Yesterday’s tragedy in a Parkland, Florida high school is surely prompting questions from all of us-parents, teachers, students, and everyone in our Goochland Family.  In Goochland we talk regularly about the strength of our community, our support of each other in times of success and times of challenge, and the value we place on providing our students, the children of this community, a safe and inviting space to learn every day.  We take measures at every level to ensure that our students are safe and that we are able to respond in the event of an incident that threatens our safety, whether from natural causes due to weather, threats made electronically, or an incident of violence inside our schools or on our campuses.  These incidents can happen anywhere.  This nation’s most notable active shooter incidents in the United States-Columbine, Colorado, Newtown, Connecticut, and now Parkland, Florida-took place in high performing schools within upper middle class communities.  No one can assume that they are immune to school violence.

The safety and well-being of our students and our staff is, and will continue to be, a priority for our school division.  We prepare for a variety of incidents in our schools on a regular basis in Goochland County, and we have maintained and supplemented technology in our buildings to assist in security.  You are likely familiar with our monthly fire drills, semi-annual tornado drills, and our annual earthquake drill.  You may be less familiar with our drills that we practice in the event that we are faced with a situation involving an active shooter, which take place twice a year.  Our active shooter drill procedures involve reducing exposure to our students and staff if we are ever faced with a situation like this.  The Goochland Sheriff’s Office supports us regularly, both in the administration of training and through the daily presence of our dedicated Goochland High School Resource Officer, Ryan Leabough.  We worked last spring with the Sheriff’s Office to conduct simulation “tabletop” exercises with school and division leadership to walk through potential scenarios to inform our practice.  These exercises have guided us in targeting training for specific personnel, such as our clerical staff at our schools who are charged with monitoring entry and exit traffic at our buildings.  We will conduct these tabletop exercises again this spring.

Just two weeks ago, I was joined by staff at all of our schools to conduct unannounced safety visits.  During these checks, we evaluated interior and exterior door security, wearing of badges by all staff, and visibility into classrooms.  Last year we installed devices on doors at our secondary complex that will allow us to quickly lock and secure our classroom doors if ever needed.  Seconds can make a huge difference in an actual event.  Since fire code prevents these devices from being installed in our older elementary schools, we require that door handles are in the locked position during instruction at our elementary schools.  

In September, GCPS sent a team of staff to the Department of Criminal Justice Services Threat Assessment training, to update our threat assessment protocol to align with law enforcement standards.  We implement a threat assessment process in the event of threatening language received verbally, electronically, or otherwise to evaluate the threat and provide action depending on the nature of the situation.  

As of last year, all of our schools are equipped with monitored entry systems that are controlled by school staff.  We upgraded those systems recently at both Byrd and Randolph.  This summer we will prepare to install key card access to all of our buildings as a capital improvement project.  This will allow for increased control and monitoring of access to our facilities.  In our transportation department, we have installed camera systems on all buses in the past year, and we hope to have active GPS tracking operational in the Fall.  We also recently supplemented the existing surveillance cameras at the middle/high complex, and completed installation of the Informacast system at elementary schools, which allows for central control of public address and bell functions from remote locations.  This system is currently being expanded to the middle/high complex this summer.

Perhaps the most important part of safety is one that does not come in the form of training, technology, or devices:  the relationships that our staff have with our students and their families.  For every tragedy that has taken place in America’s schools, hundreds more have surely been prevented because of staff members who are committed to knowing students and showing they care.  Having a culture of support in our division, a culture in which our students and families know that they can reach out to us with any concern, is one of our most effective measures to ensure safety.  Please discuss with your child the importance of telling an adult if they ever feel threatened, witness threatening behavior, or have any concern about safety for themselves or others.  We are always available to respond.  Please also know that we welcome reports from parents and community members as well.  Call our school counselors or principals at any time if you have any concerns.  

I know, as a parent and as an educator, that no list of processes, cameras, or devices is ever enough to make us 100 percent confident that we will always be able to avoid the threat of school violence.  It would be unwise to ever assume that our safety is 100% guaranteed-we must always work to adapt and to prepare for the worst, no matter how great our division is.  Please continue to keep the families that have been affected by this terrible tragedy in Parkland, Florida in your thoughts and prayers, and take the time to talk to your child about it as you feel is best for your family.  Thank you, as always, for what you do to support our students and our amazing school division.

Jeremy Raley, Superintendent

There has been a lot of focus in recent weeks on instructional calendars, weather delays & closings, our proposed budget, and the active flu season.  With so much happening around us, it is important that we take time to recognize the awesomeness of our students and staff!   

At our upcoming School Board meeting on Tuesday, we will be recognizing many of the accomplishments of our school division.  Our students and staff continue to amaze me!  The Lego Robotics teams from Byrd Elementary School and Randolph Elementary School will be recognized for their participation in the state competition in the fall.  The School Board will be recognizing Victoria Harris from Goochland Elementary School, this year’s GCPS spelling bee champion.  To round out our student recognitions, J.J. Lopez, our School Board’s student representative, will celebrate the accomplishments of our volleyball, football, and cross country student-athletes who earned all-state honors in the fall.

