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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 - January 22, 2013

Chairman Edwards, Vice Chairman Brunke, members of the School Board, and the viewing public -

As is customary, I will begin my report with a look at our strategic plan and the progress we are making.

My focus this month is on sustainability, one of the 21st century skills we believe all students should master. As you know, we encourage all students and staff to foster responsible development and protection of the world's natural environment and resources through individual and collective action.

I have several examples of our students and staff embracing sustainability and working to recycle, reuse and reduce waste. These elementary school students, for example, are winners of the 2013 Water Awareness Calendar contest sponsored by the city. Each child drew a poster showing how we can use water wisely. The artwork is featured in the Department of Public Utilities 2013 calendar. By the way, suggestions for conserving water include:

  • Waiting to start your washing machine until you have a full load of laundry (submitted by Elaina G. at Ocean Lakes Elementary);
  • Using rain barrels to collect water for you plants (Submitted by Mattie C. at Thoroughgood Elementary); and
  • Turning off the water while you brush your teeth (Submitted by Barbara B. at Windsor Oaks Elementary)

Each contest winner received a $50 savings bond from the department of public utilities.

The "green" building features at Renaissance Academy are receiving national recognition. The school will be featured in the Green Schools exhibition put on by the National Building Museum. The exhibition, which runs from March to December, will showcase sustainable designs and healthy practices at K-12 schools across the U.S. Renaissance Academy's rainwater harvesting system will be prominently featured.

And, as you heard just moments ago, the school division as a whole has been named the nation's best Green School District by the U.S. Green Building Council. These examples point to our divisionwide approach to sustainability from building and classroom design to integrated learning activities.

Another important 21st century skill is social responsibility. Students should understand the importance of acting with integrity, empathy and compassion and commit to making a meaningful contribution to the community. A group of students at Landstown Middle School is an excellent example of social responsibility in action. Earlier this month, 25 students, six staff members and one central office administrator prepared, served dinner and provided entertainment at the Judeo Christian Outreach Center. Faculty donated the food items and cafeteria staff helped prepare the meals which were served by Mr. Hagy's civics class. Choral students in Ms. Adams' class provided the entertainment. This project reinforced not only the concept of social responsibility but also good citizenship.

High school students across the division will soon have the opportunity to earn college credits at no cost, thanks to a new partnership with Virginia State University. I signed the dual enrollment agreement with VSU earlier this month. Beginning next September, students in the dual enrollment program will be able to earn college credit for the following courses:

  • College Algebra I;
  • Elementary Statistics I & II;
  • Principles of Biology I & II; and
  • Intro to Teaching I & II.

Each course is a semester in length. All level one courses, with the exception of Intro to Teaching, have a PSAT or SAT requirement and all, including Intro to Teaching I require an advisor or teacher recommendation.

College readiness was among the many topics featured this month's African-American Male Summit, held on Jan. 12 at Landstown High School. Hundreds of young men, their parents and community members turned out for this divisionwide event. Students attended workshops on goal setting, high school academic supports, college prep and more. At the same time, parents had the opportunity to learn about gifted education opportunities, scholarship resources and how to stay engaged in their son's education. Outreaches such as this directly support strategic objective three of our strategic plan which states that "each school will improve achievement for all student groups, with particular focus on African-American males."

One way to improve the achievement of all students is to ensure that they are reading on grade-level early on. As we focus on literacy efforts throughout the division, many schools are celebrating National Reading Month this month. For example, students (and staff) at Lynnhaven Elementary School held a "Loving Literacy" parade. Students dressed up as their favorite storybook characters and paraded through the halls, sharing details of favorite books and stories.

Other schools welcomed guest readers into classrooms. Here, data support specialist Joe Skiles not only read books to students at Windsor Oaks Elementary, he sang about them; certainly an exciting way to celebrate Reading Month.

Music and learning went hand in hand for orchestra students across the division this month as well. The Office of Instructional Services and Academy Programs, in collaboration with the Virginia Arts Festival, provided a master class for students. Members of the Catalyst String Quartet, from New York City performed for students prior to working with small groups who signed up for the master lesson. The Catalyst String Quartet comprises young African-American and Latino laureates and alumni of the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Competition. Cox High School orchestra teacher Aaron Hardwick was the host for the program.

It was a battle of the brains recently at Princess Anne High School. Academic challenge teams from Ocean Lakes and Princess Anne high schools competed for top tournament honors. It was a real nail-biter, coming down to a sudden death question. In the end, the Princess Anne Cavaliers won the match. But, don't count the Dolphins out just yet. As the regular season champion, Ocean Lakes will join Princess Anne in advancing to the regional competition. You can watch the PA-Ocean Lakes match up on VBTV this month, along with the middle school academic challenge. The middle school battle, which pits Plaza against Larkspur, will air live on Jan. 24 beginning at 4:45 p.m. and will stream live on vbschools.com.

And finally, congratulations go out to the recipients of the PTA's Principals of American Citizenship for the character trait of "respect." They are:

  • Taniya S. from Pembroke Meadows Elementary;
  • Jordan E. of Larkspur Middle School; and
  • Michiel B. from First Colonial High School.

Please join me in congratulating these outstanding students.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my report.


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Last Modified on Friday, January 20, 2017