Dr. Jeremy Raley, Superintendent of Goochland County Public Schools, was joined yesterday by members of the GCPS Executive Leadership team and Mrs. Cyndy Brown, Executive Director of the Goochland Education Foundation, at all Goochland schools to surprise the recipients of the 2nd annual Goochland Education Foundation Strategic Innovation Grants.  These grants total nearly $15,000 dollars, including funding from between $400 and $2700 for 12 separate grants, representing each school in the division.  Goochland Strategic Innovation Grants were awarded based on a rigorous selection process that involved a committee of school, foundation, and community representatives.  2017 grant awards and descriptions can be found at this link.

“We were beyond excited about the response we received this year to our call for faculty and staff to apply”, said Dr. Raley, Superintendent.  “The Goochland Education Foundation worked hard to provide us with even more resources this year to recognize the work that our innovative teachers are doing to plant the seeds for continued deeper learning in every classroom, and we cannot wait to showcase this work at our 2nd annual Strategic Innovation Grant symposium in June”.    Mrs. Cyndy Brown, Goochland Education Foundation Executive Director, is excited to see the grants in action this year.  “I am thrilled with the way the teachers responded to the Goochland Education Foundation’s challenge of ‘taking risks’ in order to reach new heights in innovative educational practices. All of the proposals reflected the GEF’s vision of visionary educational experiences that will help prepare the students for living and working in a fast-changing technological 21st century.”

The Goochland Strategic Innovation Grants will culminate in a professional development symposium in June of 2018, where winners of these grants will come together to share what they learned, collaborate on new ideas focused around deeper learning, and share how their risk-taking can be implemented in regular instructional programming.

 

Yesterday the Virginia Department of Education released accreditation results for schools and school divisions of the Commonwealth of Virginia, noting that 86 percent of Virginia’s 1,823 public schools were rated as fully accredited for the 2017-2018 school year based on performance on the 2016-2017 Virginia SOL tests.  65 of 132 divisions statewide included all schools designated as fully accredited for 2017-2018.

Goochland County Public Schools continues its strong track record of having each of its five schools fully accredited by the State of Virginia.  State accreditation is based on student pass rates on Virginia’s Standards of Learning (SOL) tests in English, mathematics, history, and science, as well as the division’s graduation rate.  GCPS exceeded each of the state’s five overall benchmarks by an average of 15%.  Goochland County Public Schools also has the distinction of receiving fully accredited status in all schools for the 11th consecutive year, sharing the distinction with only 10 of the 132 divisions in the Commonwealth.

While this distinction is determined by traditional achievement measures, school leaders believe it’s the division’s focus on what’s best for students that has led to the success.  “Our mission to maximize the potential of every learner is at the heart of everything we do,” said Dr. Jeremy Raley, Superintendent.  “Accountability is important, but Goochland is far beyond a singular focus on minimum proficiency tests – and that’s really what the state’s SOL assessments are.  We’re proud of the tradition of excellence in Goochland and we embrace the challenges of continuous improvement.  These results are one of the many indicators of the excellence that is pervasive in our school division.  There are many ingredients that go into accomplishing these results.  The key ingredients are all of our hard working and dedicated employees who strive every day to meet the academic needs of all of our division’s learners and a supportive community that places a significant value on the importance of education”.

Goochland’s overall performance and accreditation rating was the result of a division-wide portfolio of strong achievement in many content areas.  Highlights from the division’s Spring 2017 SOL results include:

  • Goochland students out-performed the Virginia state average in SOL pass percentage in all content areas (English, Math, Social Studies, and Science)
  • Goochland’s fifth grade science scores ranked first when compared to fifth grade students from 132 other school divisions in the Commonwealth
  • Goochland’s world geography scores ranked first when compared to other students from 132 other school divisions in the state.
  • Students in Goochland earned the 5th highest SOL pass rate in the Commonwealth
  • Goochland’s reading scores ranked 2nd in the region and 14th in the state
  • Student’s scores in writing, math, and science ranked in the top 25 in the state

Dr. Stephen Geyer, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, described Goochland’s focus on academic optimism as a key to the division’s success.  “Every child’s learning is important, and our school division has created a culture built on academic optimism.  Our belief that every student can be successful and that every student has strengths to celebrate is a primary reason for our continued strong performance.  Moreover, we have remarkable teachers who work incredibly hard every day on behalf of our children and families.”

Despite the school division’s exceptionally strong overall results, team members remain committed to continuing to elevate expectations, as well as to targeting areas of relative weakness.  Raley stated, “While we certainly have a lot to celebrate, we face the same challenges that most school divisions across the state and nation face when it comes to achievement gaps for our African American students.  We have made some great progress in reducing the achievement gap for some of our subgroups with exceptional growth for our students with disabilities.  Even with this growth, we still have more work to do.  We are committed to closing these gaps, while continuing to raise the bar for every student.”

