A Word from Dr. Gurley
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!
Dr. Royal A. Gurley, Jr.
Go Black Knights! From football to field hockey, theater to BACON, Cville Schools high school students are busy pursuing their passions and making our community proud. (Photo courtesy Mike Kropf, Daily Progress).
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.
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.
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.
Have school-related COVID questions? We’ve got answers:
— Find our latest COVID protocols (when to stay home, etc.). With our community transmission rate at high, we encourage students to mask.
— Sign-up for free, optional weekly or one-time COVID testing
— Follow our COVID Dashboard | COVID Spreadsheet
— Stay up to date on vaccines. The bivalent COVID vaccine (targeting the original virus and omicron variants) is now available locally at pharmacies and the Blue Ridge Health District.
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.
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.
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).
Even if you can’t attend, registering will get you access to the recording. Want to submit a question for the workshop? Email farrelp1@
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.
The School Board usually meets the first Thursday of the month at 5pm in the media center at CHS. You can join in person, via Facebook, or via Zoom. Attached are the mini-minutes from August and from last week’s September meeting. Interested in future meetings? Sign up to receive notices of School Board meetings.
What a way to start the day! UVA cheerleaders came to Jackson-Via (above) and Greenbrier to give a special welcome to students on the first Friday of the school year.
Our community has really showed up for students walking to school! Here is Virginia Del. Sally Hudson reminding cars to “Go Slow! Cville Kids Walk to School” on East High Street near Burnley-Moran.
Let the joy of learning begin! Students at Johnson (left) and Clark (right) celebrate a STEM challenge conquered.