I sit in disbelief on how much was packed into one week-- a School Board meeting, a Board of Supervisors meeting, Superintendent Student Panel meetings, a full day of Academic Review professional development, student presentations, the CCES Showcase, Patriot Day, etc. The list goes on an on. If I hadn't taken the time to reflect on each day of the week, I might have missed some of the most rewarding and memorable moments of the year. I have to say that the best memories of the week came when I saw evidence of quality student learning as well as spoke with students about what was on their minds. It is amazing what you find.
This Sunday was not filled with babysitting cows as last week, but ended with planting the plants purchased from students at Patriot Day. As I picked out my plants on Saturday, the students were eager to assist me. I tested their knowledge on what they had grown, information on the plants, and their math skills as they added up all that I had bought. I purposely gave them an amount that required change. They provided accurate and great customer service by carrying my plants to my Jeep. One even told me that she would plant, water, and weed my garden over the summer if needed. I perhaps should take her up on that! Today, as my husband and I planted our small garden, I thought about our students with great pride. We, as well as other community members, will have fresh vegetables to eat over the summer because of the contributions of our students.
Now, I will back up to last Thursday morning, when I received a call at home from Dr. Jones that we had been Senior Pranked! Well, this was a first for me. I didn't even finish doing my hair or defrost the windshield of my Jeep, when I rushed to the school! Once I got to school, I could see for myself (as I had been told) that there had been no damage nor harm done. The school was covered in toilet paper, there was a toilet sitting beside route 60, and a Foreclosure sign greeted everyone...among other silliness. The seniors cleaned the entire mess up in an hour. At this moment, I had to chuckle and I thought about our students with great humor and delight. We have been asking students to take more initiative and be more creative. You do have to be careful what you ask for and it was wonderful to see the school spirit. At lunch I observed seniors with smug faces and gleams in their eyes! I tried to act upset over the entire ordeal.
I will back up once more to last Tuesday evening to the CCES Showcase. I did a quick dash through classrooms and the pods before a Board of Supervisors meeting and saw excited students, parents, and families. Students were proudly showing families their classrooms, explaining schedules, and presenting student work. Some family members were even participating in tests and experiments! The student work on display was beautiful and I know this event will have a positive, long-lasting impression on our students and families. When I left CCES Tuesday night, I thought about our students with great excitement. What a fun night for all!
These are just a few of the moments that I cherish from last week. It is awesome to be able to have such wonderful experiences and have great pride, humor, delight, and excitement every day in some small way. Thank you CuCPS teachers and staff for inspiring our students to be the growers, pranksters, and excited learners that I witnessed last week.
CMS young poets created "spine poetry" to celebrate National Poetry Month. A couple of future librarians also assisted this week in the library. Students were doing a research scavenger hunt using QR codes.
Other CuCPS Highlights:
The band performing at Patriot Day!
Events for the Week:
- 3:30 21st Century Learning Steering Committee Meeting (in LPJ)
My pet cows: Jenny, Bella, Jack, and Louie
Have you ever tried to blog or write something while trying to watch cows in a newly introduced field? It does not work very well. It is Sunday afternoon and I have been told by my husband that I am to watch my four pet cows and make sure they do not escape through any weak spots in the fence. This is what I get for mentioning that I wanted them to graze in a field that my husband has not "double protected" with what he considers strong enough fencing. Well, any who...I sit here watching them.
They are doing well and behaving so far, but it appears they know that I am watching them. Every time I get to a spot where I can sit, watch, and type on my laptop--they move to a spot where I cannot see them! Therefore, I pick up everything and move to do my job diligently. Just imagine me sitting in the middle of a field on route 13 with my laptop watching cows. What a sight I must be to people driving by!
This cycle of getting up and down with my laptop to keep a close eye on these rascals has repeated itself many times this afternoon and is getting old quickly! However, I may finish this blog yet-- Bella and Louie just laid down in the shade to rest. Let's hope this all works out and I still have four cows at the end of the day. It would devastate me to lose any of my cows and on top of that have my husband say, "I told you so." I know each of you are on pins and needles wondering how this all turns out.
No, I haven't gone crazy or lost my mind--just taking time to reflect...
The hustle and bustle of the end of the school year is upon us and with missing so many days of school due to inclement weather, we can get very stressed and frazzled. Let me remind you to stop and reflect on your daily activities--time with your students, family, and friends. Do not get so "caught up" in a race to the end of the year that you miss the moments to cherish with your students and other aspects of your life. Last week was a great reminder of how inspiring our students and staff are--just read all the highlights below! I found wonderful moments last week from elementary school to high school, from young students to staff members.
