Amy Griffin's Blog

Taking the Challenge: A Day in the Life of a CHS Senior

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to shadow senior and Student Liaison to the School Board Ahkiya Allen last Wednesday as part of the Shadow a Student Challenge. What I thought may be a long, strenuous day, ended up going relatively fast (although, I have to admit that I didn't make it to softball practice). I started the day arriving at the bus stop to Governor's School in the CHS student parking lot around 6:00 a.m.  I was told to be there at 6:30 a.m.; however, if you know me, you know that I am an early bird! My bus stop experience was not without drama as I dropped my cell phone in a parking lot drain.  Thankfully, senior A.J. Wingo retrieved it. He really saved the day for me!
Ahkiya attends the Governor's School STEM program at SVCC (Keysville), so we took the one hour bus ride to SVCC.  The students quietly talked and listened to music. They like their bus driver Mr. Brown very much.  Ahkiya and her friends, Jada and Sean, shared their excitement about voting for the first time in the Primary held the day before.  I had forgotten how passionate young adults can be about politics and felt a little sad that I had lost that type excitement and energy when it comes to government.
We arrived at Governor's School where I was told that we would be in Calculus II for three hours! I have to admit that I was not too excited about this; however, the time went fast and I was amazed how engrossed the students became with deciding which test to use to solve problems. My favorite part was break time where students went to the snack shop in the new SVCC student center.  I was most impressed by how the students were treated like adults and were experiencing the freedom and responsibility of college life. 
After Calculus II class, we loaded the bus to ride back to CHS.  The bus ride seemed a little longer this time -- maybe it was the lunchtime traffic through Farmville or maybe it was Ahkiya and Jada, who were riled up about certain political figures.  I listened "word for word" while Jada read (with lots of expression) different media articles about one politician, who in this blog will remain nameless!
Once we arrived at the high school, it was lunchtime (thank goodness, I was so hungry).  I ate my salad at my usual cafeteria table at CHS. I wanted to give the students some time without me. My ears also needed a rest, ha-ha!  
Next was DE Government class and we had a substitute.  Students were working on their local government simulation projects. I was impressed with the real world application and relevance of this project.  Students were developing an economic development proposal for Patriot Ridge to present to the local board of supervisors (designated students within the class). The students worked well in their small groups. You would have never known that the teacher was not present. Although, Ahkiya and Jada were worried what Miss Kelly would think about some changes on her Promethean Board.  Hopefully, Miss Kelly found everything to her liking when she returned -- they were worried.
The last class of the day was DE English 12.  Students were asked to answer questions from the play, The Importance of Being Earnest.  Ahkiya and Jada answered these questions quickly.  Then, Mrs. Haigh asked students to prepare questions to ask Congressman Robert Hurt who will be visiting CHS.  Imagine my inward groan after realizing that we would be talking about current politics again.  Ahkiya and Jada quickly began to research and brainstorm different questions to ask the Congressman based on topics that concerned them- equality and police brutality. They drafted their questions and submitted them to Mrs. Haigh.  Then the bell rang and the school instructional day came to an end. Ahkiya then headed to softball practice while I sadly bailed out to go to my office to answer phone messages and emails.
I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and time with Ahkiya, Jada, and all the students and staff that I came in contact with during my shadowing experience.  I am so proud of how intelligent and passionate these young adults have become. I observed that they are brutally honest with each other, don't shy away from controversy, and have plans to make the world a better place.  I hope that light within them continues to burn bright- I have no doubt that they will accomplish great things. I feel good about our young adults.  From getting my phone out of a drain, to teaching me new "terms",  to reminding me about the importance of democracy-- they give me great hope for the future.
CuCPS Highlights:
  • Cumberland Forensics Team Wins Regional Forensics:  On Saturday, March 5th, the CHS Forensics team won first place in competition against eleven other schools in the 1A East Regional Tournament at Windsor High School in Windsor, Virginia.   
    • Led by coach Charles Haigh and team captain Demory Williamson, CHS scored four first place finishes from students Senior Amatul-Malik Fulani, Original Oratory, Junior Katey Hougland, Storytelling, Sophomore Holly Tillett, Humorous Interpretation, and Junior Demory Williamson, Serious Dramatic Interpretation. They will be joined at the State Forensics Tournament next month by the serious duo of Lexi Ellis and Justin Crawford, and humorous duo of Shayna Swanson and John Jefferies, as well as Maddi White, Storytelling, Brittny Price, Extemporaneous Speaking, Hallye Workman, Serious Dramatic Interpretation, and Kaylah Paras, Poetry Interpretation. Four students are listed as alternates for the state competition. They include Nick Abbott, Madaline Johnston, Chyann Taylor, and Nick Overton.   
    • This is the second consecutive year that CHS has won the 1A East Regional Title, and the sixth title in three years. Mr. Haigh was also awarded the Region 1A East Coach of the Year Award. The regional champions are now preparing to perform at the state competition which will be held at Clover Hill High School in Midlothian on April 2nd.

