Amy Griffin's Blog


Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.  -Henry Van Dyke
I am thankful for my family, the CuCPS students and staff, and our community. Last week, I was fortunate to spend time with the Superintendent Student Panel members, administration at the November Academic Review Session, the School Board and Student Liaisons at the VSBA Conference, and the CCES teachers and administration during data meetings. It was a whirlwind of a week; however, opportunities such as these keep me grounded and focused. I enjoyed hearing from our student panel members and was proud to see our Student Liaisons attend the Student Leadership Workshop with students from across the state. Ahkiya and Hannah represented us well as they spoke with Board members and other superintendents after the session. It has been wonderful to see them grow from young children in elementary school to young adults getting ready to graduate -- I am thankful for who our students are becoming.
I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends. Eat lots of food, have fun, and relax!  You deserve it!
Interesting Articles for Teachers:
Family and friends enjoy Thanksgving Lunch at CMS.
CuCPS Highlights:

Sixth grade students are learning to code in the Media Center.

Events for the Week:
  • Monday
    • CHS Data Meetings
  • Tuesday
    • 8:30 Academic Jacket Ceremony
  • Wednesday-Friday:  Thanksgiving Break
On December 2, 2015, all students will participate in the Betty Scales Day of Service.
December School Board Meeting Reminders (12/14/15):
  • 5:00 p.m. -- Reception to honor School Board Member George Reid's 23 years of service to CuCPS.
  • 7:00 p.m. -- Public Input for the 2016-2017 School Budget

Counting Blessings!

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it is the time to give thanks and show appreciation.  Students and staff honored Veterans last week with letters, cards, and by participating in the Cumberland Ruritan Veterans Day Breakfast.  
We are thankful for a successful fall sports season with Varsity Volleyball competing in Regional Play-Offs and the Boys Cross Country Team and golfer Chase Grubbs competing in VHSL State Competition. This would not be possible without dedicated coaches and athletes as well as supportive parents and community members. It was wonderful to see staff members from across the division support the Lady Dukes Volleyball team by attending the game and raising money for students to attend.
Personally, I am thankful for our CuCPS faculty and staff who continue to work non-stop to meet the needs of our students academically, socially, and emotionally.  Over the past two weeks during academic reviews and site visits, I have seen students engaged and passionate about learning. This could not happen without committed faculty and staff with the purpose of making a difference in our childrens' lives.  
I was taught to count my blessings -- at Cumberland County Public Schools, we have much to be thankful for!  
CuCPS Highlights:
  • The Cumberland High School JROTC presented colors to the veterans at the Cumberland Ruritan Veterans Day Breakfast.
  • Little Duke Leaders wrote letters to Veteran's and packed packages for Madeline's House.
  • The Cumberland Boys 2015 Cross Country team finished 9th at Great Meadows (State Course). Led by podium medalists Jared Halvorsen, 13th place, and Matthew Bapties, 15th place, both young men earned 2nd team All-State. Rounding out the top 5 team members were Hunter Cochran, Justin Stimpson, and Christopher Giles. This is the first team ever to crack VHSL Cross Country 1A states top 12 teams: 1. Auburn 49, 2. Altavista 57, 3. Radford 97, 4. Matthews 107, 5. Parry McCluer 163, 6. Luray 177, 7. Galax 179, 8. Stonewall Jackson (Quicksburg) 211, 9. Cumberland 224, 10. West Point 227, 11. Patrick Henry (Gladespring) 232, 12. Northwood 313.

