Goochland Education Foundation Amazing Raise Needs You

Goochland Education Foundation (GEF) is in the game this year and we need YOU on our Amazing Raise Early Bird team!

The Amazing Raise is our region’s 36-hour online giving challenge that inspires and empowers our community to support Central Virginia nonprofit organizations in an amazing way, regardless of where you call home. And, we need you to help show the region our #GoochlandPride by supporting GEF with a $50 tax-deductible donation during the Early Bird Challenge on Wednesday, September 16th, at 6am. The first 15 organizations to have 50 donors giving $50 will win a $2,500 prize which would be an awesome victory for providing programs and scholarships to our GCPS students.

Let us know if you plan to be an Early Bird team player by visiting We’ll keep you posted on event details, share GEF prize announcements, and send a few email reminders as we get closer to the big day.

Principals Appreciation Week

I am pleased to announce that Governor Terence R. McAuliffe has signed a Certificate of Recognition declaring January 25-31, 2015, as Virginia Principals Appreciation Week.  I hope that you and others throughout your community will join me in acknowledging the tireless efforts of our school principals in Goochland!

GCPS Principals: Tina McCay, Dan Gardner, James Hopkins, Jenn Rucker, Mike Newman

The role of the principal as the instructional leader of the school is critically important to ensure students are provided the opportunity to learn.  Our principals work diligently to help students and teachers excel, and their leadership and hard work are essential to the success of our schools.  They deserve all the recognition and praise we can give them.

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Please take a moment this week to express your appreciation this week to your child’s principal!

Goochland High School Top School in Virginia Living Magazine

We welcome GHS principal, Mike Newman, who contributed this blog post highlighting our high school’s recent inclusion in Virginia Living magazine’s Top High Schools list.

From Mr. Newman:

The October 2014 edition of Virginia Living magazine arrived this week. Among the stories included is one highlighting the state of education and “Featuring Top High Schools and Colleges.” Goochland High School is noted on page 123 in a section focused on science, math and technology.

The Virginia Living magazine writes, “Goochland High School’s recently expanded career and technical education program will offer 10 new courses this fall. A renovation of the CTE facility at the school includes new heavy-duty equipment; a simulator on loan from Luck Stone (a producer of crushed stone, sand and gravel) for the heavy-duty equipment operations program, kitchens for its culinary arts program, a new health science lab and a USMC JROTC facility.”

Many thanks to all who have contributed and helped to make this happen and to the Virginia Living magazine for including GHS in its article on top high schools.

Go Bulldogs!

Goochland Top Performer in Writing

Having focused on student engagement and maximization of individual student academic growth, we are thrilled to report that Goochland was a top performer on last spring’s SOL tests. We were the top scorer in the region on the writing test, and second in reading, math and history – 3rd in science.

Read the full press release here.

This confirms our belief that a focus on pedagogy and improved relationships with our students with a passion for seeing every learner grow academically is of utmost importance. And scores on achievement tests, such as the SOL’s, will reflect that commitment to excellent instruction.

Great work, GCPS community!

GMS A Cappella Club

Those attending the December 10 meeting of the Goochland County School Board were treated to a performance by Goochland Middle School’s newest musical group, “Out of the Blue.” Led by teacher, Ms. Erin Brooks, this talented group of singers is an example of the many club opportunities the school is providing to students to further engage and inspire students to set high standards for themselves and one another.

For more information about clubs at GMS contact principal, Ms. Jenn Smith.

School and Campus Safety Week in Virginia

Governor McDonnell has proclaimed the week of December 9-13 as School and Campus Safety Week in the Commonwealth.  The proclamation emphasizes the critical importance of maintaining safe environments for learning in schools and on campuses. The Governor has also set December 13th as a Day of Mourning for those students and teachers who lost their lives in the tragic event at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December.  He has called for a moment of silence and reflection at 9:30 a.m. on that day.

We will observe the moment of silence in all schools and departments at the specified time. We invite our families and communities to join us in the period of reflection.


Representative Cantor Visits GHS Government Class

GHS U.S. Government teacher, Mrs. Yearout-Patton (“Mrs. EYP”, as she’s known by her students) hosted a live Goggle “Hangout” in which representative Eric Cantor engaged with GHS seniors and answered their specific questions. Joined by superintendent, Dr. Lane, the group enjoyed an involved discourse on several pertinent issues the students had been exploring in Mrs. EYP’s class.

ITRT, Bea Cantor, helped to make the meeting possible by facilitating the live internet event.

Thankfulness: A Message to the Staff

Faculty and Staff,

Thank you so much for all of your excellence, creativity, courage, honor, and optimism in the first semester!  This year has honestly been one of my favorite school years as we have watched our students’ creativity and engagement with the iPad initiative, we learned more about our students and their growth with our Balanced Assessment Project, and we are extremely excited to reward our teachers with strategic compensation.  We have also seen many classrooms beginning to proliferate student-centered learning opportunities such as project-based and cross-curricular experiences, performance assessments, and children’s engineering lessons.  All of these while continuing to focus on the heart of what matters, educating every child, every day in Goochland.  With all of these new initiatives, we know you may be ready for the break! Our hope is that we all remain excited for what these opportunities mean for our students.