Events for the Week:
  • Monday
    • CCES Focus School Meeting and Visit
  • Tuesday
    • 8:30  GSSV Senior Symposium
    • 12:00 Administrative Council Meeting
    • 7:00 Board of Supervisors Meeting
  • Saturday
    • CuCPS Foundation 5K
Mr. Dingeldein taking the Shadow a Student Challenge



CuCPS is taking the Shadow a Student Challenge!


Over the next two weeks, CuCPS administrators will be taking the Shadow a Student Challenge: a one-day crash course in empathy. As the challenge states, "When students feel known and valued by an adult at their school, they show up. When they are engaged in relevant, challenging work, they are building competencies for college, career, and civic life."  From February 29 – March 11, 2016,  school leaders will clear calendars, silence walkie-talkies, throw on sneakers, and immerse themselves in student life for a day.  I will be shadowing senior and Student Liaison to the School Board Ahkiya Allen on Wednesday.  You will also see other CuCPS administrators shadowing throughout the next two weeks.  See you at the bus stop and in class!
More information about the Shadow a Student Challenge can be found at
CuCPS Highlights:
Events for the Week:
  • Monday
    • CMS Science VDOE Technical Assistance Workshop
  • Tuesday
    • Region 8 PBA Workshop 
  • Wednesday
    • Read Across America Day
  • Thursday
    • Division Leadership Team Visit at CMS
  • Friday
    • CMS Data Meetings

Duke Talent

Students and staff sure made me proud this week as students showcased their many talents and staff worked long hours to ensure our students had these opportunities to shine.  Our students not only wrote, performed, designed, and competed athletically, but were at the top of their game.  Preston Sutton had an article published in the Farmville Herald; the CHS Forensics Team competed and won the 2016 Conference 42 Championship; Trevon Foster placed 4th in the Wrestling State Championships, and Chyann Taylor won the 5th Annual Wind Turbine Design Competition.  We are also moving forward in other areas such as robotics with our first CHS Robotics Team and being selected for one of the Virginia CyberCamps.  
I would like to thank all of our staff for their dedication and commitment to our students.  I stopped by the Conference 42 Forensics Competition and was impressed with all the faculty that spent their Saturday judging and ensuring the event went smoothly.  Your hard work does not go unnoticed.
CuCPS Highlights:
  • CHS Junior Trevon Foster placed 4th at the 1A Wrestling Championships.
  • The Farmville Herald has published an article written by CHS student Preston Sutton:
  • Chyann Taylor won the 5th Annual Wind Turbine Design Competition.
  • The Cumberland High School Forensics Team is the 2016 Conference 42 Champion. This is the 3rd conference championship in consecutive years. The team results were as follows:
    • Extemp. Speaking Brittny Price - 1st; Nick Abbott - 2nd
    • Original Oratory Amatul Fulani - 1st
    • Impromptu Munirah Fulani - 4th
    • Storytelling Madison White - 1st; Katey Hougland - 2nd
    • Prose Interp. Madeline Johnston - 2nd; Ella Kinney - 3rd
    • Poetry Interp. Kaylah Paras - 2nd; Cheyenne Johnson - 3rd
    • Humorous Dramatic Holly Tillett - 1st
    • Serious Dramatic Demory Williamson - 1st; Hallye Workman - 3rd
    • Humorous Duo John Jefferies & Shayna Swanson - 1st; Nick Overton & Chyann Johnson - 2nd
    • Serious Duo Justin Crawford & Alexis Ellis - 1st
  • The 1st ever CHS Robotics Team has been working hard on their robot for two competitions coming in March. On Saturday,  Jack Giles, Brandon White, and Caylor Scales practiced maneuvers on the ramp in the high school's Academic Wing. The Robotics Team brings an excellent opportunity for students to practice real STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) applications. They are lead by Mrs. Myrna Barr and Mr. Michael Giles. There are 15 students who are part of the group.
  • The Virginia Department of Education has announced that Cumberland County Public Schools has been selected as one of the thirty-two locations for the Virginia CyberCamp 2016 Program. The primary purpose of this program is to increase awareness of careers in cybersecurity and inform students about the vast opportunities in the workplace. The CyberCamps will serve as models for building the pipeline for K-12 education to meet Virginia's cybersecurity work force demands.
  • Dukes highlighted in the Farmville Herald:

