– Amy’s Passport: 2019 Progress Report

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Amy’s Passport: Progress Report No. 2, December 2019

This is the second progress report to the Passport that was originally published in 2018. Since then, I’m proud to say the Henrico County Public Schools team has completed 15 community-supported items while making significant progress on many additional promises we’ve made to the teachers, students, families and citizens of our community.

If you’re new to my journey, here’s a recap:

I began my tenure as superintendent in July 2018. That’s when I started listening: To our teachers and staff, to our students and families, and to our community stakeholders who appreciate the value of the excellent public education Henrico’s students receive. Those interactions formed the backbone of my vision for the future. In December 2018, we chronicled my introduction to Henrico in a booklet known as “Amy’s Passport.”  We chose the name because of Henrico’s diversity, a place where I feel I can travel the world without ever leaving home. The “Passport” documented my reflections on those “travels,” and it outlined a series of recommendations and next steps to improve our already great school division.

Available now is the “one year later” progress report that shows some tremendous accomplishments in the areas of Teaching and LearningSafety and Student Instructional Support ServicesEquity and DiversityOrganizational Efficiency, and Financial Planning. The update can be easily “skimmed” for the major highlights, and I do hope you’ll be pleased with what’s new.

Please let me know what you think! Contact me anytime at superintendent@henrico.k12.va.us.

Amy’s Passport Progress Report: Click on the digital booklet

 Click arrows to follow our progress
  •  

    Revisit the division’s literacy plan

    Revisit the division’s literacy plan, and ensure that schools have...
  •  

    Reading teachers

    Staff elementary and middle schools with a reading teacher who...
  •  

    Robust library of guided reading materials

    Develop a plan to ensure a robust library of guided...
  •  

    Align curricula to deeper learning model

    Ensure that the curricula for pre-K through grade 12 are...
  •  

    Provide personalized learning pathways

    Ensure that the curriculum provides personalized learning pathways and opportunities,...
  •  

    Streamlined, balanced assessments

    Examine the division’s assessment system for redundancy of purpose and...
  •  

    Establish teacher design teams

    Establish teacher design teams that will create a vision to...
  •  

    Measure progress toward deeper learning

    Design a way of measuring the division’s progress toward implementing...
  •  

    Redesign academic and career planning

    Redesign the academic and career planning process for pre-K through...
  •  

    Improve course planning guide

    Improve the middle and high school course Planning Guide to...
  •  

    Infuse coding and computer science concepts

    Infuse coding and computer science concepts into the kindergarten-grade 5...
  •  

    Elementary health and physical education curriculum

    Examine the elementary health and physical education curriculum and delivery...
  •  

    More opportunities to cover mental health and wellness

    Examine the middle and high school health and physical education...
  •  

    Expand opportunities for higher level, rigorous courses

    Expand course offerings and subsequent support structures at each high...
  •  

    Re-imagine learning models to be more student-centered

    Examine high school programs in an effort to re-imagine learning...
  •  

    Prototype for a “high school of the future”

    Develop and implement a prototype for a “high school of...
  •  

    Re-examine structure of STEAM elementary teacher positions

    Re-examine structure of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics)...
  •  

    Individualized Education Program (IEP) Meeting Process

    Determine a model to capture parent input and suggestions related...
  •  

    Multiyear plan for Special Education

    Develop a multiyear plan with clearly stated desired goals and...
  •  

    Conflict management and relationship restoration

    Develop a plan for key staff in all schools to...
  •  

    Tools and expertise for mediation

    Develop a plan to ensure that all schools and key...
  •  

    Evaluate behavior intervention programs

    Evaluate behavior intervention programs, which provide additional services to students...
  •  

    Examine trauma-informed-care support systems

    Examine the current model for mental health and trauma-informed-care support...
  •  

    Ensure buildings are safe and conducive to learning

    Develop a long-range plan for the Henrico County capital/meals tax...
  •  

    School climate survey

    Implement an annual school climate survey to include components that...
  •  

    Promote multicultural awareness

    Ensure curricula are relevant, authentic and provide resources that promote...
  •  

