Recognizing Best Practices – Model Partnerships
Beginning in 2000-2001, the VBCPS Partnership Advisory Link (PAL), an advisory body made up of school and community representatives, began annually recognizing Model Partnerships. Through a nomination and panel review process, each school year's Model Partnerships are selected as examples of best practices of meaningful community involvement in our school district.
Model partnerships are selected based on the following criteria. The partnership:
- Had a clearly stated purpose
- Enabled students to be engaged in innovative educational activities
- Had a positive impact on student learning and achievement
- Was mutually beneficial to both organizations
- Added value to the educational initiatives in the Virginia Beach City Public Schools and to the community organization
- Learn how to establish a partnership with Virginia Beach City Public Schools
2013 Model Partnerships
Acredale Animal Hospital and Salem Elementary
Many of our elementary schools across the division are fortunate to have extra helpers and support when it comes assisting students with reading. Some of Salem Elementary Schoolís favorite helpers are furry, four-legged friends, Lela and Webber, who canít wait to curl up next to students to listen to a good story. The therapy dog reading program has been in place at the school since 2008, and these loving and attentive pups make a wonderful audience for students who need to practice their reading skills and fluency to build their confidence without fear of making mistakes. The relationship between each student and their furry friend is not only a positive one but Diagnostic Reading Assessments over the past three years have indicated improved reading levels. Teachers canít help but see a marked enthusiasm for reading. “I wish they could talk to me,” students were often heard saying. That gave Webberís veterinarian, Dr. Alexandra DeLorenzo an idea. She began the “Fetch a Good Book” blog, which encouraged all children to ask questions about the dogs, discuss what books to read and, of course, learn how to care for animals. Since the blog launched, students have been more engaged readers, asked questions about the veterinary field and even helped diagnose a beloved petís ear infection. “Connecting the reading experience with blogging to a real professional in the community has further enhanced this program,” shares Anne Slovic, Partners in Education Coordinator. You can imagine the excitement when students finally had an opportunity to meet Dr. DeLorenzo in person when she was a guest during their Lunch Buddies Book Club.
Cape Henry Collegiate and Cooke Elementary
What started out as tutoring assistance from eighth-grade students at Cape Henry Collegiate (CHC) to earn community service hours, has evolved into a much more personal partnership demonstrating great compassion for the needs of their elementary peers. The after-school sessions made it increasingly more evident to the middle school mentors that in addition to the academic challenges they faced, most of the mentees also struggled with economic hardships. Thatís when they decided to take a more active role and arranged a food drive to fill Beach Bags, providing Cooke students with food for the weekends. They raised money at basketball games and hosted pizza nights to pay for rec center memberships for all of the students in the Cookeís Anchor Club. CHC students held a coat drive, made goodie bags and even cooked and served dinners to students who attended the after school program. “This partnership is unique in many ways,” says Laura Beth Lawver, first-grade teacher at Cooke Elementary School. “Itís not only a school helping a sister school, but it is distinctive in that it is crossing the lines between public and private schools. (It is) great when bridges can be built to bring the private and public sectors together in the best interest of their community.”
Eastern Virginia Medical School and Bayside High
Students who enroll in Bayside High Schoolís Health Sciences Academy do so having at least entertained the thought of one day going to medical school. Little did they know they would be doing just that even before graduating from high school. Thanks to an ongoing partnership with EVMSís Dr. Craig Goodmurphy, Academy seniors visited their partner school, EVMS, for two full days where a medical student was assigned to serve as their mentor. Through the process, students attended exam review sessions, went to class, listened to lectures and even spent some time in the cadaver lab. “I am so appreciative of Dr. Goodmurphy who takes timeout from his busy schedule to set up learning opportunities for academy students Ė like the workshop at EVMS,” said Nicole Bartneck, a Health Sciences Academy senior. “All the mentors gave us such great advice on how to be successful in college and prepare for medical or grad school. This was an invaluable experience.”
