GCPS Fine Arts Festival – March 19 from 5:30-8:00PM at GHS

Please mark your calendars for the GCPS Fine Arts Festival which will take place Thursday, March 19th from 5:30-8:00PM at Goochland High School.

  • Student Art Displays
  • Empty Bowls Fundraiser ($10 for handmade ceramic bowl + soup to fight hunger in our community)
  • Jazz Band Performance
  • “Into the Woods” Musical Preview
  • Dance Performances
  • Randolph Elementary Strings Performance
  • Middle School Band Performance

“Type 1 Speakers” Provide a Spark

“Type 1 Speakers” is the term used to describe the guest presenters that our elementary schools host throughout the year as part of the division’s schoolwide enrichment program. Type 1 Speakers are experts in their respective fields, whether an accomplished scientist, a published author, a collegiate athlete, or an elementary student who has spent hours researching a topic.

Earlier this school year, I saw Ms. Georgia Bush from the James River Association serve as a Type 1 Speaker at Byrd Elementary School, and I was thrilled by the student engagement she generated. As a follow up to that experience, I thought it would be cool to talk with some students at BES and hear directly from them about the influence the division’s Type 1 Speaker program has had on them over the years.

Last week I had the opportunity to spend time with Mrs. Glenda Hawk, Gifted Resource Teacher at Byrd Elementary School, and several fourth and fifth grade students discussing the impact Type 1 Speakers have had on their lives. From astronomers to Triple A baseball players, the students I visited with recalled with great detail the speakers, their message, and the impact it had had on them.

A.J. Condrey, fourth grader, described the message he’s carried with him since Rob Burns, a former football player at the University of Virginia, served as a Type 1 Speaker two years ago. “Mr. Burns really had a big influence on me. His message was to give 100% effort every day and to never give up — on the athletic field and in the classroom. I still think about his message today.”

Mrs. Hawk described Type 1 Speakers as, “a critical part of our overall gifted program at the elementary level. The entire student body gets to hear directly from experts, which often spark their own interests to expand their learning and make connections to their own lives. The Type 1 Speaker program is foundational in nature and probably has the greatest impact because every student benefits from the experience.”

Mrs. Lisa Brown, Gifted Resource Teacher at Goochland Elementary School, stated, “In my opinion we have had some amazing Type 1 Speakers over the past four years. I know that we have had two GRIPs [Gifted Research Interest-Based Projects] that were spawned directly from the Type 1 Speaker experience, in addition to many children who have been enriched in smaller ways.”

(l to r) A.J. Condrey (grade 4), Max Nichols (grade 4), and Mrs. Hawk

(l to r) Savannah Cave (grade 5), Porscha Suttle (grade 5), A.J. Condrey (grade 4), and Heath Davidson (grade 4)

Ms. Georgia Bush from the James River Association was a “Type 1 Speaker” at Byrd Elementary School this fall. She discusses Virginia’s watersheds with the 5th grade team.

Richmond’s CBS 6 Anchor Visits GMS

Mrs. Cindy Charlton-Matejka, Grade 8 English, made a memorable day happen for her students last week.

On Wednesday, Bill Fitzgerald, news anchor for Richmond’s CBS 6, spent an afternoon with Mrs. Charlton-Matejka’s eighth graders. He talked with students about his experiences as a news broadcaster and how they are directly connected to his experiences as a student. Fitzgerald’s central message to Charlton-Matejka’s English students was to become as proficient with literacy as possible. “Read, write, and speak with clarity and thought every single day,” said Fitzgerald. “Your ability to do all three well will serve you in any profession — and in life.”

Mrs. Charlton-Matejka, her eighth grade class, and Goochland Middle School even got some outstanding on-air time thanks to Fitzgerald.

Richmond’s CBS 6 News Anchor, Bill Fitzgerald, addresses Mrs. Cindy Charlton-Matejka’s eighth grade English class.

One District, One Book

Goochland County Public Schools officially introduced this year’s One District, One Book (ODOB) program today. Our elementary schools each held a kickoff assembly, at which time all 1,097 elementary students received a copy of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.

Copies of the book were also distributed to county leaders, teachers, administrators, bus drivers, and food services staff, so that conversations around this year’s ODOB selection can flourish within the school-community.

The program is designed to foster shared literacy experiences at home, and the division has asked families to commit to 10-15 minutes of reading each weekday evening during the month of February.

You can learn more about the program in my January 12th post.