    Cultural sensitivity; implicit and explicit bias

    Require training for all staff, delivered online annually, that covers...
  •  

    Race, equity, access and cultural responsiveness

    Develop a multiyear professional development plan for working with all...
  •  

    Recruit and retain a diverse workforce

    Develop a plan to actively recruit and retain a diverse...
  •  

    Equity Ambassadors

    Create a group framework for new Equity Ambassadors serving in...
  •  

    Full-service community school model

    Research best practices for the full-service community school model, which...
  •  

    Communicate measures and progress toward strategic goals

    Create a mechanism for community stakeholders to easily understand the...
  •  

    Teacher Retention

    Develop a comprehensive approach to teacher retention that includes: personalized/differentiated...
  •  

    Stronger structure for school improvement

    Examine and create a stronger structure for school improvement. Progress...
  •  

    Professional learning pathways for all employees

    Develop professional learning pathways for all employee groups (e.g., clerical,...
  •  

    Consistent staffing models for elementary schools

    Examine, audit and subsequently establish consistent staffing models for elementary...
  •  

    Elementary clerical staffing numbers

    Examine the adequacy of the elementary clerical staffing numbers. Progress...
  •  

    New employee orientation

    Revamp new employee orientation to be less paper-intensive and to...
  •  

    Teacher licensure and microcredentialing

    Develop a coordinated process and system for monitoring teacher application,...
  •  

    Bus communication for parents

    Improve bus communication for parents, guardians and students; add staff...
  •  

    Programming for English as a second language

    Add educational specialists to oversee programming for English as a...
  •  

    Compliance on internal policies and regulatory requirements

    Add a staff member dedicated to compliance on internal policies...
  •  

    Policies are current, transparent and easily accessible

    Ensure that policies are current, transparent and easily accessible to...
  •  

    Eliminate student laptop fees and other instructional fees

    Develop a financial plan that eliminates student laptop fees and...
  •  

    Restore prerecession funding levels

    Restore prerecession funding levels that more accurately meet the division’s...
  •  

    Eliminate the burden and reliance on PTAs and other fundraising efforts

    Eliminate the burden and reliance on PTAs and other fundraising...
  •  

    Twice-a-month pay structure for employees

    Move to a twice-a-month pay structure for employees instead of...
  •  

    Long-term financial strategy

    Develop a long-term strategy, such as a five-year financial plan...
  •  

    Examine facilities for replacement or renovation

    Engage with a third-party expert to examine facilities and determine...
  •  

    Annually examine employee compensation matters

    Establish a joint government and schools committee to annually examine...

DECEMBER 2018 UPDATE: THE FIRST 100 DAYS

Students: Tuesday virtual expo will focus on careers in agriculture, environment

Henrico, Va., Dec. 2, 2020 — On Tuesday, students in grades 7-12 and their families will have a chance to connect virtually with employers across the region at Henrico County Public Schools’ Life-Ready Expo: Natural Resources and Agriculture event. Use your interest in science and the environment to prepare for careers involving food quality and safety, animals, and cultivating and preserving our natural resources. Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry, with an economic impact of $52 billion each year, including 300,000 jobs. Talk with employers and learn about lucrative career opportunities for students, corresponding educational requirements and compensation.

Student registration is not required. The virtual event will be conducted using Microsoft Teams. Attendees can take part using a browser without creating a Teams account. To attend on Tuesday, go to https://tinyurl.com/LifeReadyExpoAgriculture.

Virtual Life-Ready Expo: Natural Resources and Agriculture

Last year, Henrico County Public Schools’ first Life-Ready Expo was recognized by the National Association of Counties for its innovation. The event attracted thousands of HCPS students and families and 150 participating businesses, government agencies and other groups. This year the Expo has been split into smaller virtual events organized by theme. The event is sponsored by HCPS’ Department of Workforce and Career Development. Other expos planned for the 2020-21 school year are below.

Schedule of HCPS Life-Ready Expos:

  • Dec. 8, 2020: Natural Resources and Agriculture
  • Jan. 13, 2021: Human Services
  • Jan. 26, 2021: Business Management and Technology
  • Feb. 9, 2021: Health Services
  • Feb. 23, 2021: Industrial and Engineering Technology
  • March 9, 2021: Arts and Communications

Sandston ES recognized with national honor for academic achievement, outreach to families

Sandston Elementary School's front entrance

Henrico, Va., Dec. 1, 2020 — Sandston Elementary School has been selected by the Virginia Department of Education as one of Virginia’s 2020 honorees in the National ESEA Distinguished Schools program. The eastern Henrico County school was honored for its academic achievements and work with special populations of students and their families, including the school’s homeless students, students with disabilities, and English learners. Fewer than 100 schools nationwide garnered the honor in Sandston’s category.

