As a follow up to another tragic active shooter incident at a high school near Houston, Texas, I would like to update our community on our efforts in Goochland County to continuously improve the safety of our facilities.  As you may remember from my message in February or may have seen in our School Board presentation in April, securing our facilities, educating our students and staff, and consistently monitoring our progress have always been priorities for our division.  Events of the past few months nationwide have only served to create more urgency in taking action to realize those priorities.

This summer will include some of the most extensive work toward improving facility safety and updating our division procedures for crisis response.  We recently concluded a survey of all division facilities to prepare for summer and fall installation of video monitored key card access as well as door position controls in all schools.  The key card access will provide our division and the Goochland Sheriff’s Office with secure and dynamic facility access, allowing us to establish strict parameters on access and the ability to quickly secure facilities.  Door position controls will be installed on exterior doors at all facilities, and will alert staff immediately in the event of an exterior door being left open. We are also preparing to update and modernize the telephone/intercom system at the secondary complex to enhance communications.  

At our middle and high school, we are working to install a transaction window in the lobby area near the main entrance this summer.  This transaction window will allow our staff and families to more efficiently handle routine transactions at our schools-dropping off items for students, sign in and sign out-while reducing traffic in our office areas and thereby minimizing risk associated with individuals moving past the secure lobby areas of the middle and high schools.  You may have already noticed that our staff now greet all guests and request identification upon arrival at our door buzzer systems in all schools.

A committee of leaders, parents, and law enforcement officials has convened to discuss potential changes to the parking and traffic flow at the secondary complex.  Moving the student parking lot from the back of the school to the front of the school is being discussed as this change will allow for a single point of entry into the school for our students and visitors.  Associated changes for morning and afternoon drop off and pick up are also being reviewed. We recognize the need to improve safety and traffic flow for our community, and we are exploring practical options for improvement in 2018-2019.

We anticipate Board of Supervisors approval of a budget amendment in the weeks ahead that will provide funding to add two new positions to our division that are intended to support student safety.  A full-time counselor will be added to the high school, allowing our division to employ 2 full time counselors at GMS and three full time counselors at GHS to provide vital social-emotional support.  We have also established a full time School Security Officer position that will support all dimensions of safety at the secondary complex. The Goochland Sheriff’s Office is working with us to re-establish the second School Resource Officer position in our division.  We are grateful for the support of our Board of Supervisors, Sheriff’s Office, and all county agencies as we work together to implement meaningful change toward enhanced safety in our division.

In addition to this ongoing and upcoming work, we will update our crisis plan, host tabletop exercises, implement SafeSchools training for division and building leadership, and add safety training to the new teacher induction process this year.  Our newly formed Safety and Facilities Task Force will meet for the first time in June, and their work will be made available to the public for feedback as they meet bimonthly and discuss ongoing concerns and plan for the short and long term future of our safe facilities here in Goochland County Public Schools.

The safety and well-being of our students and our staff is, and will continue to be, a priority for our school division.  Engaged learning and the results our community has come to expect cannot take place without a safe and nurturing school environment.  I will repeat what I mentioned in my February message. 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.  

Thank you, as always, for what you do to support our students and our amazing school division.

Jeremy Raley, Superintendent

 

 

The Virginia Department of Education recently announced that the Goochland County Public Schools Utility/Heavy Construction I and II program has been selected as the Region 1 winner from among 38 high schools in 16 central Virginia school divisions of the 2018 Creating Excellence Program Award.  The Creating Excellence Awards are presented annually to recognize exemplary programs and partnerships that promote excellence in career and technical education.

The GCPS Heavy Equipment Program, taught by Mr. Michael Verrastro, is unique in the Commonwealth, and has worked collaboratively with community organizations and equipment suppliers from around the state to provide students with the opportunity to gain firsthand experience in the operation of heavy equipment.  Students have used their skills to enhance several projects in the division and the county.

“Our heavy equipment program has been a great source of pride for our school division,” said Mr. Bruce Watson, Director of Career and Technical Education.  “The skill of Mr. Verrastro, the enthusiasm of our students, and the support of our business and community partners have allowed us to engage our students in ways that cannot be found in any other school or division”.

Mr. Verrastro demonstrates Heavy Equipment for GES students

Mr. Verrastro demonstrates Heavy Equipment for GES students

 

The GCPS staff will be recognized at an awards luncheon on June 14, hosted by the VDOE Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.  Heavy Equipment is one of many CTE offerings that have distinguished GCPS in creating a balanced experience that engages all students in deeper learning.  