I now find enjoyment in the middle of a field blogging and watching my cows. It is becoming more and more peaceful as I type! The bottom line of my message is-- life is too short to not enjoy each and every day. Always take time to reflect and ponder on what great things are happening in your classroom and life. You are making a tremendous difference in the lives of our students and the community.
Well, I think I had better go and get the grain bucket--the nosiest cow, Jenny, is looking very intently at a pond on the other side of the fence!
- I enjoyed attending the GSSV Senior Symposium. The following seniors did an outstanding job on their presentations:
- Mary Stewart: Do You See What I See? The Effect of Eye Color on the Accuracy of Distance Vision
- Sylvia Fusari: Shockingly Green: The Effect of Electricity on the Growth Rage of the Wisconsin Fast Plant
- Mary Huddleston: Sweet Tooth for Your Streptococcus: The Effect of Various Concentrations of Xylitol on Preventing the Growth of Streptococcus mutans
- Chelsea Deane: Caffeine It Up!: The Effect of Different Caffeine Concentrations on the Rate of Growth of Various Plants
- Kyra Trent: Shake It, Don't Break It!: The Effect of Vibrations on Lactobicillus casei
- Kailyn Harris-Gilliam: Ring Ring Radiation: The Effect of Various Phone Applications on the Amount of Electromagnetic Radiation Emitted
- I am pleased to recognize the 2014 Teachers of the Year: Mrs. Bryant (CCES), Mrs. Snead (CMS), and Mr. Haigh (CHS)!
PreK students in Mrs. Adams' class participated in Wacky Wednesday.
Events for the Week:
- 10:00: CCES Supt. Student Panel Meeting
- 11:30: CMS Supt. Student Panel Meeting
- 2:00: CHS Supt. Student Panel Meeting
- 3:00: CHS SLT Meeting
- 7:00: April School Board Meeting
- 6:00: CCES Showcase
- 7:00: Board of Supervisors Meeting
- Academic Review Professional Development for the Curriculum Design Committee
- 10:00: Longwood Partnership Meeting
- 14-15 School Board Student Liaison Applications Due
Daisy Scouts working on their Rose Badge (making their world a better place) at CCES.
Please take the time to watch the video, Learning Innovation, featuring Tony Wagner, Sir Ken Robinson, and others which highlights the question, "What if our schools actually made sense in a world that is increasingly innovative?". Wagner is the author of The Global Achievement Gap, in which after research and reading his book several years ago, we defined 21st Century Learning skills at CuCPS. We strive each and every day to teach required content at the essential knowledge and skills level through 21st Century learning because our job is to prepare students to be successful 21st Century learners, workers, and citizens.
As indicated in this video, we can not accomplish our purpose by teaching in a 19th Century, traditional approach. Employers state that they are looking for individuals that can critically think and problem solve. Employers can teach the needed content. They want people that can invent, re-invent, and initiate. CuCPS educators, please reflect on the following--are your students learning content in your classroom through accessing and analyzing information; communication and collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving; and curiosity and imagination? As public educators, we have a huge responsibility as an equalizer for ALL students.
Learning Innovation Video Link: http://vimeo.com/88923503.
Valedictorian Nicole Jefferson
- Congratulations to Nicole Jefferson who has been named the Valedictorian for the Class of 2014 and to Chelsea Deane who has been named the Salutatorian. Nicole will be attending the University of Virginia to major in Nursing and Chelsea will be attending George Washington University to major in Engineering.
Salutatorian Chelsea Deane
- Congratulations to our boys & girls track teams as they competed superbly versus Armstrong, Collegiate, and Powhatan High School last week. Outstanding performances were by: Senior - Tieshia Crump, school record of 34 feet 1inch, 1st place triple jump; Junior - Annesha Harris 2nd place 100 hurdles, 2nd place long jump, 3rd place 100 meters; boys, Junior - Tony Ford 1st place 100 meters, 3rd place 110 hurdles, 1st place long jump, 2nd place shot put; Senior - Jayvon Faison 1st place 110 hurdles, 3rd place long jump, 2nd place triple jump, 1st place 300 hurdles, 3rd place high jump; Freshman - Jared Halvorsen 3rd place 3200. Great job Duke runners!
- Congratulations to the following NHS Inductees for 2014: Ahkiya Allen, John Ryan Bapties, Kyera Broxton, Justin Crawford, Megan Dunivan, Marya Elasha, Christopher Aaron Friend, Melissa Gilliam, Jada Harris, Hannah King, Wesley Marshall, Carmen Meacham, Megan Prouty, Nicole Riddle, Sydney Rogers, Ellen Seal, Ariel Soth, Sean Stimpson, Sean Stinnett, and Sundina Trieble.