Events for the Week:

  • Monday
    • CCES Data Meetings
    • 7:00  School Board Public Hearing on 16-17 School Operating Budget
  • Tuesday
    • 12:00 Administrative Council Meeting
  • Wednesday
    • CHS Data Meetings
  • Thursday
    • CCES Jump Rope for Heart
  • Friday
    • 12:00-3:00 Teacher Cabinet Meeting

Examining Equity

The Virginia Opera performs Deep River: The Marian Anderson Story for CMS.

Last week, I attended the AASA National Conference on Education as one of the four bloggers for the conference.  I heard speakers such as Manny Scott, Pedro NogueraAlan Blankstein, Shawn Achor, Gary Marx, and Michael Horn as well as watched the movie Beyond Measure that featured experts such as Tony Wagner, Sir Ken Robinson, Yong Zhao, Linda Darling-Hammond, Larry Rosenstock, and Ron Berger. I appreciate being asked to be one of the four bloggers for the conference. Being asked was aligned with one of the themes of the conference - equity. As a superintendent of a small, rural school division with a majority of students in poverty, it was great to be a voice at the conference.  As many of the experts pointed out, those in poverty lack access and voice. I return from the conference inspired and ready to examine our policies and practices that may be promoting inequities and determined to facilitate access and equity for ALL.
Snow Make Up Information:

Missed Date:                                     Make Up Date:
January 21, 2016                              April 18, 2016
January 22, 2016                              May 19, 2016
January 25, 2016                              May 20, 2016
January 26, 2016                              May 23, 2016
January 27, 2016                              May 24, 2016
February 16, 2016                            May 25, 2016
End of 3rd Nine Weeks:  March 16, 2016  (Report Cards Home March 23, 2016)
4th Nine Weeks Interims:  April 22, 2016
End of 4th Nine Weeks:  May 25, 2016
CuCPS Highlights:
  • The CHS Forensics Team is the 2015-2016 James River District Forensics Champion. Notable finishes include Holly Tillett, first place humorous interpretation; Munirah Fulani first place impromptu speaking; Katey Hougland first place storytelling; and Kaylah Paras first place poetry. Other members on the team earned additional second and third place finishes. The team is now preparing to defend their conference championship here on the 20th.
  • The CHS Wrestling Team competed at Northampton High School on the Eastern Shore Saturday in the 1A East Wrestling Championship. Our wrestlers performed very well. Trevon Foster (195) is the 1A East Region Champion; Isiah Johnson (145) finished 5th; Sean Stinnett (182) finished 5th; Kavon Foster (170) finished 4th; Raheem Rumsey (220) finished 3rd; Khajian Trent (285) finished 6th; Ricky Kirby (113) finished 6th.
    • Trevon, Kavon, & Raheem have qualified for the VHSL State meet next week. Isaiah and Sean will be alternates to states.
    • All wrestlers represented CHS very well and finished 8th in the region overall.
  • The Farmville Chamber of Commerce has highlighted CuCPS at
  • Dukes highlighted in the Farmville Herald:
  • The CMS Girls Basketball team finished the regular season with a 10-4 overall record and finished as the western conference runner-up with a 7-3 record.
  • The Athletic Department celebrated Senior Night for the Cheerleaders and Girls Basketball Team. Recognized were: Cheerleaders Selina Robert, Cadajah Randolph, and Jewel Yarborough; Basketball players Ahkiya Allen, Kyera Broxton, and Marya Elasha.

