Patrick Henry Elementary School principal Annie Turner kissed a pig Tuesday to mark the end of a successful Read-A-Thon at the school.
Turner had promised the students at the school at 701 S. Highland Street that if 300 or more of them turned in reading logs and had read for 500 minutes or more, she would kiss the pig at their final assembly before Thanksgiving.
And the students far exceeded that goal. Patrick Henry parent Christine Brittle, who coordinated the Read-A-Thon, said 360 students turned in reading logs and they exceeded their goal of 500 minutes reading each.
The school’s PTA sponsors the annual Read-A-Thon, which kicked off just over a month ago. Students are challenged to read at least 500 minutes, about 40 minutes a day, and earn prizes for fundraising.
The students read for 263,211 minutes altogether, the equivalent of about 4,388 hours or 182 days.
“I set a really ambitious goal, because we had a really awesome prize and I thought you all could do it,” Brittle told the students.
And so Turner puckered up with Roscoe, a pig that lives in nearby Penrose, to whoops and cheers from the more-than 400 students who assembled in the school’s gymnasium.
The Read-A-Thon also raised more than $22,000 for the school, to be spent on field trips among other things.
“I am so proud of you all for reading so much,” Turner told the students after her encounter with Roscoe. “I hope you continue to read all year and the rest of your lives.”
— Donleigh Honeywell (@APS_HankHenry) November 21, 2017
— Donleigh Honeywell (@APS_HankHenry) November 21, 2017
— Sra. Susan Ramírez (@clasedivertida) November 21, 2017
The Institute for Multi-Sensory Education’s Orton-Gillingham approach trains teachers to have students learn language by listening, speaking, reading and writing. So, for example, a dyslexic student is taught to see the letter A, say it and write it in the air at the same time.
Students are also taught to read and write various sounds in isolation before making them into words, and learn the history of the English language to understand its rules and patterns.
An APS spokesman said training is part of a concerted effort for teachers to support dyslexic students and help them get their reading and writing abilities up to a good standard.
“A few years ago, APS began training teachers to be able to support students with Dyslexia in their classroom,” the spokesman said. “The decision was based on research through the International Dyslexia Association on the best instructional practices for students with dyslexia. APS continues to have a focus on literacy for all of our students and making sure our teachers have the training, tools and resources to meet the needs of all of their learners.”
APS teachers are given awareness training on dyslexia through a 10-minute overview video, handouts with characteristics of dyslexia and training for school psychologists and special education coordinators to help them determine if a student is dyslexic and help parents understand how to help.
According to testimonies provided by IMSE, the use of the Orton-Gillingham approach is paying dividends.
“A student with an Individualized Education Program who came from kindergarten not knowing letters and letter sounds, with significant deficits in memory and attention, after a year with IMSE’s [Orton-Gillingham approach] now has consistent memory of their letter and letter sounds,” one APS first-grade teacher said in a statement. “The sentence dictation has resulted in growth of concept of word as evidenced by spelling, word space and sentence structure.”
The APS spokesman said the Orton-Gillingham approach is just one way the school system helps students with dyslexia. APS paid a discounted rate of $800 per teacher for the training.
“We have trained teachers from all of our schools in not only Orton Gillingham but other structured literacy approaches that provide systematic, explicit and multi-sensory instruction for students who have Dyslexia,” the spokesman said. “Our goal is to build capacity with all of our teachers to know about Dyslexia and then build capacity within each team to be able to offer a variety of interventions and supports for all of our students.”
Abingdon Elementary School’s own version of the Washington Nationals’ Racing Presidents got a visit from the real thing at school today (Monday).
The seven students and Little League friends, who wore the custom-made costumes for Halloween, were surprised by the four Racing Presidents, who race around Nationals Park during every home game. It took parent Catherine Ladd five weeks to custom-make the costumes.
The Presidents came into an assembly at the school in Fairlington and gave the boys signed bobbleheads and tickets for them and their families to the team’s Winterfest in December.
