Liz Kuhns Boyle Recognized by Education World

Liz Kuhns-Boyle is the winner of the EducationWorld Teacher Appreciation Contest, intended to honor and reward the exceptional people who not only are committed to teaching, but who also couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Educators from across the nation explained to the editors why they wouldn’t trade teaching for any other job. Read Liz’s inspiring story and recognition here.

School Nutrition Employee Week

This week we recognize our school nutrition professionals!

Between preparing healthy meals for America’s students, adhering to strict nutrition standards, navigating student food allergies and offering service with a smile, school nutrition professionals are true Heroes!

School Nutrition Employee Week provides the perfect opportunity to recognize the hardworking professionals in our school cafeterias. We have designated this week to remind everyone—directors, managers, parents, students, and school staff —that school nutrition employees are superheroes that deserve some recognition.

Holiday Gathering at Transportation and Maintenance Department

Many thanks to Betty Thurston and the Transportation Department staff for hosting a beautiful reception at the new Oilville facility this morning to ring in the holidays.

Transportation and Maintenance Staff at the 2013 Holiday Gathering

John Hendron and Dr. James Lane admire the transportation poster commemorating the opening of the new facility.

Mrs. Thurston offers holiday cheer to an employee.

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.

Celebrate School Nurses

Please join me in thanking our excellent school nurses for their devoted work and commitment to the mission of helping people maximize their potential. The Governor has established Monday, May 8 as School Nurse Day in Virginia. It’s a great time to recognize our nurses, and others across the Commonwealth, for meeting the needs of today’s student by improving the effective delivery of health care in our schools.

Specifically, the Governor’s resolution celebrates nurses for:

  1. Advancing the well-being, academic success, and life-long achievements of all students by providing a critical safety net for children
  2. Serving as liaisons to the school community, parents, and health care providers on behalf of children’s health
  3. Supporting the health and educational success of children and youth by developing and providing programs and leadership
  4. Understanding the link between health and learning and making a positive difference for children every day

Our special thanks to these fine individuals who are an integral part of our educational program.

Foundation Gala March 23rd!

The Goochland Education Foundation cordially invites you to come celebrate its 2nd Annual Spring Fundraising Gala, Casino Royale, at the Richmond Country Club on Saturday, March 23. The Goochland Education Foundation is a trusted and valued partner in providing exemplary programs and recognition for our staff and students. The proceeds of this stellar evening will support the schools, entirely.

Come celebrate at the GEF Spring Gala March 23rd!

Please plan to come and join this celebration. GCPS staff are able to purchase tickets at the greatly reduced rate of $40 per person. Other attendees are admitted for $75 per person, or $125 per couple.

CLICK HERE to register your attendance and purchase tickets.

Your Vote Could Bring an Extra 60K to GHS!

The Goochland High School Library Media center is a finalist in the “Follett Challenge,” recognizing innovation and 21st century learning. Through this entry, the GHS LMC demonstrates how it has aligned curriculum and an instructional approach in order to teach the needed skills and implement a collaborative program with others in the school.

Winners will be awarded up to 60 thousand dollars!

CLICK HERE TO CAST YOUR VOTE FOR GHS!

Voting begins today – and you can vote once every day! Support the GHS Library, cast your vote and forward this on to others.

 

Bonus!

We have exciting news regarding a bonus and compensation adjustment approved by the board!  During its regularly scheduled workshop on November 27, 2012, the School Board approved a one-time bonus payment for all full and part-time employees. As a part of the decision to provide the bonus, the Board also acted upon two other compensation issues that will have a positive impact on employees. The purpose of this letter is to explain each of these three decisions and the impact each will have on you.

One-Time Bonus Payment

In recognizing employees’ hard work and commitment to our students and community, the Board has approved a one-time bonus payment to all full and part-time employees who are employed by the school division as of December 1, 2012 as follows:

  • Full-Time Employees (at least 30 hours per week): $600 Bonus
  • Part-Time Employees (15-29 hours per week): $300 Bonus

This bonus payment is being processed now and will be distributed during the second week of December.  Please remember that these bonus payments will be subject to normal withholding, such as FICA, state and federal tax.  The bonus amount is exactly the same as provided to county employees earlier in the Fall.

Restoration of 260-Day Contracts

The Board also restored 7 days to all 260-day contract employees who had been reduced to 253 days during last year’s budget planning. These employees will be issued new, 260-day contracts, in January 2013.   We felt strongly about recommending this restoration to the board as we did not want to see anyone’s pay reduced from last year if there was an opportunity to restore the days.  This adjustment will be made in two steps:

  1. A one-time “catch-up” payment of the income reduced from the July through December paychecks will be distributed to these employees in January 2013.
  2. Beginning with the January 2013 paycheck, these employees’ monthly income will be adjusted to include the restored contractual amount.