 

This spring Goochland County Public Schools leadership answered the call to “Shadow a Student”, with twelve senior leaders taking a day to walk in the steps of our students throughout the division. The “Shadow a Student Challenge” was developed by the School Retool initiative, a professional development fellowship that “helps school leaders redesign their school culture” toward cultures of deeper learning through creating a community of change (http://shadowastudent.org/).

GCPS leaders, including Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Raley, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Dr. Steve Geyer, and members of senior leadership from operations, instructional technology, finance, CTE, and exceptional education were paired with a student for a day as partners and observers. Staff members rode the bus to school with students, ate lunch, sat in on classes, and discussed the student experience.

Mrs. Debbie White, Director of Finance, spent the day at the Goochland Elementary Preschool Program. “After boarding the bus at Byrd Elementary at 7:45, I spent the day watching the teaching staff work tirelessly to engage each child with their very unique needs and observing how much they cared about each child. The adults were quick to cover for each other whenever it was needed to meet those needs. It is difficult to comprehend just how much work is done for our students unless you walk in their shoes”, she said.

Mr. Andy Armstrong, Executive Director of Business Operations, described his day at Randolph Elementary. “In my 13 years as an administrator, I have spent a lot of time making 30 minute observations, meeting with staff, talking about teaching, and engaging with students, but nothing compares to seeing things from the student perspective the way I did as a shadow”.

 

Above:  Lydia, partner student for Mr. Armstrong at Randolph Elementary

GCPS leaders who participated in the Shadow a Student challenge debriefed about their experiences and continue to integrate their observations into planning for continued deeper learning in Goochland classrooms as defined by School Retool: mastering rigorous academic content, learning how to think critically and solve problems, working collaboratively, communicating effectively, directing one’s own learning, and developing an academic mindset — a belief in one’s ability to grow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Tuesday, May 2, Goochland County Public Schools held its first “Night of Excellence” at the Goochland High cafeteria to recognize 2017 retirees, Teacher of the Year, and for the first time, the Employee and Team of the Year.  The Night of Excellence featured food prepared and served by Goochland High Culinary Arts students and GCPS Food Service, and music was provided by the Goochland High School Jazz Ensemble.  

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

  • Mr. Neil Burch, Goochland High Teacher of the Year
  • Mrs. Jennifer Gates, Randolph Elementary Teacher of the Year
  • Ms. Katie Gill, Goochland Middle Teacher of the Year
  • Mrs. Sarah Smith, Goochland Elementary Teacher of the Year
  • Mrs. Rachel Wiggins, Byrd Elementary Teacher of the Year

Mrs. Jennifer Gates, 4th grade teacher at Randolph Elementary School, was selected as the Goochland County Public Schools 2017 Teacher of the Year.  

Jennifer Gates is joined by Dr. Raley (L) and Mr. Quarles of GEF

Dr. Raley (L) joins Mrs. Gates and Mr. Quarles

The GCPS Employee of the Year is Randolph Elementary Custodian Ms. Nikki Harris.  The GCPS Team of the Year is the Preschool Team, which includes the ECSE and Head Start staff, located at Goochland Elementary.

 Goochland Public Schools retirees Mr. John Dacey, GHS teacher;  Mr. Forrest Henley, Transportation;  Mrs. Martha Wunsh, BES nurse; Ms. Delores Johnson, Custodian; and Mrs. Alva Allen, Secretary account for 130 years of experience in public education, with 125 of those years in Goochland County Public Schools.

 

 

    

 

The Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) has released its 21st annual VSBA Showcases for Success directory, highlighting successful K-12 programs in Virginia’s public schools. Goochland County Public Schools is one of 56 school divisions from across the Commonwealth that has programs featured in the directory. Programs from Goochland County Public Schools are:

Alternate Route to Licensure in Goochland Schools

The path to full licensure for provisionally licensed teachers can be long, time-intensive, and expensive. Goochland County Public Schools created a seminar experience for four CTE teachers and submitted a proposal to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to create an alternative path to licensure.   Once the plan was approved, part one of the plan was implemented in April, and the four teachers met with the instructional team to begin the field practica, professional reading, direct instruction, and collaborative work sessions.   Part two of the program was conducted for five days in June where the teachers engaged in face-to-face instruction and discussions led by experts from within our school system.   The program provided training in human growth and development, curriculum and instruction, instructional design based on data, classroom management, and foundations of education and reading.   

