Hi, I’m Dr. Amy Cashwell and I’m so proud to be the superintendent of Henrico County Public Schools. I come from Virginia Beach, where for 20 years I held a number of positions including classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal and eventually chief academic officer for Teaching and Learning. See more of my bio by clicking on this link.
I started in July of 2018, and since then I’ve been amazed at the opportunities, resources and diversity that Henrico enjoys countywide. You might know that in our school division, at least 85 languages other than English are spoken, and students represent more than 100 countries of origin. In getting to know Henrico County, I feel as if I can travel the world right here at home. That’s when the idea for “Amy’s Passport” was born, first as a blog and now as a booklet.
In December of 2018, I gave the Henrico School Board a synopsis of what I’ve been up to since I arrived, suggested some goals, and I gave them each a copy of a small blue “passport.” I’m pleased to share with you here the digital version of “Amy’s Passport”, a booklet of my Henrico County travels, reflections and next steps. The passport not only recaps my travels and conversations as I got to know our schools and community, it also includes some reflections and ideas for next steps we can take to continue building on Henrico Schools’ tradition of excellence.
Thank you for welcoming me, and for joining me on this journey. Enjoy the “flippable” booklet available on this page, or scroll down to see some of the past blog entries from the summer and fall of 2018.
Just as travel is about learning and sharing adventures, I hope you’ll give me your thoughts about the journey we’re on as a school division. You can email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click on the digital booklet to flip through Amy’s Passport
DR. CASHWELL’S FIRST 100 DAYS
Henrico Education Association
Thanks to members of the Henrico Education Association for inviting me to dialogue and problem-solve around issues that face our teachers. We are fortunate to enjoy a strong relationship and I look forward to continuing the positive dialogue. If you’re looking for more information about the HEA, visit this link: http://www.veanea.org/home/2399.htm
Lay Advisory Committee
Did you know that Henrico Schools has a Lay Advisory Committee – and you’re invited to its meetings? The committee advises the School Board on important educational matters. It acts as a liaison among the School Board, parents and guardians, the Board of Supervisors, community members and teachers – and brings together members of these groups to discuss various issues. I was there for the first of five meeting throughout the school year to share details about our Strategic Plan and Henrico Learner Profile. Perhaps the best part was to sit, take questions and share new ideas with LAC members. Anyone interested in education and the school system is welcome to attend these meetings. The remaining meetings for 2018-19 are below.
Teacher Advisory Council
We had a big crowd at the Hermitage High School library for the first meeting of the Teacher Advisory Council. TAC is an opportunity for each school to choose a teacher representative who engages in dialogue with me and members of the central leadership team. At this meeting, we shared information about efforts to unravel teacher salary compression, next steps for implementing the Henrico Learner Profile and Deeper Learning Model, an Equity and Diversity update, as well as an early look at the draft school calendar proposal for 2019-2020. My thanks to these teachers who brought good questions and thoughtful observations to our attention. A first look at the proposed school calendar for 2019-2020 is expected to be made public by the end of October.
Visit by German delegation
I enjoyed joining Henrico County leaders to welcome a delegation from Saarpfalz-Kreis, Germany. Henrico and Saarpfalz-Kreis established a sister county partnership in 1997; the partnership is highlighted by regular exchanges of students and government officials. There was a welcome breakfast at Godwin High School followed by a tour of the school.
Town halls continue…
It’s been wonderful getting out to talk with families and staff members at the town hall series. We set it up to include one town hall meeting in each Henrico magisterial district – this week I visited Wilder, Rolfe and Quioccasin middle schools and got some fantastic input from people who attended. The questions and comments have been thought-provoking and will be so helpful as we move forward on a number of key initiatives. If you haven’t been able to attend a town hall meeting, there’s still one left – Oct. 9 from 6:30-8 p.m. at Hungary Creek Middle School. I hope you can make it!
