GES’ Annual Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead Day

GES held its annual “Full STEAM Ahead Day” yesterday (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics).

The entire student body spent the morning collaborating and creating … all in search of the perfect solution to their grade level’s design brief. (Here’s an example of one of the six design briefs undertaken during today’s event: 5th grade design brief.) Some groups created wagons, others catapults (all from household recycled materials and “clean trash”), as they worked to meet the challenges set forth in their project-based assignments.

Thank you to Mrs. Lisa Brown, GES’ Gifted Resource Teacher, and the entire faculty for fostering creativity and critical thinking in this amazing school wide event. Mrs. Brown commented, “This truly is the best day of my year. I am always amazed at what children can imagine and create when the problem is open-ended.”

Grade 2 Catapult Design

Grade 5 “Fourth Little Pig” Home Construction

Summer Reading Program & Field Day of the Past

Once again, GCPS students have the opportunity to be recognized at September’s Field Day of the Past event for their summer reading efforts. Students can be a part of the fair’s celebration by reading ten (or more) books over the summer, recording their efforts on the Blue Ribbon Reading Log, and returning the completed log to their teacher by September 11, 2015.

This year’s Field Day of the Past event is scheduled for September 18-20, 2015.

GCPS Partnership with VCU’s da Vinci Center for Innovation

Sometimes great things can be accomplished quickly, even immediately. At other times, it takes much longer.

Fifteen months ago (after several months of development and writing) we submitted an application for the Virginia Future Education and Environment Development Grant. We wrote the application focused on the development of a partnership with VCU’s da Vinci Center for Innovation and the possibility of an amazing, creative opportunity for our high school students.

Five months after submission we received notification that our grant was selected and $11,500 was awarded.

Fifteen months later our students in Mr. Bouwen’s Engineering class realized the benefit of the work that began as an idea in December 2013.

Mr. Bouwen’s students worked alongside graduate students at da Vinci to design and prototype a innovative electronic product from start to finish. The students leveraged the division’s technology to collaborate throughout the entire planning process. Next they used clay modeling to determine a design. From there the teams used CAD (computer added drafting) software to develop their ideas and transition them to actual prototypes using 3D printers. VCU’s da Vinci students worked closely with the teams throughout the project, both digitally and in person.

The project’s culminating event took place yesterday, when Mr. Bouwen’s students traveled to the da Vinci Center and presented their products to a panel of VCU students and professors as well as to each other. After each presentation the VCU panel asked questions to make the students think even more deeply about their products. At the end of the last presentation the panel identified the products they believed had the best design and marketability.

The second half of the day included a design challenge developed by the da Vinci students especially for GHS. Finally, the day finished with a walking tour of VCU, the engineering department, and the da Vinci Center’s design studio.

Mr. Bouwen’s commented, “This partnership has been a perfect example of a learning experience built to engage students in critical thinking, problem solving, and real world application. We hope it’s just the beginning of a lasting relationship with the da Vinci Center.

State Board Approves “Expedited Retakes” of SOL Tests in Grades 3-8

Student achievement as measured in traditional ways (like multiple choice tests) provides great insight into students’ literacy skills, math skills, as well as their mastery of content (i.e. Do they know historical facts?). In Virginia achievement on the state’s SOL tests (Standards or Learning) is also directly tied to state and federal accountability for schools.

With our division’s strategic plan as a foundation, GCPS has prioritized individual student growth over traditional achievement. This is not to be confused with a disinterest in achievement or a lack of recognition that achievement is important; quite the opposite, student achievement is critically important. In isolation, however, traditional achievement tests provide an incomplete picture of student learning. Paired with individual growth measures, like the division’s MAP assessments (Measures of Academic Progress), students, families, and teachers now have a more complete picture of student learning at both a prescribed point in time as well as over time (i.e. fall to winter to spring and from year to year).

Moreover, we believe a prioritization of individual student growth allows our school community to focus on the division’s mission to maximize the potential of every learner; as such, strong achievement results are a natural byproduct. Perhaps equally important, we believe a focus on individual growth decreases stress associated with high stakes state testing and increases the likelihood of students being fully engaged in their school experience.

Just a few days ago the Virginia Board of Education equipped schools with a new means of further reducing undue pressure on students by providing students in grades 3 through 8 with the opportunity to “retake” failed SOL tests depending on the associated circumstances. You can read the Board’s full press release here.

In response GCPS is working to develop a May testing calendar that provides efficiencies for these new allowances for students. Additionally, we are creating further means of communication for our families in preparation for another spring testing season.

