A Word from Dr. Gurley
Good evening! As I begin my sixth month as the proud superintendent of Charlottesville City Schools, I am reflecting with gratitude on all the gifts of our community: the innovative teachers, the tireless staff, the amazing students. We have faced many challenges this year but we are truly #BetterTogetherCCS.
I want to give an update about school reconfiguration. “Reconfiguration” is such a technical-sounding term, but at heart what it means is making changes to our schools so that students are in environments that will support them best. As part of this process, we need to invest heavily in Buford and Walker. We had hoped that a potential special sales tax would provide a common-sense path to funding this project, but despite bipartisan support, state approval is very unlikely for this year. The most secure path forward is now in the hands of the Charlottesville City Council. You can read recent reporting here. If this long-overdue investment in our schools matters to you, please let City Council know as soon as possible. You can also join other families in this effort.
A quick COVID update: we are glad to see that cases in our division have dropped to pre-omicron levels. We are still seeing high levels of student masking.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and all the important information below.
Dr. Royal A. Gurley, Jr
School-Wide Morning Meetings (SWMM) are times of community-building and fun at our elementary schools. At a SWMM in late February, Burnley-Moran students and staff danced along with West African dance and drumming troupe Chihamba. Click to watch a clip of the festivities!
Need a refresher on the calendar? Here’s a quick review:
• Friday, March 18 is a Teacher Workday (No school for students)
• April 1 is a student holiday/teacher workday to start Spring Break (April 4-8)
• Subscribe to our Google academic calendar.
Three CHS seniors recently received top honors in the 2021-22 Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest put on by the MLK Jr. Community Celebration Committee, supported by the Albemarle County Rotary Club Foundation. Congratulations to winner Jakia Maupin and finalists Kaymin Hester and Venetia Smith! Jakia will read her essay, “Full of Passion and Out of Patience,” as a part of a ceremony at the Ting Pavilion in April.
Congratulations to David Becker (CHS), selected to be the Virginia state representative to the Southeastern Theatre Conference; Maelys Croce (Johnson), honored among the “best elementary teachers” in the Charlottesville Family Ultimate 2022 Go-To Guide; Cicely Shelton-Barnes (Venable), winner of the 2022 JMU Literacy Alumni Award; and Laura Mulligan Thomas (CHS), winner of the American String Teachers Association 2022 Elizabeth A. H. Green School Educator Award. Their peers know what we already knew — our teachers are leaders in their fields!
Our division’s gifted education model brings high-level talent development into all classrooms. Still, per state law, each spring, we follow a gifted identification process for students in grades 3 and beyond. Families can opt out of this process if they wish. More information and an identification opt-out form can be found on the Gifted Program website.
The war in Ukraine affects us all, adults and children alike. When students need to talk about what they’re seeing and hearing, Greenbrier school counselor Katherine Sublett writes, “We should all be prepared to meet them with empathy, reassurance and our best listening ears.” Here is one guide Sublett recommends for helping preschool and elementary school children, and here is another with a focus on tweens and teens.
There’s still time to apply for preschool! Our preschool program helps children become kindergarten-ready through play and activities, and it is free and available for qualifying 3- and 4-year-olds. Learn more at charlottesvilleschools.org/preschool
CCS will be hosting the 2nd Annual Day of Play event for students, staff and their families the weekend of April 22-24. There will be a wide variety of recorded and live sessions to encourage fun, fitness and play, including offerings like dance classes, arts and crafts, sport skill sessions, cooking, mindfulness and more. Stay tuned!
For National School Social Work Week we are saying THANK YOU to our incredible team of social workers, social-emotional support counselors and student support liaisons in our schools. Since last year we have increased the number of these mental wellness staff positions in our division from 5 to 16.5, all to support students’ mental well-being. Regardless of their title, these professionals help students in each of our schools navigate bumps in the road of life, especially transitioning back to in-person during the pandemic. Heart art by Justus, Grade 1, Clark.
We’re all abuzz about this letter that a Clark first-grader wrote to Virginia Delegate Sally Hudson advocating for pay raises for our “Awesome!” teachers.
Here is Dr. Gurley at a recent meeting with his Superintendent Student Advisory Committee at Buford. On middle schoolers’ minds: Teacher retention, student lunches, and equity. Go Trojans!
Wow! The jazz group Jane Bunnett and Maqueque (“the new queens of Afro-Cuban jazz” per NPR) brought music and dance to third and fourth graders at Jackson-Via (above) and Clark in early March. Watch a video of Clark students getting in the rhythm!