At our staff meeting this week, I had the honor of introducing our new athletic director, Andy Jones. Mr. Jones is a familiar face to many of our students and athletes, since he is a long-time assistant coach for CHS boys basketball and has coordinated Buford’s athletic programs for many years.
Mr. Jones has worked for Charlottesville City Schools since 2005, first as a teacher and then an instructional coach. (Mr. Jones has coached both athletes and teachers!) He won a Golden Apple award at Buford in 2014. Mr. Jones played basketball at Longwood University before completing his undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina and later earning his master’s at Mary Baldwin.
Strong relationally and organizationally, Mr. Jones began his work as athletic director this week. Please join me in welcoming him!
In response to the Youngkin administration’s proposed changes regarding the treatment of students who identify as transgender and non-binary, the Charlottesville City School Board strongly affirms Superintendent Dr. Gurley’s commitment to “continue to support our LGBTQ+ students, staff, parents/guardians, and others within our school communities.”
In this stance, we are supported by federal Title IX legislation, which extends school protections based on gender identity. In addition, our approach is in keeping with Virginia law, which requires the Virginia Department of Education to issue guidance to support transgender students according to “evidence-based best practices.” It’s worth noting that a recent attempt to legislatively overturn this law in Virginia failed. Our approach also follows our own nondiscrimination policy, which since 2013 has protected students based on gender expression and identity. On top of all this, protecting students is the right thing to do.
Nothing like a good book to get you dancing! Watch a video of Buford students and staff grooving to DJ Q while the Free Book Bus gave away 300+ books to 7th graders and their teachers. The Free Book Bus will be back at Buford this Friday for 8th graders.
COVID UPDATES AND REMINDERS
Our schools continue to practice COVID safety. Due to a classroom at one of our elementaries having four possibly related cases, we have shifted that classroom temporarily to virtual learning. This is the first time this year that a shift to virtual has been necessary, and we hope it will not be a common occurrence. Here are ways families can promote COVID safety:
— Wear masks (strongly recommended if there is a case in your class or when community transmission rates are at medium or high)
— Sign your child up for a booster (the bivalent booster targets both the original virus and the Omicron variant). Vaccines are widely available.
— Sign your child up for our free, weekly COVID testing program
— Follow our COVID dashboard
CALENDAR REMINDERS: NO SCHOOL FOR STUDENTS 10/27-28 OR 11/7-8
At the end of October and beginning of November there are several days off of school for students:
— Thursday, October 27 (Professional Learning Day) and Friday, October 28 (Teacher Workday),
—Monday,November 7 (Teacher Workday) and Tuesday November 8 (Teacher Workday; also is Election Day).
Keep up with school dates by subscribing to our Google Calendar.
SCHOOL NAME REVIEW FOR CLARK AND VENABLE
The committee that is reviewing the names of Clark and Venable elementaries would like community feedback via this survey. The survey explores the possibilities of keeping the names as-is, keeping the names but changing the people the names honor, and finding new names. A virtual community forum about these names will be held on Wednesday, October 19 at 5pm. Register here.
BUS UPDATES IN NOVEMBER
The City continues to make regular, minor updates to bus routes and assignments. They have hired more drivers and will expand bus routes beginning November 9–this will impact all bus riders, and we will send out updated route information at that time. The City has also raised the drivers’ base wage to $21/hour. Families, thank you for your continued patience and support!
FAMILY Q&A ORGANIZED BY CHARLOTTESVILLE UNITED
This Wednesday, October 12 at 7:30pm, advocacy nonprofit Charlottesville United for Public Education invites you to attend a virtual Q&A with school leaders and VMDO architects for updates ranging from transportation to the middle school modernization process. Learn more | Sign up
CVILLE SCHOOLS OPENS ESL WELCOME CENTER
Cville Schools has just opened a welcome center to help families whose primary language is not English. The budget-neutral center is a “one-stop shop” to help newly arrived families register for school, submit documentation, complete language-screening tests, and more. Another goal of the welcome center is to orient families to our schools and community with resources such as the “Welcome to Charlottesville” coloring book developed in many languages by Charlottesville’s Free Book Bus. Finally, we’d like to connect newcomers to a friendly face with experience helping ESL families. The welcome center is open at the division’s central office annex at the back of CHS, Tuesday and Thursdays, 8:30am-3:30pm or by appointment. Call 434-245-2421 with questions.
