For Immediate Release: July 30, 2019 Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, | Virginia Department of Education: Charles Pyle,, (804) 371-2420

Governor Northam Awards High School Innovation Planning Grants

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced the award of high school innovation grants to thirteen school divisions to develop or implement programs that promote Virginia’s 5 C’s: critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship while preparing students for careers and postsecondary education. The grants are for the 2019-2020 school year. Eight school divisions received initial planning grants, while five divisions were awarded funding to support implementation this fall of previously planned innovative programs.

“Modernizing instructional approaches in our schools helps to improve educational outcomes and adapt to the needs of a 21st-century economy,” said Governor Northam. “These grants will allow our teachers to design innovative programs that pair classroom learning with the professional skills and experiences required for success after high school, regardless of whether Virginia students are college bound or plan to enter the workforce.”

Buchanan County, Fauquier County, Franklin County, and Goochland County will each receive $50,000 first-year innovation planning grants. Charles City County, Halifax County, Henrico County, and Mecklenburg County will share a fifth $50,000 grant. The proposed innovative high school programs are as follows:

  • Buchanan County — Buchanan County will develop a high school curriculum incorporating blended, multidisciplinary courses and career-exploration opportunities, including job shadowing and internships. Project-oriented instruction at all county high schools and the Buchanan County Career, Technology & Higher Learning Center will fuse the arts, social sciences, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), writing and research, and community service.
  • Design Virginia High School Innovation Network (Halifax, Henrico, Mecklenburg, and Charles City counties) — Network divisions will focus on college, career, and community readiness to prepare students for post-secondary experiences. Innovations include integrating instruction in multiple content areas with practical application and providing internships and apprenticeships for students in the following high schools: Halifax County High in Halifax County; Bluestone High and Park View High in Mecklenburg County; Charles City High in Charles City County; and Highland Springs High and J.R. Tucker High in Henrico County.
  • Goochland County — Goochland County will develop a project-based, interdisciplinary program at Goochland High to give students an individualized approach to learning through career and technical education academies focusing on health and public safety, communications, agricultural and natural resources, STEM, business and marketing, and manufacturing and construction. Planned innovations include competency-based assessment of student progress, virtualization of student learning, and senior capstone projects.
  • Fauquier County — Fauquier County will provide teachers at Liberty High with autonomy to present interdisciplinary instruction affording students opportunities to apply content knowledge through authentic, real-world projects. Students will take part in a school wide service-learning project and forge strong community and higher education partnerships connecting juniors and seniors with mentors to ensure engagement.
  • Franklin County — Franklin County will create personalized competency-based learning environments at Franklin County High to allow for accelerated completion of state graduation requirements through virtual classes, integrated instruction, and flexible scheduling. The planned innovations include a health science career pathway as a model for future additional career pathways.

“I congratulate these divisions for their vision in designing innovative programs to prepare students for successful transitions from high school to college or the workforce,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane. “I also want to thank the businesses in these communities for their willingness to partner with schools and open their doors to students. This type of collaboration will ensure that our students will have readily accessible opportunities to align their skills and personal interests by exploring career paths and work-based learning experiences that prepare them for a successful future beyond high school.”

Fairfax County, Louisa County, Manassas Park, Radford, and Rockbridge County were each awarded $50,000 high school program implementation grants as follows:

  • Fairfax County — Justice High will implement a curriculum to meet the instructional needs of English learners with little formal education while providing these students with opportunities for mentoring, career exploration, and internships. The instructional program focuses on literacy, numeracy, and workforce readiness.
  • Louisa County — Louisa County High’s Make a Difference Project will create three pathways for students to enter the teaching profession. Participants will have opportunities to work directly with students (ages 3-5) in the Little Lions Learning Lab, which is housed on the high school campus. Participating Louisa High students will also have the opportunity to complete college credit courses and earn child development credentials.
  • Manassas Park — Manassas Park High will expand and streamline several existing programs to improve outcomes for English learners and students with little formal education. Through its Creative Opportunities at Manassas Park to Achieve Student Success program, students who otherwise might not graduate or acquire English and other foundational skills necessary for success after high school will have customized pathways for achieving their educational and employment goals.
  • Radford — Radford High will continue its three-year transformation from a traditional secondary school into an integrated program that combines core academics with STEM, career and technical education, and training in cybersecurity. The program emphasizes inquiry-based learning and real-world experiences to engage students and promote 21st-century skills, such as collaboration and creativity.
  • Rockbridge County — Rockbridge County High will implement the Solutions STEM Academy offering students career paths in 21st-century agriculture, energy and power, and environmental technology. The academy will feature flexible scheduling and emphasize problem solving, cross-curricular and project-based learning, and teamwork.

