Friday, May 31, 2019

Honoring our Retirees and Teachers of the Year

On Wednesday night, Isle of Wight County Schools held the 2019 Celebration of Education.  We recognized our Teachers of the Year and our retirees from across the division. 
We kicked off the night with a song from three of our students--Emily, Goldey, and Brooke, otherwise known as The Dempsey Sisters.  Their stirring rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow was a beautiful tribute to our guests of honor.  Bill and Tricia Dempsey (Mom and Dad) shared the video below they took of the girls' performance.  

The event, held at the Smithfield Center, was catered by our Culinary Arts students, under the direction of Chef Kyle Cousins.  Their crab dip and shrimp fettuccine, along with pork tenderloin sliders, and homemade desserts, were in high demand as evidenced by the lines at those tables.  

We honored our nine teachers of the year with a beautiful jade trophy which included an inscription, along with their name, their school, and the school year.  The three grade-level Teachers of the Year received a classic silver signet ring courtesy of our partners at Jostens.  Our overall Teacher of the Year, Julie Eng, received a $50 Visa gift card, in addition to the trophy and ring.

The IWCS Teachers of the Year for 2018--2019 are
  • Morgan Chappell (Carrollton Elementary)
  • Debbie Story (Carrsville Elementary)
  • Ceceli Lleva (Westside Elementary)
  • Pamela Hall (Windsor Elementary)
  • Elizabeth Tisdel (Smithfield Middle)  
  • Deborah Simmons (Windsor High)  
  • Lee Ann Hawley (Hardy Elementary) **Elementary School Teacher of the Year**
  • Ashleigh Hazel (Georgie Tyler Middle) **Middle School Teacher of the Year**
  • Julie Eng (Smithfield High) **High School Teacher of the Year**   **Isle of Wight County Schools Teacher of the Year**
David Elliott, our Communications Coordinator, created a video that highlights all of the Teachers of the Year. 

The 2018--2019 retirees were also recognized during the evening.  There are fifteen retirees with over 360 combined years of service.  Many of the retirees have been with IWCS for their entire career.  We hate to lose their talent and expertise, but the next phase of their life is well deserved and well earned.  Each retiree receives a beautiful wooden rocking chair.  Thanks to True Value for their assistance with the special gift for our retirees.  

David Elliott put together a fabulous tribute video for our retirees, which you can watch by clicking the following link:  Retirement Video

The 2018--2019 Retirees for IWCS are:

Minette Brooks

Virginia Kimpel
Cindy Calhoon

Gwendolyn Knight
Alison Chapman

David Price
Tammi Croshaw

Pamela Riddleberger
Felix Darden

Linda Trier
Roland Downing

Victoria Ward
Karen Duerig

Brenda Williams
Dorcas Hinton

To both groups, I extend a heartfelt Thank You.  Your dedication and commitment to the children of Isle of Wight County is beyond reproach.  You created a legacy with each and every child who sat in your classroom.  They will carry the life lessons you taught them for countless years to come.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Seniors Thank an Educator who Made a Difference in their Life

Each year  we host a Senior of the Month Banquet and this blog focuses on that event.  I decided to republish the thoughts I shared last year on the banquet.  I hope you will enjoy it.  In addition, you can find a short video of the powerpoint that ran during the event.  It lists all of our sponsors, seniors and the educators they were honoring.  We also have a video below that highlights the students' speeches from the ceremony.  I hope you will watch it and hear the heartfelt messages the students had for the educators they were honoring.

How good is your memory?  Do you ever walk into a room and forget why you went in there?  Or you are unable to find that important item that you put somewhere special for “safekeeping” that is really safe because you can’t remember where it is?  Even though we’ve all been there, it’s still frustrating.

But I bet I know something you remember without hesitation.  Can you recall a teacher who made a tremendous impact on your life?  I’m sure one teacher, or even more,  you had in school just came to mind and many memories about why they were special to you came flooding back.  Here’s the more challenging question:  Did you ever tell them how much they meant to you?  Probably not.
I realize students don’t often share with a teacher just how much they have influenced the student’s life.  Even when they do, it is typically not shared publicly.  On May 22,2019, several of our seniors had a chance to do just that.  They honored a teacher who had made a significant impact on their life at our Senior of the Month Banquet.

Each month, Windsor and Smithfield high schools nominate a Senior of the Month.  The students are recognized at a school board meeting and also receive a $500 college scholarship generously provided by our business and community partners.  This year, those partners include:  Ameresco, Barton Ford, Blue Bird Bus Sales of Virginia, Chartwells, Comfort Systems of Virginia, DeltaGraphic, Education Foundation for Isle of Wight Public Schools, ESS/Source4Teachers, Haney Phinyowattanachip PLLC, Honeywell Building Solutions, HRSD, Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc., RRMM Architects. The Senior of the Month Banquet provides an opportunity for each of these 16 students to publicly thank a teacher who has made a difference in their life.  The students courageously stand before an audience of family members, scholarship sponsors and school officials and share why they are honoring their chosen educator.  They recall personal stories filled with poignancy, gratitude, and admiration.  Their heartfelt remarks bring about laughter, a few tears, and a tremendous amount of appreciation for both the teacher and the student.  The teacher receives a plaque to commemorate the occasion, but the remarks from their student are the real gift.  It is truly an incredibly special evening for all the guests.

Congratulations to the teachers who were honored by the Seniors of the Month.  I know all of our teachers have had, or will have, a significant impact on many children throughout their teaching career.  Whether the praise is public, private, or even unspoken, there is an incredible satisfaction and validation when a teacher knows they have made a difference in a child’s life. Thank you to all IWCS teachers for making a difference in some child’s life each and every day.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sharing our Programs with the Community.

