Thanks Dr. Covington

Dr. Matt Covington has resigned his position as assistant principal of Goochland High School and will be the northeast regional Manager of Client Services for Edgenuity, an educational curriculum company partnering with school divisions across the nation.
Dr. Covington has been in his current role with the Goochland County Public Schools since 2008. Prior to coming to Goochland he was an assistant principal in Prince George County and an adjunct professor at the University of Mary Washington. “I have loved working with Goochland students over the past seven years,” Covington remarked. “To those students, I implore you to continue learning and challenging yourselves!” In his new role Dr. Covington will oversee regionally focused teams and be responsible for the delivery and management of the company’s programs, training, professional development and usage data. “Dr. Covington has been an integral part of this school and division,” said Goochland High School principal, Mike Newman. “He will be missed but we wish him the very best as he moves into this new level of his career.”

Virtual School Now Available Here in Goochland

We continue to be excited that Goochland County Public Schools (GCPS) is piloting an online, virtual school program for the 2014-2015 school year.  We know  a few of our homeschool parents have expressed an interest in online courses provided by GCPS recently due to rising costs from some of the current providers of online homeschool curriculum.  GCPS is utilizing an online education program, Edgenuity, to provide an appropriate education for 6th through 12th grade virtual school students.  Students can complete all core academics, foreign language, health & physical education, as well as elective courses online while at school or at home. Upon completion of diploma requirements including verified SOL credits, students can even be awarded a GCPS high school diploma.

Even as we begin the month of October, students may still be accepted into our new pilot program.  We are accepting students on a first-come, first-served basis this year only. We are starting with ten full-time and five part-time students. Those accepted into our virtual school are required to maintain grades of A’s or B’s each quarter and to report to the middle school or high school only for SOL testing as part of these courses. Students must enroll at least part-time through GMS or GHS and pass all SOL exams with a score of 500 or above to remain in the virtual school program.

GCPS staff will regularly monitor each student’s progress in Edgenuity and inform parents and appropriate staff if standards are not met each quarter.  If standards are not maintained, the child must return to a home school or public school setting.

If you and your child(ren) have an interest in the program, please contact Mr. Tom DeWeerd at 804-556-5627 for more information.

Rural Substance Abuse Awareness Coalition

GMS completed a poster contest for the Rural Substance Abuse Awareness Coalition (RSAAC) of Goochland and Powhatan…..  and we have a winner! Rilie Bass -6th grader.
Attached is a photo of her and her poster. The poster will remain in the main hallway until the end of the school year. We had a total of 76 entries! We have chosen a few posters to display in our hallways.

Creating Creators — Creativity is One of our Values — Is it one of yours?

A team of Goochland educators attended a talk this morning, “Emerging Educational Technology” by Richard Culatta, Director of the Office of Educational Technology for the US Department of Education.

He made sense and challenged us.  Earlier this year he gave a similar talk “Reimagining Learning: Richard Culatta at TEDxBeaconStrett.”   Please listen to him.

Our technology team here in Goochland accepts the gauntlet he has thrown down about personalized learning.  While we acknowledge the challenges facing us, we get excited imagining the future.

The Value of Optimism — one story

One never knows how much we can change the life of our students.

After fleeing violence in Liberia, Shadrack Boakye arrived in the US at the age of nine. He started school with limited English skills, and quickly fell behind his peers. By age 14, he was placed in special education with little hope for graduation.

Entering Mrs. Murphy’s READ 180 class changed everything. Shadrack’s skills improved, as did his confidence once he discovered an “addiction” to success. He started writing about his experiences and hasn’t stopped since. He’s now a college student, public speaker, and playwright

Although Mrs. Murphy is not at Goochland Middle School (GMS), we  have a read 180 program at GMS.  And although Shadrack was not a Goochland student, the real meaning of this story from the Read 180 Community is what can happen when teachers are optimistic about students and don’t give up on them.  

Optimism — A value in Goochland Schools.

Listen to one young man recount  how optimism changed his life.

 

 

Thanks, Teachers! Our superintendent’s message expressing appreciation…

Dear GCPS Staff,

Today is National Teacher Day, when teachers all over America are recognized and celebrated. Please join me in expressing sincere gratitude and admiration for the inspirational work our teachers do each day to bring education to life in the hearts and minds of our students. The instructional staff of Goochland County is without question the finest with whom I have ever worked. I am honored to live and work in Goochland among such exemplary teachers. Our community is fortunate to have a team of selfless and dedicated professionals moving forward each day to advance the educational experience of every single student.

On behalf of the GCPS leadership and school board, I wish you a very happy National Teacher Day.

