Henrico, Va., Oct. 25, 2019 – Thirteen Henrico County Public Schools’ programs have been recognized in the 2019 National Association of Counties Achievement Awards. The annual awards recognize groundbreaking county government programs across the nation. HCPS winners were:
The ALEX Project (Donahoe Elementary School)
Before the creation of The ALEX Project, Donahoe Elementary School had few regular volunteers working with students or supporting its staff members. A group of caring volunteers joined forces and created the initiative. Since then, the innovative program has paired one or two weekly adult volunteers with each class at the school to provide academic and emotional support. The project has also provided funds for a wide variety of school projects. It is named for Alex Moore, who died days before his graduation as a new sheriff’s deputy.
3-Es of K-12 Education: Enrolled Enlisted and/or Employed (Career and Technical Education)
Henrico Schools wants students to graduate as with “triple-E” status: Enrolled, Enlisted and/or Employed. By beginning with the end goal in mind, all students should graduate with a plan in place to help them be successful. This plan starts in middle school and is monitored to ensure students are receiving the education that will prepare them for their career goals. This makes a student’s school career – from middle school to high school to postsecondary education – a more seamless process.
Making Peer Socialization a SNAP (Department of Exceptional Education)
In 2017, Henrico Schools launched a summer program called “SNAPS,” an acronym for “Students Navigating Appropriate Peer Socialization.” SNAPS is geared towards students with high-functioning autism who struggle with everyday social skills. They learn and practice social skills in the classroom and during real-world opportunities with age-appropriate peers at local parks, community shopping centers, eateries and nursing facilities.
Building Book Nooks, Building Community Literacy (Career and Technical Education, Library Services)
Public libraries and neighborhood schools do an amazing job in literacy development, but can leave gaps in providing reading material to citizens. Not everyone lives near a public library branch, and public school libraries are only open during the school day, and are limited to the students who attend. In an effort to make reading material more readily available, HCPS’ departments of Career and Technical Education and Library Services teamed up to install small “book nooks” – tiny lending libraries with hinged doors – on posts outside of all HCPS schools.
A Conference Room Renovation Meets Needs of Students and Their School (Career and Technical Education)
Highland Springs High School’s conference room lacked sufficient meeting space for larger groups. The electricity, carpentry and masonry departments within the Advanced Career Education (ACE) Center at Highland Springs guided their students to make trade theory a reality as they collaborated to create a new community room for the school. Students researched building codes and safety procedures, set goals, and created blueprints and timetables. They used their skills to complete most of the project at a cost of $1,400, instead of the $12,000-18,000 contractors would have charged.
Setting the Bar High: CTE Letter-of-Intent Signing Day (Career and Technical Education)
Henrico County Public Schools’ “Career and Technical Letter-of-Intent Signing Day” recognizes and celebrates high school students who complete a career and technical education program and are offered positions in the workforce. The event emulates ceremonies that have become common for high school athletes signing letters-of-intent to play for NCAA programs. Students and representatives of their future employers sign symbolic letters of agreement, as families and members of the media look on. Local TV stations and newspapers conduct interviews with the students, parents and business representatives and national news outlets broadcast stories of the event.
Partnership with Roofing Professionals Gives Students a Broader Career View (Career and Technical Education)
As with other skilled trade professions, the roofing industry is experiencing a national shortage of skilled labor. Many businesses would love to hire a recent high school graduate and help them grow into a successful employee in a rewarding career. Henrico Schools paired with an industry group to help find solutions to this dilemma. On the momentum of a successful event in spring 2018 – “Career and Technical Letter-of-Intent Signing Day” – CTE entered into a partnership with the Virginia Association of Roofing Professionals, or VARP, to create meaningful experiences and help educate students about opportunities in the roofing industry.
Driven for Success: A New Kind of Open House (Career and Technical Education)
Automotive technology instructors at the ACE Center at Hermitage decided they needed a fresh program to spark the interest of students, families, business owners, car dealerships and postsecondary schools in career advancement for the automotive industry. They also wanted a program to serve as a means of increasing local businesses’ interest in hiring HCPS students and allow businesses to serve as support systems rather than waiting for students to join their businesses. The center developed an all-inclusive open house, which has realized these goals and experienced great success.
Helping First Responders and Visitors Find Their Way (Career and Technical Education)
The Technology Education Pumas club at Short Pump Middle School worked with administrators to make the school safer and easier to navigate, particularly for first-responders and visitors. Student design teams worked with their teacher to create signs for use throughout the school. Students used 3-D printing, cylindrical machine-cutting and assembly line techniques to design, fabricate and install new door signs for every room at the school.
Learning Carpentry While Supporting a Local Elementary School (Career and Technical Education)
Carpentry students at the Academy at Virginia Randolph, after learning safety procedures and how to work with their hands, worked together to help Lakeside Elementary School. Lakeside faces a challenge of limited storage space for its many extracurricular programs. The Virginia Randolph students were able to learn and develop skills while constructing a shed to increase Lakeside’s storage capacity.
Specialty Center Partnership Shares Expertise (Career and Technical Education and Varina High School)
Two centers – the ACE Center at Highland Springs and the Center for Communications at Varina High School – paired to create a collaborative four-week project. The Varina center offers limited course work in audio production. Because students at Varina wanted the opportunity to learn the history and usability of audio production, the center created a partnership with the ACE Center that allowed one of the ACE Center’s instructors to teach a four-week mini-session on the topic. The project also enabled the students at the ACE Center at Highland Springs to serve as mentors.
A Practical Nursing School Collaborates for a Healthier Community (Henrico County-St. Mary’s Hospital School of Practical Nursing)
As a part of Henrico County Public Schools, the mission of the school division’s practical nursing program is to prepare nurses to provide people with safe, effective and culturally competent nursing care. The program formed an affiliation with Nationz Foundation to provide education and information related to HIV-prevention and overall health and wellness, while inspiring the community to take responsibility for its health.
Tech the Halls: Reaching Our Community With a Holiday Event (Career and Technical Education and Varina High School)
“Tech the Halls” is a holiday event created by the ACE Center at Hermitage to bring the community together and share some of the center’s career and technical education programs. The event took an unconventional approach to creating awareness of the ACE Center’s offerings: visitors learned about ACE Center programs while experiencing interactive activities such as health checks, CPR and first aid demonstrations, human service activities, kid-friendly activities, a petting zoo and auto-winterization checks.
Two programs – the CTE Letter-of-Intent Signing Day and the Department of Exceptional Education’s program for students with autism – were dual winners. The two initiatives were also recognized with an award from the Virginia Association of Counties.
Across all departments and agencies, Henrico County earned 27 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties. Henrico’s 27 awards are the most of any county in Virginia for the 14th consecutive year, and were the seventh most nationally. The counties finishing ahead of Henrico, such as Los Angeles County, Calif. and Miami-Dade County, Fla., all have much larger populations. Those counties all contain between 1 million and 10 million residents, while Henrico County has about 330,000 residents.