Events for the Week:

  • Wednesday
    • 4:00 GSSV Joint Board Meeting
  • Thursday:
    • 7:00 Board of Supervisors and School Board Joint Budget Work Session

February: School Board Appreciation Month

Maker Spaces and littleBits: Students in 6th Grade explore littleBits and electronic building blocks.

February is School Board and Board Clerk Appreciation Month.  I would like to thank our Board members - Ginger Sanderson, Eurika Tyree, Christine Ross, Cindy Morgan, and Lee Dowdy; Dr. Jamerson, clerk; and Dr. Jones, deputy clerk.  Cumberland County is fortunate to have such dedicated individuals who truly put students first in their decision making. From academics to athletics; fine arts to career and technical opportunities; facilities to the resources in the hands of our students and staff-- this Board continues to seek excellence and equity for the children of Cumberland.  The Board has three goals for Cumberland County Public Schools that are the foundation for all decisions:

  • Cumberland County Public Schools will be student centered.
  • Cumberland County Public Schools will expand opportunities for learning.
  • Cumberland County Public Schools will develop committed stakeholders who build positive relationships. Stakeholders are defined as students, faculty and staff, parents, and community members.

These goals are also the foundation of the D21 Strategic Plan (link: adopted in December and the 2016-2017 School Operating Budget process.  Finally, I would like to thank our School Board Student Liaisons Ahkiya Allen and Hannah King for providing "the voices" of our students.


CuCPS Highlights:
  • Hayes Turner, CHS sophomore, was selected to attend the Hugh O’Brien Youth (HOBY) Leadership Workshops at James Madison University in June.
  • The CMS NJHS inducted 37 new students last week.
  • Ms. Whittaker has been awarded an Agriculture in the Classroom grant in the amount of $420.

  • Athletics News:
    • The Athletic Department celebrated Senior Night for the Indoor Track and Boys Basketball Teams. Recognized were:  Chris Giles and Kyle Shuart -- Indoor Track; and Andrew Brown, Devante Copeland, David Diming, Tyveon Goodwin, T.J. Jackson, Daquan Trent, Ahmad Booker, and Jordan Woodson --Basketball.
    • The Cumberland Dukes Wrestling team qualified for the 1A regional tournament being held Friday and Saturday at Northampton H.S.
    • The CHS Wrestling Team competed in the Southside Scuffle in Nottoway. Ricky Kirby finished 1st to become the 113lbs champion; Kavon Foster finished 4th at 182lbs; Trevon Foster finished 4th at 220lbs. The wrestling team finished 8th out of 13 teams from all over VA ranging from 1A-3A and private schools. 
    • CHS hosted the Conference 42 Wrestling Tournament:
      • The Dukes Wrestlers finished 3rd overall. Individual results were: Trevon Foster - Conference 42 Champion 2 195 lbs.; Raheem Rumsey - Conference 42 Runner-up @220 lbs.; Joey Riner - Conference 42 Runner- up @ 126 lbs.; Isaiah Johnson – Conference 42 Runner-up @ 145 lbs.; Ricky Kirby- Conference 42 Runner-up @ 113 lbs.; Khajhan Trent – Conference 42 Runner-up @ 285 lbs.

    • Wednesday was the NCAA National Signing Day for athletes to commit to attend college next fall. Ebony Jones committed to St. Andrews College for track and field and T.J. Jackson committed to Virginia Tech to play football.

Events for the Week:

  • Monday
    • 7:00 February School Board Meeting
  • Tuesday
    • 10:00 Virginia Opera comes to CMS:  The Marian Anderson Story
    • 12:00 Administrative Council Meeting
    • 7:00 Board of Supervisors Meeting
  • Wednesday
    • Interims Home