Thank you for all you do for this great county.

 

James F. Lane, Ed. D.
Superintendent
Goochland County Public Schools
2938 River Road West
Goochland, VA 23063
Office – 804-556-5601
Cell – 804-310-5131
Twitter – @DrJamesLane

Bring Your Own Device and 1:1 Pilot in Updated Tech Plan

At its latest board workshop on 23 April 2013, the School Board accepted revisions to the Division’s six-year technology plan. The Division has been using the plan since 2010 to direct major initiatives and to plan budgeting towards infrastructure improvements, such as wireless networking at the schools. This revision has added two new pilots announced at the workshop, as presented by technology team members Tom DeWeerd, John Hendron, Peter Martin, Sean Campbell, Jennifer Bocrie, and Bea Cantor. The first pilot will be a “Bring Your Own Device” scenario where select high school students will be allowed to bring mobile computing devices such as cell phones, e- readers, or tablets to school. Similar BYOD programs are being explored locally and around the country. The technology team’s recommendation was to start with high school seniors as the team monitored network usage during the trial. The team will be working with GHS principal Mike Newman to work out the details before the expected September start of the trial. As part of the pilot, a BYOD committee will be formed which will include teachers and participating students. The second pilot is a 1:1 computing initiative, where students would receive a tablet device from the school to use both in the classroom and to take home. This pilot would replace traditional paper textbooks with digital versions, including media that includes apps and videos. The Division decided to try this pilot at Goochland Elementary School, which currently has the fastest connection to the Internet of all three elementary schools. GES also accommodates the technology department’s repair depot, where Martin and Campbell report each day. “Our teachers are ecstatic about this opportunity, and really cannot wait!” mentioned GES principal Tina McCay about the 1:1 pilot. The pilot could provide up to three grade levels with computing devices. It will be financed through textbook funding. GES media specialist Tiffany Ray will be enlisted to assist with the pilot in both technical and instructional capacities.

Hendron told the board that these initiatives help position a technology plan as a vehicle that provides students rich learning experiences. “That’s always the primary goal,” he said.

Want a High Tech Job or STEM Career? Think Manufacturing!

STEM is more than a buzz word; it is a new way of thinking about learning and careers.  There are many new ideas for careers in the field of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) and many new courses and programs.  Bio-Inspired Robotics, Geo Science Modeling, Electro Optics, Submarine Design . . . these ideas have a “sexy” appeal,

Beyond the college and university programs, there are growing STEM opportunities in high tech careers for our non-college bound students as well.  In Goochland, we believe in college and career ready pathways.  We encourage students to try and explore new options; a list of our Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses tells some of this story.

Our CTE Director, Bruce Watson, and I recently met with the Virginia Manufacturers Association to talk about our new CTE offerings and our goals for STEM in Goochland Schools. We are excited about the future and the opportunities to partner with this association to increase awareness and to provide opportunities for students in manufacturing.

One remaining concern is the perception both students and their parents have about manufacturing.  We want to address this!  Today, manufacturing is a high tech operation with little to do with the old concepts of an assembly line and a monotonous job of the past.

This clip from the Today Show helps explain the message about today’s manufacturing. As we grow programs for Goochland High School, we hope to find a way to explain and to encourage students and parents to discover the many opportunities in manufacturing.

KEEP VOTING — GHS Library Video

The GHS  library is a 21st century learning center where students and staff meet to complete projects and have fun. In the library media center, students go beyond the walls of the regular classroom  to get enhance learning and get engaged in 21st century skills.

Please vote for our GHS library in a contest to win money to meet the needs of our students.  See a video and VOTE.

 

 

Success With Higher Order Thinking Skills

Please congratulate members of the Forensics Team for their stellar performance at districts last night.
Russell Gambino and Adrian Miller won 1st place for their performance in humorous duo. They will advance to regionals as members of the James River District team.
The following students also placed in their event:
- Chad Johnson (4th in Prose)
- Lilly Johnson (3rd in Original Oratory) who will also advance to regionals on the JRD Team!
- Hannah Wagner (4th in Impromptu)
- Noelle Ware (5th in Impromptu)
- Chase Ray (5th in Original Oratory)
Overall, Goochland placed third in the competition. Not too bad for a first year team!
If you are interested in seeing these students perform, next Wednesday at 7 PM in the GHS auditorium, the Speech and Debate students will be putting on a forensics showcase for the community.

Budget Workshop

Last night’s budget workshop was a positive departure from past practice.  From the format of the meeting to the delivery of information from key stakeholders (principals), the new budget software, and finally, the positive interaction between our school board and our new superintendent, Dr. Lane, and our new director of finance, Ms. Deborah White, this evening workshop demonstrated the new day in GCPS.