$449,224 grant to Maymont benefits Henrico students
It was an honor to join Pamela Northam, first lady of Virginia, Henrico County Board of Supervisors Chairman Frank Thornton, and our friends at Maymont for an exciting announcement. Maymont has been awarded a $449,224 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Bay Watershed Education and Training Program to fund meaningful outdoor and classroom learning experiences! The lessons will aim to increase understanding and stewardship of watersheds and related ocean, coastal, riverine, estuarine and Great Lakes ecosystems. Through the B-WET program, Maymont will implement its Bay Watershed in Science Education (B-WISE) program in collaboration with Henrico County Public Schools. The three-year project will engage approximately 7,200 students and 240 sixth grade science and core content teachers, eventually extending to all 12 of our middle schools. Students will be empowered with the knowledge, skills, attributes and experiences to be stewards of our environment and, ultimately, life ready! Read more about it here: https://maymont.org/press-room/media-release-noaa-grant/
School faculty meetings
I’m continuing the Henrico tradition of the superintendent holding a faculty meeting at every school in the county. They started the week of Sept. 17 with a visit to the faculty at Douglas S. Freeman High School. I shared excerpts of a book I like called “The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence” by Tom Peters. Aside from that, the majority of the time is spent hearing from the faculty about their proudest accomplishments and what they’re doing to prepare “Life Ready” students. We also set aside plenty of time for questions and answers. I look forward to spending quality time with the faculties at all 72 schools and program centers!
Town Hall meetings
On Sept. 19 I held the first of five open-to-the-public “Town Hall”-style meetings. This one was for the Three Chopt District, taking place at Short Pump Middle School. We were honored to be joined by School Board Chair Micky Ogburn, County Manager John Vithoulkas, and numerous leaders from within the school division. I shared a brief video about what I’ve learned so far in my Henrico County travels, along with the four cornerstones of our strategic plan (Safety and Wellness, Academic Growth, Equity and Diversity, Relationships), the Henrico Learner Profile, and our Deeper Learning model. Then we set aside most of the time to take questions from families and interested citizens. The feedback from these meetings will be very helpful in working with our School Board to continually meet the needs of today’s students and families. I can’t wait for the next four Town Halls, which take place in October. More details are available at this link: https://henricoschools.us/come-to-a-town-hall-meeting-and-share-ideas-with-henrico-county-public-schools-new-superintendent/
Announcement of new J.R. Tucker and Highland Springs high schools
Transformative. That’s the word people are using to describe the exciting announcement Sept. 20 at Highland Springs High School. Henrico County will be replacing Highland Springs (built in 1952) and J.R. Tucker High School (built in 1962) with brand new buildings that will serve our communities for many years to come. Construction starts next fall (at or beside the existing sites) and the goal is to have the new schools open in fall 2021. It’s exciting and ambitious and a wonderful thing for the families of our county. There’s plenty of planning to do and we want you to play a big role (more on that later). Because Henrico County citizens have repeatedly voiced their strong support for public schools – in the 2013 meals tax vote and the 2016 bond referendum – the future is bright for our children. Thank you to the School Board, Board of Supervisors and John Vithoulkas, county manager, for visionary leadership in creating this plan. And a special thanks to the cheerleaders from J.R. Tucker and Highland Springs high schools, who came out to cheer on the huge news for their schools!
First Day of School 2018!
I was delighted to spend the day visiting several schools, and it was amazing to watch the buildings come alive as students returned! Thanks to our special guests Gov. Ralph Northam, Del. Lamont Bagby and School Board Member Roscoe Cooper, III, for joining me at L. Douglas Wilder Middle School where we greeted students during the morning arrivals. From there I stopped by Henrico High School, Ridge Elementary School and Short Pump Middle School to offer words of encouragement. I want all of our students to know that here in Henrico County they are cared for as individuals by Team HCPS, and I’m looking forward to many more school visits throughout the month of September. By the way, did you know that at Henrico High School the librarians will go from class-to-class on a bicycle to encourage students to check out a book? What a wonderful idea…and I just had to try it out for myself!