Events for the Week:
  • Tuesday
    • 9:00 CCES Supt. Student Panel Meeting
    • 10:00 CMS Supt. Student Panel Meeting
    • 2:15  CHS Supt. Student Panel Meeting
    • 7:00 Board of Supervisors Meeting
  • Wednesday
    • CCES and CMS Academic Review Session
    • VSBA Conference
  • Thursday
    • VSBA Conference
  • Friday
    • VSBA Conference
    • CCES Data Meetings
Upcoming Important Dates:
  • 11/23:  CHS Data Meetings
  • 11/24:  CHS Academic Jacket Ceremony
  • 11/25-27:  Thanksgiving Break

Portrait of a Cumberland Graduate

CCES Little Duke Leaders
As we work on the 2015-2021 CuCPS Strategic Plan, Destination 21, we are asking stakeholders to determine the Portrait of a Cumberland Graduate-- meaning what skills and knowledge our students need to know and be able to apply when they graduate to ensure they are successful life-long learners, workers, and citizens in a rapidly changing world. Currently the plan has five guiding objectives that are commitments to engage every student; implement balanced assessments; improve opportunity and achievement; create and expand partnerships; and optimize resources. Stakeholders are also asked to complete a D21 Survey.  Those who have completed the survey prioritized the following:
  • Increase Career and Technical opportunities to ensure students are prepared for the workforce.
  • Expand leadership and community service opportunities to provide good citizenship opportunities.
  • Provide adequate resources for students.
  • Provide adequate staffing and competitive salaries in order to recruit and retain quality educators.
It is validating to see that the outcomes of the survey are directly aligned with our purpose. The School Board will review a draft of the Strategic Plan this evening and approve in December.  

 CMS participates in Red Ribbon Week

CuCPS Highlights:
  • The Lady Dukes were the runner-ups in the Conference 42 Tournament.  They now proceed to Regional competition.  We will host Matthews on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m.

  • The Theatre Team performed "Georgia Gypsy" for their peers on Friday.  
  • The Scholastic Bowl Team defeated Nottoway 125-100 and had a good match against Randolph Henry.
  • The entire CHS Boys Cross Country Team has made it to the VHSL State Championships for the 1st time in school history!
    • The Boys Team finished 6th out of 13 schools in the 1A East Region.
    • Jared Halvorsen (Junior) finished 7th and made the 1A East All Region Team for the third consecutive year. Matthew Bapties (Junior) finished 9th and also made the 1A East All Region Team while Hunter Cochran (Sophomore) finished in the top 50 regional runners. Other team members are Chris Giles, Trevis Trent, Justin Stimpson, Brandon Lee, & Kyle Shuart.
    • The Boys Team will compete in the VHSL State Meet at The Plains on November 13-14.
  • Mapping the School: Longwood University partnered with Cumberland County Elementary School in completing another “Map Project” thus providing bright colors and excitement to its outdoor play spaces. CCES became the 7th area school to benefit from the generosity and workforce of Longwood’s health and physical education majors as well as Dr. Vonnie Colvin, Professor of Physical Education.
  • Farmville Herald Articles:
  • November 2015 School Board Election Results:
    • District 1: Ginger Sanderson
    • District 2: Lee Dowdy
    • District 3: Eurika Tyree
    • District 4: Cindy Morgan
    • District 5: Christine Ross

Events for the Week:

  • Monday
    • 7:00  November School Board Meeting (6:00: Closed Session)
  • Tuesday
    • 6:00 CHS Financial Aid Night
    • 6:00  Regional Tournament:  Lady Dukes v. Matthews
  • Wednesday
    • Veteran's Day (8:30:  ROTC presents Colors at Ruritan Veteran's Day Breakfast)
    • CCES Academic Review and Focus School Review/Meeting
  • Friday
    • Interims Home


