Dr. Matt Covington, GHS Assistant Principal, and Chuck English, Science Museum of Virginia, spoke to legislators, school leaders, and members of the business community Friday evening at the Governor’s STEM Summit and High Schools of the Future Conference in Richmond, VA. The two partnered to deliver a pitch that would communicate a visionary perspective of how high schools could be transformed.

Their idea was awarded the weekend’s “Most Innovative Pitch” recognition by the Governor, himself.

“The citizens of the Commonwealth extend to you their congratulations… for hard work and dedication to making a difference in the lives of future students and educators across the Commonwealth of Virginia.” - Governor Bob McDonnell

 

“The two day summit focused on the importance of STEM in education and culminated in formulating ideas of the high school of the future,” explained Dr. Covington. ” Our pitch was to use blended learning from a flipped classroom perspective. This vehicle would provide students more opportunities to explore specialized instruction based on their interests rather than standardized curricula.”

Among the attendees were VA State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Patricia Wright, Secretary of Education, Laura Fornash, and GCPS Superintendent, Dr. James Lane.

“We are extremely proud of the work Dr. Covington has done to further the conversation regarding truly transformational high schools in the commonwealth,” said superintendent, James Lane. “Blended learning environments and the delivery of individualized instruction is at the forefront and I’m thrilled to see our school leaders at the table, engaging in this important topic.”

Congratulations to Dr. Covington and many thanks to Mr. English for his continued partnership with our division.

On behalf of the GCPS Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee, I’m delighted to announce an event on October 21 in the JSRCC Goochland Campus Community room at 7pm.  Faculty and staff members from the division will be invited to hear Dr. Tonya Moon from UVa, who will be presenting a detailed report on the research regarding how schools can improve academic achievement for African-American students.

We view this as a pivotal conversation and one we hope will inspire fresh perspectives and ideas to further help our schools address achievement gaps that exist within student populations.

 

All of our fifth grade students will have visited Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School this fall. Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies is a regional “magnet” public high school in Richmond, which draws a student community from Goochland and eleven other area school divisions.

We believe it’s important that our students, relatively early in their school careers, have the opportunity to see the school, interact with students and staff, and have a first-person experience from which to draw.

Following their morning at MLWGS, the fifth grade teams spent the balance of their school day at the Science Museum of Virginia exploring the exhibits and taking in an educational IMAX film.

The fifth grade team from Goochland Elementary School visited MLWGS and SMV on Wednesday, September 18. Fifth graders from Byrd Elementary School attended on Wednesday, September 25. Randolph Elementary School’s fifth grade visit is scheduled for Wednesday, October 9.

Dear GCPS Families,

On behalf of the division instructional leadership team, it is with tremendous enthusiasm that I welcome you to the 2013-14 school year. The positive energy in all five of our schools has been contagious these past four weeks – and I trust your child(ren)’s opening days have been exceptional.

The intention of this letter is to clearly communicate our division’s focus on engaging, meaningful instruction, as well as to express our commitment to supporting our students, families, and school-community. Our team collaborates daily in an effort to continuously build the strongest, most well-rounded instructional program possible – and we’re always just a phone call or email away.

The most important instructional leaders in any division work directly with our students: the education professionals in our schools. The daily design and delivery of instruction happens in our classrooms – and we have some of the most talented, dedicated professionals in the Commonwealth.

At the division level we have an equally committed team that works directly with our teachers and building administrators with the focus on maximizing the potential of every student. It’s important to us that our families know who we are and know that we’re always here to help:

Mrs. Debbie Beasley, Director of Special Education and Student
       Services, dbeasley@glnd.k12.va.us, (804) 556-5625
Mr. Thomas DeWeerd, Director of Technology and School
     Administration, tdeweerd@glnd.k12.va.us, (804) 556-5627
Dr. Stephen Geyer, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction,
     sgeyer@glnd.k12.va.us, (804) 556-5609
Dr. Peter Gretz, Assistant Superintdent of Business Operations,
     pgretz@glnd.k12.va.us, (804) 556-5605
Mr. John Hendron, Supervisor of Instructional Technology,
      jhendron@glnd.k12.va.us, (804) 556-5623
Dr. James Lane, Superintendent, jlane@glnd.k12.va.us, (804) 556-   
     5601
Ms. Raye Rector, Coordinator of Gifted and Federal Programs,
     rrector@glnd.k12.va.us, (804) 556-5610
Mr. Bruce Watson, Director of Career and Technical Education,
     bwatson@glnd.k12.va.us, (804) 556-5613