For these reasons, we are thankful for having you in our school division and are appreciative of your efforts to take on these new projects and would like to give everyone the day off on January 3!  We will not have any trainings on this day.  Principals, we will discuss at our principals’ meeting tomorrow, but please help us arrange at least some time to have buildings open in the event that any teachers want to come in to have their rooms ready before students return.

We will try to host some make-up trainings during planning times or faculty meetings to bolster everyone’s expertise with the new MAP assessments, but we felt like time with your families on January 3 was important as well!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

GCPS Year Round Schools Study to Air on NPR

Those who would like to hear more about the Year Round Feasibility Study we are pursuing through a recent grant award are encouraged to tune into NPR this Thursday afternoon, November 7. John Ogle recently interviewed Dr. Lane and Dr. Geyer about the study. The interview will air at 5:30 PM on All Things Considered.

To determine the best way to access the radio program, click here.

Regular Student Features: Take a Look

Take a look at this new student feature, published by Zoe Parrish. The elementary iPad initiative continues to amaze the educational community and gather media attention.

Zoe Parrish is allowing students to tell the story through Student EduSLAM!. By hosting a brief educational video on her blog, students will give us regular snapshots of how learning is bring transformed at GES.

A Colleague Shares Expertise

I was privileged to have Bea Cantor, GCPS ITRT, virtually visit a class I am teaching on assessment and student growth. A group of 12 teachers from the Metro Richmond area interacted with Bea via video chat regarding the G21 model and, specifically, how it encourages measurement of what VCU’s James McMillan calls “21st Century Disposition.” I think McMillan’s term much better captures what we (educators) mean when we refer to 21st century skills. It’s the attitude, beliefs and values that comprise a student’s personality and character.

Bea was exceptional. Those of us familiar with her work would expect no less. Her ability to articulate the conceptual model of G21 and, more importantly, engaging, project-based instruction left a profound mark on my students.

Bea Cantor explains her work with teachers in designing and implementing project-based lessons to Richmond-area teachers.

But what I most want to share was just how evident it was to me, hearing somewhat objectively the questions and answers, that our G21 model reflects the tenants of great instruction and great assessment. It’s a framework custom-designed to speak to these oft-referenced 21st century skills, or “dispositions,” encouraging teachers to emphasize problem-solving, collaboration, and creativity through a student-centered, self-reflective process.

I’ve been sold on Hendron’s model for a while now. This just put a few more blocks in the foundation.

Many thanks, Bea!



Come to the Goochland Fall Festival October 26

The 2013 Goochland County Fall Festival, presented by Goochland Parks, Recreation & Facilities is scheduled for Saturday, October 26th from 12-4pm at the Goochland Sports Complex.  The event will feature Michelle Nixon & Drive with a meet & greet with the band at 12pm and a free concert at 2pm.  Mark your calendar to see the History Mobile exhibit, enter the Liberty Mutual Bike Rodeo, climb the U.S. Army Rock Wall and enter the First Annual Best Apple Pie Contest!  Festivities will include a petting zoo, pony rides, pumpkin painting, make & take activities, bounceables plus carnival games!   The ever popular Halloween Costume Contest begins at 1:30pm.

Download the Fall Festival Flyer Here

Admission is free and volunteers are needed!  Shifts of 12-2pm and 2-4pm are available. Please contact the Recreation Division at (804) 556-5854 or visit us online on the County website  Rain date is scheduled for Sunday, October 27th from 2-6pm.

Download a Volunteer Application Here

“They Notice Me”

Beginning with the moving Veterans Day events held at GMS and GHS Monday morning, our scholar performers really took center stage this week in Goochland. It was a fitting time to experience Scot Mitchell’s induction into the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. Representatives from the Army honored Scot during a ceremony at Goochland High School this week.

“I challenge you to find out what you stand for.” (Jesse Grapes, to GCPS students & community members on November 12th)


Scot, a senior at GHS, was one of two Virginia students to be selected to receive this honor and participate in this distinguished and historical band. Thousands of talented and accomplished students sought this opportunity and very few were chosen. How proud we are to have one of them right here in Goochland.

Scot Mitchell and his fellow band members at the Veterans Day ceremony. Scot was just inducted into the US ARmy All American Marching Band.

Our School Board will further recognize Scot during its regularly scheduled meeting December 11th. Watch Scot and the All-American Band perform live during the Army All-American Bowl in Texas on January 5th at 1:00PM, NBC.

Our five School Board members and new superintendent, Dr. Lane, attended the VA School Board Association’s Annual Convention in Williamsburg this week. The convention was focused on providing attendees with the insight, tools and knowledge needed to maintain exemplary programs and pursue a common vision, despite ongoing reductions in funding imposed by the state.