 

 

 

 

On Tuesday, May 1, Goochland County Public Schools held its second Celebration of Excellence at the newly renovated Central High School Cultural and Educational Center to recognize 2018 retirees, Teacher of the Year, Employee of the Year, Team of the Year, and for the first time this year, Volunteer and Rookie of the Year.  The Celebration of Excellence featured food prepared and served by Goochland High Culinary Arts students and GCPS Food Service, and plaques were made by our GCPS Career and Technical Education Department.

The Goochland Education Foundation joined Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Raley in presenting awards to the evening’s distinguished recipients:

  • Liz Alford, Goochland High Teacher of the Year
  • Patrick Gordon, Goochland Middle Teacher of the Year
  • Simone Jones, Byrd Elementary Teacher of the Year
  • Jaime Sprouse, Randolph Elementary Teacher of the Year
  • Kelley Taylor, Goochland Elementary Teacher of the Year 

Ms. Kelley Taylor, 1st grade teacher at Goochland Elementary School, was selected as the Goochland County Public Schools 2018 Teacher of the Year.  She will be considered with teachers from across the Commonwealth for the honor of being the 2018 Mary Bicouvaris Virginia Teacher of the Year.

The GCPS Employee of the Year is Instructional Technology Resource Coach Ms. Krystle Demas. 

The GCPS Team of the Year is the GHS Counseling Team, which includes Dr. Beth Fowler, Mr. Doug Getter, and Ms. Ashton Guza.

The inaugural Rookie of the Year is Ms. Katie Schihl, Special Education teacher from Goochland Middle School.

GCPS Volunteer of the Year is Dr. Richard Carchman, for his service in all our schools, especially at Byrd Elementary.

Goochland Public Schools retirees Ms. Kim Bachmann, Mrs. Deborah Blackburn, Mrs. Margaret Dickerson, Ms. Linda Drake, Mr. Bryan Gordon, Ms. Deborah Riggan, and Ms. Tina Taylor account for over 140 years of experience in Goochland County Public Schools.

Ms. Katie Schihl, 2018 Rookie of the Year

Ms. Katie Schihl, 2018 Rookie of the Year

GHS Counseling Team of the Year

GHS Counseling Team, Team of the Year (L-R, Dr. Beth Fowler, Dr. Raley, Ms. Ashton Guza, Mr. Doug Getter

2018 Employee of the Year

Mrs. Krystle Demas, Instructional Technology Resource Coach, 2018 Employee of the Year

Dr. Richard Carchman, 2018 Volunteer of the Year

Dr. Richard Carchman, 2018 Volunteer of the Year

Ms. Kelley Taylor, 2018 GCPS Teacher of the Year

Ms. Kelley Taylor, 2018 GCPS Teacher of the Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

At their monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 1, the Goochland County Board of Supervisors swore in Mr. John L. Lumpkins, Jr. as the Supervisor for District 3.  With Mr. Lumpkins’ departure from his position as Chair of the Goochland County School Board to assume his Supervisor position, the School Board met on Wednesday, May 2 to conduct the business of School Board re-organization and planning to fill the vacancy for District 3 representative to the School Board.

Mr. John D. Wright, District 5 representative, was unanimously approved by the Board to serve as Chair, a position he assumes immediately. With his approval as Chair, Mrs. Beth Hardy, District 4 representative, was selected as the Vice Chair.  Mr. Michael Payne, District 1 representative, will now serve as the alternate to Mr. Wright on the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School Board.

The School Board approved the following calendar for the appointment of the District 3 representative, who will serve in the position until a special election in November of 2018:

  • The Tuesday, May 8 School Board meeting has been moved to Tuesday, May 15, beginning with open meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the County Administration Building Board Room located at 1800 Sandy Hook Road, Room 250, Goochland, VA 23063.
  • On Tuesday, May 15, School Board members will review applications for the interim board member during closed session.  All applications must be submitted by 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, May 14 to Diane Bennett, School Board Clerk, in order to be considered.  Only individuals submitting completed applications will be considered. Applications are available online at this link.
  • Applicants will be given the opportunity to address the Board during public comment at the Tuesday, May 15 School Board Meeting.  The Board will not be responding to candidates who address the Board regarding their interest in this interim position during this public comment session.
  • A special School Board meeting will be held on Thursday, May 30 to deliberate about interested applicants and appoint the District 3 Board representative.
  • The successful applicant will be appointed on May 30 by the School Board and will be sworn in before the first meeting with the Board on June 12.

Any questions about the process can be directed to Ms. Diane Bennett, Clerk of the School Board of Goochland County at dbennett@glnd.k12.va.us or 804-556-5630.