Schools across the country will host guests and events to celebrate American Education Week during the week of November 14, 2016.  Goochland County Public Schools will participate this year with special events in and out of the classroom, along with many special guests from the community.

Several distinguished guests have already shown their commitment to Goochland County Public Schools by taking part in school activities.  Mr. John Budesky, Goochland County Administrator, and Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew read to students at Goochland Elementary School last week.  

The work of the GCPS staff will also be highlighted during American Education Week.  Members of the GCPS Board recognize the work of district staff.   “Goochland County Public Schools is a leader in public education and we have achieved success in a multitude of settings. None of our success would be possible without the dedication and talents of our exceptional employees. Our employees are role models who diligently labor every day for the students in Goochland County”.   

Dr. Jeremy Raley, Superintendent of Schools, agrees. “Our successes come as a direct result of the countless hours all of our employees have dedicated to our school division.  Each day, our entire instructional team works together to provide an academic atmosphere where students will be empowered to collaborate with their peers, think critically about content, solve problems, be creative, and communicate with others in a variety of ways”.

Goochland County Board of Supervisors District 1 Representative Susan Lascolette and Goochland NAACP President Sekou Shabaka will visit Goochland High School, while District 2 Representative Manny Alvarez will visit Randolph Elementary.  All schools will be open to visitors from the community during normal school hours during the week of November 14.  

Activities featured in schools to commemorate American Education Week will also include a Google Hangout online discussion with a local legislator, teacher recognition, middle school mathematics night on Tuesday, November 15, and guided tours, among many other activities.  

Any citizens who wish to take part in American Education Week activities can call their child’s school or GCPS Central Office at 804-556-5630.  

A group of students from Goochland Middle School was featured at last Tuesday’s Virginia School Board Association’s Hot Topic Conference, held at the Chesterfield Career and Technical Center in Midlothian, VA.  The conference was dedicated to showcasing educational technology.  Among the presentation topics at the conference were “The Mobility Revolution”, “Coding in the Real World”, and “Rewiring Digital Content:  From Consumers to Creators”.  An innovation showcase was also included in the day’s events, featuring best practices in technology from across the Commonwealth.  The audience included school board members, superintendents, and educational leaders from across Virginia.  

Goochland Middle School students, selected based on their membership in a student-driven club formed to continue the work in coding and making that began in elementary school,  were asked to demonstrate their learning with the iPad at this year’s conference.  The students assumed the role of “iDocumentarians”, and in only a few hours collaborated to produce a single video that documented the experience of all of the conference’s participants.   

“This was all possible because we haven’t just given students iPads, but we have also taught them how to use these incredible tools for communication. These are the same tools that students have the opportunity to use to further their study both in and outside of school”, said Dr. John Hendron, Director of Innovation and Strategy.  “Kudos to our teachers at GMS for giving students the soft skills on how to use the iPads in this way. Participants were impressed—no doubt—by the amount of applause our ‘iDocumentarians’ received.”

GCPS, as part of its commitment to deeper, personalized learning and preparing students to be career ready, provides an iPad to each student in grades 3 through 8, and is planning to extend personalized learning to students in grades 9 through 12 with MacBook distribution to all high school students in 2017.  

Goochland County Public Schools’ investment in Career and Technical Education has resulted in significant growth in student enrollment and offerings since 2014.

According to Mr. Bruce Watson, GCPS Director of Career and Technical Education, the number of sections of CTE classes has grown from 72 to 100, and the total number of students enrolled has increased from 1,424 to 1,788, a 26% increase in 3 years.  

Goochland County Public Schools, in cooperation with the School Board and Board of Supervisors, has made Career and Technical Education a priority since the current School Board assumed office in 2011.  An investment of over 2.5 million dollars and the repurposing of facilities created state of the art culinary, heavy equipment, carpentry, nurse aide, and robotics classrooms that have attracted a wide variety of students, male and female, from across the district.  Career and Technical Education has created results across the curriculum.  “The skills students are exposed to in an authentic context in CTE classes reinforce the significance of many core content classes, including most math and science classes.  The success of CTE is the success of our entire district”,  said Watson.  