Farm Fresh and Cox High
In order to even take the Hospitality & Catering Services classes at Cox High School, students have to pay a fee to help to defray the cost of course materials then raise upward of $800 each semester to pay for additional class supplies. Thanks to a partnership with Farm Fresh Supermarkets, however, students are spending their time focusing on what really matters: learning to cook delicious dishes. In an effort to support sustainability, both at the school and the store, Farm Fresh donates food that is still fresh, but cannot be sold because it is approaching its expiration date or otherwise not in line with Farm Fresh standards. With this source of food, Cox students have been able to host several functions and school events as well as try out new recipes and improve their cooking skills. In addition to providing guest speakers on a variety of culinary and food management topics, Farm Fresh invites students to tour their stores to gain insight on food management and sanitation practices in each department. Cox High School teacher Amy Goodman, says, “We are so proud of this partnership! As a result, our students (comprised of various ability levels and backgrounds) receive curriculum support, resources for practical food preparation and hands on cooking activities and exposure to careers and skills in the hospitality and catering industry.”
I Need A Lighthouse and VBCPS Citywide
How do you tackle a problem like teenage depression and suicide? By talking about it. I Need A Lighthouse has been creating opportunities for students to have these hard, but crucial conversations in the division since 2006. Since that time, the organization has started an annual conference Ė and opened it free of charge to any/all VBCPS high school students. Additionally, five high schools have formed Lighthouse Clubs on their home campuses to help promote good mental health as well as to provide struggling classmates with the right resources. I Need A Lighthouse has also begun a suicide prevention program as part of the ninth-grade transition program since the shift to high school has been deemed a notably stressful and potentially turbulent time for students. “The purpose of this partnership is to significantly reduce the loss and suffering from teen depression, suicide and suicidal behavior through educational programs,” shares Dr. Alveta Mitchell, director of the Office of Guidance Services. “I Need A Lighthouse educational programs provide accurate and useful information to students that will reduce the stigma associated with depression and suicide and encourage students to get help.”
Marcari, Russoto, Spencer, & Balaban, P.C. and First Colonial High
Students in First Colonial High Schoolís Legal Studies Academy have long benefited from the continued partnership with the Marcari, Russoto, Spencer, & Balaban, P.C., which began unofficially in 2006 with the launch of the academyís summer internship program. Since that time, staff at the law firm has become instrumental in providing students with a real-world glimpse into the work of law in action. Don Marcari has created job shadowing opportunities for students, served as an adviser for seniors working on their mandatory senior project and sat on the ninth grade professional interview panel. In addition, he has spent hours each week working with students to help prepare them for the annual Virginia High School Mock Trial competition.
“Mr. Macariís service to the academy has proved to be invaluable to the success of both our students and our program,” says Angelique Phillips, Legal Studies Academy coordinator. “The opportunities provide students with a deeper understanding and respect for the law, giving them a chance to analyze and apply the skills they have learned while attending First Colonial. They also get a chance to see how dedicated community professionals are giving back and impacting the community.”
Norfolk State University and Adult Learning Center
Itís almost like a match made in heaven. Back in 2006, students in Norfolk State Universityís school counseling graduate program were looking for a way to complete needed counseling experience for their degree. At the same time, students at the Adult Learning Center (ALC) were looking for volunteers to help advise students of their academic options. A partnership between the schools was soon formed and since then more than 100 graduate students have provided aid and counsel to more than 600 adult basic education, GED and English as a Second Language students. There was such a need for these services that it led to the ALC seeking grant money to fund its first ever School Counselor positions. And, naturally, the positions were filled by some of the Norfolk State graduates who had already worked so diligently with the schoolís students.
“The impact this partnership has had on each organization is phenomenal,” announces Melinda Saunders, partnership coordinator for the ALC. “NSU interns are continuing to provide many pertinent services that were previously unaddressed and void in the lives of students at the Adult Learning Center.”
