ICYMI: Summer 2016 highlights

The dismissal of students June 17 didn’t mean all school division activity stopped for the summer. Celebrations, workshops, recognitions and learning for students and staff continued throughout the weeks and months that followed.

In case you missed it, here are some highlights from summer 2016 with links to more coverage.


Commencement week for the Class of 2016 concluded Saturday, June 18, with 4,565 high school seniors receiving diplomas. An additional 127 seniors graduated in a summer school ceremony Aug. 18. The division’s Class of 2016 was offered a record $76.8 million in scholarships. The VBSchools Facebook page features photo albums from each June graduation.


School division custodial teams were recognized June 20 at a year-end celebration for Custodial Appreciation Day. More than 740 custodians clean and maintain approximately 11 million square feet of school buildings and administrative offices daily. The coveted Gold Award was earned by 91 teams for the high marks earned on a building inspection including 110 criteria.

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The Department of Human Resources hosted the school division’s Annual Retirement Dinner June 22 to honor the careers of 402 retiring employees. This year’s group of retirees amassed 9,689 years of service, including 51 years for Allen Johnson, plumbing supervisor in the Office School Plant Services. Patricia Owens, a bus driver with 48 years of service, was among the 13 employees with more than four decades of service. The VBSchools Facebook page has more photos from the event.

Administrators celebrated another successful year of the Leaders Mentoring Leaders program with a luncheon June 30. The mentoring program pairs new principals and assistant principals with veteran school leaders.


The We Are VBSchools blog was updated daily with images and stories of students and staff. More than 150 entries have been featured on the blog since it was launched in April, and coverage will continue throughout the 2016-17 school year.

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Three new features were added to the Compass Keepers Club during the summer:



The division’s Title I program hosted camps at elementary schools to support student achievement in reading and writing as well as build enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and math.


Plaza Middle School staff welcomed 20 young men in sixth- and seventh-grade to be part of the school’s Building Urban Independence, Leadership and Desire for Success (BUILD) experience. It was created after staff researched other successful programs, wrote grants, and sought support from a variety of resources. The two-week program was designed to support students academically, culturally, and emotionally by having them participate in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) activities as well spend time with mentoring adults. Plaza staff plans for BUILD activities and mentoring to continue throughout the school year.

Rising ninth-graders in the new Entrepreneurship and Business Academy at Kempsville High School had the opportunity to develop and pitch their own business ideas during the Envision Lead Grow program, while high school students in the Virginia Teachers for Tomorrow classes at Bayside and Cox high schools provided “academic adventures” at a camp for 4-8 year olds.


The Office of Student Activities continued it tradition of providing leadership training to middle and high school students in summer sessions held at Virginia Wesleyan College. This year’s theme was “Together, A Brighter Light.” The Middle School Leadership Summit held July 19 and July 20 was attended by 160 students, and 120 high school students attended the Virginia Beach Leadership Workshop July 25-29. The office also hosted an advisers conference, “The Real Advisers of Virginia Beach,” Aug. 2 for 100 participants.


The Office of Opportunity and Achievement supported student involvement in two summer leadership conferences. More than 80 middle and high school students attended the division’s Diversity Ambassador Workshop Aug. 1 at Virginia Wesleyan College. An additional 17 high school students participated in the Connections Institute Aug. 1-5 at the W. E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center at Smith Mountain Lake.

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VBCPS staff also had numerous opportunities for professional learning throughout the summer.

  • More than 1,200 staff members attended the ITEC Digital Learning Mini-conference hosted by the Office of Instructional Technology.
  • Staff also attended hundreds of additional classes, ranging from archery to National Board Certification, offered through the division’s Professional Learning Program.
  • Members of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council developed and led a summer session for teachers. The objective of the two-hour class was to offer attendees a student’s perspective on how to create bridges and break down barriers that exist between high school students and teachers.
  • More than 750 administrators from across Hampton Roads attended the Equity Through Excellence Conference held at Kellam High School July 26. The conference featured Dr. Pedro Noguera who challenged educational leaders to think about how to create culturally-responsive schools that understand how equity supports all students. VBCPS administrators and teacher leaders continued the discussions the next two days during the division’s 2016 Administrators’ Conference, “Go For The Gold: Championing Equity In Our Schools.” 
  • Parents joined staff to learn more about the division’s gifted education services at a workshop Aug. 10. The free parent workshop was offered in conjunction with professional learning sessions held for school staff.
  • The division’s Title I program hosted its third annual conference Aug. 16. The more than 400 attendees heard from various speakers whose messages reinforced the Title I program theme “Growing Minds. Changing Lives.”

