Amy Griffin's Blog

To CuCPS Faculty and Staff:

It is with pleasure that I welcome our new and returning staff to the 2014-2015 school year.  I hope you have spent some of your summer exploring, relaxing, and learning new things. This summer, I have spent my free time canoeing and fishing. I find peace and reflection on the lake, although I do have to admit that one needs to practice great patience and good communication skills when going down river rapids. For my 27th anniversary, my husband scheduled a trip down the James River in the mountains.  Believe me, we used communications skills we didn’t even know we possessed while we tackled class 2 rapids by ourselves for the first time (ha-ha)!

A special thanks goes to all faculty and staff that have spent the summer teaching summer school, attending professional development, and developing aligned curriculum, instructional plans, and assessments.  Prekindergarten teachers have finished 10 unit Tables of Specifications (TOS), a group of K-8 teachers have been working on new K-8 English/Language Arts (ELA) Pacing Guides, while other groups have been attending train-the-trainer workshops for aligning assessments.

Please closely review the professional development calendars provided by mail, email, and on our website.  Changes have been made to the pre-service week professional development plans (originally scheduled in April/May) for teachers in response to end of year data, advice from consultants hired to assist K-8 ELA and math teachers as well as reflection from the summer aligning assessments workshops.  Principals will verify TOS, aligned assessments, and unit/lesson plan expectations at the school level.  CHS teachers and CMS history and science teachers will proceed with original timelines.  A school team will assist these specific teachers with assessment alignment using a TOS during the pre-service week.  The date and time will be provided by your principal (this is not optional as originally planned).

K-8 ELA and math teachers will attend professional development as indicated on the enclosed calendar.  Consultants Dr. Lisa Meyers (K-8 ELA), Dr. Lois Williams (CMS Math), and Dr. Ruth Harbin-Miles (K-4 Math) will assist these specific teachers through curriculum alignment and development.  Expectations for alignment of assessments and unit/lesson plans will be provided by your principal at the school level.

Other calendar-related items of special note are as follows:

  • Returning teachers are required to work any two weekdays, July 21-30, 2014. CCES teachers: if the elementary school is still under construction, teachers may plan to work in the CMS/CHS complex.  Please communicate with Mrs. Gills.
  • The New Teacher Institute will be held on July 29-30, 2014, for all teachers new to CuCPS.
  • All Teachers report for school-level meetings on July 31, 2014.
  • The Division Luncheon and Convocation for all division staff will be held on August 4, 2014, from 11:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m. 
  • Open House will be held on August 7, 2014, from 3:00-7:00 p.m.
  • Teachers may leave at 12:00 noon on August 8, 2014; however, school buildings will remain open until 4:15 p.m. for those who want to continue to work in classrooms.

I look forward to working with each of you as we continue to align the written, taught, and assessed curriculum with a focus on teaching the standards at a deeper level through a 21st Century learning lens.  Once we have this solid foundation, we will work toward cultivating students that are leaders of their own learning through celebrating student work, student-led conferences, and researching standards-based grading. 

CuCPS Highlights:

  • Caylor Scales spent two weeks at Alcorn State University as part of the USDA's Ag Discovery Program.  This was one of 17 programs across the country exposing children to agribusiness, animals, plants, and veterinary procedures.  Caylor was one of 19 students at ASU with several students coming from Maryland, Georgia, and Nevada.

Events for the Week:

  • Tuesday
    • 7:00 Board of Supervisors Meeting
  • Thursday
    • Region 8 Math Professional Development with Dan Mulligan

Dedicated Educators


I enjoyed working with teachers and administrators last week on curriculum development.  On Monday and Wednesday, a dedicated group of teachers worked on developing new English/Language (ELA) Pacing Guides for grades K-8 with Dr. Lisa Meyers.  Dr. Meyers constantly told me what wonderful teachers we have at CuCPS!  On Tuesday and Wednesday, principals and a group of teachers participated in Region 8 Aligning Assessments professional development with Dr. Leslie Grant and Dr. Chris Garies. Again, I experienced very passionate educators who are committed to children in Cumberland County! This makes me very proud to be part of such a strong team! 

