What‘s Happening at Johnson

Johnson students in garden

Mud and imagination in the Johnson garden

2019 marks my eighth year in the Johnson Garden. One of the things that makes both Johnson and the garden program here so special is the sense of ownership that teachers and students have taken. Over the years, as the Garden has grown so has the overall participation across the school, and in turn, the opportunities for learning have similarly expanded. This year, every teacher at Johnson, across all grades (even the 3 year old pre-K class) scheduled weekly or biweekly garden time before the school year had even started!

Each year, teachers bring both their students and their ideas, thereby making the Garden better for themselves as well as the next class and the next generation of students who come into this space. Our new and growing Science Center and Mud Kitchen, the idea for which came from a former Johnson teacher, is one such project. The Center continues to be a work in progress and has already been well-used. The roof is finished and we have a running sink which will soon use rain collected from the roof. Additionally, we have an erosion table, a word puzzle and a spinner for games and random selection.

photo collage of kids in Johnson garden

This fall also saw the addition of a water feature with Cat Tails and a sarracenia, a carnivorous pitcher plant. The sarracenia has been a particular point of fascination for our students who like to peer down into the pitchers and catch sight of captured flies and other flying insects. We are looking to add some small fish to eat mosquito larvae.

We are growing a variety of greens (lettuce, kale, collards, spinach, red cabbage, sorrel) as well as broccoli, carrots, radishes, beets, beans, squash, tomatoes. In addition to the vegetables, we are currently rich in herbs and have basil, oregano, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, mint, stevia, lemongrass, lemon thyme, lemon balm, sage and lavender! Students love to explore the sheer variety of tastes and smells.

Over the course of this year, we are planning to continue to transform our upper bed area into a Pollinator Garden with wildflowers, bulbs, butterfly bushes and clover trail.

Excerpt from City Schoolyard Garden September 2019 Newsletter
Written by Rick Harden

screenshot of NBC29 story on bus stop meet and greets

Bus stop meet and greets connect schools and families

screenshot of NBC29 story on bus stop meet and greetsWhether dropping in to visit schools or hosting Parent University information workshops or swinging by bus stops with breakfast and books, our family engagement team is always looking for ways to connect schools and families.

Throughout the year, Family Engagement Coordinators Velvet Coleman and Bianca Johnson can be seen visiting neighborhood bus stops at their morning bus stop meet and greets. The visits have been widely-received by the community since they began in August 2018, and it is not uncommon to see principals, teachers, and administrators stop by to help greet students and their families.

“Strong relationships between our families,  our schools, and our communities benefit us all,” said Coleman. When students see us in their community and in their schools, they now recognize us, and this helps build relationships.”

For more on how our family engagement team is making connections, visit www.charlottesvilleschools.org/family-engagement.

Related news coverage:

Teacher reading to kindergarten students

Soho Center RED! Project provides 10 books in 10 days to kindergartners

Teacher reading to kindergarten studentsThanks to the Soho Center and its RED! Project (Read Every Day!), all Cville Schools kindergarten students are receiving 10 beautiful hardcover books in 10 days.

Each day since the first day of school, teachers have been reading aloud to their students, and then students get to take home the book. Parents are encouraged to read the book again with their children as part of a routine that encourages reading every day.

For more on the Soho Center’s efforts to promote children’s literacy, visit www.child2000.org.

Venable student with tshirt

Back-to-School Nights

After a great start to the school year, attend a Back-to-School Night to check in with teachers and get a better sense of what’s coming up!

  • Burnley-Moran: Tuesday, September 17, 5:30-7pm (includes picnic)
  • Clark: Tuesday, September 17, 5:30-7pm
  • Greenbrier: Tuesday, September 17, 6-7:30pm
  • Jackson-Via: Tuesday, September 17, 6-7:30pm
  • Johnson: Tuesday, September 17, 6-7:30pm
  • Venable:  Thursday, September 19, 5:30-7:30pm (Welcome Back Potluck to follow)
  • Walker: Tuesday, September 10, 6-8pm
  • Buford: Parent-Teacher Conferences Thursday 9/26 and Tuesday, 10/1, 4-7pm plus Harvest Festival 10/4 at 5:30pm
  • CHS: Monday, September 16, 5-7pm
  • CATEC: Wednesday, September 25, 5-7pm
  • Lugo-McGinness: Back-to-School Potluck, August 20
clay statue of girl reading

Summer Reading at Charlottesville City Schools

clay statue of girl reading
Sculpture by Kara, Johnson Elementary 3rd grader.

Reading never takes a vacation!  Make this important and fun activity a part of your summer.  Below is information about our summer reading programs.

Also, you and your family might enjoy meeting up with Books on Bikes, a group of Charlottesville City Schools teachers, librarians, staff, and even trained doggie pals as they make summertime deliveries of books and freezy-pops.

Summer Reading Recommendations and Information:

Need a school supply list? Click here.

Need a open house schedule? Click here.

For other Back-to-School details, click here.


Screenshot of librarians' November newsletter

CCS librarians’ spring newsletter now available

Screenshot of librarians' November newsletterThe Spring 2019 edition of the CCS elementary librarians newsletter is now available. “It’s Elementary, My Dear” provides up-to-date information about all the great things happening in our six school libraries.

Spring has brought many amazing learning experiences to our libraries throughout Charlottesville City Schools. Our students have participated in selecting their favorite book for Virginia Reader’s Choice. We have had author visits through a collaboration with the Virginia Festival of the Book. Students have written poems, participated in MakerSpace, and enjoyed checking out and reading some fabulous books.

We are looking forward to summer reading visits from librarians at the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library. Our elementary team is creating summer reading lists for your child to bring home to help keep them excited about reading and books.

For more on what each of our libraries have been doing this month,  keep reading here!