Victorian Harris, GCPS Spelling Bee Champion

On Tuesday, we will also recognize several of our staff who have authored articles that have been published in national publications.  Dr. Beth Fowler and Dr. Stacey Rainbolt authored an article in Educational Administration Quarterly regarding restorative discipline practices, while  Bea Leiderman’s article on collaboration on group projects was published in EdSurge.  Debbie White, our Director of Finance, also has an article featured in a national publication.  Her article on school division budgeting can be found in School Business Affairs.  Also recognized at the February School Board meeting will be Joe Fowler, who earned the Division 1A, 2A, and Private School Football Coach of the Year, and Shelliotte Lawson from Randolph Elementary, who completed a rigorous process to become a National Board Certified Teacher.  Finally we will recognize Joe Beasley and Amanda Steeley, who will serve as role models for the Virginia Department of Education for their work in using inclusive practices in their classroom at Goochland Elementary School.  Wow!  What an impressive group!

February is a month of important recognitions in schools nationwide.  We recognized our school counselors this week for National School Counselor’s Week for their tireless work with all of our students.  Our school counselors connect with every child, every year and cover everything from scheduling and course requests to crisis situations to college applications and much more.  This month, we also recognize our School Board and Diane Bennett, our School Board Clerk, as part of the Virginia School Board Association School Board and Board Clerk Appreciation activities.  The five members of our School Board are deeply committed to ensuring that GCPS continues to distinguish itself as an innovative and responsible division.  Their thoughtful support of our work in teaching and learning confirms that.  Thank you Goochland County School Board!

February is also Career and Technical Education month.  The highlight of our CTE recognition took place in late January at our annual Conundrum Day, where students and teachers from across the district spent their weekend morning working to solve complex problems with limited resources and teamwork.  At the high school’s curriculum fair last night, students had the opportunity to learn more about our new Academy for Architecture and Construction.  The Goochland County Public Schools continue to lead the way in preparing students to be career ready!  

With spring sports tryouts coming up in a few weeks we want to celebrate the accomplishments of our winter teams who are having another banner season. The Goochland High School and Goochland Middle School boys and girls basketball teams have had a great year!  Our boys basketball team at GHS has locked down the #1 seed in the James River district tournament, which will begin this weekend.  Our GHS girls team is the #2 seed in heir tournament.  Goochland will be the host site for the Region A tournament that will begin on Friday, February 16.   Our JV girls and boys have also had another banner year, with both finishing in the top 2 of the district.  Our swim team will travel next weekend to Swim RVA for the 2A state swim meet, and our wrestling team ended their season after a strong second place finish in the James River District tournament.

Goochland High School wrestling

In fine arts, I had a chance to attend the sold out production of Honk Jr. at Goochland Middle School and was beyond impressed with the skills of our cast and crew and the professional, first-rate job of GHS student directors Jack Paone and Heather Carter.  Congratulations to all of our student athletes and performers for a great winter.

Goochland Middle School performs Honk, Jr.

Please take a look at my latest blog entries at http://leadership.goochlandschools.org/ for details about our 2018-2019 operating budget.  You can also find details about the many events taking place this month to celebrate Black History Month in all of our schools.  Don’t forget that Monday, February 19 is now a make up school day.

Continue to stay up to date with our division’s events by liking our Facebook page and following us on Twitter (@glndschools) and Instagram (@goochlandschools).  Stay current with all of the great things happening in our schools at our division leadership blog at http://leadership.goochlandschools.org.  We are looking forward to seeing you at GCPS events in the near future. Have a great weekend!

 

 

The Virginia Department of Education recently announced that National School Counseling Week will be recognized February 5-9, 2018.  Sponsored by the American School Counseling Association, representatives state: “School counselors work with all students to remove barriers to learning by addressing academic concerns, social/emotional issues and career awareness for postsecondary options.  Comprehensive school counseling programs help to increase student achievement and are a vital part of the educational process for all students.”

Our team of school counselors is one of the very best anywhere!

(Their schedules are so full, we couldn’t get all eight of them in the same place at the same time for a photograph!)

(L to R) Dr. Beth Fowler, GHS; Mr. Doug Getter, GHS; Ms. Beth Curfman, GES; Dr. Stacey Rainbolt, GMS; Ms. Sarah Ambrose, RES | Not Pictured: Ms. Kathy Albert, BES; Ms. Ashton Guza, GHS; Ms. Roberta Watson, GMS

Kindergarten registration for Goochland County Public Schools (and all of the Richmond metro region) will take place Thursday, April 19, 2018, 8AM-4PM.

 

Byrd Elementary School

2704 Hadesnville-Fife Road, Goochland

(804) 556-5380

Goochland Elementary School

3150 River Road West, Goochland

(804) 556-5321

Randolph Elementary School

1552 Sheppard Town Road, Crozier

(804) 556-5385

 

Please find additional information regarding kindergarten registration here: English version  |  Spanish version