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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 21, 2010

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

Before I begin the report this evening, I want to update you on our progress related to our strategic plan, Compass to 2015.  Last month, school and central office administrators and teacher leaders participated in the annual Administrators’ Conference.  A keynote presentation was provided by Dr. Robert Brooks who focused on the power of positive mindsets for both adults and students.   In addition, break-out sessions included the importance of creating a collaborative learning culture in schools, integrating 21st century skills into classroom instruction and assessment, creating a school plan for continuous improvement (PCI)  using the newly designed form that has been closely aligned to the strategic plan, and monitoring school progress on identified key indicators of student success.  Overall, the feedback from the conference was positive.  In addition, principals have utilized many of the conference resources during their opening week with school staff, prior to arrival of students. 

As discussed during the School Board Retreat, 24 schools were identified as “Vanguard Schools” based on each school’s response to a survey that was administered last spring.  Each of these schools is focusing on one of three key initiatives related to implementation of the strategic plan.  These initiatives include instructional technology integration, balanced assessment, and responding to student needs.  These initial Vanguard schools will serve as mentors and coaches for other schools as they implement these key initiatives during the coming years.  All other schools are working on fostering a collaborative learning culture to prepare for future implementation. 

In order to create a collaborative learning culture where all staff are focused on student learning, schools are expected to engage in critical conversations around the following key questions:

  1. What do we want our students to learn?
  2. How will we know that each student learned it?
  3. How will we respond when student don’t learn it or when students already know it?
  4. How can parents and the community support student learning?

In future meetings, I plan to update the Board and the public on our progress in these key areas.  Certainly, we are looking for another productive year as we begin our second year of implementation for our strategic plan.

As you know, our schools opened their doors again for students on September 7. As I mentioned in my last report, the first day of school went very smoothly. All members of my Cabinet visited schools and reported back that students were engaged in meaningful, enriching activities. In fact, one would never guess that it was actually the very first day of
school. It’s obvious that teachers are fully committed to teaching 21st Century Skills as outlined in Compass to 2015.

In preparation for opening day, teachers new to the division received training on how to navigate the implementation of Compass to 2015 at TOCLI—the Teacher Orientation and Continuous Learning Institute which is facilitated by the Office of Organizational Leadership. 328 new teachers were welcomed at the event, held at Tallwood High School. Teachers met in content and specialty area groups, were offered information and hands-on activities to help in the development of learning plans, and received an overview of curriculum, instruction, and assessment strategies.

While most students were enjoying the last few weeks of summer, other high school students were 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 161 students participated in sessions related to note taking, career choices, and keeping the body healthy. Students also received advice from guest speakers and took educational field trips. Participants began their week at the Renaissance Academy listening to motivational speaker Kemba Smith and finished up with a final awards assembly held at Landstown Middle School. There, students were honored for academic excellence, community service, and participation in extra-curricular activities.

As summer wound down in late August, the community was pitching in to get students prepared for the beginning of school as well. Many community groups collected school supplies for donation to needy children. For example, the Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union purchased 563 backpacks, valued at nearly five thousand dollars, and Dominion Virginia Power held “Fill the Bucket” school supply drives throughout the community. School Social Workers report that requests for school supplies have increased exponentially over last year’s level.

The importance of community involvement was highlighted at Partners in Education Coordinator training that was held in late August.  Coordinators from across the school division attended a half day event that focused on strategies for engaging military, business, and community groups in meaningful activities to support student achievement. Partnership Coordinators also enjoyed breakout sessions on topics such as working with PTA, writing successful Model Partnership nominations, and using Share Point technology for record keeping and information sharing.

Another late-summer activity that aligns with the Strategic Objective 4 goal of successfully engaging the community was held last month when Dr. Katharine Kersey presented a Back-to-School workshop for 120 enthusiastic parents. This Parent Connection session offered parents tips for effective discipline and beginning the school year on a positive note. Additional Parent Connection workshops are scheduled monthly to include workshops on Autism, emotional intelligence, the strong-willed child, and college planning.

Parent Connection’s Beach Bags program received a boost from Geico, a citywide partner whose employees collected food donations to coincide with the start of school. Geico employees donated 175 bags of food which were distributed to area schools to sustain students over the weekend when school breakfasts and lunches are not available. Geico joins other Beach Bag contributors which include St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, along with scout troops, the Commonwealth’s attorney’s office, Curves, and other individuals and community groups. It is gratifying to see the generous community response in reaching out to those in need.

Speaking of great communities, it is my pleasure to inform you that Virginia Beach was named one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People by the America’s Promise Alliance. This award recognizes and celebrates the extraordinary community-wide efforts made to improve the well-being of youth and end the nation’s dropout crisis. The winners were announced just this morning in Washington, D.C., and I am proud to say that this is the third time Virginia Beach has been honored with this distinction.

A recent article in NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, highlighted three Lighthouse Psychology Clubs that are ongoing in several Virginia Beach High Schools. These clubs are noteworthy in that they are among the first mental health awareness clubs in the nation. The clubs, which are held at Bayside, First Colonial, and Ocean Lakes High Schools, are designed to fight the stigma of mental illness and raise awareness of available community resources. Students in the clubs are required to engage in community service projects and are provided awareness training about depression among their peers.

Students at Cox, First Colonial, Tallwood, and Bayside High Schools enjoyed a recent visit from the Blue Angels. These precision Navy pilots shared words of wisdom on the importance of self-discipline, education, motivation, and positive choices. This visit marked the beginning of the annual Air Show weekend and was designed to encourage students to consider careers in military service. These visits underscore the division’s strong partnership with area military and the contributions our servicemen and women make to our community.

The following congratulations are in order this evening…

Congratulations go to Bonnie Mizenko, Director of the Adult Learning Center, for receiving the Outstanding Career & Technical Education Award presented by the VDOE, Office of Career and Technical Education Services, and the Health and Medical Sciences Education Service. This award is given in recognition of valuable contributions to nursing and allied health. Mrs. Mizenko was honored for her work as the Pell Grant Administrator for the Virginia Beach School of Practical Nursing and for encouraging adult students to seek careers in the health field and nursing profession.

Congratulations are also in order for Dr. Brian Matney, principal of Cox High School, who was recently elected by his peers to serve on the Board of Directors of the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals. Dr. Matney will represent Region 2, which encompasses over 100 high schools and middle schools located primarily on the Southside. In his role within the VASSP, Dr. Matney will provide advocacy for administrators and will help oversee the Virginia Student Council Association, the Virginia Association of Honor Societies, and the Virginia Association of Student Activity Advisors.

Finally, this evening, I recently had the pleasure of going to Pembroke Elementary School to pay a surprise visit to Karen Drosinos, 2011 Citywide Teacher of the Year, letting her know that she was named Region II Teacher of the Year. This is a high honor indeed as Karen is one of only eight regional teachers of the year for the Commonwealth. Next month, a panel will interview each of the eight Regional Teachers of the Year to select the 2011 Virginia Teacher of the Year. The decision will be announced during an awards ceremony in Richmond. Please join me in congratulating Karen and in wishing her the best of luck as she moves forward to state competition.

Mr. Chairman and members of the Board, that concludes my remarks for this evening.

Last Modified on Friday, January 20, 2017