Equity Literacy


 2015 Homecoming King and Queen: Dakoda Boyles and Marya Elasha
Dr. Jones and I participated in the VA ASCD Teaching, Learning and Poverty Institute at Longwood last week.  Keynote speaker Paul Gorski from made me reflect on my thoughts about poverty as he spoke about Equity Literacy. He said that before any instructional strategies, practices, or programs could meet the needs of students in poverty, educators must examine their own thoughts and beliefs about students and families in poverty and become literate about equity. He defines Equity Literacy as " the culture of the skills and consciousness that enable us to recognize, respond, and redress conditions that deny some students access to educational and other opportunities enjoyed by their peers". He describes four Equity Literacy Abilities:
  • Recognize biases and inequities, including subtle ones;
  • Respond to biases and inequities in the immediate term;
  • Redress biases and inequities in the long term; and
  • Create and Sustain a bias-free and equitable learning environment.
During a panel discussion, I shared how CuCPS is working to remove barriers for students and families in poverty such as prekindergarten, laptops and devices for high school students, transporting students after athletic practices, Backpacks of Love,  Breakfast in the Classroom, Bus Wifi pilot, RMP3 grant devices for Internet access in the home, after school programs and activities, etc. We have many more barriers to break down as we examine beliefs, policies, procedures, and practices that may be denying access for students in poverty.
Homecoming Pep Rally
CuCPS Highlights:
  • Jack Williamson, Shakisha Ayers, and Jenna Dayton were honored at the 2015 Area Youth Art Exhibit at Longwood University. Their art will be on display at The Longwood Center for Visual Arts until May 2016.
  • Congratulations to our Peter Francisco Soil & Water Conservation District winners. 
    • Ziayah Dungee - 7th Grade and Sammy Finch - 6th Grade (1st place)
    • Vanessa Blackwell - 5th Grade and Jeremy Johnson - 7th Grade(2nd place)
    • Cheyenne Crenshaw - 5th Grade and Samantha Tillett - 7th Grade(3rd place)
  • Author Lamar "L.R." Giles recognized working with a group of our 5th graders during the Virginia Children’s Book Festival and highlighted the story, The Alien Dentist, by our own Elena:
  • Our Dukes Scholastic Bowl Team defeated Lunenburg with a score of 120-80. This is their first victory of the year. 
  • The Varsity Lady Dukes Volleyball Team continued their winning ways defeating Nottoway, 3-1. 


Events for the Week:

  • Wednesday
    • CMS Academic Review Visit

Press Release: CuCPS 2015-2016 State Accreditation Ratings


The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) just released the 2015-2016 School Accreditation information based on data from the 2014-2015 school year. All three Cumberland schools have received the status, Partially Accredited: Warned School—Pass Rate.  VDOE has noted acceptable progress has been made toward full accreditation in math at Cumberland County Elementary School (CCES) and Cumberland Middle School (CMS).

English and math scores increased at CCES with English increasing from 56% to 59% and math increasing from 61% to 65%.  All four content areas saw an increase in pass rates at the middle school, with English increasing from 58% to 66%; math increasing from 52% to 66%; history increasing from 76% to 78%; and science increasing from 63% to 64%.  The overall gains in scores at the elementary and middle school indicate that we are on the right path. We continue to work on alignment to the state standards and targeted interventions for closing achievement gaps.  Systematic change takes time; however, our staff is dedicated to ensuring that each and every student gets to where they need to be.

The high school met benchmarks in all areas except math.  We are confident that the high school will meet all benchmarks this year and will continue the high expectations and success in graduation rates and workforce preparation that we have held over the past several years. We continue to have a graduation rate and number of advanced studies diplomas that exceed the state average and have 25% of students graduating high school with associate degrees from SVCC.  

While we look to continue to improve SOL pass rates, we are cognizant that our purpose is to prepare all students to be productive learners, workers, and citizens in an innovative economy.  This takes more than good SOL pass rates. We must prepare students to be good communicators, collaborators, critical thinkers, and problem solvers.  Employers and citizens of today want people who are creative, have a good work ethic and integrity, and can use acquired knowledge and skills. We are committed to making this happen.

