Our division has redefined summer programming for students. Traditional remediation programs are now supplemented with enrichment opportunities (K-8 STEM Camp), classes aimed at accelerating learning for students preparing for a greater challenge (Grade 6 Math Bridge and Pre-Algebra Bridge), and individual and small group literacy tutorials (Title I Reading Camp – below).

It’s been a successful summer of learning – and we look forward to expanding on our offerings and opportunities for students in coming years.

We are very proud of 2013 Goochland High School graduate, Grayson Royal, who has been asked to manage the McAuliffe Campaign for Governor of Virginia in the Goochland regional area of the state. While at GHS, Grayson was an exemplary student of civics and history, with a special tendency toward the study of politics and government.

Grayson leads volunteers and other campaign staff through the various aspects of campaign development and communication. His leadership and organizational skills, largely fostered under the direction of former government teacher and GCPS Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Yearout-Patton, are already being put to use.

Grayson is a shining example of a young leader working to impact the world around him. We’re proud of him and his GCPS teachers who helped him maximize his potential and discover his passion.

I’m thrilled to join GHS principal, Mike Newman, in announcing to our community that the Marine JROTC program will be coming to Goochland High School next year! You may have been following our pursuit of this wonderful opportunity for our students. The application process was involved and extremely competitive and I give credit to Mr. Newman, Mr. DeWeerd, Mr. Watson for leading this tremendous effort and bring our division to top priority through the process.

There will be significant planning that will take place throughout the school year. The program will officially open for students at the start of the 2014-15 school year and will foster a deeper connection with the values that undergird our strategic plan. Students will have a multitude of opportunities to participate in activities that teach discipline, critical thinking and collaboration. There is a unique community service component as well that will enable students to exercise leadership skills and contribute to the improvement of their school and greater communities as well.

Thank you again to Mr. Newman. We look forward to including this exceptional program in our division’s offerings.

I wanted to make you aware of this opportunity. Two of our GHS band members, Dani Martin and Wesley McRoberts are members of the Jersey Surf Drum Corps. We wanted to let our community know about a chance to see them perform.  They do not have a performance in VA this year but they will be here for a day working hard.

Drum Corps International’s Jersey Surf World Class

Drum & Bugle Corps will be rehearsing at Deep Run High School in Glen Allen for the day on Monday, July 29. Their rehearsal is free and open to the public to watch. Come out and see them as they prepare for the final leg of their 2013 “Soul Surfing” summer tour…the DCI Eastern Classic in Allentown, PA & the DCI World Championships in Indianapolis, IN.

The best time to come see them will probably be after lunch (around 2pm) when they get into sectionals and full ensemble run through (around 4pm or so), prior to their dinner and packing up to head out.

Bring your friends…it’s sure to be a fun afternoon! It may be hot, so think about bringing some water to keep you hydrated.

If you’d like to help the corps out by making a food donation, they are always in need of Peanut Butter, Jelly, and large containers of powdered gatorade, tea and lemonade drink mixes.

For more information, contact Connie McRoberts at fivemcroberts@aol.com

Congratulations Ms. Voyack and Mr. Fowler!!

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

GOOCHLAND Goochland High School was recently recognized as being among the 100 Best W!se High Schools teaching personal finance.

W!se is an acronym for “Working in Support of Education” — a leading New York City-based educational not-for-profit whose central mission is to develop personal finance literacy and readiness for college and the workforce.

During a ceremony on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, the organization recognized excellence in 100 schools from across the country as part of its 10th anniversary ceremony of its award-winning Financial Literacy Certification Program.

Sarah Voyack and Joe Fowler teach personal finance for Goochland High School.

Hello everyone!  The Goochland Family YMCA “Bright Beginnings” program is preparing to equip over 185 children with the essentials to begin school with a fresh start.  To ensure that these children that live below the poverty line are served, the Y needs to raise $18,000, secure 185 backpacks and recruit volunteers.

They have already secured over 200 backpacks filled with school supplies, but are still in need of financial contributions and volunteer shoppers.

Below you will find a YMCA volunteer application if you would like to help a child shop for school.  Financial contributions can be made online at www.ymcarichmond.org. or mailed to the Goochland Y at 1800 Dickinson Road, Goochland, VA 23063.

Please help!

Below are the volunteer forms to fill out in case you want to help!  Again, please contact Jan Kenney at the YMCA with further questions!

Tomorrow I’m going on vacation. Hopefully the sun will shine for most of the week and I’ll take advantage of every minute of salt water, sandcastles, and ice cream cones.

Today I began to unplug. I actually found myself reflecting … something I haven’t had a minute to do during the sprint of the last few months. Specifically, I’ve reflected on the major take-always from May, June, and July.

…. MAY

Assessment

All you have to do is set foot in a school or have a conversation with an educator and you can feel the tension – the pressure of high stakes testing. May feels different in our schools. It feels different for our children.

While Virginia’s SOL assessments are here to stay, I had the opportunity to lead a team of teachers and administrators through an awesome process this spring: we spent a great deal of time reconceptualizing the 13-year assessment framework for our students. We’ve reduced the amount of traditional assessments by about 40%. (This means we’ve effectively added that same amount of time back to teaching and learning.) We’ve added growth measures, and we’ve developed performance assessments. We’ve created the division’s Balanced Assessment Project.