“I’m so very proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Kim Powell, Sandston principal, told teachers at a virtual staff meeting Monday. “[Former Henrico Schools director of elementary education] Dr. Rich Hall used to call us ‘the little school that could,’ and now we are a ‘little school that does.’ We are now receiving national recognition, and this is because of your compassion and caring for students. It’s because you push them. You set high goals for them and then you push them to achieve those goals … I am very proud and honored to work with this team.”

The awards program recognizes schools for students’ outstanding academic achievements and highlights efforts to make significant improvements for students.

In its application, Sandston detailed the measures it has implemented in recent years to improve instruction and give students opportunities to succeed. These include intensive staff collaboration and professional development, innovative instructional approaches, after-school activities and outreach to families. From 2016 to 2019, state SOL scores at Sandston rose from an 83.5% to 88.2% pass rate in reading and from a 79.1% to 90.3% pass rate in math. Of the school’s 203 students, 82% are considered economically disadvantaged, 25% receive exceptional education services and 7% are considered homeless under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

“This is an indication of years of dedication and work by the Sandston team,” Amy Cashwell, Henrico County Public Schools superintendent, told the school’s teachers. “I was not surprised when I heard the news because I know the kind of work you do and the tremendous positive impact it has on your students and your community.”Sandston ES recognized with national honor for academic achievement, outreach to families

The ESEA awards program is run by the organization of state administrators who implement the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Sandston will be recognized at the group’s virtual national conference in February.

The awards program is divided into three categories (Sandston was honored in Category 3):

  • Category 1: Exceptional student performance and academic growth for two or more consecutive years.
  • Category 2: Closing achievement gaps among student groups for two or more consecutive years.
  • Category 3: Excellence serving special populations of students, such as homeless students, migrant students or English learners.

To be considered, schools must demonstrate high academic achievement for two or more consecutive years and meet their state’s accountability criteria based on two or more consecutive years of achievement data. The awards are for schools with a poverty rate of at least 35 percent. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act provides federal resources for vulnerable students and grants to states to improve the quality of public education.

What’s the status of HCPS’ 3 ‘redistricting priority areas’?

Henrico, Va., Nov. 19, 2020 — Input and information sessions on three HCPS school attendance boundary “priority areas” have concluded, with one proposal put on hold and the School Board seeking further input on the other two. An update on the proposals, commonly referred to as “redistricting”:

  • At the Nov. 12 School Board meeting, members decided to postpone the proposal related to the way students are assigned to Quioccasin Middle School. It will be revisited for further public discussion in fall 2021.
  • The Board is still seeking public input on two other proposals:
    • Provide written comments anytime by using the General Feedback Form on the HCPS redistricting webpage: https://henricoschools.us/redistricting/
    • Submit written public comments specifically for the Dec. 10 School Board meeting by going to the School Board’s page: https://henricoschools.us/school-board/ (Please note that the public comments form is different than the “General Feedback Form” on the redistricting page, but all comments are carefully reviewed and considered.)
    • The Board will hold a Jan. 14 public hearing on the redistricting proposals for the two priority areas. Depending on the status of the pandemic, the public hearing may be virtual.
    • Jan. 29 (tentative): Possible School Board vote on redistricting changes.
  • The three information and input sessions have concluded, but you can view videos of the sessions at https://henricoschools.us/redistricting/.

The two ongoing proposals for implementation in fall 2021 are:

Effectively using additional capacity at Holladay Elementary School

This proposal would move some preschool students at other schools to Holladay Elementary School, which will double its capacity when a current construction project is completed. The moves would free up instructional space at Crestview, Dumbarton, Johnson, Lakeside, Longan and Echo Lake elementary schools.