KEY DATES FOR DEVELOPING NEXT YEAR’S BUDGET
At last Thursday’s School Board meeting, the Board approved the calendar of meetings to develop next year’s budget. Thanks to all who have completed the initial input survey (we’ve received more than 400 responses so far). If you haven’t yet, please fill out the survey by end-of-day tomorrow (Tuesday). Data will be shared as part of the Board’s upcoming work session on October 20. Due to the need to ease our reliance on one-time federal COVID money as well as inflationary pressures, your input is especially valued.
FREE TICKETS TO UVA-UNC FOOTBALL GAME
UVA Athletics is offering the Cville Schools community two free tickets per household to the UVA-UNC football game on November 5 (gametime TBD). Additional tickets can be purchased for $10. Request/purchase tickets here.
FAMILY UNIVERSITY: ACCESSING MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
Our next Family University will be on Thursday, October 13, from 5:30-6:30pm. We hope you can join us to learn more about using the mental health resources our schools offer! The flyer at left is shown in Spanish because we’ll have a Spanish-speaking break-out room, too.
CLEAR BAG POLICY AT CHS TICKETED EVENTS
As part of our ongoing efforts to promote safety, we are joining Albemarle County Public Schools and UVA in piloting a clear-bag policy for spectators and audience members at CHS-sponsored ticketed events. The pilot will be in place through the first semester, and if we make any further changes, we will keep you posted. Find details here.
CHS golfer Preston Burton has made CHS history by taking home the school’s first-ever state title.
The senior won the Virginia High School League Class 3 state championships at Stonehenge Golf and Country Club in Richmond on Tuesday. Coached by Joshua O’Grady, the CHS Golf Team also finished fourth, the second-best state finish in CHS history.
The individual win caps a banner career for Burton, who was also a four-time All-District First Team; two-time District Player of the Year; two-time Regional Player of the Year; and two-time All State. Additionally, he holds the school’s record for lowest round, most wins in a career, most wins in a season, and longest winning streak.
Black Knights Golf also won its first regional championship in Staunton in September.
“Teamwise, it was pretty cool for our five seniors to go out with the school’s first regional championship as well as the fourth-place state finish,” O’Grady said. “As for Preston, he is no doubt the greatest golfer in CHS history but I would go as far to say he is one of the greatest athletes in the history of CHS.”
The CHS Golf team members are Preston Burton, Landon Rybolt, Griffin Walts, Ben Ewing, Graham Morrison, and Leo Cafferillo.
Charlottesville Schools: Social media posts celebrating teachers
Submission: Social media posts that celebrate the contributions of our teachers on our three main division-level accounts (@CvilleSchools on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) . These posts include milestone moments (such as retirement after a long career or the winning of an award) and the day-to-day work and care of teachers, e.g., being a substitute teacher; capturing a moment of joy with students. These posts also display a range of media, from photography to graphic design to video to appearances in local news.
Example 1: Celebrating a teacher award winner (Twitter graphic design)
Example 2: Celebrating a substitute (Instagram photo)
Example 3: Celebrating a retiring teacher who spent 40 years in our division (Facebook video)
Example 4: Celebrating a teacher retirement (Facebook: Local news story)
Example 5: Celebrating a teacher award winner (Twitter photo)
Example 6: Celebrating how teachers bring joy to students every day (Facebook photo)
Dear Charlottesville Schools staff, students, and families –
You will often hear me say, “Equity is an action.” It’s not just an idea or a definition we discuss, but it is the real work of making sure all children receive what they need to develop their full academic and social potential. As I look at our SOL data from last year, I see that we have work ahead of us to bring true equity to our schools and community.