Technology as an Integral Part of the Instructional Environment

Goochland’s instructional technology program has long been known to be one of the strongest in the state. Our teacher and administrator weblogs helped pioneer digital communication in schools across Virginia (http://blogs.glnd.k12.va.us/). The division’s project-based G21 program has received national attention and has since served as a model for our regional neighbors. Our current focus on technology-supported personalized learning (i.e. 1:1 mobile devices, educational software that individualizes opportunities for students, and our “Bring Your Own Device” pilot) is helping to ensure technology is seamlessly integrated into our students’ learning environment.

Technology plays an important role in almost every career field. We are always looking around the next corner to ensure we’re giving our students the opportunity to compete on the national and global stage.

A Thoughtful, Balanced Approach to Assessment

Virginia’s public school students face a minimum of 34 “high stakes” tests during their thirteen-year public school career under the state’s Standards of Learning (SOL) assessment program. Additionally, students have traditionally encountered countless high stakes practice tests in preparation for the state assessments.

While we embrace the accountability features of the state and federal system, we know that the assessment program falls short in providing the depth and breadth of information teachers, parents, and students need in order to maximize individual growth. We believe we’ve created a better way.

Last spring we released our Balanced Assessment Project, and I encourage our families to review it when you have a few minutes. It can be accessed from our division Website and at: http://www.glnd.k12.va.us/resources/Balanced_Project_Final.pdf

This fall we began measuring individual student growth in the areas of literacy and mathematics using Northwest Evaluation Association’s highly regarded, nationally normed assessment, Measures of Academic Progress (MAP). In short, this assessment will be administered to our K-8 students three times each year (approximately 60 min per administration) and is “computer adaptive.” This means that the assessment adapts to individual student responses: as questions are answered correctly, the level of subsequent questions becomes more challenging; when a question is answered incorrectly, the assessment adapts with less difficult questions. This methodology, along with the nationally normed nature of the assessment, makes MAP one of the most effective, accurate, predictive measures of individual student progress. (SOL tests measure achievement, are built on common minimum proficiency, and do not measure individual growth.) Teachers and parents will begin to receive data that is specific to their child’s progress, along with traditional measures of achievement related to state benchmarks.

While we are introducing growth measures this school year, please understand we are not simply adding more assessments. Due to the comprehensive nature of the MAP test in grades K-8, we will be eliminating more than 80% of what have come to be known as “division marking period tests” or “MP tests.” The introduction of growth assessments, along with integrated performance tasks (learn more by reading our Balanced Assessment Project document), will actually result in a net loss (nearly 40%) in assessments across our K-12 testing profile.

Responsiveness to Student Needs

The Department of Special Education and Student Services is always focused on timely response to our students’ evolving and exceptional needs. During the months of June and July, several special education teachers and instructional assistants participated in professional development opportunities that focused on providing effective instruction and behavioral supports to students with autism spectrum disorders.  The team also participated in training involving wrap-around service coordination for students in need and revisions to the state’s graduation requirements for students with disabilities.  Our Special Education Parent Advisory Committee meets four times a year to provide resources and discuss topics relevant to parents of students with disabilities.  The team’s next meeting is set for Thursday, December 5 at 6:00 pm at Goochland Middle School.

Career and Technical Education Renaissance

Beginning in January 2012, Goochland County Public Schools’ Career and Technical Education (CTE) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs received renewed interest and emphasis from county and school leaders. Realizing there were some missed opportunities in the CTE/STEM arena for GCPS students, plans and actions were implemented to increase course offerings at Goochland Middle School and Goochland High School and to build a STEM framework within our three elementary schools.

A survey of GMS/GHS parents and students revealed a desire to have access to a wider range of CTE/STEM courses; as a result, eleven new courses have been added for the 2013-14 school year. Our high school students will now be able to choose from new courses in engineering, computer-assisted drafting (CAD), building construction, introduction to natural resources (agriculture), fashion design, and interior design. Our middle school students will have new choices in in the fields of agriscience, pre-engineering, inventions and innovations, and digital input. Student requests for these new courses has been overwhelming: we have planned for a twenty-six percent increase in the CTE enrollment for the 2013-14 school year.

