Please join us in congratulating two GHS students,  J.T. Massey and Meghan Edwards, who were offered spots in the Cochrane Summer Economics Institute this summer at The Collegiate School.  This an amazing opportunity for these two students, who were selected as two of only 35 rising seniors from the Greater Richmond area to participate in the five week work/study internship program.

During the first week of the program, students will experience classroom instruction in economic principles and basic business concepts, team-building and networking activities, and interaction with successful local entrepreneurs. Following the classroom portion of the Institute, a four week internship with a local business or non-profit begins. Interns become familiar with various departments and functions of the host organization, and are given projects for which they are responsible.

Since 1977, the Cochrane Summer Economics Institute has provided opportunities for over 1,000 students from 13 area high schools. Over 200 local businesses have participated in the Institute.

For more information about this outstanding opportunity, please contact GHS Counselor, Beth Fowler.

The GHS Dance Department invites you to the Senior Solo Recital on Friday, March 28th at 6:30 pm (Free Admission). All seniors enrolled in the dance department will be performing a solo.

Please come out and support these students and experience the fruit of their hard work!

Alas!  It appears that the inclement snow weather may be finally behind us.  Unfortunately, due to the fact that we closed school on March 17 and 18, we have to make-up about 11 more hours of instruction to be in compliance with the law at GES.

The school board and I discussed this issue publicly in our meeting on March 25. Additionally, we have been discussing the situation with our leadership team.  Since we have already added 7 make-up days and extended our school year, it is our hope to create a schedule that does not require additional days.  The board decided not to act on this matter in order to gain more input from our families and to make certain that the storm we had last week did not require additional closures.

Our Proposal

At the school board meeting on April 8, we plan to propose an additional 20 minutes each day for the remainder of the year at GES only.  We have asked Mrs. McCay to work with her team to outline a proposal for adjusting the schedule in a manner that is most beneficial to students and families. Our proposal will be to add 10 minutes to the start and 10 to the dismissal of each day at GES beginning April 21st, accordingly:

  • GES start time: 8:10 AM
  • GES dismissal: 3:25 PM

Why GES Only?

Our principals have indicated that they continue to be concerned about needing more instructional time at all schools; however, due to the fact that we are running after-school tutoring programs at all schools for the remainder of the year, we are reaching the students that need additional support heading into our “testing season.”

This issue was discussed thoroughly during the most recent school board meeting, but essentially GES had been observing a shorter day all along. Due to traffic concerns in the mornings on Route 6 (which we have since resolved), GES had been asked years ago to dismiss earlier than the other schools. The extraordinary number of missed days this year have impacted GES differently simply because GES had fewer instructional hours to begin with.

Our recent plans to regain the lost time brought all schools into compliance, but the March 17 and 18 days left GES with a deficit of about 11 hours.

We deliberated this issue extensively. We considered all options, including adding time evenly at all elementary schools, adding time in the afternoon only, using days at spring break, etc. Ultimately we asked Mrs. McCay to lead the GES staff in establishing a recommendation that would bring GES into compliance. Given all considerations, our decision is to recommend the additional time at GES only for the remainder of the year, since the other schools are already in compliance.

What About the Waiver?

Many parents and teachers have asked us why we did not apply for a waiver to the state board of education.  Essentially, we were notified that our request would likely be denied because we had not taken days from Spring Break (even though we were credited for considering additional days in June) and had not considered weekend dates.  Until we have exhausted all other options, we would likely not be approved.  It is important to note that the state board has only ever approved one request and it was for one day.

Your Feedback is Critical!

I know these decisions are difficult, but we want your feedback prior to approval on April 8.  Parents, please feel free to contact me directly, reply to the blog, or email a school board member.  Faculty/Staff, we will continue to discuss this at our weekly leadership meetings, so please make sure your principal knows the feelings or concerns from your team about this proposal and/or feel free to contact me directly.

Let’s all hope this is truly the end and that we have an excellent year of weather next year! As a side note, our school board is also approving the calendar for next school year on April 8 and we have built in many more snow days.  Please review the draft in the board agenda packet (available Thursday, April 3) and let us know what you think!

These images certainly don’t reflect what we typically think of when we think of students taking a test:

GMS students hard at work on their Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA) in science class

RES fourth graders begin the initial steps of their recent IPA in science and math

As part of the division’s Balanced Assessment Project, students are being introduced to formal “Integrated Performance Assessments” (IPAs). GCPS considers IPAs to be an activity requiring students to demonstrate knowledge, understanding, skills, creativity and competencies through the creation of a product, either in groups or individually. IPAs allow students to synthesize and apply their learning to authentic contexts across subject areas, while providing teachers with authentic measures of student performance.

Teams of teachers have been working since last spring developing IPAs for grades 3-8. They were introduced to students over the past several weeks.