There is still time to give the Board your perspective on budget priorities for next year’s school budget. This survey will be accepting feedback from our community through November 27th.

Dr. Geyer continues to lead the division’s instructional leaders through the Instructional Rounds initiative. Click here to read about just how successful this progressive approach has been in Goochland. On a personal note, it is inspiring to be in leadership team meetings and to hear our division leaders reference teachers and students by name, having experienced classrooms through frequent personal observation. That familiarity and connection is transforming our central office administration and building a powerful relationship between the division and school based staff.

Read about one district leader’s visit to Goochland High School where three teachers collaborated to pursue a unique G21 Project. Goochlanders were invited to participate in a project where oral history, intergenerational learning and iPads come together to create an engaging, project-based experience for students. The project is an example of John Hendron’s 21st Century Classroom model, replacing traditional desks and chalkboards with tables, interactive white boards, iPads and Macbooks and a total emphasis on student-centered instruction. You’ll learn more about this model in the Winter ’12 Instructional Newsletter, due to be released next week.

The Oral Histories Project at GHS.

  • STEM education continues to come to life in Goochland. Read about it here in Tom DeWeerd’s blog.
  • Grandparents’ events a huge success! Take a look at the Randolph Rodeo here on Mrs. Crowder’s blog!
  • After school enrichment at GES here on Mrs. McCay’s blog!
  • Remember the BES Eagles will compete at the state level in early December, here on Mr. Hopins’ blog!
  • Mrs. Wilcox and Mrs. Donovan invite us to chunk a pumpkin!
  • Art and language come together in Mrs. Abbott’s class!

Marching Toward the Vision

This week the leadership team finished its first pass through a series of discussions focused on identifying the measurable indicators of student engagement. Our discussions centered on four areas of thought:

  1. Elements of the classroom environment that support engaged learning
  2. Planning that has taken place to support student engagement
  3. Student behaviors that evidence engaged learning
  4. Teacher behaviors that lead to student engagement

As you might expect, there was a cross-polonation of ideas that could easily flourish in more than one area. Also as expected, very clear patterns emerged:

  • The environment: there is a culture of safety and comfort, not apathy or complacency, where students are challenged and given opportunities to take risks and ask questions.
  • Planning: Students know the routines and don’t wait around to be told what to do next. They aren’t idle and they understand expectations and objectives for what they are learning. Lesson plans reflect opportunities for hands-on and differentiated learning.
  • Evidence of engagement: Students are involved in “serious fun” and their activities and listening is purposeful. They are focused, asking relevant questions, connected to their teacher and what they’re learning.
  • Teacher behaviors: Good relationship, marked by a positive demeanor and tone, is evident. Students are asked clarifying, “why?” questions and they are called upon and recognized. The teacher is sensitive to opportunities to “get out of the way” and facilitate. Teaching and reteaching, with multiple and varied assessments is integral.

When a group of students were recently asked to define what it is that good teachers do (that’s the teenager’s version of our questions above), it’s no surprise that one of the resounding answers was, “they notice me.”

What does it mean to notice a student? Or anyone else for that matter? The question brings me back to a quote we’ve mentioned before:

“If we’re willing to step outside of our surprisingly deep behaviorist rut, the answer is clear. Children don’t need prizes or praise, but engagement and relationship – with other people and with the work they are doing. If you love a child, you probably know this on a gut level. But the research confirms it.” (Maja Wilson)


Students feel noticed when they are known, when we’ve taken the sometimes uncomfortable steps to enter into a relationship with them. They feel noticed when we celebrate their victories and encourage them when they take risks and fall. Maybe most importantly, they feel noticed when we call them out of their comfort zones, confront their short-sightedness and challenge their perspectives.

It isn’t rocket science. People feel noticed when they actually are noticed.

Interactive questioning, an environment in which kids take risks knowing their failures will be encouraged into later victories, reteaching to mastery, a variety of approaches that appeal to the differences among the learners – these are the fruit of relationships. Those kinds of revolutionary practices don’t get implemented in a vacuum and they cannot blossom outside of the soil of a healthy relationship where students and teacher have established mutual trust and expectation.

Perhaps the most profound moment of the leadership team meeting for me came when our finance director, Debbie White, keenly observed that everything we had brainstormed about the classroom environment – the feeling of safety, encouragement to take risks in an attempt to do something great, the leader facilitating student’s work rather than directing it – should also be true of our central office.

And it should be true of each of the departments and schools within our division.

So here’s to a beautiful November weekend, an invigorating Bulldog victory tonight (home game vs Buckingham at 7 PM), and a school community where no one goes unnoticed.


 ”Don’t take the easy way out.” (Dr. Matt Covington)



“If you’re expecting people to be vulnerable, go first.” (Liane Davey)

No Ordinary Plates Here!


The Art Smart Room was busy again this week with clay.  Third grade students are learning a creative way to make ordinary objects.  They are using clay string to build their works.  This technique is call coil-building.  Click on the movie above to see how much fun it was to make a plate.

Making a Plate with Coils