“The final surprise was that the Nats presidents invited the Petite Presidents to race them at Nats Stadium in the spring,” Kathleen Branch, a parent at the school, said. “The boys were shocked, as they were told that they had to wear their uniforms to school to pose for more photos. They had no idea that the assembly was for the surprise announcement. Catherine Ladd, the creator of the Petite Presidents, was presented with a signed Bryce Harper jersey.
“The parents and families thank the Washington Nationals for their recognition of a school that loves the Washington Nationals.”
Photos via Catherine Ladd
— Abingdon APS (@AbingdonGIFT) November 6, 2017
The Arlington neighborhood tradition of Halloween parades continued today on a picture-perfect fall day.
Among the neighborhoods and schools hosting parades was Abingdon Elementary in Fairlington. Led by the Wakefield High School marching band, with rolling road closures courtesy of the Arlington County Police Department, hundreds of students and teachers marched down local streets as parents and residents snapped smartphone photos and cheered them on.
Among the crowd were ghouls, goblins and even raccoons.
One costume standout were small, paper mache versions of the Washington Nationals racing presidents. It took parent Catherine Ladd five weeks to custom-make the costumes for her sons and their Little League friends.
“It required the coordination of other parents… and taking over her first floor for over a month with the multiple figures in various stages of the design process,” Ladd said of the effort.
Dressed as George, Tom, Abe, Bill, Herbie and Teddy, the “petite” presidents batted cleanup near the end of the parade.
H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program students were evacuated earlier today (Thursday) after a small fire in a science lab.
The Arlington County Fire Department responded to the school at 4100 Vacation Lane just after 12 p.m. An Arlington Public Schools spokesman said some paper caught on fire during an experiment in the lab.
The fire was quickly put out by the teacher before firefighters arrived, with students evacuated as a precaution. A fire department spokesman said firefighters monitored the air and checked for hazards, but no issues were found. The smoke cleared naturally, the spokesman said.
There were no injuries and there was only minor damage to the equipment being used. Students returned to classes soon after.
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) October 26, 2017
Arlington Public Schools will host two community meetings this week to present proposals for changes to middle school boundaries.
Entitled, “What We Learned,” APS staff will present a second round of boundary proposals, developed after receiving community feedback on initial plans. The meetings are set for the following dates and locations:
- Wednesday, October 25, 7-9 p.m. at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd)
- Thursday October 26, 7-9 p.m. at Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street)
The forums will follow up on meetings earlier this month, entitled “Getting Started,” where staff presented initial ideas to provide a “starting point” for further discussion. APS is redrawing its middle school boundaries as a sixth is set to open at the Stratford school site in 2019.
Staff wrote that this second round of proposals will “shape the Superintendent’s recommendation to the School Board that will create boundaries for the new middle school at Stratford, relieve crowding at some schools, and balance enrollment among all six middle schools.”
Superintendent Patrick Murphy will make a recommendation on the redrawn boundaries on November 14. The Arlington School Board will hold a public hearing on November 30, then vote on the plan on December 14. The new boundaries would take effect in 2019.
A working group will soon begin evaluating the Arlington Career Center and planning for more high school seats there — and even looking into the possibly of a new comprehensive high school on the site.
The Career Center (816 S. Walter Reed Drive) is set for a renovation and an addition of 700-800 high school seats in time for 2022. The Arlington School Board voted in June to use it alongside the Education Center to add 1,300 high school seats, in a so-called “hybrid” option.
And according to a draft charge for the Career Center Working Group, it will assess the following as it helps prepare the site for the additional seats:
- Estimate total project cost with low, middle and high cost alternatives within the funding limits approved by the School Board
- A vision and plan for the site that could include further additions and renovations that might develop in phases into a H.S., and that includes Arlington Tech and existing programs. This will be developed through a community engagement process in concert with the County.