I’m delighted that the preliminary data shows that all our schools will be accredited, though some with conditions. However, when we look closer at the data, we continue to see persistent, large disparities. The bottom line is that the gap for Black students is continuing to widen. Whether you think about this in relation to the pandemic or to inequities that go further back than even Thomas Jefferson, this is our schools’ problem today, and it will be my focus. In order to achieve true excellence, we must center Black students’ needs and strengths.
As your superintendent, I will be particularly focused on a number of high-impact areas, such as how our schools help children learn to read. I’m so pleased with the number of our teachers who have “followed the science” on reading through our cohorts in the LETRS (“letters”) literacy program, and I want to make sure that we are implementing best practices with fidelity.
Another example is ensuring that our preK program is getting our children off to a good start. I have been impressed by our implementation of the Creative Curriculum, the emphasis on play and relationship-building, and the fact that our program includes three-year-olds. Let’s build on these strong foundations to meet our earliest learners’ needs.
I could keep listing focus areas, but I’ll wrap up with one big idea: Let’s continue to examine barriers to access. As a relative newcomer to the community (coming up on my one-year anniversary), it’s obvious to me that Cville Schools has worked to remove barriers such as burdensome fees and prerequisites. We’ve opened doors to honors classes and gifted education. Even so, my lived experience is that barriers are stubborn. When we tear down an obvious barrier, we sometimes build a more subtle one. So I want to center student and staff voices to learn from the real-life expertise of the people in our schools and make sure all students have full access to their best and brightest dreams and futures.
Thanks for supporting our schools in this work!
Sincerely, Dr. Royal A. Gurley, Jr.
Go Black Knights! From football to field hockey, theaterto BACON, Cville Schools high school students are busy pursuing their passions and making our community proud. (Photo courtesy Mike Kropf, Daily Progress).
SHARE YOUR VOICE ABOUT VIRGINIA’S HISTORY STANDARDS
Do you care about students learning a more honest and inclusive history? Then share your support for the new Virginia history/social science standards. The draft standards were revised by teachers, history coordinators, historians, and community organizations from across the state. However, state-level officials have recently shared their concerns with the proposed standards. Feedback from the public is being accepted until Sept 25. Click here to review the proposed standards and share your feedback.
WESTHAVEN COMMUNITY NOW ASSIGNED TO VENABLE: UPDATE AND APOLOGY
After years of discussion with families in the Westhaven community, staff recommended officially zoning elementary students who live on Hardy Drive to their neighborhood school, Venable Elementary. This would correct a historic wrong as well as end the more recent period in which families at Westhaven were offered the choice of Burnley-Moran or Venable. At last week’s School Board meeting, Charlottesville City Schools apologized to past and current families in the Westhaven community. To learn more, visit charlottesvilleschools.org/westhaven.
MIDDLE SCHOOL PROJECT UPDATE
Design work continues on our middle school modernization project. At the School Board meeting, Ms. Powell and VMDO Architects presented the progress made and the latest cost estimates. As expected, due to inflation, the costs of the project have risen $6.5 million. By working with the City, we expect to maintain forward momentum and the current timetable for this project. To learn more, visit charlottesvilleschools.org/facilities.
KEEP OUR SCHOOLS SAFE WHEN VISITING
As a part of our continuous improvements to safety in our schools, we’ve updated our procedures for welcoming visitors.
— Bring a photo ID.
— At the main entrance, press the buzzer to reach the receptionist via intercom.
— Identify yourself and indicate if you have an appointment.
— Once buzzed in, go straight to main office, sign in, and show ID to the receptionist.
— The receptionist will give you instructions and a badge to stick to your clothing.
— Remember to sign out when you leave.
WOULD A CARPOOL APP HELP YOU?