CuCPS Highlights:
CCES students participated in QuickStart Tennis during summer school.
Events for the Week:
  • Monday:  Administrative Council Meeting (1:00)
  • Thursday-Friday: Schools and Offices Closed for July 4th Holiday

Myth: Summer Off

What do PK-12 public school educators do all summer? We teach, plan, and continue to learn through professional development! Last week, summer school began and meetings were held to plan and prepare for our returning agriculture program. This week, teachers and administrators will work on aligning the written, taught, and assessed curriculum at a K-8 ELA Pacing Guide workshop and the Region 8 Aligning Assessment workshops. It is truly a myth that educators have three months off during the summer.
Summer Learning Resources:
CuCPS Highlights:
Events for the Week:
  • Monday:
    • 8:30-3:30  K-8 ELA Pacing Guide Development with Dr. Lisa Meyers
  • Tuesday:
    • 8:30 a.m. Board of Supervisors Meeting
    • 9:00-3:00  Region 8 Aligning Assessment Workshop
  • Wednesday:
    • 9:00-3:00  Region 8 Aligning Assessment Workshop

A Challenge!


Rising 6th graders attend a Flying Squirrels game!

Okay, thanks to Justin Reid (Associate Director of the Moton Museum and alum of CHS), I have been Cold Water Challenged!  To be honest, I didn't even know what that meant until I spent some time on Facebook watching video after video of people accepting and making challenges. I managed to put the challenge off for several days with the excuse that I wanted the children in summer school to assist. However, the first day of summer school is upon us and I can't put this off any longer. It will happen at 11:00 a.m. today. I contacted Mr. Motter this morning to see if he could assist me in planning my challenge.  That may not have been the best idea on my part, what was I thinking?  Mr. Motter is one of the biggest jokers around!  What have I gotten myself into?

CuCPS Highlights:

  • We are proud to announce that Ms. Angela Whittaker has been selected as a Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) winner for 2014 by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Congratulations for winning such a prestigious national award!

Several football players attended VT Football Camp.
Events for the Week:

Summer School:  June 16-July 16, 2014


CUCPS Welcomes New Administrative Staff


At the regular meeting of the Cumberland County School Board held on Monday, June 9, 2014, Board members approved new administrative staff for Cumberland Elementary School. 


Mrs. Virginia “Ginny” Silveira Gills was named principal of Cumberland Elementary School (CES). She formerly served as CES assistant principal for three years. Mrs. Gills had previously been a foreign language teacher at both Cumberland High School and Powhatan High School. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Longwood University, a Master of Science degree in Culture and Literacy with a certification as a reading specialist from Longwood University, an endorsement in Teaching English as a Second Language from Shenandoah University, and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Administration and Supervision from Virginia Commonwealth University. Mrs. Gills is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, the Foreign Language Association of Virginia, the International Reading Association, and Phi Kappa Phi.


Ms. Kathryn M. Garrett was approved as the new CES assistant principal. She has been the assistant principal of Powhatan High School for the past eleven years, where she was also the GED and Adult Education administrator, the Career and Technical Education program administrator, and the evaluator for Special Education programs. Prior to her years as an administrator, she taught English at Powhatan High School. Ms. Garrett has a Bachelor of Science degree in English Education from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Master of Arts degree in Instruction and Curriculum from Central Michigan University, and a certification in Administration and Supervision from George Washington University. She has been the recipient of the Certificate of Recognition for Virginia Department of Education Creating Excellence Award and the WRIC Golden Apply Award.


Two other administrative appointments at Cumberland Middle School (CMS) were made at the Board meeting. Mrs. Wendy Tillett was named Assistant-to-the-Principal for Cumberland Middle School. In addition to her duties as a special education teacher, she will be assisting with various administrative tasks including handling discipline issues and coordinating student activities and services. Mrs. Tillett has a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work from Longwood University, with a teaching license in Special Education General Curriculum. She has recently received her Master’s degree from Longwood University in Educational Leadership. She has been a special educator for CMS for the past six years.


