A week before Virginia's Cumberland Schools opened their doors to begin a new school year, Superintendent Amy Griffin sent her staff on a professional field trip.
Principals and teachers got up early and boarded buses that took them across the county, and as far away as Richmond, one hour west. Staff spread across nearly twenty "work sites" representing the career pathways Cumberland wants students exposed to and prepared for. Cumberland is full of families that struggle to get by; these pathways promise students a way out of poverty and the chance for a prosperous future.
One day, Rodney Berry was on top of the world, a talented athlete on a path to college, a wonderful opportunity for a kid born to a teen mom who spent his early years in Gilpin Court. The next? He was lying in bed, his knee blown, his college hopes seemingly gone, his dreams for a promising future dashed.
At their regular meeting on November 1, 2018, Region 3 superintendents received a thorough legislative briefing from Tom Smith and discussed a number of topics including dual enrollment, shortage of qualified teachers, student discipline, alternative student assessments, and the state budget. Superintendents also heard an update from VDOE’s Shelly Loving-Ryder and had an opportunity to debrief the recent VASS Fall Conference and the Teacher Retention Summit.
Experts were both on stage and in the audience at VASS’ Legislative Conference held on Oct. 21-23 in Charlottesville, Va., as attendees took an in-depth look at workforce development issues. Kicking off the conference were VBOE President Daniel Gecker and State Superintendent James Lane, who noted that today’s employers are asking for graduates to be self-directed and have a growth mindset.
Regional breakout discussions of programs throughout the state showcased the depth and breadth of career prep opportunities and gave superintendents a chance to share their division’s successes. Small group discussions by division size provided the opportunity for superintendents to share their initiatives around Profile of a Graduate and other academic programs.
One hundred eight elementary, middle and high school administrators attended the recent workshop on performance assessments presented by Jay McTighe and Chris Gareis. The workshop was Part I of a collaborative effort by VASS, VAESP, and VASSP to provide principals and assistant principals with an understanding of what constitutes quality performance assessments, how they are used to inform good instruction, and how to support teachers in their development and use in the classroom. Part II of “Understanding and Supporting the Development of Performance Assessments for Elementary and Secondary School Administrators” will be held on February 7, 2019 at the Hilton Short Pump.
Six VASS members recently attended the EdSurge Fusion Conference in San Francisco courtesy of travel subsidies by VASS, VaSCL and VADOE. Andrea Whitmarsh, Region 5 Chair and Superintendent of Greene County Schools; Bill Sroufe, Region 6 Chair and Superintendent of Patrick County Schools; Ken Nicely, Superintendent of Roanoke County Schools; Mark Church, Superintendent of Franklin County Schools; Cecil Snead, Superintendent of Orange County Schools; and Mark Lineburg, Superintendent of Halifax County Schools attended three days of small group discussions and general session presentations by excellent speakers which focused on personalized learning and the development of the whole child. The superintendents gained insights on personalized learning from others around the country and they had many opportunities to meet as a group with national education leaders. Andrea Whitmarsh, Bill Sroufe and Ken Nicely shared what they learned during the 3:15 pm breakout session at the VASS Fall Conference on October 22. Also joining the Virginia delegation were VASS members Pam Moran and Gena Keller and VASS Associate Executive Director Andy Stamp. Pam Moran was a presenter at the conference. This may be the first of other superintendent cohort groups to be sent to the EdSurge conference each year.
At their regular meeting on October 3, 2018, Region 2 superintendents shared their desire to have guidance from VDOE on how to handle makeup days as a result of the mandatory hurricane evacuation imposed when Hurricane Florence threatened the safety of residents in the Hampton Roads area. VDOE Deputy Superintendent Kent Dickey fielded questions on that topic as well as on the new accreditation rating indicators. In addition, Region 2 superintendents heard from ODU Dean Jane Bray and Interim Associate Dean for Educator Prep Maggie Barber on the school’s progress in developing a four-year undergraduate teacher licensure program, which shortens the path to teaching by a year.
Dr. Jared A. Cotton, Superintendent of Henry County Schools, was named Virginia’s Superintendent of the Year at the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) Annual Awards Luncheon on Tuesday in Roanoke. He was selected by the Acting State Superintendent of Public Instruction, a member of the Virginia State Board of Education, and the Presidents of the Virginia Education Association, the Virginia Parent and Teacher Association, the Virginia School Boards Association, the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals, and the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals.
VASS worked with Strategic Value Media to create the guide, a web portal to a large network of vendors that supply goods and services to educators. The guide, which highlights companies that are VASS Business Members, is designed to help school division leaders make efficient and fully informed purchasing decisions.
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