- Congratulations goes out to the JV & Varsity Softball teams for their victories over Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot in very strong showings.
- CHS Rising Seniors: Interested in being the 14-15 Student Liaison to the School Board? It is time to apply! Information can be found at: http://www.cucps.k12.va.us/index.php/administration/school-board-members/school-board-members.
Wyatt Salinas presents his Powered by the Sun PBL presentation to a public audience of administrators, teachers, and his peers.
Events for the Week:
Gov. School Senior Symposium
3:00 CCES SLT Meeting
5:00 VSBA Spring Forum
For those who followed the Baby Chick Cam earlier this year: Pictured is Happy Feet, one of the baby chicks, all grown up and being kept as a pet!
Congratulations to Chris Hartley, Sherrie Snead, Wendy Tillett, and Amanda Stoltzfus for winning SVRTC Technology Awards!
I recently found some interesting information published in The Mommy Files blog concerning parent involvement with homework. Researchers found that in regards to parent involvement with homework, the only two things that had a significant positive impact was read out loud to young kids and talking with teenagers about college. The case was made for kids doing homework on their own — without the help of a parent. Whether one agrees with the study or not, I think both parents and teachers should reflect. Teachers should evaluate the types of homework being assigned and expectations of parental involvement. Parents should consider when and how much assistance should be given to homework.
Events for the Week:
- Cumberland Spirit Night at Sweet Frogs in Farmville 5-10 p.m. (Supports CHS After Prom)
- Board of Supervisors Public Hearing on the Budget: 7:00 p.m.
- World Autism Awareness Day (Wear Blue)
- Thursday-Friday: Spring Break
- Thursday: Supervisors Budget Work Session (7:00 p.m.)
Our job as educators is to prepare students to be productive learners, workers, and citizens. It is important that we are knowledgeable and abreast of the current and potential future job market.
What are the best jobs of 2014? What entitles a profession to top the "best" list? I found a recent blog, The Best Jobs of 2014,
fascinating and informative. According the US News & World Report, strong job security, employment opportunities, and work-life balance make one job "better" than another. Technology and health care jobs dominate the list. Check out the 30 Best Jobs of 2014
This information is important in educating and preparing our current high school students. However, with technology rapidly changing information and processes, it may be impossible to know the jobs in our younger children's future. Therefore, we must prepare students to have a strong foundation of academics and 21st Century learning skills as well as prepare them to have integrity and a strong work ethic. Whatever the year, employers and communities will need individuals who can communicate and collaborate; critically think and problem solve; access and analyze information; and have curiosity and imagination.
CuCPS Highlights: We are so thankful for the wonderful community support!
- The Cartersville Garden Club has received a Piedmont Youth Grant for a Monet Garden at CuCPS and allocated money for garden projects and a garden bench. A Virginia Federation of Garden Club grant has been awarded as well. The Cumberland Woman's Club has also allocated money for a Garden Bench.
- The CuCPS Foundation/Centra Annual 5K for Scholarships raised $11,424!
Events for the Week:
- Tuesday: CMS SLT Meeting
- Thursday: SVRTC Awards Banquet
- Friday: Report Cards Home
- March 31, April 1, April 2: Snow Make Up Days
March 19, 2014
Dear Cumberland County Public Schools Community:
Once again we have been hit with inclement weather. We have now missed a total of 17 school days. As I stated in a previous letter (March 6, 2014), there is never an easy solution for how to make up missed instructional time. The make-up day for the last two missed days will be April 2, 2014.
This decision still provides a four-day weekend with April 3 and 4, 2014, for Spring Break. Although not ideal, this is a better option than adding a day to the end of the year which falls on May 27, 2014, the day after Memorial Day. We also considered adding minutes to the school day; however, we do not feel at this point that quality instructional time for all classes would result from this option.
Again, I appreciate those who have been understanding during the time of missed school days and encourage everyone to have a positive outlook concerning our make-up days. This will help keep our students focused on learning during the remaining school days.
Amy W. Griffin, Ed.D.
This weekend was full of exciting events with each showcasing different talents of our students. I began Saturday morning at the CuCPS Foundation/Centra 5K for Scholarships. My husband and I participated by walking the event; however, I watched in awe as many of our students (and staff) exuded confidence while running like the wind!