Mr. Charles Motter III was approved to be the Instructional Technology Resource Specialist for the division. In addition to his duties as a math teacher and Sixth Grade Level Chairman, he will be coordinating and managing the division instructional technology databases, coordinating technology training for the division online learning management system, and evaluating technology resources. Mr. Motter has been a teacher for the division since 1998 and has assisted in several administrative capacities, including serving as the 21st Century Grant Program Coordinator, serving as the Webmaster for CES and CMS, administering the Interactive Achievement database, and coordinating the SOL Test Bank from the Virginia School-University Partnership.  He has received recognition by the Southside Virginia Regional Technology Consortium for his contributions in promoting the use of educational technologies in the region and has been a frequent presenter and trainer for technology integration across the state. Mr. Motter has a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership from Longwood University. 

Busy, Busy Summer!

2014 VHSL All-State Track Team (SCHOOL RECORD)
Although the school year is over, there is a lot going on at CuCPS! Administrators are busy with analyzing data, planning for the 2014-2015 school year, interviewing, and participating in professional development. Administrators will participate in two book studies this summer: Mindset by Carol Dweck and Leaders of their Own Learning by Ron Berger. Summer School staff report today to prepare for Summer School which begins June 16th. Our athletes have been busy completing the spring season with soccer, baseball, and softball while 13 Track and Field team members went to State competition in Radford and came home with a State Champion and two state runner-up wins!  A special thanks goes out to all the coaches, Mr. Bell, and Mr. Scales for taking our athletic program to a new level.
Mrs. Sutton, Mr. Scales, and I attended the VCU Children's Hospital Graduation Celebration and Lunch for 2014 graduates who have battled and survived cancer.  CHS graduate Mary Huddleston was recognized and celebrated for her bravery, persistence, and passion for life! 
Other summer updates include that work continues on the CCES HVAC system; a new roof is being installed on the bus shop; and fresh parking lot and curbing line painting will take place this week.
CuCPS Highlights:
  • Congratulations to Annesha Harris, the 2014 State Champion- 100 meter Hurdles! She also was the State Runner-Up 300 Hurdles; 5th place- 4x400 Relay; and 6th place- Triple Jump.
  • Congratulations to Davonn Taylor, the State Runner-Up 400 Meter Run!  He also placed: 6th place 4x400 Relay and 6th place 4x800 Relay.
  • The following athletes were named to All-Conference Teams in Baseball:
    • Tyler Shores: 2014 1st Team All-Conference 3rd Baseman, 2nd Team All-James River District 3rd Baseman. 
    • Dione Booker: 2014 1st Team All-Conference Centerfield, 1st Team All-James River District Centerfield.
    • Jacob Perry: 2014 1st Team All-James River District Catcher, 2nd Team All-Conference Catcher.
    • Cody Tyson: 2014 2nd Team All-Conference Pitcher.
    • Keyvon Jones: 2014 2nd Team All-Conference Left field.
  • The following athletes were named to All-Conference Teams in Soccer:
    • Michael Walker: 2014 1st Team All-Conference Forward, 2nd Team All-James River District Forward.
    • Joevaun Brown: 2014 2nd Team All-Conference Forward.
  • The following athletes were named to All-Conference Teams in Softball:
    • Kailyn Gilliam: 2014 2nd Team All-Conference Utility Player, 2nd Team All-James River District Utility Player.
    • Infinity Anderson: 2014 1st Team All-Conference Centerfield, 2nd Team All-James River District Centerfield.