- Options for common spaces, including recreational and performance spaces, that might also be shared with the community Draft Charge for CCWG
- Parking requirements including structured parking
- Physical education programs and field space
- Timelines and funding requirements
- Assume current programs continue to exist; provides funds for instructional spaces
- [Patrick Henry Elementary School] must remain an elementary school for the foreseeable future
- APS’s FY2017-26 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) – provides funds for instructional spaces – does not include funds for public spaces available at other high schools
At a meeting tomorrow night (Wednesday) at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street), the county’s Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC) and the Advisory Council on School Facilities and Capital Programs (FAC) will meet to discuss the plan for the renovated Career Center.
And at that meeting, commission members will look to identify any additional factors that must be weighed, and also ask whether the site should be considered for the proposed fourth comprehensive high school in the county.
When School Board members approved the “hybrid” option, they also directed Superintendent Patrick Murphy to explore “options describing cost, timeline, capacity, location and program for a [fourth] comprehensive high school in the FY 2019-2028 [Capital Improvement Program] process.”
Under a timeline proposed by APS staff, community engagement will begin next month and last through May, after the two commissions review the proposal. In parallel, the working group will do its work, before making a presentation to the School Board in May.
Students and parents throughout Arlington celebrated “Walk and Bike to School Day” this morning, and those at Hoffman-Boston Elementary School especially got into the spirit.
Parents and crossing guards assisted children across the intersection of S. Queen Street and 13th Road S., where they were greeted by a parent helper. “Good morning! Thanks for walking today!” she said to kids approaching school property.
Some of the students seemed hesitant and needed a little prompting about how to safely walk through a crosswalk. The parent helper chuckled, saying, “You have to remember, for some of them this is their first time walking here.”
Once at school, the kids gathered for a Walk and Bike to School Day event in the back field. After participating in some activities, students formed a star and had their picture taken by the Arlington County Fire Department from the top of a ladder truck.
Students were excited about the photo opportunity, but so were the adults. “I’m waiting for the kids’ picture. I want that photo!” said a parent.
Arlingtonians will have several opportunities to weigh in on the names of new schools and the renaming of existing ones under a plan put forward by Arlington Public Schools staff.
APS is set to undertake a four-step process to discuss its school naming policies, a conversation that will likely include discussion of the name of Washington-Lee High School.
Members of the Arlington School Board announced last month they will reconsider existing school names. That announcement came after the violence in Charlottesville at a white supremacist rally, and a petition for APS to change the name of Washington-Lee High School, named in part for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Board members will also be looking for names for the building on the former Wilson School site — the future home of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program — and the new 1,000-seat middle school on Vacation Lane.
According to a draft plan discussed Thursday night by the Board, the first phase will begin with a committee made up of APS staff.
APS spokeswoman Linda Erdos said that committee will include a “diverse” group of APS staff, including school administrators, central office staff and teachers as well as custodians and bus drivers.
That committee will study the origins of existing school names, put together draft criteria for APS school names and take feedback from the public, including staff, families, students, alumni and community members. Its work is scheduled to be completed “later in the school year,” according to the draft.
The current APS naming criteria offer only two pieces of guidance: (1) that schools can be named “according to geographical or historical relationships in which the site is located,” meaning schools are named for the neighborhood they are located in or the street they are on; and (2) that naming a school for an individual can only be considered after they have been dead for five years.
After that first phase, staff will present a draft recommendation to update APS’ naming criteria to the School Board. The committee will also “be prepared to identify names of APS schools, if any, that may need to be considered for renaming by their respective school communities,” reads the memo outlining the process.
The Board then will take public comment on the updated naming policy and any proposed changes to school names, adopt the policy and if necessary, direct Superintendent Patrick Murphy to begin a renaming process. Finding names for the two new schools could then begin, using the updated criteria.
Board members said the plan, set to be formally approved at a future meeting, is exactly what they were looking for.
“I like the fact that we’re taking baby steps towards this and being very, very thoughtful,” said Nancy Van Doren.
“[Staff has] laid out what we promised, which is a deliberate process,” said Board chair Barbara Kanninen.