While we remain in a flat funding mode which requires more belt tightening as there are naturally some increased costs and needs, the thrust is positive and the outlook clearly toward continued improvement in student achievement and academic progress.

One area that Mr. Lumpkins highlighted after the breakout session with the secondary budget is the need for more science equipment and supplies.  While apparently, there is no possible way to meet the total need in this year’s budget, there is clearly an understanding of the necessities.  The knowledge of our school board on our needs is based on the transparency of reviewing our budget line-by-line and by providing more staff involvement in the process.

Working Tuesday nights in January to get constructive involvement in budget building can be difficult; however, last night confirmed support for the dynamic energy and hard work of our team.  Our GMS principal, Johnette Burdette, and our new GHS principal, Mike Newman, made crystal clear presentations on their school budgets.  Thanks … school board and Dr. Lane for making this all possible.

Of course, the budget is not the only way to meet our needs.  An announcement this week at GHS demonstrates the creative way our teachers work.

Kelli Bratton has received grant funding from the Math Science Center.  She will be purchasing supplies to help our science department incorporate nanoscience and technology into our curriculum.  Congratulations, Ms. Bratton!

What Do GHS Teachers Think?

What do GHS teachers think … about engagement?  The recent publication of the Goochland Instructional Newsletter  featured short quotes from teachers on page 5 detailing what they thought about engagement.  One was from Jennifer Abbott, teacher of English at GHS.

When I asked her for her definition of student engagement, she wrote, “It’s so interesting that you should ask this because I introduced my students to Edmodo today, and I feel like the level of student engagement shot through the roof.  If a teacher can successfully engage his or her students, the majority of the battle is won in that classroom.   Engagement leads to less classroom discipline and more productive interaction between one’s peers and teacher.   Edmodo is offering just that.  It’s offering my kids a unique opportunity to interact with me and with one another in a way that they can not only understand but relate to.  They’re accomplishing the same thing that a worksheet can do, but they’re not fighting me the whole way.  They want to answer the question or complete the task.”  One way you can see her engaged ideas is through her blog. Ms. Jennifer Abbott uses active strategies to keep her students thinking, participating and writing; she enjoys the tools of technology and so do her students.

Another high school teacher, Preston Gordon, who teaches mathematics had thoughts about this subject as well: “Student engagement is the ability to provide a learning experience that allows a class to participate and enjoy instruction.   A teacher can evaluate the engagement of students by their performance in class through one-on-one questioning, group activity, class discussions, projects, along with numerous other activities that allows for student participation.  Teachers need to sell themselves, their class, and lessons everyday, so the students will have the best learning opportunity available.  I have found that being energetic and entertaining has helped me improve student engagement.”

Mr. Preston Gordon when on to say, “One of the best teachers that I have been around at GHS is Ms. Erin Yearout-Patton, and the kids love her along with her teaching methods.”  Erin is on the cover of our recent instructional newsletter.

Erin Yearout-Patton regularly presents lessons that model engaged learning.  She comes at teaching from the perspective of being a student herself.   “As educators, we too remain students, because many of us have a commitment to lifelong learning. As a student myself, I know I am engaged when the professor ends class, and I find myself wanting to continue the class discussion or activity. Sometimes, I will stay after class or email my professors because I am very interested in the concept.  As a teacher, I apply the latter to my own classes. When my students compliment the lesson, provide ideas to improve it, tell me how the lesson applies to a principle from another course, or an event in their daily life, I know I have made a connection. A more concrete example: students will send me emails or tweets on events they want to cover in class. They also send me copies of letters they write to their Congressmen, concerning legislation, and the response they receive. Last year, it was SOPA. They also enjoy bringing in political signs and banners to support their political ideas. Furthermore, I know they are engaged when I go to vote and they are working the polls, ensuring a just and fair election. This is exactly what the Class of 2012 did, thanks to our community partnership with the Registrar’s Office. Every year our students complete their Senior Projects. The Class of 2011 raised over $15,000 for charities. It will always be an honor to be a small part of the process that engages our nation’s future, our children, in creating superb and dedicated public servants!”

Finally, our secondary instructional technology resource teacher (ITRT), Bea Cantor, who helps teachers connect technology with their lessons, knows first hand what engagement looks like. “Students are engaged when they are learning by doing, when they are active in a meaningful task rather than repetitive busywork: using technology, collaborating with their peers, applying knowledge to solve problems. This engagement is most meaningful when students are aware that what they are learning is not just to pass a test, but something that will be useful somewhere beyond the classroom walls”  Bea Cantors blog reveals the many engaging lessons she assists with from the 6th through 12th grade.  She is also writing a eBook about the photography of insects.   All of us can learn more about engaging lessons from Bea Cantor’s blog, Tech Salad.