We’ve made the conscious decision to create a more well-rounded, more comprehensive assessment profile for our students and teachers. We’re building an assessment system that we know is better than the one we’ve used for years.

University Partnerships

We’ve been working all year on strengthening our relationship with Virginia’s colleges and universities. After a second encouraging meeting with officials from James Madison University, it looks like we’re poised to provide some incredible opportunities to our students and staff. Some will be as early as the fall. Some will take more time to develop and deliver.

From working toward a program that will allow our seniors to graduate from Goochland High School with an official JMU transcript to providing our teachers with exceptional professional development opportunities – it appears that we’re at the beginning of a partnership that will become a cornerstone to our overall educational program.

…. JUNE

Apple Event

A team of about 15 administrators, teachers, and school board members attended an education event hosted by Apple in Reston, Virginia. Beyond the amazing resources afforded by the Apple platform, I left the event with one major take-away. It centered on the urgency for technology to exist as part of the learning environment, as opposed to an event within it. We need to move past the days when we stop instruction to make our way to the computer lab or when we ask students to put away their laptops (or mobile devices) to get back to direct instruction.

Of course this notion doesn’t minimize the importance of direct instruction; rather, it emphasizes the advancement that can be made when technology exists as a ubiquitous part of students’ learning environment. This kind of environment allows for true personalized learning.

Performance Assessments (or Tasks)

A “performance task” requires a student to create, manipulate or re-work intellectual academic content in a practical and authentic performance that demonstrates student learning. It’s an assessment of learning – and it sure requires more of students than a traditional multiple choice test.

I had the opportunity to work with a small team of teacher leaders in the development of our first set of division performance assessments in grades 4 and 5 and in middle school science. Our team consisted of teachers and principals from every level: elementary, middle, and high.

STEM Camp 2013

140 students in grades K-8. Design challenges. Guest engineers. Bridge building. Rocket launching. Underwater robots. The Science Museum of Virginia.

Wow.

…. JULY

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is something we’ve been working on for months … years. What’s happening lately, however, is that all of the discussion, all of the soul searching, and all of the thoughtful consideration is beginning to take shape. It’s taking the shape of a well thought out vision, mission, and set of values.

In this strategic planning process, I was asked last week to define the word “rigor.” The conversation ebbed from Bloom’s Taxonomy to grading to the idea that rigor, by its very nature, has to be individualized. The question sure made me pause, consider, and dig in on a word that we use daily in our work as professional educators.

Rigorous are performance tasks.

Back to strategic planning. How great would it be to work for a school division whose central mission it is to maximize the potential of every learner? Not to work for a division that hangs a hollow statement on the wall – but to be part of a team and immersed in a culture wherein every decision made is aimed at maximizing the potential of every child, every employee, and every stakeholder.

So … what have I discovered in the chance to finally reflect?

It’s given me the chance to connect the dots of the past several months. The discovery affirms what we’ve been working toward for the last 18 months: ENGAGEMENT.

Balanced assessment, college coursework in high school, technology-rich classrooms, performance tasks, hands-on science and engineering, defining or vision and values … each of them will play a significant role in our ability to engage our school community.

I talk (and write) all the time of my beliefs about the importance of engagement. I’ve shared the graphic by Gallup that shows us the typical engagement trend for students in school.

I believe our school division can create a different trendline: one that starts high and stays high.

Check out this news story including our Division Teacher of the Year, Erin Yearout-Patton!

NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Middle and high school teachers from across the state are getting political at the University of Virginia. The UVA Center for Politics hosted its first teacher workshop Tuesday, with the goal of helping improve civics education.

A group of about 40 teachers discussed everything from special interests to lobbying.

UVA Center for Politics’ Director of Instruction Meg Heubeck wants to make politics more accessible to teachers and students.

“We try to provide hands-on, first-person experiences with politics so that people know politics is a good thing,” said Heubeck.

Teachers talked one-on-one with state lawmakers, lobbyists, and others Tuesday.

The event is part of the UVA Center for Politics’ 15th Annual Virginia Political History Project.

Here is a link to the story:

UVA Center for Politics Hosts First Teacher Workshop – NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather.

Goochland community,

Please join us in celebrating that (Scott) Mitchell Rosenbloom has achieved the recognition of being the State of Virginia’s Young Scientist Challenge Merit Winner!  Mitchell had the idea to invent a device that would attach to 3-D glasses that would work with your brain’s neurotransmitters to overcome the queasy feeling that occurs when your brain perceives motion when watching an action packed 3-D movie, but your body is in a stationary theater seat.

Mitchell was awarded a Kindle Fire, certificate of achievement, and an inspiring addition to his educational resume. We are so proud of him and his teachers!

This is the second consecutive year that GCPS has been a state winner in this innovative program. Kudos to the GMS Science Department!

You can learn more here or by contacting Amy Spoonhower, his teacher who led him through this unique project.

Congratulations Mitchell!