A social studies teacher from Wakefield High School will be Virginia’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year after winning the state’s Teacher of the Year award Monday night.
Michelle Cottrell-Williams was named Virginia Teacher of the Year on September 18 at a ceremony in Richmond. She was one of eight regional winners in the Commonwealth, and was selected for the state prize after being interviewed by a committee.
She was joined at the ceremony at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts by Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Arlington County School Board chair Barbara Kanninen and Wakefield principal Chris Willmore. Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent and Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven Staples announced her as the winner.
Cottrell-Williams will join her counterparts at the National Teacher of the Year award ceremony at the White House this spring, when the national winner will be announced.
More from a Virginia Department of Education press release:
Michelle Cottrell-Williams, a social studies teacher at Wakefield High in Arlington County, was named 2018 Virginia Teacher of the Year Monday evening during a recognition ceremony at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond. Cottrell-Williams was selected from eight regional winners announced last week and will be the commonwealth’s nominee for 2018 National Teacher of the Year.
Cottrell-Williams, the Region 4 Teacher of the Year, was selected as the state’s top teacher after being interviewed by a committee that included representatives of professional and educational associations, the business community, and 2017 Virginia Teacher of the Year Toney Lee McNair Jr. of Chesapeake. The selection of Cottrell-Williams was announced by Secretary of Education Dietra Y. Trent and Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples.
Cottrell-Williams is a 11-year veteran of the classroom as a social studies teacher for grades 9-12. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Utah State University and a master’s degree from George Washington University.
The other seven 2018 Virginia Regional Teachers of the Year, who were also honored during the ceremony, are as follows:
- Greenlee B. Naughton, an English teacher at Highland Springs High in Henrico County (Region 1)
- Theresa A. Guthrie Goltermann, a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) electives teacher at Tabb Middle in York County (Region 2)
- Sarah M. Adamson-Mair, a kindergarten teacher at Lewis and Clark Elementary in Caroline County (Region 3)
- Russell T. Jennings, an agriculture teacher at Fluvanna County High in Fluvanna County (Region 5)
- Karey A. Henzey, a special education teacher at West Salem Elementary in Salem (Region 6)
- Chrystle M. Gates, a music teacher at Chilhowie Elementary in Smyth County (Region 7)
- Tiffany W. Lynch, an English teacher at Park View High in Mecklenburg County (Region 8)
As the 2018 Virginia Teacher of the Year, Cottrell-Williams received a $5,000 award and a commemorative ring from the Apple Federal Credit Union Education Foundation; a $2,500 award from Richmond law firm Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen; a $1,000 award from Dominion Resources Services Inc.; a teacher membership from VMFA; educational opportunities from several public and private colleges and universities; a three-year SMART Learning Suite subscription from SMART Technologies UCL; flowers from Coleman Brothers Flowers Inc.; an engraved plaque from Bunkie Trinite Trophies Inc.; a gift basket from C.F. Sauer Co.; overnight accommodations at the Crowne Plaza Richmond Downtown; and an engraved crystal apple.
The 2018 National Teacher of the Year will be announced next spring at a White House ceremony. Two previous Virginia teachers — B. Philip Bigler, the 1998 Virginia Teacher of the Year, and Mary V. Bicouvaris, the 1989 Virginia Teacher of the Year — went on to be named as a National Teacher of the Year.
A teacher at Wakefield High School is a finalist for the Virginia Teacher of the Year award after a surprise announcement this morning (Monday).
Michelle Cottrell-Williams, a social studies teacher at Wakefield, learned of the recognition from Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, who presented her with a certificate and flowers during a sociology class. McAuliffe was joined by Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Arlington County School Board members and Wakefield principal Chris Willmore.
Cottrell-Williams is one of eight teachers in the running for Virginia Teacher of the Year. She represents educational Region 4, which comprises various cities and counties in Northern Virginia.
She is the first regional finalist from Arlington since Colette Fraley, another Wakefield social studies teacher, in 2010. Cottrell-Williams is already Arlington Teacher of the Year, having been nominated by Lisa Labella, Wakefield’s senior project coordinator.