Future Trends in Education

CCES Color Run
As we draft our six year Strategic Plan based on current and future workforce and educational trends and school community input, we have worked to provide information to our stakeholders on how education is changing and what it may look like in the future. The D21 Forum held in September provided a wealth of information on trends in education such as maker spaces and student voice and agency; what learning environments and facilities may look like, and what role technology will play at school, home, and in the workplace. 
I came across a blog post titled, 13 Ways Education Could Change in the Next 13 Years, written by Terry Heick.  He speculates on what education may look like in the year 2028, the year our current kindergartners will graduate from high school. 
  • The elementary school might evolve.
  • Connectivity could represent a new kind of assessment.
  • Academic standards could be supplanted by “other content”.
  • Personalized learning will disrupt how we think of curriculum.
  • New content areas could emerge.
  • Certification could be supplemented by “online brand”.
  • There could be a shrinking demand for some forms of certification.
  • There may be new reasons “to go to school”.
  • Networks could trump content.
  • The Maker Movement could spawn a design and/or entrepreneurial “culture” in education.
  • Mobile Learning & self-directed learning could form the core of formal education models.
  • Elite academic institutions could become the new “fringe”.
  • Curriculum will change, both in form as well as content.
This is a frustrating and exciting time in education-- frustrating in that we still are working toward being successful on high-stakes standardized tests and yet exciting in that change is coming. School divisions must work to balance being successful in the current assessment and accountability system while preparing for the future. 
CuCPS Highlights:


Events for the Week:

It's Homecoming Week!
  • Tuesday
    • 1:00 Administrative Council Meeting
  • Friday
    • Homecoming Football Game
  • Saturday
    • Homecoming Dance

The CuCPS Community Shows Empathy and Compassion

If I didn't take time to reflect on the school week each Sunday, I might miss the opportunity to recognize and find pride in our students and community. Just last week, community members and parents worked on the 3rd and 4th grade pod make-overs; Backpacks of Love, Inc. held their annual Golf Tournament Fundraiser to help feed children in Cumberland and surrounding counties; and WRIC meteorologist Matt DiNardo visited CMS. However, I am most proud of how our students are giving back-- the Little Duke leaders making CCES a more beautiful place and donating $300 to Loaves of Love Food Pantry; CuCPS students raising $4,000 in the Walk for Education for teacher grants and student scholarships; and the outpouring of support for Friday's "Pink Out" to bring awareness to Breast Cancer Awareness. These are great accomplishments for our students and show that they are well on their way to being empathetic and caring learners, workers, and citizens--something we could sure use more of in this world!
CuCPS Highlights:
  • Farmville Herald News:
    • CuCPS students raise $4,000 in Walk for Education:


  • Athletic News:
    • Congratulations to Jared Halvorsen for breaking the CHS Cross Country Record. Jared broke the school record with a time of 16:39 at a meet in Williamsburg. Jared is currently on of the top cross country runners in the state for 1A level schools. 
    • Chase Grubbs competed in the VHSL State Golf Championships this past Monday and Tuesday at the Golden Eagle Country Club.
    • The Lady Dukes Volleyball Teams played the Lady Statesmen. The JV played hard but lost 2-0, while the Varsity defeated the Lady Statesmen in 3 straight games. 

Events for the Week:

  • Monday
    • Lockdown Drills
  • Tuesday
    • Report Cards Home
  • Thursday
    • Schools Closed for Students
    • 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.  Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences
    • 5:30 p.m. CHS After School Lights On Event
Division Calendar:

The Time is Now!


CuCPS participates in the CuCPS Foundation Walk for Education.

Last Monday and Tuesday, I attended the Virginia Alternate Assessment Summit hosted by VDOE, VASS, VSUP, and VASCD. During this event, experts such as Jay McTighe, Chris Gareis, and leaders from the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE) provided guidance on assessment while each region in Virginia presented on how the SOL assessments in 3rd grade history and science, Writing 5, and US History (grades 6 and 7) were being replaced. Along with teachers and administrators from Buckingham and Nottoway, I presented on the Performance Based Assessment (PBA) process and products in Region 8. Region 8 not only has 15 PBA's to share across the region and Commonwealth but now has the experience of the PBA development process. I look forward to our continued work in alternate and balanced assessment. This is important work in transforming how our students are assessed in Virginia. As educators, we have been critical of the current assessment and accountability system; therefore, we must be able to show that we can develop a better way. The time is now!


CuCPS attends the Moton Museum Community Banquet.

CuCPS Highlights:

Congratulations to the first group of Cumberland Middle School Student Government Association (SGA) Officers. 