There are 61 employees impacted by this decision, including:

  • 25 custodians, maintenance staff and transportation staff
  • 15 administrative staff (principals, assistant principals, directors and assistant superintendents)
  • 11 administrative professionals (clerical staff and bookkeepers)
  • 9 division support staff (student support staff, supervisors, coordinators, school psychologists)

5.75% Increase to Staff Hired After July 1, 2012

For all employees hired previous to July 1, 2012, the board decided during the budget process to “phase-in” the new VRS requirement and thus, those employees received a 1.0969 % pay increase to offset the required 1% payment to VRS.   All employees hired after July 1, 2012, are required to pay 5% of their salary to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS); however, these employees did not receive a compensation adjustment to offset the loss in take-home pay.  In order to offset the state-mandated 5% increase in employee contribution to the VRS, at their meeting this week, the Board approved a 5.75% pay increase for all employees hired after July 1, 2012, that are VRS eligible with the exception of employees on the admin pay table.

This adjustment will be made in two steps:

  1. A one-time “catch-up” payment of the income reduced from the July through December paychecks will be distributed to these employees in January 2013.
  2. Beginning with the January 2013 paycheck, these employees’ monthly income will be adjusted to include the new contractual amount.

Again, we want to thank the board for providing these bonuses and compensation adjustments to our excellent faculty and staff as we head into our Winter Break.  If you have questions at any time, please do not hesitate to contact either one of us!

Sincerely,

James Lane, Ed. D.                                           Peter Gretz, Ed. D.

 

GCPS Football in the State Semi-Finals this Saturday!

Please plan to support the Goochland Bulldog Football Players as they face Wilson Memorial High School in the VA State Semi-Finals this Saturday, December 1.

The game will played at Wilson Memorial High School at 1:30 PM. The cost of admission  is $10.

Directions:

  • Traveling West on I-64
  • Take Exit 91 ( Fishersville-Stuarts Draft)
  • Turn Right onto Rt. 608, go 1.7 miles to Rt. 250
  • Turn left onto Rt. 250W
  • Go 1.6 miles and turn right at the traffic light into the Woodrow Wilson Complex
  • The school is at the back of the complex

A Spike in Excellence!

Please join me in congratulating the Varsity Volleyball team  and Coach Erixon. They’ve been named Champions of the District and Champions of the District Tournament. They play their next Regional game at home vs. George Mason tomorrow (Thursday) at 7 PM.

They have achieved both individual excellence on the court and represented our great community to the Commonwealth through their hard work and determination. Please offer them your support as you see them in school and in the community.

GHS Lady Bulldog Volleyball and Coach Jennifer Erixon compete tomorrow in Regional Tournament at George Mason.

Your Child’s Safety Not Negotiable

One of the hallmarks of the current school year – and our tremendous County – is the presence of an army of community volunteers. These selfless people give their energy, time and unique skill sets to the greater mission of inspiring and maximizing the potential of our students.

In past years, we’ve had misunderstandings, even discrepancies, concerning how we require and administer the background checks for volunteers. That’s been cleared up, as reflected in this post.

But we still seem to have some unrest among some community members regarding this issue.

The Code of Virginia requires that:

As a condition of employment, school boards of the Commonwealth shall require any applicant who is offered or accepts employment after July 1, 1989, whether full-time or part-time, permanent, or temporary, to submit to fingerprinting and to provide personal descriptive information to be forwarded along with the applicant’s fingerprints through the Central Criminal records Exchange to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the purpose of obtaining criminal history record information regarding such applicant. (Code Reference)

 

Let’s be clear. School Boards in Virginia are required by law to do a background check on anyone who’s going to work in the school division – no matter what capacity or how long they plan to work. Hourly tutors doing remediation for a week, evening custodians, substitute teachers – doesn’t matter. If we’re going to employ them for even one hour, the law says they need to be fingerprinted.

In Goochland, we have chosen to closely follow the guidelines for employees as we consider our volunteers. We have flexibility, but have chosen only to exercise it in very unique circumstances.

The guidelines I have provided to principals include two simple questions:

  • Will the volunteer ever be unsupervised with children?
  • Will the volunteer be regularly spending time with children?

If the answer is “yes” to either question, we require a background check. Like the Code, we don’t not attempt to draw lines among people – those we know/don’t know, those our friends know/don’t know, those who seem trustworthy/seem suspicious, those with whom we’ve worked before/those who we’ve never met.

That’s a fruitless exercise and a very slippery slope. Like you, I know people I trust explicitly and would never suggest they are a danger to your children. Our commitment is to ensure every parent that we will not give any adult access to their children, unsupervised or repeated, without ensuring that adult has completed the background check – the same one required by law of our employees.

We believe it’s our obligation to confidently look our community in the eyes and say we are doing all we can to ensure your children are safe at school.

