January 24, 2017
As you know, we are developing the strategic plan that will guide our Charlottesville schools through the year 2023. So far, we have gotten a great response from students, staff, and parents — and we want to hear from you, too.
Three opportunities are available for staff and parents:
This monthly newsletter will reflect on some of the ideas we’ve heard so far, connecting the ideas with recent activities in our schools.
—Dr. Rosa S. Atkins, Superintendent
Johnson fourth graders participate in a strategic plan focus group
This month, CHS photo and African-American history students partnered on an community project in which they interviewed and photographed local black leaders to document African-American lives, leadership, and experiences. The images and content will be presented to the CHS community during their African-American History Month assembly.
Thanks to the school division’s new iSTEM program, fifth-graders at Walker School designed, built, and tested boats for a journey up the “James River” in a classroom simulation. In addition to the STEM skills, the project incorporated history and language arts skills. Similarly, third-graders across the division designed and built garden structures to protect the schools’ lettuce from winter, among other projects. You can catch a broader glimpse of the work of this new iSTEM program at STEM nights hosted by the elementary schools this winter.
A few recent examples:
Our partnership with City Schoolyard Garden offers hands-on learning across the curriculum. Students, staff, and parents are pleased with these ongoing activities and are glad to see expansions, including the green roof project on the new garden shed at Greenbrier.
Recent examples include:
Our strategic plan process includes focus groups with students at all our schools, including our alternative program, Lugo-McGinness Academy. Students have brought important and unique perspectives but also share many of the same educational goals and preferences as their teachers and parents.
The CHS science club BACON (Best All-around Club of Nerds) offers a model for how students can take ownership of their learning. Students pick the projects they wish to focus on and work independently on their goals. As adviser Dr. Matt Shields notes, “It’s about as far away as you can get from ‘My dad did my science fair project.'” For a fifth straight year, the students working on the Zero Robotics team qualified for the international finals in the programming competition sponsored by NASA and MIT. Good luck at the finals, BACON!
Even younger students can take ownership of their learning. This year, thanks to a grant from the Shannon Foundation, Venable students will lead their own parent-teacher conferences. Using portfolios of their own work, students will reflect on their growth and learning as well as articulate their goals for the future
While students in all curriculum areas offered specific examples of ways their teachers offer choice and independence, Buford and CHS students enrolled in engineering classes say that choice and independence are at the heart of these classes. Students are given structured expectations about what they will learn and what projects will guide them through the curriculum, but on a daily basis, students work independently and with peers to accomplish these goals.
Recent examples include:
Across our elementary schools, classrooms and even whole schools host periodic or daily “morning meetings” to celebrate successes, define goals, and build community.
This year’s new Link Crew program at CHS has connected upper-class mentors with ninth-graders to help younger students make a good transition, establish connections, and have fun.
More than wins and losses, athletics is about character. At a recent basketball game, CHS recently honored graduate Rashard Davis, who just helped the JMU football team earn a national championship. Davis is known for his work ethic, values, character — and setting college conference records. Similarly, girls’ basketball coach Jim Daly recently tweeted, “Our leading scorer from last night [Daeja Wade] was back in the gym by 9am to coach a 1st/2nd grade basketball team — nice reminder of what a great group of girls we have!”
Wellness and nutrition have also received attention in the focus groups. While Charlottesville has won national awards for its commitments to healthy activity, local foods, and more, there is always room for improvement. New nutrition coordinator has met with a feedback group of Walker students, and a parent group focusing on fresh and healthy school meals has also been formed. Find the group on Facebook here!
Recent examples include:
This is just a sampling of ideas we’ve heard. If you think one is missing, let us know by filling out the survey or attending a meeting!
At their January meeting, the Board elected Juan Wade and Sherry Kraft as chair and vice-chair, respectively. The Board expressed its appreciation to outgoing chair and vice chair Amy Laufer and Leah Puryear (both of whom will remain on the Board). In addition, the Board voted to approve the 2017-18 Academic Calendar, the 2017-18 Program of Studies, and the tuition for the CLASS summer program. The Board also discussed the budget for 2017-18, heard updates about the “Link Crew” mentoring program at CHS, and more.
For details, official minutes, or other reports, visit our electronic schoolboard, accessible via our web site.
Register here to receive notices of future Board meetings. We livestream at ustream.com.
Upcoming events include:
Stage Left Theater presents Beauty and the Beast, 1/24, 6:30pm, Walker Auditorium
Community Strategic Plan Listening Session (open to all), 1/25, 7pm, CHS (Click here for a list of other listening sessions).
Buford offers Parent University, 1/26, 6pm
CHS Symphony/Choir Concert with Fine Arts Showcase, 2/1, 7:30pm, MLKPAC
School Board Meeting, 2/2, 5:30pm, CHS Media Center
Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) meeting, 2/14, 8:45am, Division Annex at CHS (call 245-2400 for more information)
CATEC Open House, 2/16, 4-6pm
TheatreCHS presents In the Woods, 2/16-18 at 7:30 (also 1:00 on 2/18). MLKPAC. Tickets available here.
Professional Learning Day (no school for students), 2/20
School Board Meeting, 3/2, 5:30pm, CHS Media Center
Remember that you can subscribe to our Google calendar of school holidays and as well as Google calendars for school-specific events. Instructions are at charlottesvilleschools.org/calendar.
View previous editions of the Superintendent Message.