(from l to r) Jennifer Gates/RES, Beth Ferguson/RES, Joe Beasley/GES, Krystle Demas/GES, Zarina Singh/BES

(from l to r) Jennifer Cosby/GES, Laura Hatcher/RES, Amy Spoonhower/GMS

Here’s some recent feedback from our team:

They were all so very engaged, I absolutely loved seeing them so focused on the task … so much creativity and they had so much freedom. Not one of my 5th grade students missed the mark on this IPA.Jennifer Cosby, 5th Grade/GES

With this being the first time, we can only imagine that our students will become better problem solvers, critical thinkers, and team players. Mrs. Johnston and I look forward to seeing the progression as we move forward.Zarina Singh, 4th Grade/BES

This has been an excellent experience for our students. We plan to share with them the “glows” and “grows” associated with the products we received this winter. This effort in modeling stellar performance, while also providing developmental feedback, is one that will be incorporated into our status quo for communicating and improving student performance.Amy Spoonhower, Science/GMS

The idea here is that students learn through inquiry and not rote tasks/memorization. We must foster this style of learning early in their academic careers and expect that it will continue through high school in order for our students to be best prepared for college and/or career. Problem solvers, thinkers, and team players are the types of citizens we are trying to develop.Beth Ferguson, 4th Grade/RES

My students loved the idea of being able to work together to produce a product. They had great feedback and really enjoyed being able to complete a project start to finish. They learned a lot about time management and teamwork! They recalled a lot of information and I was so impressed with what they created!Krystle Demas, 4th Grade/GES

The 5th grade teachers really liked the RAFT format (with SOL 5.4 Matter content) that was chosen for our IPA. The students did a FANTASTIC job on their performance assessment and actually enjoyed the experience — they did not necessarily view it as an “assessment.” Our team was very pleased with everything, and we plan on doing more and more IPAs over the course of the school year.Laura Hatcher, 5th Grade/RES

We’ll be asking our students to reflect on their experience with the division’s Integrated Performance Assessments as well.

It’s been thrilling to work with SHWGroup Architects on the designs for the renovations to the specialty center. The renovated building will house several Career & Technical programs as well as the Early Childhood and IT Department programs.

The firm will provide an update to the school board during its workshop on March 25th. I encourage all interested persons to attend or participate via the live streaming broadcast to hear about the development of this exciting project.

Sonny Turner, Tim Greenway and Bruce Watson look on as the architect sketches design for the entrance to the forthcoming renovated CTE center.

We are thrilled to announce that Amie Potter has been appointed Interim Assistant Principal of Goochland Middle School, a position that will be temporarily vacant when Mrs. East takes her maternity leave. “I am confident that Amie will be an invaluable asset to GMS and will do an exemplary job in this role!” stated GMS principal, Jenn Smith.

Amie joined the GCPS team in 2009 and currently serves as the coordinator of GIST (Goochland Instructional Support Team) at Randolph and Goochland Elementary schools, where she collaborates with teachers to develop instructional strategies and interventions to support student learning. Prior to her work with GIST, she taught Kindergarten and First grades at Randolph Elementary School. She has served as the elementary summer school principal and has contributed to a variety of school-based and division-wide initiatives, including the division’s balanced assessment committee, coordination of the division’s teacher mentorship program, as well as having served as the division’s teacher leader for first grade.

To ensure a smooth transition, we anticipate Amie to begin shadowing Mrs. East within the next couple of weeks.

Please join me in welcoming Mrs. Potter!

[from left to right] Andrea Cachina (GES), Sara DeLong (GES), Betsy Alvis (GES), Libby Routson (GES), Jamie-Ellen Spessard (RES), Kim Wilson (RES), Tim Greenway (GHS), Rhonda Kass (GMS), and Tom Case (GMS)

Here’s the best definition of Children’s Engineering I’ve seen:

Preparing the students of today to become productive citizens of the future requires our educational system to promote life-long learners who are able to work together to solve realistic problems and develop a basic understanding of the natural and humanly modified world around them.

Information presented in a familiar and mind-engaging context leads to greater understanding and retention, as compared to memorization of facts in isolation. Research indicates that retention is greatest when students are actively engaged, put their knowledge into immediate practice, and become “teachers” of other students. Children’s Engineering activities directly address these issues.

Over the past six and a half months, nine of our teachers have participated as students in James Madison University’s 3-credit graduate class in Children’s Engineering. They’ve worked hard to become experts in designing and delivering classroom instruction centered on the principles in the definition above.

GCPS hosted this course on-site in Goochland and deferred much of the associated cost. Instructional approaches that focus on student engagement, critical thinking, creativity, and deep learning are significant priorities reflected in the division’s recently-adopted strategic plan.

Congratulations to this dedicated team of nine. Thank you for your investment in our school community!