Addressing overcapacity at Colonial Trail and Rivers Edge elementary schools

This proposal would address overcapacity at Colonial Trail and Rivers Edge by moving some students to other schools. Besides Colonial Trail and Rivers Edge, other schools that may be affected are Kaechele, Longan, Springfield Park, Twin Hickory and Echo Lake elementary schools.

A third proposal, for elementary feeder patterns into Quioccasin Middle School has been postponed and will be revisited in fall 2021. This proposal would realign the feeder patterns for Quioccasin Middle School, reducing from three to two the number of high schools that Quioccasin students attend. It would also reduce the number of middle schools that feed J.R. Tucker High School from five to four. Under the proposal, students at MaybeuryElementary School would attend Quioccasin Middle School instead of Tuckahoe Middle School. Students at Skipwith Elementary School, and Jackson Davis Elementary School students who live north of Three Chopt Road would attend Tuckahoe Middle School instead of Quioccasin. Colonial Trail Elementary School students who live in the Trails at Short Pump and the Crossings at Short Pump would attend Pocahontas Middle School and Mills Godwin High School instead of Quioccasin Middle School and J.R. Tucker High School.

See links to interactive maps of the proposals at https://henricoschools.us/redistricting/.

A 2019-20 comprehensive countywide redistricting process had been scheduled to be phased in beginning this year. The School Board announced in April that it would delay that process to allow the community to focus on the public health crisis. In September, the Board announced that it would discontinue the comprehensive process and focus instead on solutions for the three specific areas of concern described above.

‘Yay of the Day’: 100 HCPS employees who are moving the school division forward

Henrico, Va., Nov. 18, 2020 — One hundred days. One hundred yays. That’s how Henrico County Public Schools will recognize the positive contributions of some amazing employees.

Starting in December, HCPS employees will be recognized on weekdays as recipients of the school division’s “Yay of the Day” honor. Recipients will be employees who, through actions big or small, are moving HCPS forward in a positive way. Anyone can nominate an HCPS employee by completing a form available at the school division’s website at https://henricoschools.us/yay-of-the-day/.

Each of the 100 recipients will be recognized by Amy Cashwell, HCPS superintendent.

“Recognizing our employees and celebrating good work are moments we need to make happen more often,” said Cashwell. “Our more than 7,000 staff members do amazing things each and every day. This will be one small way to shine a light on their hard work and dedication.”

Yay of the Day recipients will be announced on HCPS’ social media platforms:

Update: Meeting on Achievable Dream Academy at Highland Springs ES changed to all-virtual format

Henrico, Va., Nov. 17, 2020 — Henrico County Public Schools’ Highland Springs Community Meeting, scheduled for Thursday, will now be an all-virtual session in order to comply with new measures announced by Gov. Northam to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The meeting, which had originally been planned to incorporate both virtual and in-person options, will discuss the Achievable Dream Academy at Highland Springs Elementary School. The meeting will take place using Microsoft Teams. Alicia Atkins, Varina District School Board representative, will attend. The meeting will involve a presentation and an opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts and recommendations. No registration is required.

Virtual Highland Springs Community Meeting

You can attend virtually using Microsoft Teams without creating a Teams account. For more information about using Microsoft Teams, go to https://henricoschools.us/school-board/ and click on “Other Upcoming Events.”

The School Board heard a presentation about the Achievable Dream Academy at last Thursday’s work session. To see a video of the presentation, go to the HCPS YouTube channel at https://youtube.com/henricoschoolstv and click on “HCPS Staff Presentation on the Achievable Dream Academy at Highland Springs ES” or go directly to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gt73iGVlKLo&feature=youtu.be.

You can also see the presentation slides by going to BoardDocs, the school division’s web-based tool for publishing School Board meeting agendas, support documents, audio and policies. Go to the School Board page at https://henricoschools.us/school-board/ and click on “BoardDocs.” Under “Meetings,” select the Nov. 12 Work Session, then “View the Agenda.”

In January 2017, the Henrico School Board approved a unique public/private partnership with nonprofit group An Achievable Dream to bring its program to Highland Springs Elementary. Under the agreement, HCPS provides basic curricula and staffing, student services, transportation, food service and maintenance. An Achievable Dream creates a unique learning environment with state-of-the-art technology and extensive extracurricular and cultural activities. Students learn life skills, ethics, etiquette, conflict resolution, healthy living and financial skills. The program also operates in public schools in Newport News and Virginia Beach.