I then quickly went to hear some of our high school seniors debate whether CuCPS should change from a 7-point to a 10-point grading scale. I have known these students since they were in second grade, so I sat back and listened proudly as they spoke about their research and debated. I was impressed with the comprehensive research and surprised that they had not only contacted but communicated with administrators from large school divisions such as Henrico, Chesterfield, Fairfax, and Hanover!
The favorite part of my job is listening to our students. It is such an amazing experience to see how much they have grown and matured over the years. Before we left on Saturday, I asked each senior what he/she is planning to do upon graduation in May. Jamie is going to Auburn to be a Dermatologist and/or Plastic Surgeon. Jacob is going to study to be a dietician and waiting to pick the college/university he will attend. Kayln is going into education (she wants to be a school superintendent) and waiting to make a final decision as well. Nicole (UVA) and Francisca (Radford) are going into nursing. I am so proud!
On Sunday, I joined our students, families, and staff at the Longwood Center for Visual Arts Youth Art Exhibit. I enjoy attending this annual event as it displays the artistic and creative talents of our students. It is wonderful to see the students and their families as they view the artwork with such pride. Many times yesterday, children would make me walk clear across the gallery to see their artwork and to take pictures of them standing by their masterpieces. This is why displaying quality student work is so important. It motivates and brings meaning to the work.
As I have said many times, I hope each of you take time to step back and reflect on these wonderful moments and events with our children. It will not only remind you of why you went into education, but will humble you.
The Little Duke Leaders were busy last week packing food for Backpack of Love and making cards!
Events for the Week:
- 8:30 CCES Superintendent's Student Panel Meeting
- 2:00 CHS Superintendent's Student Panel Meeting
- 11:30 CMS Superintendent's Student Panel Meeting
- CCES SLT Meeting
- Comprehensive Plan Committee Meeting (7:00 p.m.)
Math teachers work on unpacking standards.
As a result of our Academic Review findings, we are working towards aligning the written, taught, and assessed curriculum. In January and February, essential actions were reviewed with teachers during School Leadership Team and Faculty meetings. It is important to update everyone on the status of the curriculum aspects of the essential actions. I have listed the steps CuCPS will be taking for alignment in chronological order:
- Unpack the Standards: This began last June with the math department and first semester in English/Reading. The remainder of the content areas have been completed or are in the process of being completed by the end of the school year. The expected templates for unpacking are listed below:
- Develop Assessments that are Aligned with the Essential Knowledge and Skills of the Standards: The next step is to develop assessments that are aligned with the unpacked standards at the content and cognitive level. In February, the division Curriculum Design Committee adopted a Table of Specifications form specifically for CuCPS. Professional Development will begin in April, during the summer, and in August. A copy of the CuCPS Table of Specifications and more information on what Curriculum Design Committee members are working on can be found at http://www.mybigcampus.com/bundles/cucps-curriculum-design-committee---297791.
- Backwards Design through unit and lesson planning: After standards have been unpacked and aligned assessments have been developed, unit and lesson planning begins. Currently, Curriculum Design Committee members are researching and are in the process of developing unit and lesson plans expectations and protocols as well as sample templates. The goal is to set required components of unit and lesson plans without dictating a format. However, sample formats will be available for those who prefer a template. A Learning Grid Plan format will be developed within lesson plans to ensure differentiation of instruction, based on student data and learning styles, has been planned effectively. Professional Development will be in May and August for unit and lesson planning.
- Develop a targeted intervention processes with a focus on communication and reflection: Protocols will be developed and professional development will occur in the fall of 2014.
- Utilize team planning for data analysis and all the above: The Curriculum Design Committee is currently working on developing protocols for instructional planning that include data analysis, unit/lesson planning (including the Learning Grid Plan), and targeted intervention.
As you can read, CuCPS is going through quite a transformation. This transformation not only focuses on understanding, planning, and assessing at the depth of the new standards but also on 21st Century Learning skills. Through a backwards design model, we will see PBL, MDC, LDC, and other types of structured planning that teaches the essential knowledge and skills of required content through important 21st Century Learning skills. The development of the expectations, protocols, forms, templates, etc. for aligning the written, taught, and assessed curriculum is happening through a team effort of CuCPS professionals--teachers, administrators, and with the assistance of our VDOE consultant, Dr. Jane Baskerville. When we complete the first round of this process, we will have something to be proud of-- and improved student results to show for it!
Math teachers and Curriculum Design Committee members work on unpacking standards.
Way to go, CCES! Preliminary numbers indicate that students raised $5,166.61 for Jump Rope for Heart!
Events for the Week:
- CMS/CHS Art Night (5:00-7:00 p.m.)