“Virginia is leading the way in transforming the high school experience,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “These grants will help students receive relevant instruction and experiences that expose them to in-demand field and equip them to succeed after graduation,”

The 2018 General Assembly authorized up to $500,000 in competitive grants in 2019 for school divisions to plan high school program innovations approved by the Virginia Department of Education, or to implement previously approved plans. The legislature defined the essential elements of high school program innovation as including the following: student centered learning, with progress based on proficiency; “real-world” connections aligned with local workforce needs and emphasizing transitions to college or career or both; and varying models for educator supports and staffing.

It is hard to believe that we have been out of school for seven weeks!  Summer is flying by! In just over three weeks, we will begin the 2019-2020 school year, and we are working feverishly to make preparations for the start of another successful year.

GCPS Continues to Lead the Way

Team Goochland continues to shine as leaders in the Commonwealth and on a national level.  Earlier this summer, Dr. Andy Armstrong, our Executive Director for Business Operations, gave a presentation at the Virginia is for Learners Education Equity Summer Institute regarding his research associated with equity and the Advanced Placement (AP) high school exam.  At the Virginia School Boards Association’s Conference on Education this week, Dr. Steve Geyer, Assistant Superintendent, and I shared our division’s work to assess student learning through a balanced approach that focuses on growth over achievement and utilizes authentic performance measures in addition to traditional assessments to gauge student learning  Dr. Armstrong also shared his research at this conference. Additionally, Dr. John Hendron, our division’s Director of Innovation and Strategy, spent several days honing his skills as an Apple Distinguished Educator at an event held last week in Maryland.

Summer Programming

Learning does not stop during the summer.  Through a variety of programs this year, we have worked to keep students engaged in their academic experience. In addition to STEM Camp, we added another enrichment experience for our students:  Fine Arts Camp. Elementary students had the opportunity to experience the arts in a variety of ways, including the performing arts, visual arts, and musical arts.

Mr. Burch teachers students at the GCPS Summer Fine Arts Camp

Our elementary summer school students experienced a project based approach that supported core content with engaging activities.  This allowed students to learn by being actively involved in their academic experience-a far cry from what most of us think about when we hear the words “summer school”.

Reading to Gus at summer school

Students in the middle school applied what they learned during a community service day to give back to the community that has provided so much support to us.  A re-imagined program at the high school, including a blended approach of teacher directed and virtual instruction, resulted in tremendous success rates. I am proud of our students who have put forth tremendous effort this summer!  Thank you, also, to our dedicated staff for seeking strategies to provide our students with a deeper and richer academic experience this summer!

Students helping out at Goochland Cares


Sunshine Food Bus

Our Sunshine Food Bus continues to serve healthy lunches to students and adults throughout our community.  In addition to receiving a meal, students are given a book of their own. I had the pleasure of riding along with our dedicated food service team this past week.  I got to see many of our students and also had the chance to meet many of our citizens. There is a perception that the meals are provided only to students who may qualify for free or reduced price meals during the year.  This is FALSEANY child up to the age of 18 can receive a FREE meal AND a book from the food bus.  The price of an adult meal is only $3 – a great healthy option for parents, grandparents, and caregivers!  We will be running until August 2. Check out the schedule and stop by!

Waiting in line for the Sunshine Food Bus

Facility Improvements

This summer, our athletic department, in collaboration with our facilities and maintenance team, have been working on making improvements to the playing surfaces and playing conditions for our student athletes. At Goochland High School, the football and soccer field has been re-crowned (to assist with drainage) and a new irrigation system has been installed.  New bermuda grass sprigs have been planted. Although the picture shows a brown field, it is now nice and green!  