Recommended Summer Reading for Teachers:
Recommended Summer Resources for Students and Parents:
Events for the Week:
  • Monday
    • Administrative Council Meeting (7:00 am)
    • Summer School Staff Planning Day 
    • Winter and Spring Sports Banquet
    • June School Board Meeting
  • Tuesday
    • Board of Supervisors Meeting (7:00 pm)
  • Thursday
    • School Board Summer Work Session (12:00-4:00 pm)

Summer School:  June 16-July 16, 2014



Leadership: Strong Work Ethic and Quality Work

“At the end of the day, what qualifies people to be called ‘leaders’ is their capacity to influence others to change their behavior in order to achieve important results.” -Joseph Grenny
How do we instill a strong work ethic and quality work in our staff and students? With these two qualities, any organization and individual can achieve their goals. My question to our administrative team this summer is-- how do we lead the division and three schools so that a strong work ethic and quality work are the foundation of everything we do?
In a leadership article, George Couros defines five ways to influence change:
  • Model the change you want to see.
  • Show that you understand the value that already exists. 
  • Tell stories:  To inspire meaningful change, you must make a connection to the heart before you make a connection to the mind. 
  • Bring it back to the kids.
  • Get people excited and then get out of the way.
You can read more in the blog post:
Summer Reading Suggestions for CuCPS Staff:  


CuCPS Highlights:

Madison White attended the HOBY Leadership Conference at JMU last week.

  • Congratulations to the CHS Lady Dukes as they competed Thursday and finished as the 1A East Region Runner up in Track and Field! Annesha Harris was named the Female Athlete of the Year. 

    CHS will have 8 student athletes to compete at Radford University next Saturday in the VHSL State Meet.  Good Luck to our Dukes as there are several athletes who have a chance of becoming state champions.

  • The Varsity Boys Baseball Team traveled to Altavista and defeated the Colonels 11-8 to advance to the Semi-final round of the Conference 44 Baseball Tournament. Cody Tyson earned the win and Kevin Huddleston had a big 2 RBI single that broken open the game for a 7 run inning.
  • The Boys Soccer Team has advanced to the the semi-final round of the Conference 44 Soccer Tournament by defeating Galileo Magnet H.S. at home yesterday 9-4.  The Dukes were led by Michael Walker with 5 goals and JoeVaun Brown with 3. 
  • CCES HVAC Update:  Colonial Webb is in the process of running communication cable now. Next will be the duct work crew, the machinery setters, electricians, and programming people.

Cumberland County High School Senior, Benjamin Westerhoff was recently awarded the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Junior ROTC Bronze Star. 

Events for the Week:
  • VSBA School Law Conference
Summer School:  June 16-July 16, 2014

The School Year Comes to a Close...

The 2013-2014 school year came to a close packed full of ceremonies, appreciation, and fun for all!  From PreK-8 Award and Promotion Ceremonies, CCES and CMS Field Days, to the 5th grade DARE celebration --students, staff, and parents had a great time. There was a special Appreciation Luncheon and Inspiration Garden Tour for the Cumberland Woman's and Cartersville Garden Clubs hosted by Ms. Whittaker, Mrs. Fleischman, and their students. The baby chicks in Ms. Andrew's class hatched right on time while people observed online.  I especially found humor in pictures found on Facebook of our teachers having fun this week-- selfies with the baby chicks, face-painted mustaches, and cotton-candy fun!
I wish everyone a very relaxing and safe summer!  Students, don't forget your Summer Reading!  Summer School begins June 16, 2014.
CuCPS Highlights:

The Girls Track Team is the Champion of the Conference 44 Tournament.  The Boys came in 3rd place!

  • Mrs. Saunders first grade class shared in a Pen Pal program with a first grade class from Flat Rock Elementary School. On Thursday, her class traveled to Flat Rock to have lunch and meet their pen pals! 
  • There was a great article about graduation in the Farmville Herald:
  • Madison White has been selected to attend the Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership Conference at JMU this summer.

Recent graduates receive the Outstanding Youth Award from the Farmville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Events for the Week:
  • Thursday:  Winter & Spring Sports Banquet (6:00 p.m.) 