Invested… Stakeholders in Learning

In the upcoming newsletter from our schools, Explorations in Learning, one GMS teacher, Leona Barnes is quoted — “Student engagement occurs when students are actively invested in their own learning . . . they see themselves as stakeholders in their own learning.”

This statement is the tip of the iceberg for Ms. Barnes.  She is the epitome of the teacher/facilitator who works daily to keep ‘her kids’ involved in learning.   When she was asked to define engagement she wrote:  ”Tom, thanks for asking me.  It really allowed me to step back and analyze what I do with the students.”  She appears to reflect frequently about the way she teaches.  Her full statement describes her philosophy of engagement.

Definition:  From my vantage point, student engagement occurs when students are actively invested in their own learning.  In other words, at this point in the learning process, they see themselves as “stake-holders” in their own learning.  I feel like I’m in “teacher heaven” when this happens in my classroom. 

 As I was reflecting on this question, I realized that there were several strategies that I keep in mind to foster student engagement:

1.  Each unit begins with a big question.  Students have to view their learning with a sense of “wonderment.”  Giving them an opportunity to express what they would like to learn in relation to our unit engages them right at the beginning.

2.  Material is presented in small “chunks.”

3.  Students are given a variety of ways with which to work with these smaller pieces of information.

4.  Once students have mastered all of these pieces of information, they have to put it together to make sense of the whole. (Sometimes, I start with the “whole” and then we analyze the “pieces.”)

 Because the lesson was broken into smaller steps, students will arrive at #4 feeling a sense of confidence and security, so it’s easier to take risks when learning.  I’m also very careful as to what kind of feedback I give when students are engaged.  The feedback must always be stated positively, so that students will continue to feel confident and secure during this learning process.

Thanks Mrs.Leona Barnes for your exciting teaching and your visionary instructional leadership at GMS.

Low Retention Rate in STEM Majors?

Dr. Richard Carchman, an active member of  the Goochland Public Schools STEM advisory committee, posed the question, why a low retention rate in STEM majors?  His question is based on an article Low Retention Rate in Stem Majors Prompts Study.

This is a good question for America but specifically for Goochland County Public Schools.

The answer may come from this research: “A new study being conducted by researchers from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) and the University of  Colorado Boulder will attempt to answer this question and look at what can be done to encourage more students to remain in  those fields.”

We need to look for some answers from this study.  Even without this research, good preparation from our K-12 schools remains a wonderful start.  I applaud the support of STEM by our Goochland School Board with the hiring of a STEM focused CTE director, Bruce Watson, and an active STEM advisory committee adopted by them last year. Our efforts in the secondary schools continues to be part of a larger emphasis on engagement and 21st Century skills.  John Hendron, our supervisor of instructional technology, addressed this at an advisory meeting last year by showing what we are doing with project based learning such as our G21 initiative.  We need to continue our exploration for answers to Dr. Carchman’s inquiry while we seek ways to inspire students to follow their intellectual curiosity.  
 
Additionally, I suspect from my personal experience with two daughters graduating from college in STEM areas, that an increased emphasis on aiding students with the rising cost of education will help. By offering more scholarships and assistance like Pell Grants and by finding ways to address the massive school loan debt issue, Americans can encourage students to enter and stay in expensive STEM related fields. The Goochland Educational Foundation (GEF) that meets tonight at 6:30 p.m. at our school board office is committed to providing more scholarship opportunities.  This is another exciting local response.

Learning from Tweets

David Warlick tweeted that he was watching project based learning at a middle school in Vermont.  This example included writing a script for a Wonder Years episode for the study of the 60′s era.  What a quick and easy way to connect; n this case, hearing about students engaged in a fun activity imbedded with learning!

As this blog embarks on exploring the engaged learning we hope to continue encouraging and providing in Goochland, a good source will be the tweets and links of so many experienced educators.   Another suggestion from David Warlick: TeachThought.

Keeping My Kids Out of My Basement

That is a goal for education… yes, I want my kids to finish school and move out and find success as only they can define it.  I don’t want them in my basement!

This was one of the messages from Dr. Yong Zhao’s presentation last week at the Region I Superintendent’s study group.  Dr. Yong Zhao is an internationally known scholar, author, and speaker. His works focus on the implications of globalization and technology on education.

