P.O. BOX 2120
October 9, 2001
TO: Principals
FROM: Patricia I. Wright
Assistant Superintendent for Instruction
SUBJECT: Update: Virginia’s Implementation of "Building a Presence for Science" – A Science Standards of Learning Leadership, Networking, and Training Program

Now that the 2001-2002 school year has begun, I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with an update on the "Building a Presence for Science" program and to reiterate the Department of Education’s continued support for its implementation. As you may recall from Superintendent’s Memo No. 181, dated December 4, 1998, the ExxonMobil Education Foundation and the National Science Teachers Association selected Virginia as one of 12 states to participate in this privately-funded initiative.

The initial phase of the program has been an unqualified success. In March 1999, key science leaders from 126 school divisions met for two days in Roanoke to begin the formation of the formal "Building a Presence" network. It is important to note that nearly half of these division leaders were classroom teachers. Participants received numerous science education resources and used the opportunity to share materials and ideas and learn from each other. Since the 1999 meeting, the key science leaders working with principals and other division staff have identified almost 1,600 building-level science points of contact.

Mrs. Billie Reid, the Virginia program coordinator, has been working closely with the Science Museum of Virginia, the Virginia Science Educational Leadership Association, and the Virginia Association of Science Teachers to provide other important professional development opportunities for science leaders. A major component has been the introduction and use of the Virginia Science Resources Network, a resource providing Internet access to scientists and mentors for teachers and students statewide.

The National Science Teachers Association has developed a website for "Building a Presence for Science" program. This site provides Virginia key leaders and points of contact the opportunity to network across the state to share strategies, ideas, and resources to assist in implementing the science standards.

The "Building a Presence for Science" program is a voluntary initiative. Please encourage your key science leaders and contact people to continue to participate in this professional network. The Virginia Association of Science Teachers (VAST) conference to be held in Richmond, October 18-20, 2001, will include a formal training session on the NSTA website. Key leaders and points of contact will also have the opportunity to participate in many science professional development activities. Supporting the program can be an important component of the work of implementing the Science Standards of Learning.

Additional details will follow shortly from the Virginia "Building a Presence for Science" coordinator. Please share this memorandum with your faculty members. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Billie Reid at (804) 786-5704, Jim Firebaugh, middle school science specialist, at (804) 225-2651 or Delores Dalton, secondary school science specialist, at (804) 371-0778.