Mrs. Ferguson’s 4th grade class

4th Annual STEM Essay Contest

On January 15, 2015 Governor McAuliffe and the Virginia Council on Women announced the 4th annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Essay Contest for female students in grades 11 and 12. The Council will award one $5,000 scholarship to a female junior or senior who will be pursuing a STEM career at an institution of higher education. Other scholarships may be awarded at the discretion of the Council.

You may read the full announcement here.

Applications and guidelines are available HERE.

3rd Annual Conundrum Day – Saturday, February 7

GCPS will host our 3rd Annual Conundrum Day event on Saturday, February 7th from 9:00-11:30AM at Goochland Middle School. This is a free event for any interested students in grades K through 8. Conundrum Day is a morning full of hands-on problem solving, children’s engineering, and engaging team activities. (This year’s event will be directly tied to the school division’s One District, One Book program that kicks off on February 2nd.)

The program is designed and organized by our incredibly accomplished STEM Advisory Committee and has been generously sponsored by Khalos Mexican Restaurant in Goochland. (Khalos is formerly Frida’s.)

The registration deadline for Conundrum Day is Friday, January 30th. You may access a registration form here.

We hope to see you there!

GCPS Announces One District, One Book

January 12, 2015

Dear Elementary Families,

On behalf of the GCPS team, we hope your family had a restful, happy holiday season. We’re looking forward to an engaging, productive spring semester and a successful 2015 for our students, families, and educators.

In February Goochland County Public Schools will be embarking on a special project for the second consecutive year, a division-wide book club called One District, One Book (ODOB). ODOB is a unique program that provides elementary children at all grade levels with the opportunity to share the same book over the same time period. Curious as that may seem at first, it actually makes sound educational sense. Literacy experts recommend reading material out loud that is beyond a child’s individual reading level; the same experts support reading chapter books aloud with older children, even when they are able to read independently.

Our ODOB committee selected a title that can be followed, understood, and enjoyed by younger students, but that will still captivate older children. As the centerpiece of the program, every elementary school family will receive a copy of this same book and will be asked to share the literacy experience during the month of February. The title will be announced at a special school-wide assembly introducing the program and the book on Monday, February 2, and your child will come home that day with his/her very own copy. When the books are distributed, families will also receive a shared community reading schedule so everyone can keep up at home. Generally, you will be asked to read one chapter each night—about 10-15 minutes. We hope that you will find the time to participate in this special activity focused on community and the importance of literacy.

Reading aloud at home is incredibly valuable as it helps develop a strong foundation for all learning, as well as models lifelong literacy; moreover, it’s also a fun, worthwhile family activity. With the ODOB program, we aim to build a community of readers across our elementary school communities. Everyone—students, parents, teachers, bus drivers, and administrative staff—will be participating.

In school, your child will be engaged in literary discussions and invited to answer daily trivia questions to encourage and celebrate participation. We encourage you to make sure your family participates so your child can be included. You will find that your child will take pride in knowing and anticipating the details of the story. Throughout the month, everyone will be talking about the book!

On behalf of our entire GCPS team, please join me in thanking the Goochland Education Foundation (GEF) and Ms. Tamra Adams, Director, Adams International School, for their overwhelming generosity and continued support of our school community. Ms. Adams’ gracious and significant donation, by way of the GEF, has made One District, One Book a reality for us this year. We are appreciative and proud of this community partnership.

Good luck! I hope to talk with both you and your child about the book during the month of February. When an entire school division reads a book, there’s a lot to talk about. With your help, we will strengthen a community of readers in Goochland!

District Spelling Bee

This year’s District Spelling Bee will be held at 6:30PM on Wednesday, January 7 in the Goochland High School auditorium. Congratulations to this year’s finalists: Morgan Allen (GMS), Casey Grimm (BES), Hailey Hall (GMS), Mariusz Jablonski (RES), Alexis Johnson (BES), Ben McLemore (GMS), Devyn Powers (GES), Miranda Slayton (BES), Samantha Stern (GES), Brandy Sweigart (RES), Reese Whitlock (RES), and Jack Young (GES).

Instructional Rounds – Year 3

The division leadership team has been engaged in the third year of instructional rounds this semester. The “rounds” model is one borrowed from the medical field in order to better connect division administrators to the most important work that takes place every day in our division: teaching and learning in the classroom.

