Next week, more than 1,000 school board members, superintendents, division administrators, education officials, and others will attend the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) annual convention in Williamsburg, VA. The convention provides school division leadership the opportunity to learn about nationwide and statewide trends, meet and learn from key policy officials, and bring back new best management practices to their home school divisions.

Convention HighlightsProfessional Development – More than 50 workshops, clinics and critical issues sessions focused on topics such as boardsmanship, developing local capacity, technology integration, school law, best practices, STEM integration, advocacy, school improvement, educational trends, and energy/sustainability practices. • Student Achievement Fair – Highlighting examples of great student achievement and of exemplary programs that are improving student achievement across the Commonwealth. • Exhibitors Scholarship – The scholarship, funded by exhibiting companies at the VSBAʼs annual convention, was made available to spring 2014 graduating seniors who had served as student school board representatives. Scholarship winners will be announced at the convention. • High School Video Contest – The annual student video contest challenged high school students across Virginia to create a 30-second video around the theme of “Whatʼs Super About Public Schools”. The winners will be announced at the opening general session of convention, and the videos will shown to the conventionʼs 1,000 attendees. • Exhibition of School Architecture – From ambience and multi-functionality to sustainable design and security, there is a direct relationship between good design and effective teaching and learning. The VSBA Exhibition of School Architecture gives attendees the opportunity to see this in action. • Education Foundation Workshop – Held in conjunction with the VSBA Annual Convention, this workshop is designed for education foundation professionals, volunteers, and those interested in starting an education foundation. Topics covered will include getting started with foundations, creative fundraising methods, ways that foundations have helped school divisions recover from a natural disaster, and best practices.

General Session Presentations “Leadership and a Culture for Learning: Closing the Gaps Between What Sounds Good & What Gets Done” by Jim Bearden Organizational culture is an intangible, but very real—and powerful— phenomenon. A school divisionʼs true culture is revealed by the behavior of the people working in that division. Creating cultures that reinforce and support behavior essential to learning (student achievement) is one of the most important things division leaders are called on to do. Using plenty of humor and drawing from his corporate and military leadership experiences, as well as from his work with NSBA and multiple state school boards associations, Bearden will offer fresh insights on the relationship between leadership behavior, district culture and student achievement with his keynote presentation.

“Raised Expectations with No Excuses” by Jeffrey May In this session, May will highlight how raised expectations, discipline and “no excuses” led his Westside Elementary School (Roanoke) debate team all the way to Marshall, Texas to debate before the World-Renown Great Debaters of Wiley College. May will explain how incentive programs like step and debate not only improve academics, behavior and attendance, but also how they affect real change within the lives of the children who participate.

“Disruptive Demographics: Implications for K-12 Education in Virginia” by Dr. James Johnson Six disruptive demographic trends of the first decade of the new millennium—the South rises again, the browning of America, marrying out is “in,” the silver tsunami is about to hit, the end of men?, and cooling water from grandmaʼs well…and grandpaʼs too—will dramatically transform all of this nationʼs social and political institutions. Using data from Census 2010 and other sources, Dr. Johnson will describe these trends and assess the specific implications and challenges they pose for the Virginia public education system.

Here is the complete VSBA Annual Convention schedule, along with speaker and presentation details.

About the Virginia School Boards Association The Virginia School Boards Association, a voluntary, nonpartisan organization of Virginia school boards, promotes excellence in public education through advocacy, training, and services. The Association offers conferences, information, training, and counseling designed to meet the needs of the Commonwealthʼs educational leaders.

Those who would like to hear more about the Year Round Feasibility Study we are pursuing through a recent grant award are encouraged to tune into NPR this Thursday afternoon, November 7. John Ogle recently interviewed Dr. Lane and Dr. Geyer about the study. The interview will air at 5:30 PM on All Things Considered.

To determine the best way to access the radio program, click here.

Take a look at this new student feature, published by Zoe Parrish. The elementary iPad initiative continues to amaze the educational community and gather media attention.

Zoe Parrish is allowing students to tell the story through Student EduSLAM!. By hosting a brief educational video on her blog, students will give us regular snapshots of how learning is bring transformed at GES.

I want to again express my personal congratulations as well as gratitude on behalf of the entire school community to Coach Fowler. Being selected as best high school coach in the state by USA Today High School Sports is an extreme honor. Having been so close to the regional victory is incredible as well, earning over 311,000 votes from the Metro Richmond community!

