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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 - July 31, 2012

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

The month of July has been a busy one. Back-to-school preparations are under way and last week, the division hosted its annual administrators’ conference. The leadership of our 85 schools and support departments got together to plan for the coming school year. This year’s conference theme was UPS: Using Pathways Strategically, complete with the tag line We Deliver. I would call this a very apt theme, because that’s what it’s all about – delivering the best instruction possible for students. Intent on doing just that, administrators attended sessions on a variety of topics including Bring Your Own Device or BYOD, advancing literacy, Special Education trends and issues, and the new teacher evaluation system, to name a few. Our administrative leaders are doing some incredible work, and we are certainly on the right track!

Earlier in the month, school and central office staff updated the School Board on our Compass to 2015 strategic plan progress as part of the Board’s retreat. Co-chairs of the five strategic objectives and members of their implementation and school-based teams highlighted milestones and shared future plans for the 2012-2013 school year. For instance, strategic objective one stressed the work being done to expand STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) initiatives and to refocus elementary reading instruction. As you know, literacy is the gateway for all future student learning and achievement, so the importance of focusing instruction cannot be overstated. Based on the Board’s feedback on those presentations and your discussions about high school scheduling, employee compensation, and the budget, it looks like we are embarking upon another busy but rewarding year of work under our strategic plan.

Teachers are rolling up their sleeves to prepare for the coming school year. This summer, nearly 5,000 teachers have completed their Professional Learning Program (PLP) summer course work offered through the Center for Teacher Leadership. C-T-L is helping to transform professional learning with opportunities created “for teachers, by teachers.”

Along with their PLP classes, many teachers chose to go to “camp” this summer. The A-S-M Material Science Teacher Camp, that is. Middle and high school participants from a wide range of curricular areas attended this week-long STEM inspired event. The camp, held at the ATC, is one of only 36 of its kind in the U.S. and Canada. Teachers have the opportunity to collaborate with peers and each leaves with a binder of labs in written and digital format and a collection of essential supplies to help them to implement activities they’ve learned at the camp. Special thanks to Technical and Career Education Director, Dr. Patrick Konopnicki, and Partner in Education, Stihl, for their efforts to support the camp for a second year in a row.

I don’t know about you, but when I went to summer camp, we swam and made lanyards. Students today are having a much more high-tech experience. Twenty-five of our high school students took part in a six-week camp that was focused on mobile apps, application development, and entrepreneurism. These are highly valued skills in today’s job market. This STEM program was the result of a collaborative partnership between Opportunity, Inc., ECPI, and our division. It gave students a unique opportunity to build an app for mobile devices, develop solutions for problems with the app, and create graphics for its interface. Students then worked as teams to create a good business model to produce and sell their product. Their work was then compiled into the students’ digital portfolios, which they could take with them into the workforce. It doesn’t get much more 21st Century than this.

Students enrolled in summer school are sharpening their 21st century skills and making the most of some smaller group instructional time. In all, more than 4,400 students participated in regular and special education courses. We also offered 10 online courses serving 891 students.

Students aren’t the only ones taking part in unique summer learning events. VBCPS had several teachers selected to participate in programs and academies across the country. Melissa Taylor, Alanton Elementary Math Specialist, was one of three teachers from Virginia recently invited to attend the ExxonMobil Teachers Academy in New Jersey. Taylor was selected from more than 1,000 applicants to collaborate with others from across the country in learning new ways to enhance math and science curricula and instruction.

Betsy Dijulio, art teacher from Princess Anne High School, recently attended The Teacher Institute of Contemporary Art at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. The institute, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, brings together a diverse group of art educators for daily studio sessions, discussions about contemporary art theory and educational practices, and one-on-one interactions with visiting artists and museum educators.

Speaking of outstanding work, I’d like to commend the Department of Technology for doing a superior job supporting the largest SOL testing season ever for VBCPS. During the month-long testing period last spring, our district conducted 183,685 tests online. On the peak day, 18,300 laptops were simultaneously connected to our wireless system. The ability to support such a massive online effort with a minimal number of issues is quite an accomplishment.

Our division’s Office of Facilities and Planning Construction was recently recognized by the Virginia Sustainable Building Network (VSBN) with a 2012 Green Innovations Award for Best Green Institutional Project for the construction over at College Park Elementary School. Sustainable innovations highlighted in the award included the use of solar power to provide hot water in the cafeteria, radiant heat flooring, and the use of well-designed duel flush valves to conserve water. VSBN is a non-profit organization which promotes Green Building and Sustainable Development across Virginia.

The following congratulations are in order this evening…

Congratulations to Cathy PCongratulations to Bruce Phelps, recently retired Director of Student Activities, who was awarded the Virginia Beach Coaches Association Distinguished Service Award at the group’s annual year-end awards ceremony. Mr. Phelps was recognized as being instrumental in nurturing one of the largest coaches associations in the state, which works with administration in providing professional development and standards for middle and high school coaches.

Congratulations and special thanks tonight to students and staff at these 13 Virginia Beach Schools that participated in the Olive Garden’s Pasta for Pennies service learning program. Thanks to their efforts, $22,615 was raised to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to aid in cancer research. Schools throughout the district annually select service projects to improve the quality of life for children and their families locally, nationally or globally.

Finally tonight, I offer my heartfelt thanks and congratulations to the 352 VBCPS retirees who recently left the division. In total, this year’s retirees served the children of Virginia Beach for more than 8,482 years. Among them were five employees who have worked in the division for 40 or more years and eight married couples. They will be missed and we all wish them well in their new ventures.

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


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Last Modified on Friday, January 20, 2017