Events for the Week:
  • Monday
    • No School for Students: Professional Development Day for Staff
    • 7:00 October School Board Meeting
  • Tuesday
    • End of Nine Weeks (Report Cards Home on October 20/ Parent-Teacher Conferences on October 22)
    • 7:00 Board of Supervisors Meeting
  • Wednesday
    • Administrative Council Meeting
  • Thursday
    • 10:15 Great Southeast ShakeOut
October 22:  Parent/Teacher Conferences (11:00 A.M.-7:00 P.M.)
(No School for Students)

3rd graders visit the Governor's School.

Innovation: What Matters Most?

This is how some 6th graders spend their lunchtime!
I was fortunate to attend EdLeader21 2015 where I was able to learn from experts in 21st Century learning and assessment as well as network with educators across the nation. Tony Wagner began with the Keynote challenging us to create innovative schools and districts. He reminds us that we are living in a radically different world and that in an Innovative Economy, employers do not want employees that can regurgitate content, but are more interested in what employees can do-- those who can deal with complex problems and both lead and follow. He urges educators to move from:
  • Individual achievement to collaboration--  Innovation is a team sport. Isolation is the enemy of improvement and innovation.
  • Compartmentalized knowledge-- Innovation happens outside of boundaries. Students must be able to solve multidisciplinary problems.
  • Consumption of knowledge to creativity and production of knowledge.
  • Thinking failure, making mistakes, is a bad thing-- Innovation comes from trial and error. He urges us to rethink grading practices.
  • Cultivating extrinsic motivation to more intrinsic motivation where students are producing work worth doing.
Tony Wagner concluded that content mattersskills matter more; and motivation matters most! It was an extremely powerful message followed by a movie screening of the film, Most Likely to Succeed.


CuCPS Highlights:

Events for the Week:

  • Wednesday
    • CMS Data Meetings
    • 7:00 Strategic Plan Advisory Committee Meeting
  • Thursday
    • CHS Data Meetings
CuCPS will be closed for students on Monday, October 12, 2105, for a Professional Development Day for CuCPS faculty and staff.
CuCPS teacher Myrna Barr pictured at the Longwood University STEM Summit with Don Wettrick, author of Pure Genius.

Amazing Students!

Our students never cease to amaze me.  From placing in the Eastern Region FFA Agriscience Fair, becoming the 2015 Conference 42 Golf Champion and Conference MVP, to raising money for the Lonesome Dove Equestrian Center-- our students continue to show how coming from a small community and school division doesn't stop them from being the best among their peers and contributing to causes beyond school walls.
In preparation for developing the six year strategic plan, I spoke with students last week from all three schools about the future of CuCPS. We discussed how they best learn; how they best show what they know; and what additional resources they would like to see for CuCPS. Student overwhelmingly reported that they learn and show what they know best through projects, presentations, and hands-on learning. As far as enhanced resources, they want to see more playground equipment at CCES, laptops versus tablets at CHS, a boys volleyball team, and VHSL tennis teams (just to name a few of their suggestions).
As always, speaking with our students and reflecting on their accomplishments reminds me of my purpose and why I do what I do. 
CuCPS Highlights:
  • Welcome Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Dwayne Tigs as the new Assistant Instructor for the CHS JROTC.
  • Jordan Newman, an 8th grade student at Cumberland Middle School, competed in the Eastern Region FFA Agriscience Fair in Springfield, Massachusetts. Jordan's research project titled "Whose Lambs Grew the Most" had previously placed first at the Virginia State FFA convention in the Animal Science division. Jordan placed 4th in the competition earning him a Silver award. Jordan plans to continue his research project next year. This was his first year as a member of the newly re-established Cumberland FFA. He will be competing in the State Fair of Virginia with his market lambs.

Events for the Week:

  • Monday
    • CCES Data Meetings
  • Tuesday
    • Career Interest Workshop (6:30 pizza; 7:00 Workshop)
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
    • Senior Parent Night (6:00 p.m.)
  • Friday
    • Walk for Education