New timeline for expanded in-person learning

Nuevo cronograma para aprendizaje en persona extendido

Henrico families, 

I’m writing to let you know that due to rising concerns related to the spread of COVID-19 in our region, HCPS will delay the expansion of in-person learning for students, which had previously been planned to begin in phases starting on Nov. 30. Let me explain:

Back in October, when we adopted a timeline for increasing in-person learning for students, I shared that I was committed to regularly monitoring the Virginia Department of Health/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention core metrics for schools in order to be responsive to changing health conditions. Today, the HCPS Health Committee held a regularly scheduled meeting to discuss the latest health reports, and I have reviewed the most recent information as well. 

Like many of you, the health committee and I are concerned about the spike in numbers related to COVID-19 in this region.

When our approach was adopted back in October (in order to give families ample time to plan), the core metrics for the local area and region inspired more confidence in expanding in-person learning than they do today. Since then, two of the three core metrics being monitored have increased significantly. The number of new cases per 100,000 people over a 14-day period has risen to the highest risk level, and the percentage of positive tests in our region has seen a sharp increase. The third metric, related to the ability of HCPS to implement mitigation strategies, remains at the lowest risk level. 

While my confidence in our school division’s ability to adhere to and implement our health and safety plans remains strong, the sharp increases in two of the three core metrics is of concern to me and to our Health Committee. In order to allow our families time to prepare and make necessary arrangements, and with our School Board’s support, I am officially adjusting our timeline:

  • All limited in-person learning scheduled during the weeks of Nov. 30-Dec. 4 and Jan. 4-8 will be canceled. This accounts for the weeks directly following Thanksgiving and Winter Break. All learning will occur virtually during these two weeks. The physical buildings (schools and offices) will be closed to the public during these times. 
  • During the weeks of Dec. 7-11 and Dec. 14-18, limited in-person learning opportunities will resume as they normally would. 
  • The return to in-person learning for students in grades pre-K through 2 who chose this option will be delayed until Jan. 11, 2021 (the return date had been November 30.) Virtual learning with currently assigned teacher(s) and current daily schedule will continue until the Jan. 11 date.
  • The return to in-person learning for students in grades 3-5 who chose this option will be delayed until Jan. 14, 2021 (the return date had been Dec. 7.) Virtual learning with currently assigned teacher(s) and current daily schedule will continue until the Jan. 14 date. (Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, is a virtual learning day for all students.)
  • The February (second semester) return dates for middle and high school in-person learning remain as planned.
  • Student intentions that were given earlier this month will remain in effect. Our schools will remain flexible, as space permits, when there are extenuating circumstances. 

I regret the inconvenience and challenge this change in plans may pose to our families. Given the information we have today about the spread of COVID-19 in central Virginia, I believe that this adjustment is the most prudent course to protect the health and safety of our staff, students and community. 

Reducing community spread is a significant factor in enabling schools to open safely, and so as we approach the upcoming holiday season and the Winter Break, I urge all of us to model the expectations we have as a community. Let’s wear masks, practice physical distancing and respiratory etiquette, wash hands frequently, stay home when sick, and adhere to health and safety guidelines for social gatherings. 

In closing, though our plans are delayed, I want to be clear that they do remain intact. The efforts our families have made to get us to this point have not been wasted. The HCPS team remains committed to the critical need of bringing more of our students back for expanded in-person learning. We will get there. I appreciate our employees, students and families for helping us achieve this goal.

Thank you for your understanding and patience as we navigate this together.

Sincerely,

Amy E. Cashwell, Ed. D.

Superintendent

New Health Committee and Redistricting Updates from HCPS

Henrico families,

The School Board held a regularly scheduled work session Thursday, and I’m writing to update you again on two important topics that were discussed during the meeting (Desplazar el cursor hacia abajo para leer este mensaje en español):

  • Health Committee Update
  • Redistricting (school attendance boundaries)

Health Committee Update

The Board received its regular update from the HCPS Health Committee, which has been monitoring regional health data related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee discussed the three core Virginia Department of Health/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention school metrics:

  • The first metric, the number of new cases per 100,000 persons for the last 14 days, is now at the red or highest risk level. 
  • The second metric, percent positivity for the last 14 days, is at the yellow or moderate risk level. 
  • The third core metric, which is our ability to use risk-mitigation strategies such as Personal Protective Equipment, physical distancing, mask-wearing, etc. is at a green or lowest risk level.

