Division Innovation in Education
Stories From Around the State
School divisions across the commonwealth are doing innovative things to improve outcomes for students, promote efficiency and support educators. Many of these successes can be emulated in other divisions, schools and classrooms to enhance the learning and achievement of students and to support innovative educational results.
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Alexandria Public Schools tapped the power of social media to publicize and celebrate the increased achievement of city students on the 2014-2015 SOL tests. One hundred yard signs placed throughout the city with the hashtag #GreatResults encouraged the community to sign on to Twitter to learn more about what Superintendent Alvin Crawley described as “consistent, indisputable growth” in English, mathematics, science and history. With 7,670 followers, Twitter is one of the main ways the division communicates with key audiences, especially parents. – August 13, 2015
Arlington Public Schools’ Festival of the Minds is a professional learning conference in which outside trainers and APS staff share their knowledge, skills and experience. Now in its third year, it occurs on the first week of summer vacation and provides a wide range of sessions attended by approximately 1,000 PK-12 APS staff. Book raffles, food trucks and a photo booth are included as fun activities to bring staff together. – June 1, 2015
Several school divisions in southwestern Virginia are working collaboratively to improve student achievement through the Comprehensive Instructional Program (CIP) . Successful teachers from the highest performing divisions in Region 7 were recruited last summer to create and share materials aligned to SOL curriculum frameworks. By August 1, CIP will provide a complete curriculum containing daily lesson plans, activities and instructional resources. Divisions from across the state who may be interested in joining the consortium to access, support and sustain the project, contact Matt Hurt. – May 1, 2015
Aspire2Excellence is the academic planning initiative designed to help all students and their families plan for their future in Arlington Public Schools . This online PreK-12 academic planning roadmap is designed for students – as early as elementary school – to chart their course toward life after high school. Aspire2Excellence allows students to know their options and take the proper rigor of courses to graduate, having built their path to college and career opportunities. – March 31, 2015
Tabb Middle School students in Laura Perry-Shaske’s class used project-based learning and their math skills to design living spaces. The York County students created a budget for their dream room based on 15 percent of the average salary of their selected occupation. After sketching ideas, pricing items such as carpet, receiving feedback from others and modifying plans, they created scale models of their room, complete with paint and furniture. The results were displayed locally and featured in a Daily Press article. – March 4, 2015
A curriculum at the Leonard A. Gereau Center for Applied Technology and Career Exploration in Franklin County was selected by the Mathematics and Science Coalition as one of the 2015 Programs that Work. The curriculum – referred to as STREAM – added reading and art to the center’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) instruction. Eighth-grade students who developed a robotic hand at Gereau demonstrated it for General Assembly members at an awards reception in Richmond. – January 29, 2015
When an earthquake destroyed Thomas Jefferson Elementary , Louisa County Public Schools took the rebuilding process as a chance to breathe new life into the history of education on the site. The former school was once A.G. Richardson High School and Z.C. Morton Elementary School, the campus for African-American learning in the county during segregation. Thanks to the Louisa Education Foundation and the schools’ alumni, that history was captured in a historical wall in the foyer of the new building . – December 18, 2014
Stewartsville Elementary in Bedford County is reaping positive benefits since embracing the Responsive Classroom model. The teaching method, implemented by Principal Susan Mele, has resulted in increased attendance and reduced discipline and behavior referrals. A recent study , by a University of Virginia professor, found that children in classrooms where the technique was fully used scored significantly higher in math and reading tests than students in classrooms where it wasn’t applied. – November 3, 2014
Roanoke Public Schools’ use of music to keep students on track for graduation was highlighted recently by PBS on the network’s American Graduate Day broadcast. During the broadcast, (left to right) singer Andy Grammer spoke with Patrick Henry Orchestra Director Jeff Midkiff, Roanoke Superintendent Rita Bishop and Patrick Henry High student Ryan Turpin about the division’s partnership with the VH1 Save the Music Foundation to promote music education and provide new instruments to schools. – October 6, 2014
To help prepare children for kindergarten, Lynchburg Public Schools’ Hutcherson Early Learning Program facilitates Preschool Community Playgroups for children and their families. This playgroup initiative , designed in partnership with Lynchburg Parks and Recreation and Lynchburg College, provides skills for parents to be their child’s first teacher, helps close the achievement gap before children enter kindergarten and offers social experiences regardless of a child’s developmental level. – August 29, 2014
Henry County’s Rich Acres and Carver first graders participated in a “Learn to Swim” pilot program during the 2013-2014 school year. The lessons, aligned with the Health and Physical Education Standards of Learning, were supported by the Martinsville Area Community Foundation and the local YMCA. This year, Learn to Swim will be implemented in all county elementary schools. – July 29, 2014