Meeting of the Henrico Partnership for Family and Community Engagement Council:
Since I arrived in Henrico County, I’ve been impressed with the spirit of cooperation I see as people work to solve challenges. I was reminded of that again when I attended the Henrico Partnership for Family and Community Engagement Council meeting at Libbie Mill Library. The partnership is made up of groups and agencies from across Henrico that work together to strengthen families and communities – from social services to mentoring to mental health issues and much more. It was my pleasure to learn more about the council partners and share information about HCPS’ new 2018-25 Strategic Plan, four cornerstones and Henrico Learner Profile. I’m proud that Henrico Schools is part of such a caring, collaborative community.
VISITS TO TWIN HICKORY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AND DEEP RUN HIGH SCHOOL
Hermitage High School athletic field ribbon cutting
In 2016, Henrico voters overwhelmingly approved hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of school construction, renovation and expansion projects that are ongoing. Among the projects were the installation of new artificial turf playing fields at all nine high school stadiums. I joined Brookland District School Board Member Beverly Cocke, Supervisors Harvey Hinson and Tyrone Nelson, Hermitage High School faculty, and Henrico Recreation and Parks leaders to cut the ceremonial ribbon on the new surface at Hermitage High School’s Chester E. Fritz Stadium!
2018 Convocation Highlights
Faculty and staff Convocations: It was the highlight of the summer to introduce myself and deliver keynote addresses to the faculty and staff of every school in Henrico County (we have 72 schools and learning centers here.) The pride and spirit on display over these two days in late August were unlike anything I’d ever seen before! I shared some of my personal background, as well as the cornerstones of our 2018-2025 Strategic Plan and Henrico Learner Profile.
August 2018 Highlights
New Teacher Academy: Every August we welcome back first-year teachers and veteran teachers who are new to Henrico for a week of “New Teacher Academy” which allows me and other school division leaders the chance to share our mission, vision, and strategic goals for the year.
August Leadership Academy: My first opportunity to address our school administrators, principals, associate and assistant principals as a group came in early August. It was wonderful to meet everyone and to challenge our schools to be amazing!
Meet & Greet Events
Community Meet and Greets: I had the pleasure of meeting dozens of interested parents, students, citizens and fellow Henrico Schools colleagues at five informal “meet and greets”. Our thanks to Henrico County Public Libraries at Twin Hickory, Varina, Fairfield, Libbie Mill and Tuckahoe for being such accommodating hosts! At each event, people who dropped by to say hello also had the chance to fill out “I like, I wish, I want” comment cards, and that constructive feedback will be shared with our School Board.
Henrico County Council of PTA’s “Meet and Greet”: Thanks to members of the HCCPTA for inviting me to share our Henrico Schools’ cornerstones and Learner Profile. PTA parents are the unsung heroes of our schools, and I do hope you’ll contact your school’s PTA President to get involved this year!
School Visits: An Achievable Dream Certified Academy at Highland Springs welcomed this year’s class of “Dreamers” in grades K-3 for another incredible year of learning.
Police: I had a chance to meet with Chief Humberto Cardounel and Henrico’s finest for a daylong training exercise focused on making Henrico County schools as safe as they can be.
Chamber RVA and Henrico Education Foundation: It was my pleasure to be invited to meet members of the business community as well as our philanthropic partners to share success stories and future ideas about doing what’s best for students and their families.
Back to School events
Family and Community Engagement “Back to School Kickoff”: This was so much fun! Students, families, faculties and community partners came out on Saturday, Aug. 13 to celebrate the start of another amazing year! There were kids’ activities, live performances, school and community information, giveaways, food trucks and so much more. It was a great way to meet so many proud supporters of public education.
School Nutrition Services “Back to School” event: Students can’t learn unless their bodies are nourished with healthy options that allow them to perform their best at school. That’s why it was my pleasure to address the School Nutrition Services staff for all of our schools as they met for the start of another wonderful year.
Pupil Transportation “Back to School” event: For many students and families, bus drivers are the first school system employees they see every morning, and the last ones they see at the end of every school day. Safe and reliable bus transportation is so important to what we do, which is why I was so happy to greet our drivers for their “Back to School” meetings.