Rennovation at the Goochland High School football field

A bermuda playing surface has also been installed on the softball field, with the installation of drainage to follow.  The old track surface has been removed and repairs are currently being made to the asphalt. The new track surface will be installed and ready for the track season in the Spring.  From a safety perspective, preparations are being made at Byrd Elementary School to install a generator that will power the entire school should in the event that there is a power failure.  

There is a lot of work that takes place as we close one school year and open another.  Our custodians and maintenance staff are beautifying our halls and campuses, while our administrative staff makes final staffing, scheduling, and programmatic decisions.  Thank you to all of our talented employees for the work that you do to ensure that everything will be ready for our teachers and students in August.

Shiny hallways at Goochland Middle School



As you start to think about the first day of school, please take a moment to confirm your child’s bus route.  Routes for this coming year will be posted in PowerSchool by noon on Thursday, August 8.   PowerSchool allows parents to update their contact information for school and division communications, view attendance and grade information, and view bus information.  Visit PowerSchool to log in.  If you don’t remember your login or password, click on the forgot login or forgot password links.  If you have not created an account, contact your child’s school office for the access id and password to create it.

In addition to PowerSchool, hard copy letters of bus routes and stop information will be mailed, but only to all rising Preschool, Kindergarten, 6th, and 9th grade families on August 8th.  These families can expect these letters to arrive a few days later via US mail.  All other families will need to access PowerSchool or contact their child’s school after August 8 to access bus number and stop information.

Transportation information for both rising 6th grade orientation at GMS and rising 9th grade orientation at GHS will be communicated to those families in the weeks ahead.  Families who wish to request an alternate bus stop for their child because they will be picked up at or getting off of a stop that is not their home address (grandparent, baby sitter, etc.) must apply using this link no later than August 2:  Transportation Alternative Stop Request.

As a part of our division’s ongoing safety initiatives, we will begin to enforce the ordinance that was adopted by the Goochland County Board of Supervisors in June of this past year that permits our school division to levy a fine when a motorist passes a bus while it is stopped and its red lights are flashing.  We have installed cameras on the exterior and on the front windshield of buses on selected routes will help us to enforce the laws that prevent passing our buses.  The sole intent of this initiative is to keep our students safe. I appreciate your attention to our buses while on the road.

Policy Changes

This summer, the Goochland County School Board adopted two different policies that I want to bring to your attention.  During the 2019 General Assembly session, House Bill 2384 and Senate Bill 1295 were passed, requiring all School Boards in the Commonwealth to develop and implement a policy that prohibits the use and distribution of tobacco products and nicotine products on school property and at an off-site school sponsored activities where students are present.  This law and associated School Board Policy (GBEC/JFCH) approved by our Board in June applies to everyone, everywhere on campus, at all times, including school events after regular school hours. I wanted to provide you with advanced notice in case you need to plan accordingly for attending upcoming events this Fall.

In an effort to improve student attendance, the School Board also approved a revision to Policy JED.  This revision to our attendance policy provides the option for a school administrator to implement an attendance improvement plan following a student’s 10th absence, even if the absences have been marked as excused.  Following the 10th absence the school may require families to provide a note from a professional outlining the reasons for the student’s absence from school.  

Mark Your Calendars

Mark your calendars for the many different events that will be taking place as we prepare for the start of school:

  • School Board Meeting:  August 13 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Rising 6th Grade Parent Night:  August 12 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • 9th Grade Orientation:  August 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • 6th Grade Orientation (Eagle Evolution):  August 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Preschool and Kindergarten Orientation:  August 15 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
  • Back to School Night for ALL Schools:  August 15 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • First Day of School”  August 19

I am excited about the start of another year!  Please keep up with all that is happening in our division by following us on Facebook, Twitter (@glndschools) and Instagram (@goochlandschools).  Enjoy the rest of your summer! 

Jeremy Raley, Superintendent