Old Dominion University College of Sciences & College of Engineering and Ocean Lakes High
In an effort to make studentsí research and learning opportunities at the Mathematics & Science Academy more rigorous and rewarding, staff at Ocean Lakes High School reached out to Old Dominion University to see if partnering for summer research projects would be possible. That request has led to a thriving partnership between the two schools, which not only includes college-level research opportunities for Ocean Lakes students at ODU, but also a mentorship program and guest speakers at the academy. And, since students can work side by side with instructors at ODU, they are delving into topics that are relevant and important and honing their creative and critical thinking skills. Students are sometimes given the chance to be published in Scientific Journals Ė before they have even graduated from high school.
“Students are excited to be part of these research opportunities,” Dr. Ann Zingraff-Newtown, coordinator of the Math and Science Academy, shares. “They return more mature and inquisitive, ready to ask important questions and to search for the answersÖOur program is stronger due to the partnership with Old Dominion University College of Sciences, and we hope that this relationship will continue to grow in the future.”
Opportunity, Inc. and VBCPS Citywide
When the skills of STEM classes (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) come to life, really cool things can happen. To help students - specifically Workforce Investment Act juniors and seniors - see the benefits and opportunities of working in STEM careers, Opportunity, Inc. began a partnership with Virginia Beach Schools to provide new and exciting courses and activities, such as the STEM Robotic Club, where students were building robots to compete against other schools. In addition, they could enroll with ECPI University and attend the STEM Mobile Apps Camp at ECPI to learn how to create mobile applications or enroll in STEM 101, a distance learning course with Norfolk State University. These opportunities helped students earn money, learn new skills and even jumpstart their collegiate careers with college credits.
“Our partnership with Opportunity, Inc. has been a great benefit to VBCPS high schools and students because it offers an opportunity of a lifetime to students who are not usually targeted or cannot afford specific programs,” said Dr. Patrick Konopnicki, director of Technical and Career Education. “Opportunity, Inc. is a nationwide organization and the schools, students and partnering organizations are all able to show what great things we are doing in STEM around Hampton Roads.”
Parkway Elementary and Green Run High
When marketing students at Green Run High School (GRHS) heard about the VBCPS Beach Bags program and the reality that some students who may qualify for free and reduced breakfast and lunch during the school week, might be going home to little or no food on the weekends or during school vacations, they knew they wanted to help. Adopting one of their feeder schools in 2011, the Kids Feeding Kids program was founded and the exemplary partnership between Parkway Elementary and Green Run High School began. Marketing students at the high school helped raise funds and collected donations to fill their make-shift pantry. Students then packed10 nutritious food items into each Beach Bag and began biweekly deliveries on Fridays. This year, thanks to the generous assistance of other community partners who help to supplement the program, Beach Bag deliveries to 40 students are done on a weekly basis and a weekly mentoring program, PEERS (Panthers Educated, Enlightened and Reached by Stallions) is in place. GRHS students are paired with Parkway students in grades 2-5 to participate in one-on-one activities focused on improving self-esteem, instilling confidence and enhancing academic performance through tutoring and homework assistance. The students even take field trips together.
“Everybody involved in this partnership is benefiting!” beams Kerri Sabo, PIE Coordinator at Green Run High School. “The students at Parkway receive much needed food and clothing and feel special working with a trusted mentor (and) the Green Run students feel important and good about themselves knowing they are doing something valuable to make a positive difference in the lives of others in the community.”
Kempsville Middle and Fairfield Elementary
What better way to encourage young students to read than to give them a real life mentor to help them? Kempsville Middle School students and some former Fairfield students attending Plaza Middle have served as volunteers for the Take Reading Home program at Fairfield Elementary School since 2007. They arrive early two days each week to listen to first graders read a book they have taken home to practice. First graders gain confidence and strengthen their fluency and skills while middle-schoolers help the teachers assess the studentís progress by recording some notes for them based on their session. Since the program has launched, Fairfield has seen a rise in their Developmental Independent Reading levels. Additionally, the middle-schoolers earn community service hours while developing their communication skills, teamwork and organization.
