Friday, January 12, 2018

To Close or Not to Close, That is the Question

Welcome Back!  Seems we were just saying that as everyone returned from Winter Break.  Little did we know we would be having Winter Break Part 2 after only a few days.

The storm that hit, combined with the extremely cold temperatures, caused the schools to feel the impact for almost a week.  By Tuesday, we were hearing quite a buzz on social media, and getting emails and phone calls, from people wondering when we would re-open.  We did have a few parents who questioned our decision to stay closed on Wednesday, but I know it was the right decision.

Anytime we have severe weather that may cause hazardous driving conditions, we have multiple people who check out particular roads throughout the county.  There are areas that stay cold longer, have more standing water, or have other issues more than other places.  Before we put buses on the road, we need the roads to be clear of snow and ice.  The conditions on Tuesday were improving and in most cases cars were able to drive on the roads without a problem.   

But buses aren't cars.

And once you put your child on one of our buses, we are responsible for them and their safety.  With the road conditions on Tuesday, we knew they would not have improved enough to safely run our buses.

Isle of Wight is also a large county geographically--it covers over 300 square miles.  While your road or neighborhood may be clear, it isn't necessarily that way for the rest of the county, or even your own school zone.  For example, students at Smithfield High and Smithfield Middle may live anywhere from Carrollton to Rushmere.  I have added some pictures below taken Tuesday afternoon from several areas throughout the county so you can see why didn't want to run our buses Wednesday.

I understand closing school creates an inconvenience for many of our families who may have to arrange child care on those days.  We want your children in school, but only when we can safely transport them.

Closing school is not a decision I take lightly.  Neither is your child's safety and I will always err on the side of safety. 

In case you are wondering about make-up days, I am happy to report that we have enough built in time that we will not have to make up the days we just missed.

Cedar Grove

Gatling Point

Rattlesnake Road

Wellington Estates

Wellington Estates


Friday, December 15, 2017

Spreading Holiday Cheer Throughout IWCS

If you were in any of our schools today, you may have seen a very festive group of people walking through the buildings. That  would have been me and my Executive Team.  We started a tradition where we visit all the schools, and hand out candy canes to elementary students.  There are also toys, donated by Toys for Tots, distributed to Kindergarten through 2nd graders. The costumes are loud and bright, and you really need to see them for yourself.  Here's a short video of our visit to Windsor Elementary School.  Just look at their faces light up as the candy canes and toys are distributed.  And the students were excited too!

Central Office Elves at Windsor Elementary School  (video)

Keeping it Cool at SMS

Last week I wrote a blog about the Cell Expo in Mrs. Peterson's room at Smithfield Middle.  While I was there, I stopped by Mrs. Browder's science class, where they were building insulation cubes. The students were preparing to test their cubes to see what insulation materials worked the best.  During my visit, I talked to the students and the teacher about the projects and captured their comments in a video.  I hope you will watch the movie below and see the deeper learning taking place in Mrs. Browder's 8th grade science class.  This is definitely a "cool" project.

Mrs. Browder's Insulation Project  (Video)

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Cell-a-bration of Cells in Mrs. Peterson's Science Class

There is always something exciting happening in Ellen Peterson's 7th grade science class at Smithfield Middle.  When I stopped by last week, the students had created Giant Plant and Animal Cells and were serving as tour guides inside of the models.  They were also studying cells under the microscope and using Virtual Reality goggles to simulate a roller coaster ride through a cell.  I had a great time visiting the class and could see, and hear, the learning taking place from the students.  The video below highlights my visit to her class and shows the importance of giving students hands-on, deeper learning opportunities.  And I'm sure you will enjoy a few laughs, possibly at my expense, but it was worth it.

Mrs. Peterson's Cell Expo  (video)

Friday, December 1, 2017

Reading Buddies

Members from the Central Office read to elementary students weekly as part of the Reading Buddies program. The video highlights our program and includes comments from some of our readers and our students.  I hope you enjoy the video.

Reading Buddies (Video)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Transportation Appreciation

We love our bus drivers and appreciate all they do each and every day.  I've put together a video that includes interviews with several of our drivers, where I ask them what they like about driving and what the challenges are with driving a school bus.  I also heard from the students about what they think of their drivers.  Finally, I rode on one of our buses as it took students home from Westside Elementary.  I hope you will take a few minutes to watch this special video that highlights our drivers and the job they do.

Transportation Appreciation  (video)


Friday, November 10, 2017

Honoring our Veterans

Today our schools are closed in honor of Veterans Day.  On Thursday, there were activities and ceremonies throughout the division to celebrate Veterans and their service.  I have never seen a school division and community celebrate Veterans Day quite like Isle of Wight County!  So I had to do a Veterans Day video blog.  The video below is from the Westside Veterans Day program.  One of the Veterans who attended the ceremony for the first time shared the following with us:

It was an honor and a great privilege to attend today's Veterans event at Westside Elementary. Today has been the most patriotic and heart felt event I have attended in my 23 years of service. I am still in awe about the love and support the students and staff showed us. I never thought our children in public schools cared this much. My children ages 11 and 8 do not have these events for holidays like this. I have to take them out of school, because those days are usually snow make up days. We will go volunteer somewhere to give back to those who have gone before me. Thank you so much for teaching our future generations the importance of supporting Veterans. I wish more districts would follow your lead on this, it really brings our communities together. Thank you all! 

Thank you again to all of our Veterans. 

I hope you enjoy the video.

Veterans Day Ceremony at Westside Elementary School (video link)