Advancing Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Leadership

Happy New Year from VASCD

The caps and gowns are packed away, Pomp and Circumstance is no longer echoing in your mind, and the eight weeks of summer are finally here.   Classroom teachers might be working a summer job, creating dynamic presentations for a  graduate class, touring the theatres of London with forty-two students,  white-water rafting in Alaska, spending family days at Disneyland, Busch Gardens, or Water Country, or even relaxing with a popular novel that was tucked away.  Administrators or curriculum specialists are of course crunching data, hiring new staff, completing dreaded reports, and planning for the opening of another year.   Whatever fills the short summer weeks- all educators are reflecting on the year that ended and anticipating the school year ahead.  Although some may scoff at the silly school calendar, still tied to the planning and harvesting of crops, the ending of the old and the beginning of the new provides each of us the opportunity for a "fresh start," a new season, a "do-over." We review last year's game tapes, dissect state test data, remember the student who exceeded our expectations, and continue to search for the connections we might have made with one challenging teen.   The rest of the world reflects on December 31 and considers New Year's Resolutions, but educators take time in the summer to revisit, resolve, and plan.


Last December, VASCD recognized 2014 Impact Award Winners from Virginia's school districts as well as our Curriculum Award Winner, Dr. Sheila Magula, Deputy Superintendent of Virginia Beach Schools.  We asked these leading Virginia educators to share their reflections and their plans for the coming year.  


Dr. Magula reflected, "Always present in the minds of contemporary educational leaders are the questions regarding what knowledge, skills and opportunities our students need (beyond the state standards) that will prepare them for the ever-changing workplace and global economy;  what knowledge, skills and professional development do teachers and support staff need to deliver the curriculum for effective student engagement and learning;  what formative and summative assessments will guide teaching and learning most effectively and what data will give us the confidence that we are or are not meeting our goals.  All of this and more undergirds the projects selected for focus in the summer in preparation for another school year. Drs. Amy Cashwell, James Pohl, Lesley Hughes and Veleka Gatling are leading the staff in the Department of Teaching and Learning to focus on instructional technology (digital learning) across all grades and content areas (K-12), with increased support in each school for instructional technology infusion, a more digitally infused curriculum, and the launch of 11 Digital Learning Anchor schools for the upcoming school year. This work will include entrepreneurial courses in all high schools as well an Entrepreneurial and Business Academy at Kempsville High School.  Elementary schools will expand foreign language immersion as well as focus on the purposeful inclusion of authentic performance tasks across the curriculum. 


Jared Cotton, Superintended of Henry County and Impact Award winner for Region 6, shared, "The summer is a great time to reflect on what worked during the year and to make plans for the upcoming year.  When you are trying to create a rigorous, relevant curriculum and innovative learning environments for students, it takes time to build capacity.  Sometimes, you have to work to ensure previous initiatives were implemented with fidelity.  Each year, we continue to focus on our vision and mission and plan for the long term.  What can we implement next year that will move us closer to our vision and mission?  What is the next logical step? We always need to ensure that all efforts are aligned and that we are not falling into the trap of implementing too much at one time.  We also plan for opportunities for teachers to take risks with new ideas such as new technologies, maker spaces, or innovative instructional strategies.  You have to find the balance and continually assess your decisions.  We must always remember that our students are counting on us!"

Tina McCay, Principal of Goochland Elementary and Impact Award Winner for Region 1 stated, "Leadership is the theme on my mind this summer. At Goochland Elementary, we just completed our first year as a Leader in Me school. This is the time I will meet with my Leadership Team and together, we will plan the next steps in the process. Teaching all of the students to learn and live by the 7 Habits of Happy Kids is a huge responsibility that we take very seriously. These habits will carry on with them through their educational careers, and their personal lives and professional lives as grown-ups. So, we are gearing up for another year of helping our students become responsible and well-rounded leaders."


Whether you are a classroom teacher, an administrator, or a curriculum leader, we appreciate the valuable time you spend each summer, planning and working to make the next school year the best and the smartest ever.  Happy New Year!

Have you registered for the 2015 Annual Conference in December ?

We look forward to seeing you there!

Teaching, Learning and Poverty: Meeting the Needs of a New Demographic

Join us for a two-day institute featuring national presenters and Virginia educators.
Access resources you can use in your school.
September 22 at Shenandoah University
and October 28 at Longwood University