Monday, March 16, 2020

Coronavirus Updates

Please monitor information on Coronavirus through the division's website:

We will also be sharing information on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

I will not be posting information to my blog during school closures, but I urge you to keep you with the most recent information from IWCS by using the sites listed above.

Thank you for your patience and support.

Stay safe everyone.

Monday, March 2, 2020

The "House" System Comes to IWCS

The house system is a culture-building program our teachers and administrators witnessed on their visit to the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta.  If you're a Harry Potter fan, it's similar to the system used at Hogwarts where students are sorted into houses such as Gryffindor and Slytherin.  Four of our schools launched a house system this year with some of their grade levels--Hardy, Westside, Smithfield Middle, and Georgie Tyler Middle.  Each school held a House Selection event where students found out their house name.  At SMS, students spun a big wheel, almost like a carnival game, to determine their house. Georgie Tyler students received balloons, held them over their head, and popped the balloon to reveal confetti, the same color as their new house.
There are certain characteristics to each house--they have a unique name and motto, along with a distinct color.  The houses compete for points through weekly and monthly challenges and winning houses receive different rewards--extra time at recess for elementary, or school "bucks" that they can redeem for spirit wear or accessories.  The houses create a group where every student belongs and is part of something.
The best way to understand the benefit of the house system is to hear from the students and staff who are participating in the program.  Check out this high energy video that perfectly captures the excitement generated as part of the house process.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Our School Board Members ROCK!

February 2020 has been designated as School Board Appreciation Month in Virginia. The theme — Excellence through Equity— reflects the top priority of local school board members as they advocate for public education with local, state, and federal leaders on behalf of all students.

As citizen leaders, school board members face complex and demanding challenges. Yet few people fully understand the scope and far reaching implications of board members’ responsibilities. Virginians should recognize the vital contributions of these men and women and focus attention on the crucial role these elected public officials play in the education of our children. Their job is to establish a vision for the education program, design a structure to achieve that vision, ensure schools are accountable to the community and strongly advocate continuous improvement in student learning. That job entails an endless string of meetings and school functions to attend; reams of reports, agendas, proposals and other information to read and study; and a host of difficult decisions to make.

Although they wear many hats in the workday world, our school board members put on a collective hat when they get down to the business of leading their school divisions. They must pull together as a team toward a common goal of helping all students to be successful. Though individual school board members may sometimes disagree on issues, their role as a member of the school board is to consistently strive toward the goal of high academic achievement. Working together, our school board members speak out for public schools and the students they serve.

Board members contribute hundreds and hundreds of hours each year leading their divisions. Whether it is crafting policies, hiring top-notch administrators, listening to staff and student concerns or recognizing outstanding programs, board members always keep their eyes on the goal of student achievement.

The time spent in board meetings represents just a small fraction of the hours school board members spend leading IWCS. They also work hard at seminars and training sessions to keep abreast of the latest trends in educational leadership, are deeply involved in community activities and spend many hours in the schools and at extracurricular events. Their love for learning, and concern and caring for students, staff and community, drives our board members’ desire to lead so students can achieve.

In recognition of the dedicated service of school board members throughout Virginia, February has been designated as School Board Appreciation Month. This is the time to show our recognition and to increase our understanding of how local board members work together to provide a better future for our children. Please join me in saluting the elected officials of the Isle of Wight County School Board who provide grassroots governance of public schools. I encourage you to make a special effort to tell each school board member that their hard work has been noticed and is truly appreciated.

Jackie Carr, Chairman, Carrsville District
Julia Perkins, Vice-Chairman, Windsor District
Vicky Hulick, Chairman, Newport District
Denise Tynes, Smithfield District
Alvin Wilson, Hardy District

Here is a special video we created to let our board members know how much we appreciate everything they do for Isle of Wight County Schools. They truly ROCK!

Our School Board Members Rock! (video)

Friday, January 31, 2020

Did you See the 2018-2019 IWCS Annual Report?

Before winter break, the 2018-2019 IWCS Annual Report was handed out to all students to take home to their parents. The purpose of this publication is to communicate the significant events and accomplishments of the past school year and to celebrate the students, staff, and community members who contributed to our success.  The report also highlights examples of deeper learning opportunities taking place in our schools.  At Georgie D. Tyler Middle, students launched a project to curb the use of plastic straws. Their commitment to this goal resulted in the division switching to paper straws and only providing straws to students upon request. Windsor High students created a Kindness Wall in their school as a place to share positive messages of love and support. They realized the importance of word choice in promoting practical change among their peers. Carrollton Elementary students partnered with the local animal shelter to raise awareness of unwanted and abandoned animals. These are a very small sample of the incredible work our students are accomplishing at all division schools and in all grade levels.

Also featured in the report are the new spaces and facilities that opened last school year which further our vision of creating learning environments that will allow every child to discover his or her unique gifts and talents. A beautiful barn and classroom building were added to the Land Lab. We opened a dedicated building for the JROTC program, funded by a generous three million dollar donation from Smithfield Foods. We also completely renovated a facility at Smithfield High to create a new Career Building, which houses nursing, welding, manufacturing, a MakerSpace lab, engineering, a mechatronics lab, and culinary arts. The spaces are outfitted with industry-standard equipment to provide students with authentic work experience opportunities.  All of these are featured in the report.

Everyday we have students and staff members demonstrating GREAT citizenship (growth, respect, empathy, accountability, trustworthiness) and GRIT (gumption, resiliency, integrity, tenacity). Throughout the document, you will see many examples of GREAT and GRIT from
last school year. I am proud of the dedication and commitment from our schools to develop
meaningful learning experiences to ensure our students are college, career, and life-ready.
I hope you enjoy the report and perhaps learn a little more about Isle of Wight County

If you didn't get a copy of the report, please contact your child's school.  Until then, you can enjoy the digital version by clicking on the link below.

2018-2019 IWCS Annual Report (link)

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Thank You to our School Principals!

This week is Principal Appreciation Week, one of the many Appreciation weeks where we celebrate a group of individuals for their work in education. Let me be the first to say that I am a big fan of our school administrators.  Their days are filled from beginning to end...and usually it's difficult to know when they end.

They serve as the Instructional Leader in their building, which means they are responsible for how content is shared with every child in every classroom.  They supervise a school full of employees, from teachers, to nurses, to instructional assistants.  They ensure students and staff have a safe and secure environment in which to work and to learn.  They support student growth and success in academics and in life skills.  Principals and Assistant Principals realize their plan for the day can quickly change based on the type of day one of their students is having.  They stay late to address the emails, phone calls, and paperwork they were unable to get to during the day.  They go home exhausted, many times without even eating lunch, and often take with them more unfinished work they hope to tackle.

So why do they do it?  For the same reason as teachers and others in education--they love their students.  All of their students.  And they appreciate their employees.  They know that they are the main champion for every child in their building, and for every one of their staff members.  They accept that responsibility and are rewarded with hugs, smiling faces, thank yous, and other little gifts.  Usually these expressions of gratitude come at just the right time and make a difficult day not so difficult.

We wanted to give our principals a big Thank You and let them know that we appreciate them every week, not just this one.  But it is a good time to publicly acknowledge all that they do and to tell them how glad we are that they chose to work in Isle of Wight County.

We created a special video for our principals so they could hear from their staff, students, and parents who share how much their principal means to them.  I encourage you to share your own message of appreciation with your child's principal and assistant principals during this week, and any time throughout the school year.  As Mother Teresa noted, Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”  

We Appreciate Our Principals! (Video)