Thanks for your continued support as our community adjusts to the expanded walk zones and as the City works to increase school-bus services (look for new routes in early October). Some of our families are currently researching options for a carpool app. Interested in a carpool app as a participant or researcher? Email email@example.com.
FAMILY UNIVERSITY THIS THURSDAY 9/8
Join our Family Engagement team for our virtual Family University workshop tomorrow (Thursday, September 8) from 5:30-6:30pm. We’ll focus on how Cville Schools supports students and families. We’ll cover topics such as:
— What to do if you see your child struggling (with learning, behavior, or any other area of concern)
— How to get the support you need (with action steps). Here is the link to register. Even if you can’t attend, registering will get you access to the recording. Want to submit a question for the workshop? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
From sports to concerts to festivals, there’s a lot going on this fall — come join us! For instance, our Family Engagement team is hosting a fall tailgate on Friday, September 16. Come at 5:30 for food, games, and resources, and stay for the CHS vs. Spotswood game at 7! Reserve your tickets here, and find other CHS sports info at gocville.org. Fall concerts and events are on the horizon — check out our online calendars. Buford has two family-friendly events coming up. The first is a tailgate on Saturday, September 10 for the UVA/Illinois game. And Cultivate Charlottesville and Buford invite everyone to their annual Harvest Festival on Friday, September 30 from 5:30-7pm.
Buford is excited to welcome back the Free Book Bus, whose mission is to enable all children and teens to have a home library.
Each student will have the opportunity to visit the bus and pick out a book to keep for free. Seventh grade students will have their visit during language arts class on Friday, October 7. Eighth grade students will have their visit during language arts class on Friday, October 14.
The Walker-Buford United PTO is currently looking for parent and family volunteers to assist during these visits. If you are available and can help out please visit this Sign Up Genius to choose a time.
It’s time to complete your online re-registration forms. Update your bus requests, phone numbers, and more to get ready for next year. (This process does not guarantee a spot on the bus next year, but it will help the City make plans for next year’s school bus routes since the bus driver shortage continues.)
Help us help you! To give our partners in Pupil Transportation the best chance to serve as many students as possible, we ask you to complete the forms by June 29!
Para leer este sitio web en español, indica “Translate” (traducir) en la parte por encima de la página y escoja Spanish.
Back-to-school forms have been posted to PowerSchool (select the child you want to update first, then click “Re-Registration” at left to start the re-registration form for your child). Please fill out one re-registration per child as soon as possible.
The new principal of Charlottesville High School is an educator and instructional leader with seventeen years of experience, whose expertise includes restorative justice, community outreach, and professional development. Mr. Rashaad Pitt most recently served as assistant principal at George Wythe High School in Richmond Public Schools. He will begin the role of CHS principal effective August 15.
Mr. Pitt began his journey as an educator in 2006 as a history teacher in Petersburg City Public Schools. Working in a range of settings such as Chesterfield County Public Schools, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and Hampton City Schools, Mr. Pitt has served as teacher, middle school success coordinator, high school dean of students, and career academy principal.
Dr. Gurley noted, “Our staff and parent committee was impressed by the wide range of experiences and skills that Mr. Pitt will bring to this position. Even more so, we all appreciated his warmth and positivity.”
Mr. Pitt earned his bachelor’s degree from Virginia State University, a master’s degree in education from Walden University, and a master’s degree in educational leadership
from Regent University. His areas of experience include restorative justice, community outreach, professional development, and instructional leadership. Mr. Pitt has lectured at the University of Richmond and is a contributing author for volume 2 of Next in Line to Lead: The Voice of the Assistant Principal.
“I am excited to begin this next chapter,” noted Mr. Pitt. “I want to build on the strong success and good work of Dr. Irizarry, and I look forward to working with the excellent leadership team and staff at CHS.”
As Mr. Pitt enters his 17th year in education, he is the proud father of three beautiful children, Talia, Jayla, and Elijah.