Friday, March 29, 2019

Spread the Word about CTE

I have highlighted our CTE (Career and Technical Education) program in several of my recent blogs—ribbon cuttings for the Land Lab and Career Building, and Building Trades renovating a home for a senior citizens.  Agriculture and Building Trades, along with Nursing, Culinary Arts, Welding and Cosmetology are our double-blocked CTE classes and are open to students from both high schools.  In addition to the blogs, we have tried to share information about the programs with the community through special events at Windsor and Smithfield high schools.  There are two new events that have just been added to the schedule—a Community Open House on May 8 at the Land Lab and May 15 at the Career Building. Both will be from 5:00—6:30pm.  Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more information.

I still wanted a way to share information on these CTE programs that would reach even more students, parents, and the community.  I am excited, and proud, to reveal our CTE Profiles, a series of 1 minute videos that highlight each of these programs.  David Elliott, our Coordinator of Educational Technologies and Communications, has done incredible work on these videos.  These are not boring infomercials.  They are high energy and are guaranteed to keep your attention.  The links to the videos are below.  Just watch one and you will be hooked.  All of them are posted on the IWCS YouTube channel.  Please watch, like, and share them to help spread the word about these amazing opportunities we are providing our students.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Building Relationships in the Community through Building Trades

Recently I met Mrs. Barbara Wiggins, a county resident who is an advocate for those with housing needs.  She works with the homeless to find them a place to live.  She also helps many Isle of Wight seniors who are facing overwhelming home repair issues. She shared her story with me, including her passion for helping those in need and the obstacles she faces in assisting them.

I immediately knew what we had to do.

Our students in the Building Trades program are learning contracting skills and are looking for situations in the community where they can apply those skills.

Mrs. Wiggins, meet IWCS Building Trades.  Building Trades, meet Mrs. Wiggins.

What a perfect partnership!

With the help of Mrs. Wiggins, we identified a home in Zuni in serious need of attention.  Our students and their instructor, Mr. Rogers, visited the site and met with Ms. Hobbs, the homeowner.  They conducted a Needs Assessment and have generated a list of materials necessary to complete the repairs. Since their class is double blocked, they will be able to spend about 3 hours on site each day, but will need to schedule several full day "field experiences" to get the job done.

This is an incredible opportunity for everyone involved.  The students are using their skills in a real-world situation.  They are also learning the value of giving back to the community and helping those in need.  And this is just the beginning.  After Ms. Hobbs, the students will identify more people who have homes in need of repair and will begin helping another Isle of Wight County resident.  They are also putting the finishing touches on a "Tiny House" and are working with Mrs. Wiggins to donate it to someone in desperate need of housing.

We put together a short video  that explains the project and introduces you to the students and Ms. Hobbs   We realize there may be people who want to know how they can help support this project.  The materials the students need are listed below.  If you would like to donate any of the items, please contact us through the following link:   Contact Us  We are working on a documentary of the entire process and plan to recognize all of our donors in the video. 

I am extremely proud of the partnership we have developed between IWCS and the community with the help of Mrs. Barbara Wiggins.  This is the expectation we have for all of our students--making real world connections while they are making a difference in the community.  Our Building Trades students and Ms. Hobbs are equally excited for this opportunity.  I have a feeling the lessons learned will stay with the both for the rest of their lives.

Materials List:

Paint supplies                           Fasteners                                      Lumber
Rollers                                      10” Finishing Nails                       Brick Molding 12’ lengths or better
Brushes                                     3” deck screws                              2 x 8 x 12 Pressure treated lumber
Caulk/Silicone                          3” galvanized nails                       2 x 6 x 12 lumber
                                                  Roofing nails                                2 x 4 x 8 lumber
                                                                                                        5/4 Pressure treated Deck umber
                                                                                                        Windows (size 3x4) For back porch
                                                                                                         Shutters (6)
                                                                                                         Vinyl siding (2 square)
                                                                                                         Shingles (2 Square)
                                                                                                         2 x 6 x 12 Pressure Treated
                                                                                                         Back Door (36”)

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Projects in the Capital Improvement Plan Reflect a Need for Equity in Facilities Throughout IWCS

Earlier this week, the school division hosted the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission for special tours of Hardy Elementary School and the bus garage. Both facilities have been identified for renovation or replacement in the Isle of Wight County Schools' (IWCS) Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).  The county CIP, which includes the division's requests, is still pending approval by the Planning Commission and final approval by the Board of Supervisors.  

During the 2017-2018 school year, IWCS gathered input from the community to develop a long range plan for facilities.  We held community meetings, conducted surveys, and created a committee comprised of mostly parents to assist us with developing a plan for the future.  They were very clear in their feedback:  Carrollton is too crowded, the bus garage can't accommodate the longer buses, Hardy and Westside need to be renovated to keep all schools to similar standards. 



We have proposed solutions that are fiscally responsible and ensure equity and access for all students.  We paired a renovation for Hardy Elementary school with the addition of 5 classrooms (1 each for K-4).  Rezoning a little over 100 students from Carrollton to Hardy drops Carrollton Elementary's current capacity from 97% to 79% and keeps Hardy around 84%.  To alleviate crowding at Westside, we kept 4th grade at Hardy this year, which removed the need for trailers at Westside and lowered their capacity to 85%.  


While we are anticipating more growth in the Carrollton area, these solutions provide room for additional students and eliminate the immediate need for a new elementary school.  We wouldn't need to look at a new elementary school until the Westside, Carrollton and Hardy reached 95% capacity, which may be way out in the future, if it ever happens.

We have a great plan for Hardy, and not one that is just a band-aid.  The school opened in 1961, and if you walk into Hardy you feel like you've gone back in time to 1961.  The hospital green wall tile, dimly lit hallways, and a multi-purpose room that serves as a gym do not reflect the quality of teachers and students in the building.  People DO judge a book by it's cover.  Look at the outside of both schools.  Look at the gym, the cafeteria, the entrance-way, the bathrooms, for both schools.  With everything else being equal, where does a new family want to send their child to school?  Where are people buying a home?

As we met with both groups, we seemed to be faced with a wide range of opinions--do nothing, scale back the renovation significantly, go with the School Board's recommendation, or completely replace Hardy with a new school. The renovation and addition for Hardy Elementary is $13.4 million.  To replace Hardy would be almost $28 million, not counting land acquisition. The plan approved by the School Board would bring one of our oldest schools up to to modern day standards and address the growth at Carrollton Elementary.  Once again, the recommendations approved by the School Board were developed through an extensive process which involved numerous opportunities for parents and the community to provide input.  The proposal given to the School Board was generated by the Long Range Planning Committee.

We are committed to providing our students with opportunities to be successful in today's world.  We need our facilities to reflect the modern world to better prepare our children their future.