Title I logo


Several employees, students and schools won awards or earned recognition this summer for various accomplishments.

From Tasha Hurst OLHS 1

  • The Virginia Association for the Gifted (VAG) named First Colonial High School gifted resource teacher Missy Sullivan the 2016 Outstanding Teacher of the Gifted for Region II. The VAG also recognized Brickell Academy at Old Donation School’s Andrew Strassberger as the Outstanding Student Award winner.
  • Eight VBCPS high schools earned the 2015-16 Claudia Dodson Virginia High School League (VHSL) Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Award.
  • Princess Anne High School earned the Wells Fargo Academic Cup from the VHSL for the second consecutive year.
  • Lynnhaven Elementary School was awarded a 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant totaling $106,573 from the VDOE.
  • Green Run High School was awarded a $50,000 Innovation Planning Grant from the VDOE.
  • Tallwood High School and Kempsville High School earned Energy Star Certification from the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • College Park Elementary School Principal Dr. Sterling White and Salem Middle School Principal Dr. Jim Smith were presented with the school division’s Instructional Leader of the Year award for the elementary level and secondary level respectively. Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence presented the awards at the close of the 2016 Administrators’ Conference.
  • Rising Green Run High School senior and aspiring veterinarian Brenna Frawley was one of just 16 high school students nationwide selected to take part in the sixth annual United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sponsored, AgDiscovery program held at Iowa State University (ISU).
  • The Virginia Beach Safety Council recognized the heroic actions of Princess Anne High School sophomore Miles Williams. He will be honored with the Virginia Beach Lifesaver Award Sept. 1 for his rescue of two swimmers in the Chesapeake Bay this summer.
  • In August, the division released its projection that 94 percent – or 77 of its 82 testing schools – will earn full Standards of Learning (SOL) accreditation for the 2016-2017 school year. This 5 percent increase from last year includes Green Run High School, College Park Elementary School, Williams Elementary School and Windsor Oaks Elementary School which did not meet benchmarks for full accreditation in 2015-16.

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The Department of School Division Services is busier than ever during the summer months. Custodians prepared schools for staff and students to return, and the Office of Distribution Services received and delivered supplies, equipment and books all summer.

Construction continued on the replacement of Brickell Academy at Old Donation School. Aerial photos taken monthly and posted on the division’s website show the progress on the new building.

Work behind the scenes at Creeds Elementary School transformed the school’s stairwells into a place to practice multiplication facts.

And Compass to 2020 storyboards were hung in the School Administration Building to showcase and celebrate work related to the division’s strategic framework.



Schools throughout the division hosted transition programs and open houses to successfully launch students into the new school year. Some school staffs also visited neighborhoods to provide supplies and build relationships.

Lancer Launch

More than 460 new teachers launched into careers with VBCPS at the Teacher Orientation and Continuous Learning Institute (TOCLI). The Office of Professional Growth and Innovation hosted the program Aug. 22-25 at Tallwood High School.

The division’s collaboration with the NAS Oceana Air Show was announced this summer and will provide more than 5,000 VBCPS fifth graders with a special Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Lab Day Friday, Sept. 9. Every child will participate in hands-on STEM activities, get tours of NAS Oceana aircraft and hear from U.S. Navy pilots, mechanics and support personnel to understand how STEM is part of their work. Additionally, students will see a special performance by the Blue Angels.

Students don’t get to have all the fun at the Air Show. Joining the Blue Angels for guest flights will be Rosemont Forest Elementary School Teacher Brad Ward and Professional Learning Specialist Bevin Reinen. They received a flight orientation session Aug. 30 at NAS Oceana. Ward and Reinen were the VBCPS Citywide Teacher of the Year in 2016 and 2015 respectively.

Ward and Reinen flight


All VBCPS staff returned to work the week of Aug. 29-Sept. 2 to prepare for the first day of school, Tuesday, Sept. 6. Students wished all staff a happy start to new school year with this video greeting.

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