Dear Elementary Families,

On behalf of the GCPS team, we hope your family had a restful, happy holiday season.  We’re looking forward to an engaging, productive spring semester and a successful 2018 for our students, families, and staff.

This month, once again, Goochland County Public Schools will be embarking on a special project, a division-wide book club called Goochland Reads, formerly One District, One BookGoochland Reads is a unique program that provides elementary children at all grade levels with the opportunity to share the same book over the same time period.  Curious as that may seem at first, it actually makes sound educational sense.  Literacy experts recommend reading material out loud that is beyond a child’s individual reading level; the same experts support reading chapter books aloud with older children, even when they are able to read independently.

Our Goochland Reads committee selected a title that can be followed, understood, and enjoyed by younger students, but that will still captivate older children.  As the centerpiece of the program, every elementary school family will receive a copy of this same book and will be asked to share the literacy experience during the month of January.  The title was announced at a special school-wide assembly introducing the program and the book today, and your child should have come home today with his/her very own copy.  Families should also receive a shared community reading schedule so everyone can keep up at home.  Generally, you are asked to read one chapter each night—about 10-15 minutes.  We hope that you will find the time to participate in this special activity focused on community and the importance of literacy.

Reading aloud at home is incredibly valuable as it helps develop a strong foundation for all learning, as well as models lifelong literacy; moreover, it’s also a fun, worthwhile family activity.  With the Goochland Reads program, we aim to build a community of readers across our elementary school communities.  Everyone—students, parents, teachers, bus drivers, and administrative staff—will be participating.

In school, your child will be engaged in literary discussions and invited to answer daily trivia questions to encourage and celebrate participation.  We encourage you to make sure your family participates so your child can be included.  You will find that your child will take pride in knowing and anticipating the details of the story.  Throughout the month, everyone will be talking about the book!

Good luck!  We hope to talk with both you and your child about the book throughout the next four weeks.  When an entire school division reads a book, there’s a lot to talk about.  With your help, we will strengthen a community of readers in Goochland!

Once again this fall, Byrd Elementary School hosted an evening event for families and community members with an eye on helping others.  The BES Farmers’ Market is an opportunity for students, family members, and teachers to work together to develop specialty products for sale, the money raised by the event aimed at giving back to our community.

Megan Donovan, first grade teacher, shared enthusiastically, “The Farmers’ Market was a tremendous success! We raised $2,725 that will be donated to the Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services, American Red Cross, and put toward having trees planted on the BES playground.  Our students, parents and staff worked very hard to make a difference in our country, our community and right here at BES.  We couldn’t be more proud!”

James Hopkins, Principal, said, “The Byrd Elementary Farmers’ Market was a great success! We raised nearly $3,000 for charities as well as for shade trees for the BES playground.  It brought the school and community together to celebrate helping one another.  The students along with their teachers and volunteers did an outstanding job of creating items that were sold to the public.  The event was well attended and enjoyed by all!”




GCPS team members spent much of last school year developing consensus around what skills and abilities they believe to be essential for their graduates to possess in order to be successful after high school.  To begin this year, the division has convened a special committee to take the work accomplished last year, review the guidance provided by the Virginia Department of Education, analyze what’s being shared from business and industry, and create a framework for codifying our own local GCPS “profile.”

Once complete, this committee’s draft will be shared with other community stakeholders for input before it’s finalized.

The special committee tasked with moving forward the school division’s “Profile of a Goochland Graduate” hard at work earlier this month

The division leadership team has been engaged in instructional rounds for the past five years. This morning marked the beginning of year 5 of “rounds” – and, as always, it provided us with a firsthand look at the incredible teaching and learning that happens every single day in our classrooms, libraries, labs, and gymnasiums.

The “rounds” model is one borrowed from the medical field in order to better connect division administrators to the most important work that takes place every day in our division.

Our division leadership team spent the morning at Byrd Elementary School.

Our instructional team spent the day on Friday talking teaching and learning – on how to make our already highly successful school division an even better place for students, families, and staff.

Dr. John Almarode (James Madison University) helped provide both the foundation and the spark for the day’s events.  Dr. Almarode’s morning keynote address focused on instructional elements that lead to increased student engagement, and he delivered his message by modeling exactly the kind of learning facilitation he espouses for students.

The balance of Friday’s professional day was spent in extended small group workshops with Dr. Almarode, in instructional design training centered around delivery of the new state math standards, and in grade level and department meetings.

This month’s leadership team meeting with principals and assistant principals was an opportunity to reflect on our balanced assessment program and further develop the entire team’s assessment literacy.  We tackled questions like: What’s the difference between achievement and growth? Are we testing our students too much?  Who’s the intended audience for this assessment? How are we using the results of this assessment to ensure we’re maximizing the potential of every learner?

The fourth grade team at Randolph Elementary School made the different regions of Virginia come alive last week during “Virginia Day.”  The one-day event is the culmination of weeks of instruction and has become a tradition the students and faculty alike look forward to.  Every fourth grade student has the opportunity to spend part of the day in each of five classrooms filled with hands-on learning opportunities, ranging from planting crops indigenous to the Commonwealth to mining for chocolate chips.

(clockwise from top left) Farmer Demas, Instructional Technology Resource Coach; Special Agent Gates, Fourth Grade Teacher; Foreman Hadd, Fourth Grade Teacher; Scuba Diver Ferguson, Fourth Grade Teacher; Adventurer Mock, Fourth Grade Teacher