The enthusiasm and growth in Goochland County Public Schools’ CTE/STEM programs is extraordinary and has created a strong foundation for new initiatives to give our students the 21st century skills necessary for success beyond high school. The next CTE Advisory meeting will take place at 6:00 pm on Monday, October 21 in the school administration building.

Commitment to Gifted Education

We are thrilled to welcome Ms. Raye Rector, Coordinator of Gifted and Federal Programs, to the instructional leadership team. Ms. Rector joins us with extensive experience and expertise in the areas of K-12 gifted programming and federal accountability.

Ms. Rector’s leadership will capitalize on the ongoing work of our Gifted Advisory Committee (GAC) and last year’s accomplishments of Gifted Task Force. The next GAC meeting will take place in the GCPS School Administration Building at 6:00 pm on Thursday, November 14.

The addition of Ms. Rector will help bolster the division’s focus on gifted programming, opportunities for academic acceleration, comprehensive enrichment services, and Title I programming.

Additionally, we have added a Secondary Gifted Advisor role to the division’s formal teacher-leadership team. This position is designed to serve as both a liasaon and advocate for gifted students and programming in grades 6-12. This year’s Secondary Gifted Advisor is Mrs. Erin Yearout-Patton: eyearoutpatton@glnd.k12.va.us.

Division Curriculum Sites

We are also happy to let our families know that our secondary curriculum site is up and available to the public. We opened our elementary site last fall and spent last year preparing a parallel site for our 6-12 courses. Please know that resources like these are never finished. Adjustments in state and local curriculum, refinement of instructional pacing, updates to resources, identification of division and community needs, and response to those needs result in the dynamic nature of such resources.

The sites are designed to provide students and families with a broad curricular guide. Specific content questions should continue to be addressed with your child’s teachers.

GCPS Elementary Curriculum Site: https://sites.google.com/a/glnd.k12.va.us/elementary-curriculum/

GCPS Secondary Curriculum Site: https://sites.google.com/a/glnd.k12.va.us/secondary/

Again, our team is here to serve our school community in the ongoing development of the strongest instructional programming possible. We wish your family the very best in the coming school year, and we look forward to our continued partnership.

Best Regards

Leadership from both the county and schools, staff, community members, school board members and county supervisors gathered Wednesday afternoon to commemorate the grand opening of the newly purchased and renovated Transportation and Maintenance Center in Oilville, VA.

New Transportation Facility Press Release PDF.

Originally proposed by citizen, “Buzz” Coe, the concept of purchasing the facility was discussed by both the school and county boards and eventually a proposal was developed by the school division leadership.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was set up in the front entrance to the new facility.

 

The ribbon was cut by school and county board chairmen, JD Wright and Ken Peterson, both of whom joined Transportation Director, Betty Thurston, and superintendent, James Lane, in sharing comments during the ceremony.

I have to fight my emotions up here right now, “remarked Thurston as she briefly told the story of the transition. “We have waited a long, long time to be in a facility like this.” Thurston and others echoed Dr. Lane’s sentiments, giving tribute to the collaborate team approach that both she and Maintenance Supervisor, Sonny Turner, and orchestrated with their respective departments to realize the move during a busy opening of school.

The facility is beautiful, spacious, and professional – exactly what our excellent employees deserve. We look forward to many years of service to the division from this new location.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NAACP hosted its annual Freedom Fund Banquet at the Quioccasin Baptist Church in Richmond this past weekend. The event’s theme was “We Shall Not Be Moved,” and current branch treasurer and former Goochland Christmas Mother Jane Delores Allen-Bowles was honored.

Assistant Superintendent, Steve Geyer and GMS principal, Jenn Smith, pictured below with county supervisor, Susan Lascollett, and treasurer, Pam Johnson, enjoyed the event.

Joe Fowler has been recognized with a Gold Star Teaching Award, indicating a minimum of a 90% pass rate on the WISE Financial Literacy certification test. Joe and other Gold Star Teachers from around the state will be honored at the annual MoneyPOWER Conference for Financial Literacy in New York City this November.
Congratulation to Joe and Mr. Newman. Thank you for the excellent experience you provide to the students of this great county!