Here are some moments captured from this month’s instructional rounds:

Virtual Holiday Read Aloud

There’s no better place to be during the weeks leading up to the winter holidays than an elementary school: the activities, the smiles, and the contagious positive energy. Every time I get a chance, during the month of December, to spend time with our youngest students and the teachers who lead their learning, I love to share a story. While I’ve been able to share several in person over the past two weeks, I’m leaning on technology to help me be even more present.

Here are two of my favorites holiday classics.

Poetry Out Loud Returns to GHS for a Second Year

(top, left to right) Nadia Socarras, Sasha Kerr, Erin Maguire, and Tori Venable; (bottom) Ms. Holloway-Costa

On Tuesday, December 2, Goochland High School hosted its second Poetry Out Loud school-wide poetry recitation competition. Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation contest, and last year saw then-junior Morgan Potts represent Goochland High School for the first time ever in the regional competition. This year, that honor will belong to senior Sasha Kerr, who won on Tuesday evening and will proceed to the regional competition which will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, February 13, at the Children’s Theater at Willow Lawn in Richmond.

Ms. Emily Holloway-Costa, English department chair, once again brought the contest to GHS and was supported by the enthusiastic participation and presence of fellow department members Ms. Marianne Whisler (as a new prompter) and Mr. Jeremy Wampler (reprising his role as score tabulator).

Ms. Holloway-Costa commented, “Last school year was all about bringing something new to GHS with poetry as we built up a presence with Mr. John Blake’s impactful poetry workshops in 2013, and this year’s competition is about maintaining that and expanding our presence as real contenders in the regional competition. We learned so much there with that first experience, and I think everyone involved is excited to see the growth in understanding to improve the already memorable performance. We had four contenders this year compared to two last year, and all were of high caliber and remarkable commitment. This is a wonderful upward trend that I hope to see grow further. I am thrilled to see Sasha advancing to this next level of competition and know her other competitors have a great respect for her and her ability and drive.

Senior Sasha Kerr won first place reciting the moving “Broken Promises” and “Friendship After Love,” while junior Nadia Socarras finished a close second with “Ebb” and the rhythmic “Aria.” Senior Erin Maguire delivered a melodious rendition of “The Children’s Hour” and a profound “Apollo,” and freshman Tori Venable delivered the “Sonnet 55″ and the magical “All Hallows’ Eve.” All were met with applause and respect for the careful time and genuine effort put into their performances.

Judges once again included Mr. John Wright, Goochland School Board member; Mrs. Erin Yearout Patton, GHS Government teacher and recipient of Goochland’s 2013 Teacher of the Year award; and Mr. John Blake, a locally and nationally recognized poet widely credited with bringing slam poetry and its culture of emotional honesty and linguistic excellence and precision to GHS’s student body. All served last year and gave remarkable feedback and encouragement alike.

The Virginia State Reading Association Announces that Goochland’s Partnership with the University of Virginia will be Featured at their Annual Conference this Spring

In August we partnered with a team from the University of Virginia and the Central Virginia Writing Project on a year-long effort to develop a guiding document focused on writing instruction in our schools. In addition to the development of this curricular resource, the team’s work also includes embedded professional development and in-class coaching.

This week the Virginia State Reading Association announced that the team’s ongoing work will be featured at this spring’s annual conference to be held in Richmond on March 12-14, 2015.

The team is being co-chaired by Mrs. Margaret Dickerson, our division teacher leader for literacy, Dr. Ottilie Austin, UVa, and Ms. Pati Cunningham, UVa – and includes teachers from each of our five schools.

Goochland Elementary School Principal, Mrs. Tina McCay, Recognized by VASCD with 2014 Impact Award

It was announced today, December 4, 2014, that Tina McCay, Principal of Goochland Elementary School, is the recipient of Virginia ASCD’s 2014 Impact Award for Region 1. In the announcement made by Laurie McCullough, VASCD‘s Executive Director, Mrs. McCay was commended as follows:

There are many aspects of your professional practice for which we could commend you. You have brought engaging innovations like student engineering and student leadership to the elementary grades at your school, while also showing high achievement and remarkable individual student growth. In addition, your colleagues speak of you as a supportive, inspirational leader who personalizes learning not only for your students, but also for your staff.

On behalf of the entire GCPS community, please join us in congratulating Mrs. McCay!

Mrs. Tina McCay, Region I recipient of VASCD’s 2014 Impact Award, works with two students this week at Goochland Elementary School.