Remembering Keith White

The community came together last Friday evening to celebrate the life and legacy of Keith White. Although I did not know him well, I would see him coaching our students on the court, the field, and in life. He would even take the time to eat lunch at the middle and high school visiting with the students and staff.  He was very supportive of sharing and preparing the Madison Ball Fields for the upcoming middle school baseball and softball practices and games.  From all the comments on Facebook (check out the posts on the Farmville Herald Facebook page) and at the service, it is apparent that he had caring and lasting relationships with many of our students, parents, staff, and community members.  Keith has left a legacy within the hearts and minds of our children, many grown now, as well as his family and close friends.  I thought the poem included on the service program was fitting:
You taught us determination. You gave us the skills
To persist in life's game; and for that we always will
Give thanks for you, and look back and boast
That we had the privilege
Of calling you, Coach!
The outpouring of condolences, memories, and love are testimonies to the life and legacy of Keith White.  He has truly made an ever-lasting impact on and for the youth of Cumberland County. For that, his CuCPS family is forever grateful.
CuCPS Highlights:
  • Congratulations to Ricky Kirby for being the 113 pound weight class champion at the South Side Shuffle.
  • Congratulations to our Dukes Wrestling Team who finished 3rd in the JRD Tournament:
    • 113lbs Ricky Kirby 1st = District Champion
    • 120lbs Davidrick Brooks 1st = District Champion
    • 126lbs Joseph Riner 4th
    • 132lbs Jackson Pryor 3rd
    • 170lbs Kavon Foster 4th
    • 182lbs Sean Stinnett 4th
    • 195lb Raheem Rumsey 3rd
    • 220lbs Trevon Foster 3rd
    • 285lbs Kaijhan Trent 2nd = District Runner-up
  • Dukes in the Farmville Herald:

Events for the Week:

  • Monday
    • 9-12 Local Alternate Assessment Planning
    • 7:00  School Board Budget Work Session
  • Tuesday
    • CCES Focus School Meeting
  • Wednesday
    • School Board Visits with Senator Garrett and Delegate Wright
  • Friday
    • Superintendent Student Panel Meetings
      • 9:00 CCES
      • 10:00 CMS
      • 2:00 CHS

Snow Days!

Welcome Back!  I hope everyone enjoyed the snow and the extra time at home.  I rode my Honda UTV through the snow for the first time. What a rush!  My seven month old Saint Bernard puppy, Sassy Rose, also enjoyed her first snow! 
I want to thank the Cumberland maintenance crew for preparing the school grounds so we could return to school.  On a personal note, a special thanks goes to Mr. Andrew Stinson for surprising me by shoveling the entrance to my driveway.  He must have taken pity on me after observing me four-wheeling to get into my driveway earlier this week.  
Now that we are back, it is time to adjust the calendar and reschedule missed events.  Please see the below changes and adjust your calendars.  
Change of Term Dates:
  • 3rd Nine Weeks Interims Home:  February 10, 2016
  • End of 3rd Nine Weeks:  March 11, 2016
  • 3rd Nine Weeks Report Cards Home:  March 18, 2016
Snow Make Up Days:
  • 1/21:  Monday, February 15, 2016
  • 1/22:  Monday, April 18, 2016
  • 1/25:  Thursday, May 19, 2016
  • 1/26:  Friday, May 20, 2016  (12:00 noon dismissal for students)
  • 1/27:  TBD (depends on if further missed days) 
Other Event Make Up Days:
  • School Board Budget Work Session:  Monday, February 1, 2016
  • CMS VDOE Science Technical Assistance Webinar:  February 4, 2016
  • Superintendent Student Panel Meetings:  Friday, February 5, 2016
  • Teacher Cabinet Meeting:  Friday, February 26, 2016
  • Critical Incident PD:  TBD
CuCPS Highlights:

Division Calendar:

CCES is pleased to announce that the Media Center will be open until 5:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, beginning Tuesday, February 2, 2016. Please bring your student by to check out a book, return a book, or use a computer.

Change is A-Coming!