Please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s principal, school counselor, Mrs. Jennifer Bocrie (Division Director of Testing), or me if we can answer questions or provide additional information. Many thanks!

Fine Arts Event Raises $665 for Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services

We wanted to share a tremendous thank you to everyone who supported this year’s Fine Arts Festival. It was an amazing showcase of our students’ & teachers’ talents, dedication, and hard work.

We also wanted our community to know that the associated Empty Bowls fundraiser raised $665 for the Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services. Thank you to our families, students, and our entire fine arts team!

Summer Workshop at VCU

Virginia Commonwealth University is offering a Mini-Economy Training Institute free of charge this summer to interested upper elementary and middle grades teachers. The 3-day institute carries 18 recertification points and is described as demonstrating “how teachers can design a mini-economy, integrate it with classroom instruction, and leverage the unit as a performance assessment.”

The full description and registration information is available here.

2015-16 Kindergarten Registration FAQs


1. When can children begin kindergarten? State guidelines dictate that a child who is five years old on or before September 30 of the upcoming school year should enroll in kindergarten.

2. How do I register my child for kindergarten? Thursday, April 16, 2015 (8:00-4:00) is the established day for 2015-16 kindergarten registration across our region of the Commonwealth. Families should plan to register at the elementary school whose attendance zone corresponds to their home address. (Please contact the division transportation department at 556-5361 with individual questions regarding elementary school attendance zones.) Even if families do not have all of the required documents, they should plan to register on April 16 in order to begin the enrollment process.

3. What do I need to register my child for kindergarten? TWO of the following documents are required: Proof of residency documents such as: • tax returns • voter registration card • recent payroll stub with physical address • automobile registration • utility bill (other than cell phone)/deposit receipt

Families will also need to bring the following documents that are required before a child may begin school in the fall: • a certified birth certificate for the child, or, for non-U.S. citizens, other substantiating documentation such as a passport or an I – 94 form • the child’s social security card • a copy of a comprehensive physical examination by a qualified, licensed physician within 12 months prior to the date the child begins school • evidence of immunizations as required by Virginia law.

4. My child will be five by September 30, 2015, but is not yet ready for kindergarten. Do I have to enroll my child this school year? No. Your child’s enrollment may be delayed for one year; however, you should notify the Superintendent in writing of your plans to delay kindergarten registration for one year.

5. My child just misses the deadline for enrollment in kindergarten by a few days. Is there a waiver of the age requirement? No. Goochland County Public Schools does not offer a waiver of the age requirement.

6. Will my child attend a half-day or full-day kindergarten program? Goochland County Public Schools operates a full-day kindergarten program.

7. I am separated from my spouse and I don’t want him/her to visit or pick up my child. Will you make sure that doesn’t happen? Anyone other than the natural parent of a child must provide legal guardianship papers when enrolling a child in school. If your spouse is the natural parent of your child and you do not have legal papers showing court ordered arrangements, we must, by law, allow the parent to see the child. It is the responsibility of the parent(s) to provide the school with appropriate legal documents.

8. When is the first day of kindergarten and when will we learn who our kindergarten teacher is? The first day of the 2015-16 school year is Monday, August 24. You will receive a letter in the mail in August from your child’s school stating your child’s teacher assignment.

9. How will I know where and when to wait for the school bus? You will receive your child’s transportation information from the transportation department. This letter will contain your child’s bus driver’s name, bus number, telephone number, bus stop times and location. A responsible adult should be there with your child at least 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive in the morning and the afternoon. An adult should be at the bus stop until your child reaches fourth grade.

10. Is there an orientation specifically for families of incoming kindergarten students? Yes. Each of our three elementary schools will host a Kindergarten Orientation for families. This event is an opportunity to hear from school administration about day-to-day school operations and kindergarten programming. It’s also an opportunity for kindergarteners to meet their teachers and visit their classrooms. Kindergarten Orientation is typically held on the Thursday before the first day of the new school year.

11. Where may I obtain more information?

Youth Art Month Show

The GCPS Fine Arts Team hosted a student gallery opening at the Goochland Public Library last night. The show featured impressive work by dozens of students and was well attended by parents, students, community members, and school division staff.

(from l to r) Julie Johnson (GHS), Cindy Shelton-Eide (GHS), Cindy Edmonds (RES), Happy Krickovic (GMS), Ann Rohrer (GMS), and Kim Dalton (BES)