“I have volunteered for the Take Home Reading program for three years,” said Tessa Resek, a Kempsville Middle School mentor. “I like working with the students. It is fun to read with them and I like knowing that I am helping them become better readers. The students seem to like reading with the older kids. I think it is a great program.”
Parkway Elementary PTA and Parkway Elementary
A school is just not the same without the work of its volunteers. That is particularly true for Parkway Elementary Schoolís PTA. Along with the many programs and activities in place to support students; the PTA began its Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program in Sept. 2010. This nationwide program is aimed at encouraging fathers to have a stronger presence in the school creating an overall positive impact on student attitude and achievement. Through the program, Watch D.O.G.S. greet students when they get off the bus, they work closely assisting them in the classroom, read to students, help out during lunch and PE and also come to special events. The program has helped reinvigorate volunteerism in the school and created a new, and fun learning environment for students.
“The program is a win-win for all,” shares Karen Clevinger, a Title I Reading Teacher at Parkway Elementary School and Parent Involvement Coordinator. “Teachers can have an extra set of hands, which can be a big help especially with the younger children. Students benefit because of the additional support they get in the classroom and “dads” have a better understanding of grade level expectations (and not just at their childís current grade). These dads are recognized by students and staff, they get hugs, are asked to join groups and they truly become rock stars as far as students and staff are concerned.”
STIHL, Inc. and Landstown High
Thanks to staff at STIHL, Inc.,, students in the Governorís STEM and Technology academies at Landstown High School get to see their work come to life Ė quite literally. Not only has the company, which is the leading manufacturer of chainsaws and outdoor power equipment, allowed students in the robotics and pre-engineering programs to come to tour its manufacturing facility, they also got to see the individual technologies needed to run it in action and met with STIHL design engineers. Additionally, STIHL has granted students access to its online training website, which includes necessary training for passing the NOCTI Electronics Technology Certification. As a Partner in Education, STHIL has also supported the studentsí extracurricular endeavors Ė sponsoring studentsí attendance to the STIHLís Manufacturing Technology Summer Camp as well as sponsoring the schoolís robotics team to travel to regional competitions, where they will face off against 3,000 fellow students.
“STIHL has been a strong supporter by helping our academy engineering students develop the STEM skills they will need to lead the United States back to the top of the manufacturing industry,” says James Barger, pre-engineering department chair at Landstown. “Students have been given real-life experiences to prepare them for the 21st century workplace, advanced technical training and mentorship and postsecondary guidance. They have witnessed firsthand the education and skills required for success in STEM occupations here in our community and worldwide.””
VBCPS Parent Connection and Advanced Technology Center
To live, work and study in this day and age, you need the right technological skills and tools. Virginia Beach Schools prides itself on the services and opportunities it provides not only its students, but parents as well. However, sometimes the division needs some help to make this happen. Thatís where students and staff at the Advanced Technology Center come in. Over the past three years, students in the A+ Computer Repair class have repaired, slicked and refurbished more than 200 computers that were donated by government agencies, including the Virginia Beach Police Department. Those computers were then distributed to students and families in need in the Virginia Beach community. Additionally, for the last two years, ATC students enrolled in the Computer Network Administration classes and members of Future Business Leaders of America have facilitated monthly Parent Technology Academy sessions by teaching parents how to effectively use their computers to keep up with the latest technologies. The curriculum developed and delivered by students to almost 200 community members to date, not only gives parents a better understanding of the latest technology, but it provides them with the resources to better assist their children academically. Students take on leadership roles and have taken personal responsibility for the success of the program.
“We didnít just fix and take care of computers for a grade; we fixed them because we knew that someone, maybe even our neighbor, would benefit from the reconstruction of these machines in one of the most positive ways imaginable,” said Damon Fowler, A + Computer Repair student. “Programs like Parent Connection and VA STAR demonstrate that all of us are fully capable of doing some type of good and it influences us to act as such on a daily basis and we are thankful for this.”