Friday, March 23, 2018

Showcasing our Schools: Getting Creative at Carrsville Elementary School

This blog is the first in a series that will feature a visit to all nine of our schools. I will be talking with our amazing students, teachers, staff, and administrators as I travel through the buildings.  The first school I am highlighting is Carrsville Elementary School.  This is our smallest school--under 300 students from PreK-5th grade--and one of our oldest, originating in the 1940s. It is also the most southern of our schools, close to the city of Franklin.  There is a lot of creativity in Carrsville;  watch the video and see for yourself.

I hope that you enjoy watching the video as much as I enjoyed my visit to Carrsville Elementary School. 

Carrsville Elementary (video)

Friday, March 16, 2018

IWCS Culinary: Catering to Our Vision

What is Your Why?  At Isle of Wight County Schools, we know our Why, and it's to prepare our students to be college, career, and life ready. To do that, we have to provide them with opportunities to discover their unique gifts and talents. As they realize their gifts and talents, they will be able to determine the best pathway for their future. Career and Technical Education courses are key to providing students with those opportunities to discover and develop their talents as they prepare for life after high school.

Our Culinary Program is a shining example of this process.  Mr. Cousins, the culinary instructor, has done an amazing job providing our students with opportunities to cater a wide range of events.  The students have prepared and served lunches to the staff at Smithfield High, as well as for special guests from the community.  They recently assisted at Carrollton Elementary School with the "Empty Bowls, Full Hearts" event that raised money for Christian Outreach. What's more amazing is the program is accomplishing all of this while working out of a very small kitchen.  We are scheduled to open a brand new full service commercial kitchen, along with a restaurant, in September. I am proud of the growth of our culinary students and look forward to providing them with even more opportunities once the new space opens in the fall.
If you haven't experienced our culinary program first hand, you can get a glimpse of it from this short promotional video.  I have also included a few pictures from some of the events the students have catered.

Culinary students prepared and served food at Carrollton Elementary.

Teachers look forward to special lunches hosted by the culinary students.

Prep work is a key part of the culinary program.

Students learn the importance of food presentation.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

One District, One Book, Some Pig

 Image result for charlotte's web
This week our elementary and middle schools launched a special project, a district-wide book club called One District, One Book™. Every family received a copy of the same book- E. B. White's
Charlotte's Web - and will be reading it together at home over the next few weeks. Reading aloud at home is valuable because it better prepares children to be effective readers, and it is a fun, worthwhile family activity.
One of the most unique features of the program is that children of all grade levels will be listening to their parents read the same book. Not only does it expose our younger readers to a chapter book, but it is an opportunity for parents to read to their more advanced readers.  With the One District, One Book™ program, everyone - students, parents, teachers, and even administrators- will be reading along together.  

Students will be exploring the book in class through activities and discussion.  There are even daily trivia questions based on the story posted throughout the schools. On Monday, schools introduced their students to the book through special events, many involving characters from the book.  There was even a real pig at one of the schools! (See pictures below) Schools have numerous special activities planned around the book before the program comes to a close at the end of the month. 

The program creates an atmosphere that excites students about reading and involves families in the relevance of reading together. It is also a great opportunity for teachers to utilize the station time in the instructional framework to incorporate discussions about the characters, themes, plots, and literary components within this rich novel. 
And that, in Charlotte's own words, is "Terrific".

Carrollton Elementary School built their own barn.  Characters from the book will be showing up over the next few weeks. 

Georgie Tyler Middle students scan QR codes to answer trivia questions about Charlotte's Web.

Westside had a "slop" eating contest between a few brave teachers.

Windsor Elementary (above) and Hardy Elementary (bottom right) both presented character skits to their students.  And both schools had a pig! (Can you tell which one was real?)


Friday, March 2, 2018

Long Range Facility Planning for IWCS: Not a Band Aid Fix

The goal for our Long Range Planning Committee is to develop a future plan for growth in our county as well as setting the expectation for our facilities in Isle of Wight County Schools. We have had tremendous feedback from the community through our community meetings and survey. It is very clear that the community believes we should upgrade facilities that are old and outdated--eighty-four percent of those responding listed this as a priority. With that in mind, we will be developing a long range plan to address growth.  This will be a comprehensive plan to address all facility needs in our school division. We have to develop a plan that be more than a Band Aid solution for the problems we are facing. We understand this will have to take place over a number of years and funding will need to be looked at closely. While we research potential financial impacts of new construction and renovations, we will consider existing debt within the county budget and investigate when that debt is paid off to try to limit the impact of any tax increase. I believe that having a transparent process and involving all stakeholders will assist us in developing the best option for our students for years to come.
You can keep up with information on the process through our web page: