program. We plan to provide more information about their visit in a future report after 10 of our Global Studies Academy students return from Israel. At this moment they are staying with host families in Israel. We anticipate that they will have much to share regarding their experiences when they return next week.
  • A few notable guests visited First Colonial High School this month.  Professionals from the FBI’s Norfolk office met with select 11th graders in the Legal Studies Academy as part of the FBI Teen Academy.  Students visited the Norfolk FBI office where they heard from various speakers, toured the evidence room, and participated in hands-on evidence collection demonstrations. FBI representatives then visited First Colonial to lead students through FBI physical fitness tests, share a recruitment presentation, and conduct a conflict resolution seminar. Also at First Colonial, students saw the political process in action when the Young Democrats and Young Republicans hosted a debate with candidates for the Virginia General Assembly’s 82nd district . Two students initiated and planned the event themselves, using questions from social studies classes to pose to candidates during the debate.
  • At its annual conference this week, the Virginia School Boards Association will recognize the division as a “Certified Green School Division” for 2009. The award recognizes the school division’s efforts related to categories such as energy efficiency, green buildings, educational programs, and student involvement. Thank you to our students and staff for their commitment to sustainability efforts and “go green” initiatives.
  • Congratulations to two of our administrators who have been named 2009 Darden College of Education Alumni Fellows by Old Dominion University. Dr. Patrick Konopnicki, director of the Office of Technical and Career Education, and Dr. Nancy Chandler, principal of Kempsville Elementary, will be recognized at a Fellows luncheon this Thursday for their outstanding contributions as educational professionals.
  • White Oaks Elementary students in Dana White’s second-grade class showed their pride for their military families and for veterans everywhere on Good Morning America. The television show has a recurring weekend segment entitled “Your Three Words” and invites viewers to send in their three-words videos.  The White Oaks students made their national television debut by wishing viewers a “Happy Veteran’s Day”. My three words to the students are “great job kids”!
  • And lastly, congratulations to the teachers and staff members who were recognized at a celebration last week for Virginia Beach Public Schools Education Foundation grant recipients. This year the Foundation awarded 93 Building Futures Grants worth more than $75,000 and seven School-Wide Grants worth nearly $25,000. In addition, the Foundation announced that Indian Lakes Elementary art teacher Linda Gerek’s painting Hope was selected as the artwork for its 2010 Commemorative Print. The print will soon be available for purchase, along with previous commemorative prints, with proceeds supporting future teacher grants. 

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

Last Modified on Friday, January 20, 2017