In fact, the entire graduation ceremony, held May 16, was marked by maturity. While there was the usual raucous cheering, pop-culture references and “that-one-graduate” ready to strut across the stage to laughter, the student speakers and leaders of the event brought a tone of sobriety and confidence fitting their entry into the adult world.  -Ilsa Loeser, Farmville Herald


Cumberland Dukes: Strength, Courage, Persistence, and Love

Strength, Courage, Persistence, and Love.  These are the words that come to mind when I think of the members of the Cumberland Class of 2014. You heard and know their stories of "coming from the bottom" as Valedictorian, Nicole Jefferson, explained during the Commencement Ceremony.  Many of them have conquered challenges and overcome obstacles to be where they are today. It hardly seems fair for so many to have such hardships at such young ages-- however, this has given them a strength and uniqueness.  This group definitely has character.  
You heard Salutatorian, Chelsea Deane, speak of supporting and being there for each other. She reminded them to call on her in their time of need. They always have shown love for each other, even back in  elementary school as they participated in Hat Day in 5th grade.  I have no doubt that they will continue their close connection and bond for many years.
CuCPS Highlights:
Mr. Charles Haigh was named the CuCPS Teacher of the Year at the May School Board Meeting.  Mrs. Lauren Bryant and Mrs. Sherrie Snead were recognized as the CCES and CMS Teachers of the Year.  

Congratulations and Best Wishes to teachers and staff that are retiring this year:  Diane O'Byrant, Sondra Garnett, Jean Pino, Addie Trent, and Shirley Lampkin (not pictured).

  • Caylor Scales has been accepted in the UDSA Ag-Discovery Program. She is representing Virginia and is one of 16 students from 19 states attending.
  • Wyatt Salinas was appointed as the 2014-2015 Student Liaison to the School Board. Alexa Massey was appointed as the Alternate Student Liaison and will be assisting the Clerk of the Board.
  • The Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign sponsored an art contest with the theme, "Virginia is for Givers".  The contest was open to students in Virginia schools, grades K-12.  At the middle school level, we had a 1st place winner, McKinley (Rose) Giles.  We also had two Honorable Mention winners, Christian Allen and Lizzy Ledford.  At the elementary school level, we had one Honorable Mention winner, Heavenly Gass.  
  • CMS science teacher, Ms. Andrews and Linda Eanes, Cumberland 4-H, are partnering to offer the 5th grade students the Beginning of Life Project. This project introduces students to Embryology. They learn how a mother hen hatches eggs in the natural world. The students learn that they can use an incubator to create an environment that will allow them to successfully hatch eggs, if all the environmental conditions are maintained and monitored. The fertilized eggs were donated by Brickland Hatchery in Blackstone. The Baby Chick Cam can be found off-campus at and on-campus at
  • Check out the video from the Art Kids 4th Grade Photography Group:

The Girls Track Team is the JRD Champion and the Boys Team is Runner-Up!

Annesha Harris was named 2014 Field Events Athlete of the year, and she was also named 2014 Running Events Athlete of the year. 

  • Tony Ford performed like a true champion, winning 2 individual district championships: 1ST PLACE- LONG JUMP/ DISTRICT CHAMPION and 1ST PLACE- 300 HURDLES/ DISTRICT CHAMPION.
  • The Board of Supervisors awarded the HVAC project to Colonial Webb.  Equipment will be ordered this week.  Everyone located at CCES will be relocated to LPJ after May 23rd.  The mechanical engineer, Ernie, says that the job will be completed by August 11th, the first Day of School for students!

 Events for the Week:


  • Monday
    • 8:45  CMS 5-7 Awards Ceremony
    • 1:00  8th Grade Awards Ceremony
    • 3:30  Unit and Lesson Planning Professional Development (CMS/CHS Cafetorium)
  • Tuesday
    • 4th Grade Moving Up Day
  • Wednesday
    • CCES Field Day
    • 4:00 GSSV Joint Board Meeting
  • Thursday
    • DARE Ceremony
  • Friday
    • Last Day of School
    • Early Dismissal for Students:  12:00 noon



The Class of 2014

Chyenne Marion takes a selfie during Graduation Practice!