- School Board Meeting (6:00 Closed Session/7:00 Open Session)
- 7:00 Board of Supervisors Meeting
- Longwood Leadership Forum: Meg Gruber, VEA President (7 p.m.)
- Board of Supervisors Budget Work Session (7:00 p.m.)
- CuCPS Foundation 5K at High Bridge (9:00 a.m.)
Dear Cumberland County Public Schools Community:
This school year has been packed with cold weather and winter storms. Currently, Cumberland County Public Schools has missed 14 days of school due to inclement weather and icy road conditions. We have also had additional delayed openings throughout the school year. There is not always an easy solution for make-up days. The solution must balance consistency and quality of instruction, “banked” instructional time, and preparation for end of year student work, projects, and assessments.
I am not a fan of using “banked” instructional time as a replacement for school days; however, times such as these require flexibility. Based on our current school schedules, we have a total of 10 “banked” school days. In balancing “banked time” with consistency of instruction, the following dates are now make-up days:
· February 17, 2014 (already completed)
· March 31, 2014
· April 1, 2014
· April 21, 2104
· May 23, 2014
Although the March 31st and April 1st dates interrupt Spring Break, this revised schedule still allows a shortened Spring Break from April 2-4, 2014. Making up days during spring, instead of the end of the school year, provides the necessary instructional time for seniors and assists if schools desire to push back writing SOL assessments.
On a positive note—due to starting school prior to Labor Day, at this point of the school year, we have completed 15 more school days than schools that did not open prior to Labor Day. This should assist us in the state writing assessments this month and with end of year projects and assessments.
I appreciate those who have been understanding during the time of missed school days and encourage everyone to have a positive outlook concerning our make-up days. This will help keep our students focused on learning during the remaining school days.
Lillian McConkey won a blue ribbon in the Cumberland Woman's Club Writing Contest.
In a recent national survey, teachers reported the following about why they chose teaching as a profession:
• 85% of teachers say they chose the profession in order to make a difference in children’s lives.
• 74% say they became a teacher to share their love of learning and teaching with others.
• 83% said they believe that teachers have the greatest impact on student achievement in school.
Most of us chose to teach because we wanted to make a difference in this world. Teachers do have the greatest impact on student achievement. As we diligently work day to day, sometimes we can't see or don't take the time to notice the impacts we have on our students. Pause each day and ground yourself in your purpose by reflecting on why you went into teaching. This will keep you encouraged and inspired to be persistent in your passion to make a difference in this world through our children.
CHS Woman's Club Writing Contest Winners: Left to right: Danielle Dowdy, John Meinhard, Erica Bryant, Sean Stimpson, Hannah King
- Congratulations to CuCPS Crossing Guard Fancelle Liggins for being named one of the six Most Outstanding Crossing Guards in Virginia!
- The Magnificent Marching Dukes were the guest band at Longwood University for the Women's Basketball finale!
- Congratulations to Francisca Sustaita for being selected as the 2014 Daughters of the America Revolution (DAR) Good Citizen winner for CHS.
- Forensics Tournament Results: CHS tied for 4th place at Regional Competition this year. The following students are proceeding to the state competition in Harrisonburg on March 29th: Brittny Price - 3rd place, Extemporaneous Speaking; Alexa Massey - 1st Place, Impromptu Speaking; Leah Wells - 3rd Place, Humorous Interpretation; Kateleen Edwards - 3rd Place, Humorous Duo Interpretation; Shayna Swanson - 3rd Place, Humorous Duo Interpretation; Katey Hougland - 3rd Place, Serious Duo Interpretation; and Demory Williamson - 3rd Place, Serious Duo Interpretation. The following students are 4th place alternates in their category: Amatul-Malik Fulani - 4th Place, Original Oratory and Tamara Wright - 4th Place, Storytelling. The remaining results are as follows: Chelsea Deane - 5th Place, Poetry; Treyanna Randolph - 6th Place, Poetry; Riley Giles - 6th Place, Humorous Interpretation; Katie Smith - 5th Place, Serious Dramatic Interpretation; and John Jefferies - 6th Place, Serious Dramatic Interpretation.
CCES 2nd place winners in the Cumberland Woman's Club Writing Contest. From Left to Right: DeAven Bland, Baileigh Meinhard, and Cameron Ingram.
CCES Cumberland Woman's Club Art Contest Winners
Events for the Week:
- Monday (Events will be re-scheduled due to CuCPS being Closed due to Inclement Weather)
- Read Across America at CCES
- 6:00 Youth Art Night at CMS and CHS
- 6:00 Longwood DE Economics and Personal Finance Course Information Night
Miss the baby chicks? Look how much they have grown!