“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.

February 2015 ECCHO Award Winners

The school board recognized February’s ECCHO Award recipients during the regularly scheduled February 10th meeting. Goochland’s ECCHO Award is designed to recognize individuals for displays of the the division’s 5 core values, Excellence, Creativity, Courage, Honor and Optimism.  The awards are held quarterly and honor recipients from each of the five schools and one from the division.

February 2015 ECCHO Awardees (L to R): Jaime Sprouse (RES), Connie Brice (BES), Ann Rohrer (GMS), Sally Hodges (GES), Jacob Webb (GHS), & Bill Lyon (Division), with Board Chair, John Lumpkins.

Individual employees or students are nominated by other members of the school community. The principal then leads a selection process using a rubric to evaluate the nominations and choose a winning recipient. Other nominees are also recognized and potentially included in the selection process for future recognitions.

We are especially proud to honor GHS student, Jacob Webb, nominated by his principal, Mike Newman. Jacob found $300 and could have kept it without anyone knowing. Instead, he lived out the core value of honor and submitted the lost money to the administration who were then able to return it.

The awards, themselves, are developed and created by CTE teacher Kenneth Bouwens and the GHS Digital Imaging students.

Congratulations to this quarter’s ECCHO Award recipients!

Understanding Student Cultures

Great tools and insight from the VSBA this month regarding the creation of culturally safe school environments.
    There is no “one size fits all” way of communicating with all of the cultures that comprise our wonderfully diverse schools. Each one comes with its own set of family values and its own preferred methods of communication. A good place to start is by creating a welcoming, inclusive environment. Parents often are nervous about coming to school for any reason and need all the visual and verbal help you can provide to make them feel welcome and comfortable. They “scan” offices, classrooms and hallways for clues about how inclusive your school may be.
      Some ways we can make our schools inclusive are:
      • Post photos of all students and student artwork on the walls
      • Include lessons in the classroom that incorporate various cultures and traditions
      • Offer school-wide cultural activities
      • Recruit staff and volunteers who come from similar backgrounds
      Becoming familiar with the cultural traditions of all of your families and including them in the school culture enhances your ability to create a welcoming and respectful school environment.
        Go to the Families
          Sometimes, when families can’t come to the school, the school has to go to the families. Meeting families in other settings, such as community centers or churches, can provide an informal way to start building a relationship, especially if your non-English speaking families feel shy or nervous about going to the school. You might also try planning parent or family events around the schedules of the families, especially if they are working a couple of jobs.
            Reaching Out
            • Visit your students’ neighborhoods. Find out where families are congregating and who local community leaders are that can connect you with parents.
            • Collaborate with apartment complex managers to make a recreation room available for families.
              • Consider contacting parents’ employers about parent schedules or holding conferences closer to parents’ workplaces.
              • Don’t limit yourself to meetings. Ask your families what kinds of events they would find enjoyable, beneficial and convenient.
            Building your communication bridge to families
              Grand gestures and small details will help in reaching families effectively. Here are 10 tips to help build communication bridges to the cultures in your school community:
              1. Avoid scheduling important events such as conferences or tests on major holidays and celebrations that large numbers of students are likely to miss.
              2. Do an “inventory” of your student population to find out the countries and cultures they represent. If most are English speakers and American-born, they may be acclimated to our American culture and would resent be singled out for any special attention. If they aren’t English speakers or American-born, then find out more about their family values and who the primary person to contact is. For example, in Latino and Asian Pacific Islander families, involving fathers as well as mothers is essential.
              3. Share information about cultural celebrations with teachers so that they are able to positively support them and incorporate them into lessons. Even a simple memo that explains why students will be out and offers some ideas for follow-up activities will be helpful. Use the diversity of your school population as a teaching opportunity. Invite families to share their cultural celebrations, plan an International Day, encourage teachers to include lessons in other cultures and diversity as part of the curriculum.
  1. Create a parent room (such as a lounge or classroom) with bilingual information and magazine subscriptions, a bulletin board, a lending library and a computer.
  2. Invite parents to share food, activities, and music at school events and in the classroom. Encourage students to share traditions in school assemblies, talent shows, potlucks, and fairs
    1. Offer cafeteria food that reflects the cultural influences of your families.
    2. Explore a variety of options for communicating with diverse populations, such as Spanish language newspapers, radio and television stations.
      1. Create a welcome DVD in multiple languages. This may even be a great student project!
      2. Connect new families with a contact person who speaks their language as soon as they enroll in the school for guidance and information.
        1. Create an “ambassador” program in which students and parents are trained to give tours.


GHS Scholastic Bowl Team Wins Conference Championship

The GHS Scholastic Bowl Team claimed its first ever Conference Tournament Championship after earning their first ever District Championship title.

Coach Barry Smith reports the students were exemplary, exhibiting sportsmanship and excellence in every way.