Curriculum and Innovation Teacher Program

GCPS offered four teachers extended contracts to help us develop high-quality, project-based learning experiences for students in grades 3-8 so that their peer teachers could better benefit from having first-class exemplars of PBL that focused on deeper learning.  Deeper learning has been the focus behind our internationally-recognized 1:1 implementation with iPads in grades 3-8. Research has consistently demonstrated that an infusion of new technology without modifications to pedagogy will not deliver increases in student achievement.  By providing teachers a variety of PBL experiences aligned to our own Virginia SOL and the eight standards for high quality project-based learning by the Buck Institute, in combination with professional development and coaching, the work undertaken first in the summer with these teachers is now bringing deeper learning experiences to our students in the elementary and middle-school grades.

Performance Assessment Partnership

Goochland County Public Schools’ Balanced Assessment Project is built on an equilibrium among both assessment purpose (achievement versus growth) and assessment type (traditional versus nontraditional).  Entering the fourth year of our assessment work, we are seeing strong outcomes for students along with positive impacts to day-to-day classroom instruction.  As part of the next evolution of this work, we have established a strong partnership with Chesterfield County Public Schools and Dr. Chris Gareis from William & Mary University in the development of nineteen signature performance assessments that will used K-12 and evaluated cross-divisionally during the 2017-18 school year.  These performance assessments are being developed by teachers and are aimed and measuring “the five Cs” along with content knowledge.  This work represents best practice in terms of the Virginia’s local alternative assessment framework; moreover, it demonstrates one promising approach to providing students, teachers, and parents with a more complete picture of student learning.

The full VSBA Showcases for Success directory is available at www.vsba.org/showcases. It includes division-wide programs, as well as those at elementary, middle, and high school levels. Featured programs highlight successful programs related to Innovative Programs, School Initiatives, and Partnerships.  For more information about the VSBA Showcases for Success, contact Gina Patterson, VSBA executive director, at gina@vsba.org or 434-295-8722.

Over 70 businesses and corporations will be featured at the 2017 Goochland County Public Schools Career Day on Tuesday, March 14 at Goochland High School between 8:30 and 12:00.  Representatives will include various local and national firms and corporations, including CarMax, Capital One, Luck Stone, Carter Equipment, Goochland Animal Clinic, Goochland Fire and EMS, Central Virginia Electrical Contractors Association, Mason & Hanger Architects and Engineers, and more.

The GCPS Career and Technical Education Department has organized this event for four years.  All students grades 6 through 12 will have a chance to explore and interact with representatives from a variety of careers.  

“This is the largest career fair ever for GCPS.  It brings our students-both those who plan to pursue post secondary education and those entering the workforce-exposure to the careers of the 21st century”, said Mr. Bruce Watson, Goochland County Public Schools Director of Career and Technical Education.

This year GCPS will open the Career Fair up to the greater community.  Anyone interested can visit Goochland High during the regular career fair hours of 8:30 to noon.

Goochland High School students James Deloach, Austin Payne, and Jack Williamson have been selected to attend the 2017 SPARK! Hackathon, to take place on January 28 and 29. James, Austin, and Jack were among over 90 applicants from 16 regional schools to apply for places at this year’s Hackathon.

In partnership with Mozilla, St. Anne’s-Belfield School will host the SPARK! Hackathon, a two-day event of learning and making that is open to high school students throughout the region and offers them a unique opportunity to get connected to industry experts and other students who are passionate about changing the world through technology.

A “Hackathon” is described on the SPARK! Website (www.spark.stab.org) as “an event where people come together to collaborate on creating tech that solve real-world problems”. Mozilla, the free-software community and maker of web browser Firefox, is partnering with SPARK! and sending mentors from across the nation to join the event.

James, Austin, and Jack’s interest in coding, computer science, and engineering was nurtured through their work in Programming and CTE courses offered at Goochland High School.   Mrs. Joanne DiTerlizzi work with all three students in the GHS Introduction to Computer Science class, a preparatory class for students brand new to programming. “James, Austin, and Jack are dedicated, hard working students who make special efforts to help other students in class”, says Mrs. DiTerlizzi. “They are great representatives of GHS at the Hackathon”.

Goochland High School was awarded “Blue Star School” status for its exceptional performance on the W!SE Financial Literacy Certification test in 2016. The “Blue Star School” distinction is limited only to schools in which over 75% of students pass the W!SE assessment with an average score of over 80%.

The W!SE assessment is a cumulative test administered to all students as part of the Virginia graduation requirement to successfully complete a course in financial literacy that began with the class of 2015. Only 283 high schools nationwide achieved Blue Star status, with only half of Virginia high schools achieving the distinction. Goochland High Economics and Personal Finance teacher Mr. Joe Fowler has led GHS to Blue Star Status, and has also been recognized as a W!SE Gold Star teacher.