But as Coach Bryan Gordon stated so well in this article, it’s so much more than just coaching football. Coach Fowler, a recognized instructional leader, has touched the lives of countless students over the span of his career. His influence and example continue to lead young people to a life of dignity and character.

We are fortunate to have Coach Fowler in our midst. And I am personally very honored to consider him a colleague.

Congratulations, Coach Fowler!

Dr. Matt Covington, GHS Assistant Principal, and Chuck English, Science Museum of Virginia, spoke to legislators, school leaders, and members of the business community Friday evening at the Governor’s STEM Summit and High Schools of the Future Conference in Richmond, VA. The two partnered to deliver a pitch that would communicate a visionary perspective of how high schools could be transformed.

Their idea was awarded the weekend’s “Most Innovative Pitch” recognition by the Governor, himself.

“The citizens of the Commonwealth extend to you their congratulations… for hard work and dedication to making a difference in the lives of future students and educators across the Commonwealth of Virginia.” - Governor Bob McDonnell


“The two day summit focused on the importance of STEM in education and culminated in formulating ideas of the high school of the future,” explained Dr. Covington. ” Our pitch was to use blended learning from a flipped classroom perspective. This vehicle would provide students more opportunities to explore specialized instruction based on their interests rather than standardized curricula.”

Among the attendees were VA State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Patricia Wright, Secretary of Education, Laura Fornash, and GCPS Superintendent, Dr. James Lane.

“We are extremely proud of the work Dr. Covington has done to further the conversation regarding truly transformational high schools in the commonwealth,” said superintendent, James Lane. “Blended learning environments and the delivery of individualized instruction is at the forefront and I’m thrilled to see our school leaders at the table, engaging in this important topic.”

Congratulations to Dr. Covington and many thanks to Mr. English for his continued partnership with our division.

The NAACP hosted its annual Freedom Fund Banquet at the Quioccasin Baptist Church in Richmond this past weekend. The event’s theme was “We Shall Not Be Moved,” and current branch treasurer and former Goochland Christmas Mother Jane Delores Allen-Bowles was honored.

Assistant Superintendent, Steve Geyer and GMS principal, Jenn Smith, pictured below with county supervisor, Susan Lascollett, and treasurer, Pam Johnson, enjoyed the event.

Teachers from Randolph spent their summer in an innovative program designed to change how science is taught across Virginia.

Elizabeth Ferguson and Sara Rowan were selected for the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA), which kicked off with a four-week Elementary Science Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

RES teacher Elizabeth Ferguson at work in the institute (Photo credit: Lawson Craighill)

Funded by a $34m grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the program is intended to shift science instruction from the traditional teacher-led classroom to a hands-on, problem-based learning lab.

Teachers are also awarded a $5,000 stipend, $1,000 for classroom supplies, and an all-expense-paid trip to the Virginia Association of Science Teachers Professional Development Institute in the fall.  Additionally, each teacher is assigned a master teacher to provide mentoring throughout the school year.

VISTA also offers free professional development for new middle and high school scienceteachers, and district science coordinators.

Two GCPS students are broadening their horizons and breaking new ground with entrepreneurial learning!

Brandon Myrick is starting his sophomore year at Goochland High School. His sister Rachel is starting eighth grade at Goochland Middle School. The two have developed Do-Da Innovations, a company that sells ketchup and mustard specifically marketed for children.

You may remember Brandon from his recent selection as State Merit Winner in the 14th annual Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

We are proud of these two stellar students and the work they are doing to explore innovative business marketing. You can read more about their business here.

The Capital region Collaborative, a partnership between the Richmond Chamber and Richmond regional Planning District Commission, emerged as a priority in our region from thousands of people. Joining hands with Bridging Richmond, Capital One and Dominion Power, a special workforce was established. In an effort to build a strong model of workforce preparation, this workgroup reviewed local and national evidence and gathered information from leaders across the business, education and civic sectors.

We are very proud to have Bruce Watson, GCPS Director of CTE, representing us on this workforce.

The group just released an initial report that I strongly encourage anyone interested in the economic and (infra)structural health of our region to read. Consider the group’s published mission: “The people in our region will have the education and skills necessary to sustain themselves and their households while providing our employers with the talent needed to excel.”

As the report asserts, complex social change requires bold, shared goals, not isolated results from a fragmented host of organizations that haven’t been pooling resources.

I believe this has the substance and momentum to bear a significant impact on individuals, families, and businesses in our region.

Take a look at the report: CRC Work Prep Report 2013.07.25 FINAL 2