“I’m speechless,” Cottrell-Williams said after the announcement. “Dr. Willmore walked in, said he had to interrupt for a minute, OK. People just kept coming and coming and coming, and I have no words. This is incredible. I feel like I’ve just been me, and to be recognized, that other people recognize that what I’m doing matters, is pretty amazing.”
Cottrell-Williams has taught at Wakefield for 10 years, and is the lead classroom teacher of World History II, U.S. and Virginia Government, AP European History, Sociology and senior project classes.
She has been recognized for her dynamic lesson plans that use various strategies and methods to help students learn as well as her commitment to professional development for her fellow teachers.
“In my other classes I’ve been asked to come up with projects and ways to rethink education,” senior Alex Pearson said. “I feel like Ms. Cottrell does that. She’s a teacher that makes class fun, and I feel like we’re going to learn a lot of things.”
“I think it says a lot about Ms. Cottrell,” senior Ana Sofia Uro-DeLeon said. “We haven’t even started our classes yet, and she’s already getting an award and everything. It shows that she really does care about the students and the individual, not just the statistics and our grades.”
McAuliffe said with budgetary pressures weighing on public school districts across Virginia, recognizing teachers when they are so dedicated is important.
“She’s so dedicated to her students, but also dedicated to her peers and to her colleagues, her fellow teachers and making sure that professional development opportunities are there so they can further their craft of teaching,” McAuliffe said. “That’s really so important, to make sure that teachers have the support they need in everything to do.”
Cottrell-Williams will join her fellow finalists in Richmond on Monday, September 18, where they will go through a series of interviews before the awards banquet that evening. Cottrell-Williams said that whether she wins or not will not change the fact that her most important interactions are with her students each day.
“It’s about the students, it’s not about whatever accolades I get,” she said. “It would be nice to have a broader platform to share with other teachers how I have found success with my students, how I interact with them, how I’ve really grown to like what I do because of the relationships I get to build with these students. But at the end of the day, I’m still here in the classroom with them whether or not I have an award.”
Students at Arlington County’s public high schools now have the chance to build their own lunch with fresh ingredients.
Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown all added food service company Cuisine Solutions‘ Café + Teria concept, the first of its kind for a school system in Virginia.
Each school’s serving area will have a similar, modern look, according to a press release. Cuisine Solutions describes itself as “the authority on sous-vide,” a slow-cooking method where food is vacuum-sealed and then slow-cooked in hot water to preserve flavors and nutrients.
Each day, students can select ingredients in four steps by picking a base of grain, salad or a wrap; a protein of antibiotic-free chicken, ground beef, or Paneer cheese; a topping of vegetables, cheese and sauces; and a dressing.
“This program introduces the healthy, fast-casual dining experience that teenagers love,” Bill Stablein, Cuisine Solutions’ manager of K-12 programs, said in a statement. “Arlington is an innovative district and a good choice to begin the program based on size, number of schools, diversity and exposure to quick-service restaurants.”
Cuisine Solutions hosted a forum last February for 10 public school districts in Virginia to discuss ways to improve dining options for students. After the forum, company chefs put together menus for Café + Teria based on local ingredients that are healthy and of good quality.
Cuisine Solutions will provide the three schools with the recipes, standard operating procedures, name brand and marketing materials for the new program, which may eventually be replicated nationwide.
Local affordable housing provider AHC Inc. is still seeking volunteers to work in its education programs ahead of school resuming next week.
Spaces are still available to help in AHC’s After-School and Teen Tutoring programs, which help educate young people from kindergarten through 12th grade.
In the After-School program, volunteers work with elementary school students to build literacy and math skills, and to help with homework. AHC asks for a commitment of one hour once a week between 4 and 6 p.m.
Teen Tutoring helps foster both academic and life skills to help teens graduate from high school and maximize their potential. Tutors are paired with one student during the school year, and meet for one hour once a week between 6 and 8 p.m.