It can be awkward to require those who have been volunteering in past years without the background check and doing inspiring work in our schools to submit to a fingerprint check. Those are often individuals who are well-known to be powerful positive influences in our community. It seems to be an affront to the selfless and generous spirit those people have poured out when we ask them to go through a criminal background check. It’s as though we think they might be criminals.

We don’t. Just as we don’t suspect the exemplary candidates to whom we offer jobs in our division to be criminals either. But as the law requires that we screen all employees, we extend that same level of precaution to all adults who will have repeated or unsupervised access to your children. No matter who they are.

Not because we suspect they need it, but because we want every parent to rest easy that we aren’t making that kind of subjective judgement call when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of their children.

I commend our School Board for supporting this perspective and ensuring that we’ve identified the funds to make sure these background checks are done on our dime, not the volunteers’.

We would never want to offend anyone, especially our wonderful volunteers. It’s even more important to us that every parent, after they put their children on a bus or drop them off at the school doors, goes into the day will absolute certainty that their children are safe.

Your child’s safety is non-negotiable.

 

Jake King is a Crime Stopper!

I had the extreme pleasure of attending the presentation ceremony to recognize the winner of this year’s regional Crime Stopper’s Poster Contest, our very own Jake King. Jake is a junior at Goochland High School, equally as agile in the Art studio as he is on the baseball field.

Each spring, high school Art Students in Charles City County, Goochland County, Hanover County Henrico County, New Kent County, and the City of Richmond participate in the Crime Stoppers Poster Contest. Posters are to depict the work of solving crimes in the community.

jking_crimeSmallForBlog

Goochland has again taken first place in this prestigious competition. We’re very proud of Jake, not only for his excellent artwork and commitment to helping fight crime in our community, but also for his outstanding representation of our county to the commonwealth.

Jake King Award

Movin’ On Up

Walking down the hall of Goochland Elementary this morning, I heard the thrilling sounds of the 5th graders, singing that familiar tune from The Jeffersons. They were engaged and excited to be learning – what a wonderful way to start the day!

Click the link to see the singers!!

GES Grade 5 Singers

Classroom Whitenoise

I just finished a fantastic article in the new Educational Leadership magazine. The February 2012 edition, “For Each to Excel,” addresses everything from differentiation and gifted education to self-selection and project-based learning – all in the context of individualizing education.

This specific article, “Preparing Students to Learn Without Us,” explores the use of instructional technology in personalizing learning. I’m especially struck by this statement:

“We live in a moment where personalizing the learning experience is not just a possibility – it’s almost an expectation.”

True. Think of the ways we – all of us, not just students – are able to personalize the world in which we live. We create playlists, stream live radio into our cars with the specific songs and artists we want to hear, create reading lists and custom RSS feeds – we can even create our own photo and editorial “magazines” using Flipboard.

Where we once let the radio play in the background, sometimes as “whitenoise,” in wait of our favorite songs – we are now able to only include our favorites. No whitenoise.

So what about the classroom? Is the same evolution true? Has there ever been a time that students had to allow instruction to take its course, ignoring the redundant and repetitive, waiting for the new & exciting stuff? Is there such a thing as instructional “whitenoise?”

Research tells us, yes. The reason(s) why is the subject of another blog entry or five, but suffice it to say that educators have learned over the years that students need a variety of instructional methodologies, geared to them specifically, in order to stay engaged.

So how – in this culture where everything around us is personalized – does education keep step? Or should it? How do we keep the whitenoise out of the classroom?

Here is a suggestion, but before I expand I would love to hear your thoughts.

Leader Visibility

This short article provides some great insight for leaders.

We spend a lot of time talking about vision – in our graduate courses, in strategic planning meetings. We spend less time talking about visibility, especially as it relates to vision. Let me explain.

During the initial weeks of my first principalship I learned  quickly the value of being visible – that is, being there, being literally in a position to be seen by people. A leader who is present is able to hold an authentic perspective, because he’s been there in the rooms witnessing first-hand what’s happening with teachers and students. A visible leader brings comfort; the sailors have confidence knowing that the captain not only has hands on the wheel but is right there to address any problems that might surprise the ship. That translates very well with students. Students who come to learn that the principal is around every corner on any given day are safe.

But there’s another, maybe even more important aspect of visibility that involves the leader’s vision. What is it that people see in the leader’s vision – the leader’s beliefs, values, convictions? How visible is the direction the leader is heading? To what degree can we see what is important to the leader, regardless of what we’re told, in what the leader does?

It is here that visibility and vision meet. Perhaps you’ve heard someone say, “I can’t hear what you’re saying because your actions speak so loudly.” That’s especially true of leaders. The things we communicate about our vision and what we value through the interactions we have and the decisions we make are what will stick – not necessarily what we say.

If you’re a leader of any kind – in your office, church, scout troop, wherever – I encourage you to answer the short but not-so-simple questions presented in the article. Look at the vision your answers reflect, and compare that to your desired vision.

Are they the same?