Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music

Dr. Steve Staples, Dr. Jeremy Raley, Dr. John Herndon in background.

Goochland County Public Schools calls its annual event to kick off the school year convocation, a somewhat staid term. In reality, the gathering of the entire school staff, held this year on August 12, was indeed a celebration of past achievement and look toward an exciting new school year, which begins on Augusts 22.

Joy, enthusiasm and anticipation were palpable in the high school auditorium before Convocation began. Returning staff members, greeted old friends and made new ones. In addition to school related folk, several supervisors, Susan Lascolette, District 1; Manuel Alvarez, Jr. District 2, and Ken Peterson, District 5, along with our new County Administrator John Budesky were in the audience.
Our Marine Junior ROTC color guard, resplendent in immaculate dress uniform, presented the colors to start the event. Assistant Superintendent for instruction Dr. Steve Geyer, master of ceremonies for the event, said that GCPS exudes energy and optimism as it moves to the next level of excellence.

School Board Chairperson Kevin Hazzard, District 2, said that his time on the school board “has been an interesting five years.” He attributes the success of the current board to beginner’s luck coupled with the hard work of everyone involved with our schools. “Our schools have been great for a long time, and they’re getting better every day,” Hazzard said.

Then he turned more serious.” We want you to have a feeling of trust so you can take chances. We’re working hard to give you the opportunity to go out on a limb and do what is right for your students. We appreciate your hard work. We want you to act instead of react and we will have your back. On behalf of the school board I offer our deepest gratitude. We look forward to the awesome things you will do this year.”

Our new superintendent, Dr. Jeremy Raley, who has been on the job about five weeks, has hit the ground running (yes, for obvious reasons this post may have lots of sports analogies, apologies if they’re not quite accurate) and seems right at home in his new gig.
In his remarks introducing the guest speaker, Virginia Superintendent of Public instruction, Dr. Steven R. Staples, Raley said he is impressed by the amiable relations between our supervisors and school board, a situation unusual in the rest of the Commonwealth.
Raley contended that Staples “gets it,” that he “has been in our shoes and knows what you do every day and that that education is far more than the achievement snapshot” of the SOLs.

Staples used humor and selected movie clips to enliven his remarks. He exploded commons myths about education: anybody can teach; schools did a better job in my day; school is a lot easier today; you have to get everything just right; and “if we give our kids what we had, everything will be just fine.”

Education, Staples contended, is about preparing our children for jobs and careers that do not yet exist. “Today’s students will not get tomorrow’s jobs in yesterday’s schools,” he said. “We can’t possibly envision the skills that they will need to succeed in the future, so we have to teach them how to learn.” He said that GCPS is on the cutting edge of many innovative approaches to learning.
“A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and teaches a heart,” Staples said.

G21 awards, an ongoing effort to bring 21st century skill awareness into each school (see http://www.glnd.k12.va.us/resources/g21/)were presented. These recognize innovative approaches to learning.

Eccho Books (http://goochlandschools.org/2016/05/24/eccho-books/) is the result of collaboration between 9th graders and kindergarteners to create illustrated eBooks whose characters exemplify the core values of GCPS: excellence, creativity, courage, honor, and optimism. Mrs. Kuykendall and Mrs.Abbott were the catalysts for this project.

Sixth graders made newsreels about World War II to bring the history of that era to life. Using iPads and ingenuity, they learned how news of the day was transmitted back in the “olden” days. Visit http://goochlandschools.org/2016/05/18/6th-grade-history-video-projects/ to learn more.
Furth grade Randolph students explored the healthy bodies, healthy minds connection creating and presenting ideas using various media ranging from movie trailers to artwork. See http://goochlandschools.org/2016/05/16/the-res-healthy-body-healthy-mind-project/ for details.

Wes Fargas, 2016 teacher of the year introduced Joe Beasely 2017 teacher of the year.

Joe Beasely,white shirt, greets friends at the end of Convocation.

Beasely, a teacher at GES was recognized for his belief that it is a teacher’s job to incorporate student interests into their pedagogical approach to learning. Beasely utilized a “scrum” method where students are organized into teams to complete projects. In addition to mastering subject matter, students learn “soft” skills including teamwork, organization, and setting priorities.In his remarks, Beasely paid homage to the teachers of the years from each of Goochland’s five schools with personalized poems.

Raley took a microphone and move to the auditorium floor for his remarks. “The future is bright because of your innovation every day. I am humbled to be in front of so many talented individuals.” He expressed his gratitude for the welcoming attitude of the community toward the Raley family.

Goochland, Raley said, is a proud, successful school division that is on the cutting edge and a role model in education as a result of everything the staff does; the success of these efforts in is evident in results. All five Goochland schools are and have been fully state accredited for the past five years, a rare achievement among schools in the Commonwealth.
He exhorted the staff to continues its work to maximize the potential of every learner. “What we value are not words on a page, but results. It doesn’t matter what your title is, but your ability to believe in a child to find a way to make them successful. Never estimate what you can do for a child.”

He concluded with a quote from Nelson Mandela “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

Goochland Schools are sound, which benefits every citizen.

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