There will be several orientation sessions in the coming days for both programs:
- September 6 – After-School Orientation, 6-7 p.m. (Gates of Ballston, 4108 4th Street N.)
- September 12 – Teen Tutoring Orientation, 6-7:30 p.m. (Gates of Ballston, 4108 4th Street N.)
- September 14 – Teen Tutoring Orientation, 6-7:30 pm (Gates of Ballston, 4108 4th Street, N.)
In addition to these schemes, AHC offers various others through its resident services program. Earlier this year, 15 high school graduates in the pilot year of its college mentoring program celebrated finishing the program and advancing into higher education.
For more information, potential volunteers should contact Cindy Rozon at [email protected].
Photo via AHC
With schools set to welcome students for the new year this coming Tuesday, Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington County Police Department are urging everyone to stay safe on the roads.
Police will conduct highly visible traffic enforcement around county schools starting that day, while electronic message boards placed next to the roads will remind everyone of the start of school.
To ensure everyone’s safety, police reminded drivers to:
- Obey speed limits which may change during school zone times.
- Avoid distracted driving and keep your attention on the road.
- Watch for students walking and riding bikes to school.
- Don’t pass a stopped school bus loading or unloading passengers.
- On a two-lane road, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop.
- On a multi-lane paved across road, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop.
- On a divided highway, vehicles behind the bus must stop. Vehicles traveling in the opposite direction may proceed with caution.
- Have all vehicle occupants wear their seat belts.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) August 29, 2017
Students, bicyclists, and pedestrians are reminded to:
- Cross the street at marked crosswalks and never against a red light.
- Look before you cross and follow the direction of school crossing guards.
- Always walk on designated sidewalks or paths, never along the side of a road.
And for general safety, students and parents are reminded to:
- Ensure students know their address and phone number.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Whenever possible, walk or bike with another person. Stay in well-lit areas.
- Limit the use of devices that may distract you.
- Avoid engaging with or answering questions from strangers.
- If something occurs that makes you feel unsafe, report the incident immediately to an adult such as a parent, guardian, principal, teacher or school resource officer.
- Parents and guardians are encouraged to roleplay possible situations with students and discuss personal safety and awareness tips.
In a video (below) released by APS, Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Police Chief Jay Farr and School Resource Officer supervisor Lt. Susan Noack, the three urge being safe, like staying within speed limits, avoiding distracted driving and looking out for students on bicycles or on foot.
The trio also encouraged parents practice looking both ways at crosswalks before crossing the street, as well as having a buddy to walk with.
A $13.8 million plan to move Arlington Public Schools’ offices from the Education Center to prepare for its use as a high school is set to begin later this year.
The Education Center, which houses various APS offices as well as the Arlington School Board’s meeting rooms, will be used as part of a “hybrid option” alongside the Career Center to add 1,300 high school seats for APS. The Education Center is adjacent to Washington-Lee High School.
APS’ offices are set to relocate to Sequoia Plaza Two at 2100 Washington Blvd, which already houses the School Health Bureau that provides health programs and services, as well as the Parent-Infant Education and Environmental Health programs.
Separately, the county’s Department of Human Services consolidated more than 80,000 square feet of facilities into three buildings at its headquarters at Sequoia Plaza in 2014.
As part of a plan approved last December, the School Board agreed to amend its lease at the property and add just under 80,000 square feet of new office space. In May, the Board approved a design for the office space, which will be spread across four floors.
At its meeting Thursday, August 17, the School Board advanced a construction contract for Sequoia Plaza Two, and will vote to approve the contract as an action item at its September meeting.
Under a timeline presented by APS staff, construction would begin in September and take until April 2018. The first phase of moving would begin in December, with the second phase to begin in April once construction is complete.
Jeff Chambers, APS’s director of design and construction, said that first moving phase would be to move APS staff already based at the building elsewhere to accommodate construction. Chambers said the project will not require any more funding than the $13.8 million already budgeted.