Although the goal of education to “keep my kids out of my basement” was said with humor, we all understood his message.  Sometimes it is hard to define what we want out of our educational system.  When we say we want our students to be successful, what does that mean?  Dr. Zhao convinced me that promoting creative entrepreneurship can be a positive outcome, and may well happen, if we pay more attention to the child than the content.  Mastering tests is all well and good.  We want mastery.  At the same time we need to build relationships, foster engaging and inquisitive study and promote growth.  As I continue to think about what I want for Goochland school students (and  for my own grandchildren) out of an education system, I am thinking about these three pillars: growth, relationships and engagement.  We have been talking about this in our leadership team meetings since July.  Dr. Yong Zhao reinforced this idea or ‘movement’ to go beyond test scores as a measure of our schools’ success.

I have asked a number of our GMS & GHS teachers to tell me what engagement looks like from their point of view.   For me, this is not engagement devoid of content but rather engagement encouraged by the relationship the teacher has built with each child and engagement created with the purpose of fostering growth in student thinking, content knowledge and self-awareness. In the next few weeks, I will share in this blog what our secondary teachers have told me.

 

HOT NEWS — A Chili Cookoff at GHS

Support the Chili Cookoff  on Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. at the GHS Football Stadium

Presented by the GHS Athletic Boosters as part of Spirit Night!

 

CHILI CONTESTANTS ARE NEEDED!   PRIZES: 1st Place $75.00 /  2nd Place $50.00 /  3rd Place $25.00 with a BEST Decorated Booth Prize of $25.00

Only $10.00 entry fee

 

 

 

 

For Entry and More Information, please Contact:

Gina @ GQUICKOATS@aol.com or

Brooke @ CHENAUST11@Yahoo.com

 

 

 

What is a smooth opening of school?

Now in our third week of school at GHS, I hear about the opening of school yesterday in Chesterfield County.  It comes in the form of a tweet… “A perfectly smooth opening in Chesterfield!  And, yes, the sun is shining! It’s going to be a GREAT year… we’re designed for excellence!”

I reflect on OUR opening.  One of the differences this year at GHS is the new principal, Mr. Newman,  and the ideas he brings.  As he listened to teachers and students before the doors were opened this year, he identified a couple of problems that he heard about and made some changes.  He wanted to correct the congestion in the halls first thing every morning and he wanted to assure a safe building from the start of the day. In addition, he wanted to know the students because relationships are important to him.  Building relationships is one of the themes for our division this year.

So, from the first day, students could move beyond the downstairs halls, they were encouraged by frequently “stationed” staff to go upstairs and to enter classrooms from the moment they walked in the school.  Access to the building was restricted to two doors, the front door and the back cafeteria door used as the entrance for basketball games from the student parking lot. At 8:25 a.m. this door is locked and anyone entering must come through the main office restricting access to those with permission to be there.  Two goals accomplished.

In addition, Mr. Newman appeared on the public address system, the first day and every day since, to greet students with his voice to say the pledge of allegiance, to have a moment of silent reflection and to give a positive message for the day.  The News 2 message he delivered the first day, the class meetings he held the second week and the past three weeks of frequent visits to classrooms and wide visibility in the halls have produced another result he sought . . . building relationships.  Mr. Newman is getting to know the students at GHS and greets them all, many now by name.

So, three weeks in, I invite you to take the challenge.  Come visit GHS.  I have seen for myself what teaching and learning looks like from the moment the bell rings in the morning until the last bulldog yell takes place late in the afternoon of the first Friday Pep Rally. Proof is in the witnessing . . .  I can tweet “A perfectly smooth opening in Goochland.   Rain or shine, it is going to be a GREAT year… we’re designed for excellence!”

Mike Newman on the right, new GHS Principal, pictured here getting the keys to the school from his two assistant principals, Karen Scott and Matt Covington

Substitute Teachers in the Clouds

A new substitute calling system will be implemented next Monday, August 20, 2012, as the school year begins.  It is called Aesop by Frontline Technologies. It allows teachers to call in or post the need for a substitute on a web-page.  Likewise, substitutes receive calls or check a web-page to view and accept substitute assignments.  In addition to sub calling, this system will track all of the GCPS employee attendance.

Here is how it works…

 

GHS named as Microsoft IT Academy

GHS has been approved and officially registered as a Microsoft IT Academy as part of the Governor’s IT initiative. Ms. Carol Washburn and the business department at GHS will work collaboratively to take advantage of over 200 multimedia courses, lesson pans, student projects and test bank items that will promote students’ understanding of the exciting and rapidly growing field of Internet Technology.