This Friday, the Class of 2014 will graduate.  It is hard to believe this bittersweet moment is upon us. There will be 103 graduates with a breakdown of 60 Advanced Studies diplomas and 37 Standard Diplomas. Beyond that, 22 seniors graduated this past Saturday with an Associate's Degree; 12 have earned at least one year of college; four have earned welding certificates; 9 have earned CNA certificates; and 19 have earned other types of certifications. Indeed we can say, Job Well Done,  to our students, their families, and the CuCPS faculty and staff! These students now embark into a career, the military, and/or post-secondary education to further prepare for a career.


Ivy, Holly, and Justin at the SVCC Graduation!


Members of the Class of 2014 aspire to be welders, doctors, teachers, lawyers, nurses, police, school superintendents, FBI agents, truck drivers, barbers, engineers, restaurant owners, veterinarians, business leaders, fire fighters, and artists -- just to name a few! Many of the seniors have been accepted into four year colleges/universities ranging from Sweet Briar, UVA, VT, VCU, ODU, NC A&T, Hollins, JMU, Hampden-Sydeny, Longwood, and many others. Others have planned to proceed to community college to go into a specialized field or as a stepping stone into a four year college/university. We have at least five students that are going into the Military with several already having a date for Basic Training. There are some with jobs already lined up for them. Immediate employment opportunities range from the Woodlands to the Walmart Distribution Center.

These seniors have also worked hard obtaining scholarships to help fund post-secondary education options.  So far, students have been awarded over $350,000 in scholarships. 


Chelsea and Haley at the SVCC Graduation!


I am impressed with the young adults our seniors have become.  Not only have they grown into responsible adults but are caring, respectful, and funny (remember senior prank) individuals!  I remember when...


  • Desiree Anderson (5th grade) named the Maymont Bear--Midnight! Students traveled to Maymont Park so that former Mayor Wilder could meet and present Desiree with a plaque. 
  • Mary Huddleston wanted to name the Maymont Bear--Griffin. I thought after me, but really after the legendary eagle/lion creature!  I still have both essays!
  • Cheyenne Marion made me a VT scarf while at CCES.
  • Macy Layne would give me a hug every day (and still does!).
  • I remember AR Kick-Off (I rode into the cafeteria on a motorcycle for one of them!), Jump Rope for Heart, Field Days, After-School Program Show-offs, 5th Grade Promotion, and field trips!
  • Also, seniors, do you remember the 3 A's???  Attitude, Attendance, and Achievement!

There are many, many stories I could tell but better keep them between the students and me. I don't want to totally embarrass them! Yes, Friday will be a bittersweet moment! Class of 2014, I am so proud of you!


Senior Athletes

CuCPS Highlights:

  • Seniors completed their Senior Projects last Friday! I enjoyed seeing the presentations, demonstrations, and products!  Thanks goes to the seniors, Mr. Meinhard, the CHS staff, Mrs. Dawson and her culinary arts students, and all those that served as panel judges!
  • The Spring Band and Choir Concert was outstanding last week!  Great job, students and Mr. Lee!
  • The Cumberland Woman's Club won $2,009 for the Inspiration Garden at the state level.  Outdoor seating will be purchased with the funds.
  • Team WIN showed their appreciation to CCES teachers by providing daily appreciation gifts and a luncheon last week. It is wonderful to see such parental and community support!
  • Our CHS track team placed 3rd in the West Point Track Invitational in West Point. Tony Ford was named Invitational MVP!
  • Dakoda Boyles and Tony Ford were two of the top performers at the Nottoway Football Combine on Saturday.

Events for the Week:

  • 5:00 Retirement and Service Awards Recognition and Reception
  • 7:00 May School Board Meeting
  • 7:00 Board of Supervisors Meeting
  • 6:30  Baccalaureate Service
  • 4:30  CuCPS Faculty Potluck Dinner
  • 7:00 CHS Graduation (Doors Open at 6:00)