After hearing Governor McAuliffe speak twice last week, once during the State of the Commonwealth address and then at the VASS winter conference, one things is clear-- he is recognizing that K-12 public education is the foundation of the New Virginia Economy.  Governor McAuliffe pointed this out many times throughout both speeches while speaking of redesigning high schools, preparing students for the 21st Century economy, and reforming the assessment and accountability systems. What is unique now is that these sentiments are bipartisan- with republicans, democrats, delegates, and senators all agreeing. I know-- it's about time!  So, hang on...change is a-coming!
CuCPS Highlights:


  • 2016 CuCPS Spelling Bee:
    • Division Winner- Cierra Jeffers, 7th Grade
    • Division Runner Up- Jack Williamson, 5th Grade
    • Grade Level Representatives:
      • 1st Grade: 
        • Winner- Eric Johnson
        • Runner Up- David Sullivan
      • 2nd Grade:
        • Winner- Tamilyah Harris
        • Runner Up- Taytana Brooks
      • 3rd Grade:
        • Winner- Natalie Sullivan
        • Runner Up- Addy Carney
      • 4th Grade:
        • Winner- Chase Myers
        • Runner Up- Brooklyn Winingham
      • 5th Grade:
        • Winner- Jack Williamson
        • Runner Up- Shyheim Brown
      • 6th Grade:
        • Winner- Dylon Boatwright
        • Runner Up- Jaleel Brown
      • 7th Grade:
        • Winner- Cierra Jeffers
        • Runner Up- Mya Johnson Taylor
      • 8th Grade:
        • Winner- Graceyn Cubbage
        • Runner Up- Tanner Cochran
  • The CHS 2016 Robotics Team attended the First Competition kickoff at VCU.

Events for the Week:
  • Tuesday:  CHS After School Program Begins
  • Wednesday:  CHS Academic Review
  • Friday: Teacher Cabinet (12:00 noon)
CCES is pleased to announce that the Media Center will be open until 5:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, beginning Tuesday, February 2, 2016. Please bring your student by to check out a book, return a book, or use a computer.

2016: Resilience

The first week of a new year has come and gone as well as many New Year Resolutions. I read something on Twitter recently about "summing up" your hope for 2016 in one word--a New Year Resolution Word.  I have been pondering on what one word I would choose for our work at CuCPS.
With the new year and the beginning of the second semester, I ask that each of us ask ourselves/reflect on the following:
1.  Why did I choose to be a public educator or work in a public school?
2.  Why did I choose to work at Cumberland County Public Schools?
3.  Am I fulfilling the purpose of my chosen profession?
4.  Am I producing quality work?
5.  Do I put student learning ahead of my own professional wants?
6.  Do I have high expectations for each and every student and provide students the supports they need to be successful?
7.  What are the long-term impacts of my actions when students learn or do not learn?
Resilience is my word for CuCPS in 2016.  Through focus, quality work, and positive attitudes, we can be the school division that each and every student deserves-- even amongst great challenges and rapid change.  The purpose and impact of our profession are great.  The consequences of quality, or the lack of, will be life-changing for our students. Sometimes in the daily routine of life, we forget that. 
CuCPS Highlights:
Events for the Week:
  • Monday:
    • 7:00 January School Board Meeting (6:00 Closed Session)
  • Tuesday:
    • 12:00 Administrative Council Meeting
    • 7:00 Board of Supervisors Meeting
  • Wednesday:
    • Region 8 PBA Design Workshop
    • CHS Academic Review Documents Due
  • Thursday:
    • 9:45  Division Spelling Bee
    • Region 8 PBA Design Workshop
Monday, January 18th:  CuCPS Schools and Offices Closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

Happy New Year!

From School Board membership, athletic history, annual ceremonies and performances, to elementary student work exhibitions-- CuCPS was in full force with many milestones the week prior to winter break. On December 14th, we honored and said goodbye to Mr. Reid as a School Board member of 23 years with great service and character and then welcomed new Board member Cindy Morgan at the Swearing-In Ceremony on December 16th.  CCES held its 15th Annual Winter Musical with fourth graders performing the musical, Prehistoric Christmas.  The Class of 2017 participated in their Junior Ring Ceremony while elementary students showcased their student work at the first grade Past and Present Museum and the third grade Holidays Around the World exhibit.  And lastly, two senior athletes committed to colleges with scholarships:  Timothy Jackson (football) to Virginia Tech and Ebony Jones (track) to St. Andrews College.  There are great things happening at CuCPS and I am very thankful for those that make them possible. Happy New Year!
CuCPS Highlights:
Events for the Week:
  • Monday:  CCES Focus School Site Visit and Meeting
  • Friday:  Report Cards Come Home