Hats of to the students and sponsors for an outstanding season! The varsity team compiled a 16-3 record while the JV team was undefeated!

The Varsity Team, led by Team Captain Erin Maguire: Michelle Daschner, Cameron Ford, Hannah Herrman, Keith Jandzinski, Julia Barr, Brandon Myrick, and Henry Carscadden.

The JV Team: Tyler McNeer, Carter Palen, Erin Wachter, Max Spivey, Joshua Hobbs, and Jacob Clarke.

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!

Scholastic Bowl 1st in District

The Goochland High School Scholastic Bowl Team was ranked number one in the James River District after a thrilling 13-3 season this year! The JV team was also undefeated this year, so we look forward to continued excellence in the future.

From Coach. Mr. Smith:

“Our students earning the #1 seed is a real student achievement, but is further testament of our teachers and their commitment to academic excellence. As with any competition, you always hope to put your best team out there to compete. Building on the momentum of reaching regionals last year,  Mr. Derrico and I reached out to our core teachers, seeking and encouraging our very best academic students to represent our school. Our students have delivered in every way. “

Scholastic Bowl is a great competitive forum offered through the VHSL. It enables students to excel and pursue their competitive interests off of the traditional playing field of athletic events.

From coach, Mr. Derrico:

“The students positively represented Goochland High School by demonstrating integrity and academic excellence throughout the entire season.”

Our sincere congratulations go out to these students and their coaches!

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:

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.

Congratulations To BES Robotics

The Byrd Robotics Team had an incredible weekend in Harrisonburg at the 3rd Annual First Lego League Competition! They arrived in Harrisonburg Friday evening, ate together as a team and then headed to downtown Harrisonburg to march in the Christmas parade!

The team competed against 69 other teams in Division 1 on Saturday and Sunday all day at JMU. They enjoyed the JMU dining hall experience and classes at the campus as well. The team did a great job all weekend in all of their events.

Channel 12 covered the event here.

Our heartfelt congratulations to the BES Robotics Team members and community!

Community rallies support for the BES Robotics Team before the competition in Harrisonburg!

School Psychology Awareness Week

As we wrap up the Virginia Department of Education’s School Psychology Awareness Week, we wanted to recognize our talented school psychologist team – and say thank you.

Virginia’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Steven Staples, states, “School psychologists work with students, teachers, administrators, and families to support the academic achievement, positive behavior, social-emotional wellness, and resiliency of all students, especially those who struggle with barriers to learning.

(from left) Mrs. Jennifer Waggener, Dr. Emily Bryant, and Mrs. Meredith Wilkinson

GCPS Plays Host to First-Ever Dual Enrollment Information Meeting

The term dual enrollment refers to high school students (typically juniors and seniors) taking college courses with the goal of earning both college and high school credit for the same course. Goochland County Public Schools is pleased to offer a broad range of dual enrollment opportunities. Goochland High School’s program is already one of the most expansive in the state for high schools with less than 1,000 students – and it’s growing, offering coursework from Reynolds Community College, Longwood University, James Madison University, and the University of Virginia.

Last night we welcomed more than one hundred families to our Dual Enrollment Information Night at GHS. Following a brief welcome and overview of the evening’s program, officials from James Madison University, Longwood University, and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College led “breakout sessions” in 30-minute periods over the course of 2 hours. The program offered overviews of the division’s current dual enrollment offerings (as well as those planned for 2015-16).

Our dual enrollment description and fee schedule for the current school year may be accessed here.

We look forward to hosting a similar informational evening for our families annually.

Dr. Miles McCrimmon (upper right), J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, discusses Goochland’s Advance College Academy program with interested families at last night’s Dual Enrollment Information Meeting.

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

It was announced today, November 11, 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.

GCPS Robotics Success

We want to congratulate our Robotics Program and the coaches & sponsors who are so faithfully pursuing the GCPS vision, inspiring the next generation to make a positive impact. This account from coach, Anne Moore, certainly offers evidence of that!

“Yesterday, the four GMS and three GCPS elementary robotics teams traveled to Deep Run HS to compete in the regional VA FIRST robotics competition.  This was a great day for teamwork, creativity, problem solving, and FUN!  We could not be more proud of the manner in which our 36 students represented GCPS!

The stands were filled with team members’ family and friends and the noise level was deafening while the teams worked relentlessly to improve their mission scores. Behind the scenes, teams continued to fine tune their presentations and skits.

We are happy to report that the one GCPS team, Project Prevention, that competed in the Level 2 Division won the Core Values Award.  This award is presented to the team that best represents and embodies the core values of Gracious Professionalism, Teamwork, and Respect!  To us, this is the most important award as these students have developed skills that will continue to mold them into future leaders, as well as their understanding the importance of the saying “There is no I in TEAM!”.”

GMS Team Project Prevention won the Core Values Award!