Sunday, November 18, 2018

Celebrating Academic Excellence

During the months of October and November,  students throughout the division were honored for academic excellence.  Students who finished the 2017-2018 school year with All As for their final grades were recognized with an academic medal during special evening ceremonies.  Over 500 4th through 12th graders earned a medal for their exceptional achievement.  In addition, seniors who maintained a 3.75 Grade Point Average though their Junior year received an Academic Jacket.  The personalized Varsity Letterman jacket is presented to the student by their parents, who actually get to place the jacket on their child.  This is usually followed by several hugs and lots of pictures.

This was the fourth year of the medal and jacket ceremonies for Isle of Wight County Schools.  It was a tradition I started in my previous divisions and I wanted to make sure the students in Isle of Wight County had this same opportunity.  With the assistance of a great sponsor, SSC, I am pleased that IWCS was able to present an academic jacket to over 120 extraordinary seniors. 

The history of wearing a varsity jacket originated over 100 years ago. This time honored tradition is an outward symbol of hard work, determination and perseverance. Often the letter, pins and stars recognize athleticism and great accomplishments in a sport. The Superintendent’s Academic Jacket honors our students who have demonstrated great achievement in the classroom.

Honoring accomplishments in academics lets students know that we appreciate the many hours of studying, note taking, reading, writing papers, listening to lectures, working in groups, and staying up after everyone is asleep to finish a project. The jacket not only honors the students, but also their parents and loved ones, as well as the educators, that have supported them throughout their academic journey.  
Here is a video of the jacket ceremonies from Windsor High and Smithfield High.  It is a special moment for the students and their families and one that is well deserved.   

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Honoring our Veterans

Our schools and offices are closed Monday in honor of Veterans Day.  On Thursday, there were activities and ceremonies throughout the division to celebrate Veterans for their service.   The programs are distinguished events that include numerous student performances.  From songs by the school band and chorus, to student speakers, the schools celebrate the brave members of the Armed Forces and their family members who support them.  I have never seen a school division and community celebrate Veterans Day quite like Isle of Wight County!

Below is a video that highlights moments from our Veterans Day programs.  If you know someone who served in the military, or someone who is currently a member of the military, please share the video with them.  I realize many of them may not be able to attend ceremonies taking place in their honor and I hope this video can convey our appreciation.  We owe so much to the men and women of our military for the sacrifices they have made to ensure our freedom. 

Honoring our Veterans (video)

Friday, November 2, 2018

From Artsville to the Hornet's Nest

Recently I took a little road trip and visited our schools on the southern end of the county.  I was so excited about what I saw that I knew I wanted to share it in my blog.

My first stop was Carrsville Elementary, at the southernmost part of our county, next to the city of Franklin. The school is reinventing itself as an integrated arts school, with programs similar to what you might find at a magnet school. They have given themselves the appropriate nickname of "Artsville."  Beginning in September 2018, Carrsville started a music program where every student participates in violin for 30 minutes every day. This is an amazing opportunity for our students to learn an instrument starting at a young age.  I will write more about the violin program in an upcoming blog.  In addition, Mr. Johnson, the PE teacher, has integrated Drums Alive into his classes. The program combines fitness, drumming, music, and educational concepts to build active movers and learners. I took a turn participating which you can see in the video below (and, Yes, it was as fun as it looks!).

My next stop was Windsor High, or The Castle, where I found an inflatable ball pit in the lobby.  The Yearbook class installed it as part of bullying prevention month.  Students were invited to sit and share with each other as a way to learn more about their difference and to ultimately break barriers. I also visited with building trades students who were working on projects in their new lab space.  Hands on masonry at school?  Now that's building skills for a solid future!

Next up was Georgie Tyler Middle School where "It Takes a Titan" rings true.  I saw amazing examples of curated student work from previous projects:  Digital Songwriting, The Tiny House, Pond Life, and more.  Curation is an important part of project based learning.  It highlights the learning process and showcases student work for a wider audience.  Students also learn to take pride in their work, seeing it on display everyday.

Finally, I wrapped up my journey with stop at Windsor Elementary School.  As I walked about the school, I saw students collaborating on activities in their classrooms and in spaces throughout the building.  I stopped by Mrs. Owens' music room where students were learning to play their new keyboards.  Just like Carrsville, this is an incredible opportunity for our students to learn an instrument while still in elementary school. 

It did take me a few hours to visit all four schools, but you can have the same experience (almost) in just 3 minutes!  Here's a compilation video from my visit to the southern end of the county. Enjoy!

From Artsville to the Hornet's Nest