“I believe that Career and Technical Education gives all of our students a step up. It enhances the transcripts of all students, not only our college bound students”, said Mr. Michael Payne, Goochland County School Board representative from District 1 and Career and Technical Education Teacher.  “It gives them an opportunity to gain skills that can make them career ready after high school. I am very happy with the progress we have made in Goochland over the last five years and look forward to us moving forward with our business partners in giving our students apprenticeship and internship opportunities.”

GCPS plans to seek opportunities to grow its CTE offerings and explore partnerships with local businesses to fulfill its mission to make our students career ready.   

8th graders from Goochland Middle School will join about 12,000 8th graders from across the region at Mission Tomorrow, being held October 27 and 28 at the Richmond International Raceway. Mission Tomorrow is the Richmond region’s first interactive career exploration event for students and will feature over 100 regional businesses.

Among the goals of Mission Tomorrow are exposing students to a better understanding of the characteristics of 21st century careers, promoting their preparation for those careers, and delivering several planning resources, such as “Invest in What’s Next”, the “Virginia Education Wizard”, and various Career and Technical Education programs that have become a distinguishing trait of Goochland County Public Schools.

8th grade students have been targeted for participation because of the importance of the 8th grade year for decisions on scheduling and coursework pathways through high school and beyond.   “I am thankful for the work of Chamber RVA and for the opportunities that will be provided to our students at this event”, said Dr. Jeremy Raley, GCPS Superintendent of Schools.   “Career development begins early in a student’s academic career. This will be a tremendous opportunity for our students to experience the breadth of options that are available in our area. Our school division is working hard to prepare our students to be career ready in an ever-changing global economy. This event certainly supports our efforts!”

GCPS Career and Technical Education, Goochland Middle School, and the Department of Transportation have partnered to promote and organize this opportunity for students.

Dr. Stephen Geyer, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction at Goochland County Public Schools, presented the annual “State of the Division In Numbers” at the monthly Goochland County School Board meeting held at the Goochland County Administration Board Room on Tuesday, September 13, 2016.  The presentation highlighted data from the GCPS instructional program across the dimensions of student growth, student engagement, and student achievement.  Among the highlights were:

  • All 5 Goochland schools remain fully accredited by way of performance on the 2016 Virginia SOL tests.  GCPS is one of only 10 districts in Virginia to be fully accredited for 10 straight years.
  • Over 90% of Goochland students in grades K-2 met or exceeded the PALS literacy benchmark, a 6% improvement over the Virginia state average.
  • Goochland students outperformed the Virginia state average in SOL pass percentage in all content areas (English, Math, Social Studies, and Science)
  • Goochland students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 11 taking the SOL Reading test earned a pass rate that placed GCPS 11th among Virginia districts and 1st among nine nearby regional school districts including metro Richmond.  In the same regional comparison, Goochland pass rates were the best in Social Studies and 2nd in Math.
  • Students in Goochland earned the 6th highest History SOL pass rate in the Commonwealth.
  • Goochland County has demonstrated SOL test results that place our student achievement levels within the top 4 of the highest funded districts in the State of Virginia;  Goochland County Public Schools is the 42nd highest funded district in the State of Virginia according to the Virginia Department of Education, with a per pupil expenditure that is $145 less than the state per pupil average.   
  • Goochland High School students earned scores of 3, 4, or 5 on AP tests at a 17% higher rate on average compared to 2015 in 10 of 13 AP tests administered

While these distinctions are based in traditional achievement measures, school leaders have chosen to focus on what is best for students.  “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 are proud of the tradition of excellence in Goochland and we embrace the challenges of continuous improvement”.  

Dr. Geyer cites this district-wide focus on student growth as a key to the division’s success.  “We have definitely prioritized individual student growth over traditional achievement measures.  Every child’s learning is important, and there needs to be an urgency there.  Our focus on individual growth ensures that urgency-and strong outcomes on traditional measures like SOL tests simply become a byproduct of doing what’s best for students.  Our teachers have embraced this philosophy, and it’s their talents and commitment to our children that make our division’s success possible”.  

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 students with disabilities and our African American students.  We have made some great progress in these areas, but we have more work to do.  We are committed to closing these gaps, while continuing to raise the bar for every student.”

 

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