Recently, we held two Community Open House events to give people a chance to view our new and renovated facilities for Career and Technology Education (CTE) programs.  At the Land Lab, which is the working farm used as part of the agricultural program, guests saw students doing what they love.  Two students were in the garden, running the tiller, and making sure the rows of lettuce, kale, blueberries and strawberries were weed free.  Another student was on the tractor, mowing the grass in the pastures.  Several more students were stationed throughout the farm with different animals--rabbits, chickens, cows, goats, and Hee Haw Henry the donkey.

A week later we opened our doors to the Career Building and JROTC Fieldhouse at Smithfield High School.  Welding students demonstrated different types of welding and displayed their creations throughout the welding lab.  Guests visited the nursing lab which simulates a actual medical facility with beds and instruments used in the care of patients.  JROTC showed off their new fieldhouse, funded by a donation from Smithfield Foods.  Engineering students demonstrated their wind turbine project which won the regional KidWind competition and is heading to nationals in Houston on Monday.  Manufacturing students walked visitors through the Makerspace and highlighted the various machines in the lab, such as 3D printers and laser cutters.  They also explained the process they were using to create beautiful cheese boards for Culinary Arts.  Speaking of Culinary Arts, our guests were treated to delicious refreshments prepared by the Culinary Arts students in Turner and 10, the on-site, student-run restaurant that is a working lab for the program.

At both events, we heard the same comments:  This is amazing!  I didn't know this even existed.  These are wonderful programs.  I'm so glad the students have an opportunity to take these classes. Welders make good money.  The food is incredible.  My child wants to be in this program when he gets to high school.  What a great use of taxpayer's dollars.  I am so impressed!

Thank you to those who came out to one of our open houses.  We are hoping to make this an annual event as a way to let the community to see our facilities and the work of our students.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Any Time is the Right Time to Tell a Teacher You Appreciate Them

Today wraps up Teacher Appreciation Week and our schools have gone to great lengths to make this week about the teachers.   We've had schools provide on site spa services (thanks to our Cosmetology students), a break room makeover, and lots of food.  There were ice cream trucks, pancake breakfasts, snack carts, cookies, lunches, and a big sheet cake from Central Office.

All of these gestures don't begin to match the level of appreciation we have for our teachers, because they are so much more than teachers.  When we think back to our time in school and the teachers who made an impact on our lives, we usually aren't thinking about what they taught.  We remember how they treated us and how they made us feel.  The teachers we recall as our favorites were the ones that took time to build  relationships with us.

When I was in high school, I had a computer science teacher named Mr. Whalley.  He also lived on a farm and hired a small group of students to work on the farm during the summer.  I was part of that group one year. It was hard work, but we had the best time and became like a family.  We even had an end of summer celebration before heading back to school. Mr. Whalley talked to all of us about our future.  I didn't really have plans for the future; I just wanted to get through high school.  But Mr. Whalley recognized that I was skilled in math and he encouraged me to go to college and study math.  This was the first time anyone truly believed I had the ability to go to college and be successful. I appreciated the fact that he had confidence in me and saw a brighter future for me than I saw for myself.

James Comer says that no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.  Mr. Whalley took time to get to know me and develop that positive relationship.  He encouraged me.  He respected me.  He guided me.  I think this is what we remember when we think back on the teachers who made a difference in our lives.  And I believe the greatest show of appreciation we can give to them is to say "Thank you", and to say it often.  I'm not sure if I ever said it to Mr. Whalley, even though I'm sure he knew how much I appreciated him.

To all of the teachers in IWCS, please accept my sincerest "Thank You" for all you do for our students, families, and community.  I encourage everyone to take a minute to publicly thank a teacher, either a teacher who taught your child, or one of your former teachers.  Let them know what they mean to you and tell them Thank You for being such a special person.  Remember:  you don't need to only do this during Teacher Appreciation Week.  Anytime is the right time to tell a teacher how much they impacted your, or your child's, life.

Friday, May 3, 2019

You Are Cordially Invited....

This has been an incredible year for Isle of Wight County Schools.  That's probably an understatement.  It's been amazing, accomplished, exciting, awesome, and ground-breaking (literally).  Several construction projects were completed this year as part of our commitment to redesigning our Career and Technology Education programs.  In October, we officially opened the new JROTC Fieldhouse at Smithfield High School.  This is the first space that was specifically designed to provide the award winning Packer Battalion with the room they need to conduct drill practice and other activities inside.  In December, we held a ribbon cutting ceremony for our new classroom building and barn at the Land Lab.  Students in the agriculture program now have the facilities to better care for animals, and to continue their learning about plant and animal management regardless of weather. In March, we formally opened the Career Building at Smithfield High School.  This heavily renovated space is now home to Nursing, Welding, Engineering and a Mechatronics Lab, Manufacturing and the MakerSpace, and Culinary Arts, which includes the student-run, on-site restaurant Turner and 10.

Now, we are extending an invitation to the community to see the facilities and hear about the different programs from the students.  We are holding two Community Open House events--one is May 8 at the Agricultural Land Lab, and the other is May 15 at the Career Building and JROTC Fieldhouse at Smithfield High.  Both are from 5:00--6:30.  We encourage you to stop by and check out the work of our students and see how they are gaining the skills and knowledge in demand by business and industry.

The teachers and students are looking forward to showing you their new spaces and sharing with you the amazing work they are able to accomplish.  I hope you will be able to join us at the Open House events on May 8 and May 15.  You will leave with an entirely different opinion of what school can be.