Mr. Fowler displays the Blue Star Banner

“Regardless of the path our graduates take after GHS, they are all going to need to be able to manage checking account, credit, and insurance, as well as budget for future needs and goals”, says Mr. Fowler. “The skills they gain through Economics and Personal Finance will be skills that they use every day as adults”.

The requirement that all Virginia high school graduates pass Economics and Personal Finance was implemented in 2009 by the Virginia General Assembly and Board of Education to enhance student preparation for the realities of the 21st century economy.

The Virginia High School League (VHSL) recently announced Group 2A All-State Teams for the fall 2016 season, and Goochland High School was represented in both the football and girls volleyball selections. Individual performances were also recognized at the state level in theatre and cross country.

The Goochland High girls volleyball team, the undefeated 2015 Group 2A state champion, advanced to the regional semifinals in 2016. Alexis Wiggins, junior, and Casey Spencer, senior, were named to the second team all-state.

The VHSL State Theatre Festival recognized Tevin Davis, senior, as the Group 2A Outstanding Actor for his performance as Captain Hollis in Kaleidoscope. The Goochland theatre ensemble finished fourth in the state festival.

Austin Bruce, senior, placed among the top 10 individual finishers at the VHSL 2A state cross country meet with a time of 16:55.

The Goochland High football team advanced to the state semifinals in 2016. Of the 32 players selected from the state for each of the first and second teams, Goochland High was represented on the first team by senior running back Marcus Burton, junior defensive lineman Ricky Mayfield, senior defensive end Clay Brooks, senior defensive back Calvin Martin, senior offensive lineman Josh Clarke, and senior defender Cordell Mattox.

The excellence recognized across diverse sports and activities is exceptional, said Goochland High Athletic Director Bryan Gordon. “Very few schools do such excellent work in different activities. We are proud to provide quality opportunities for our students to shine on the field, on the stage, and on the floor”.

Goochland County Public Schools have distinguished themselves with a variety of extracurricular and athletic offerings at both the middle and high school levels, where traditional sports such as football, basketball, and baseball compete each year at the same level as swimming, cross country, theatre, scholastic bowl, and tennis, where students and teams have also achieved at the district, region, and state level.

“It is no secret that deeper learning requires more than only what happens in the classroom. Our students learn the value of sportsmanship, teamwork, and collaboration with the guidance of our dedicated coaches and sponsors”, said Dr. Jeremy Raley, Superintendent of Goochland County Public Schools.

Winter activities and sports continue with wrestling, basketball, indoor track, debate, forensics, swimming, band, and chorus.

The Goochland County Public Schools were recently recognized by Niche.com as the 8th Best School District in Virginia.  This rating is based on a rigorous analysis of statistics as well as student and parent reviews for schools across the Commonwealth.  In a statement released by Niche, GCPS “achieved this ranking by scoring highly on a variety of factors including SAT/ACT scores, student-teacher ratio, the quality of colleges that students consider, and reviews from students and parents”.

When determining a rating, Niche ranks various factors and weights different performance measures.  The greatest weight is placed on an academic measure and is 50% of the rating.  Culture & diversity, health & safety, student & parent surveys, and teacher quality are each weighted at 10%.  Resources & facilities are 5% of the overall assessment, while clubs, activities and sports are weighted at 2.5% each.

In addition to receiving this recognition as one of the top school divisions in the Commonwealth, Goochland High School ranked in the top 100 of public high schools in the state.  Dr. Jeremy Raley, Superintendent for Goochland County Public Schools, attributes this success to the talented employees who work for GCPS and the investment that the Goochland County Community has made in public education.  “This accomplishment is made possible by the skills and talent of our dedicated workforce who strive every day to maximize the potential of every learner.  In addition, this success is the result of a supportive School Board and community that values excellence”.

Goochland County Public Schools have demonstrated their superior performance across all dimensions of the total school experience .  In addition to this most recent rating, GCPS is only one of 10 school divisions in Virginia to have all of its schools fully accredited for 10 straight years.  On state assessments, Goochland students outperformed the Virginia state average in SOL pass percentage in all content areas.  Goochland students had the 6th best social studies scores in the state and the 11th best reading SOL scores when compared to other students in the Commonwealth.  In addition, GCPS has received recognition by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) for serving as a model for budget development and Kenny Bouwens, a teacher at Goochland High School, represents the division as the State Technology Education Teacher of the Year.  

“Goochland County Public Schools is a proud and successful school division that has demonstrated its success as a leader in providing students with innovative and authentic learning experiences that will allow students to gain the skills and abilities that are needed to be successful in a changing global economy.  We are proud of our accomplishments and look forward to continually striving to inspire and prepare our students to make a positive impact in the world around them”. – Dr. Jeremy Raley, Superintendent

For a full list of the 2017 rankings methodologies and data sources from Niche, visit k12.niche.com/rankings