Those three core metrics together, as recommended by VDH/CDC, are the primary factors used by the health committee to determine recommendations for in-person learning. (For more on what the data mean, visit our presentation slideshow.)

What does this mean for our plan to expand opportunities for in-person learning starting on Nov. 30? 

There have been numerous questions about what it would take for HCPS to consider delaying our expanded in-person learning, and a possible reduction or halting of the current limited in-person learning. If both the percentage of positive tests during a 14-day period reaches the Higher or Highest Risk Level, and the number of new cases per 100,000 during a 14-day period stays at the Higher or Highest Risk Level, the following would occur:

  • The HCPS Health Committee would meet to review the latest data and possibly make a new recommendation to me as superintendent. 
  • The committee would consider whether there are any large-scale outbreaks, such as in a long-term care facility, that may be impacting the data. 
  • The committee would also review HCPS case data to determine if any increase in the number of cases is based on school-based spread or if it continues to be community-based spread. 
  • If one of the core indicators is at the Highest Risk Level and another core indicator is at the Higher or Highest Risk Level, and upon review of large-scale outbreaks, the HCPS Health Committee would likely recommend changes to the timeline for expanding our in-person learning. 

In short, we’re monitoring the data closely, and our health committee will quickly make a new recommendation if necessary. Any delay or change in our plans will be communicated by me, and I will keep you informed every step of the way.

For now, our plan remains the same. However, as we have stated previously, we will continue to monitor these trends and adjust the plan if necessary. Use this link to review the Nov. 12 presentation slides and watch a video of the Health Committee’s Nov. 12 update to the School Board

 Visit this page to review the previously communicated details of our plan.

Redistricting

There is an update to one of our redistricting proposals. As a refresher, back in September the Board asked HCPS staff to discontinue what was previously known as “comprehensive (countywide) redistricting” and instead address three smaller redistricting needs. Those proposals are/were:

  • Effectively utilizing the additional capacity of a newly expanding Holladay Elementary School in the Brookland District.
  • Addressing overcapacity issues at Colonial Trail and Rivers Edge elementary schools in the Three Chopt District.
  • **Reexamining the feeder elementary schools for the way students are assigned to Quioccasin Middle School in the Tuckahoe District.

**NEW: At Thursday’s meeting, Board members gave consensus to postpone the proposal related to the way students are assigned to Quioccasin Middle School until fall 2021, when it would again be revisited for further public discussion. 

For more information, and to provide written feedback on the two remaining proposals related to Holladay, Colonial Trail and Rivers Edge elementary schools, use the feedback form on our redistricting page: https://henricoschools.us/redistricting/

Use this YouTube link to watch the full discussion from Thursday’s meeting.

That’s all for now. Thank you for staying informed, and I’m grateful for your support of Henrico County Public Schools! 

Sincerely,
Amy E. Cashwell, Ed. D.
Superintendent
Henrico County Public Schools

Learn about career opportunities in energy at Tuesday’s virtual Life-Ready Expo

Henrico, Va., Nov. 13, 2020 — On Tuesday, students in grades 7-12 and their families will have a chance to connect virtually with energy employers across the region at Henrico County Public Schools’ Life-Ready Expo: Energy. Talk with employers and learn about lucrative career opportunities for students, the corresponding educational requirements as well as compensation. Ask questions and learn more about the rapidly evolving field of energy.

Registration is recommended. Students can register and employers can sign up by going to https://henricocte.com/. The virtual event will be conducted using Microsoft Teams. Attendees can take part using a browser without creating a Teams account. To attend on Tuesday, go to https://tinyurl.com/LifeReadyExpoEnergy.

Virtual Life-Ready Expo: Energy

Nov. 17 from 6-8 p.m.
Register: https://henricocte.com/
Virtual attendance link: https://tinyurl.com/LifeReadyExpoEnergy

Last year, Henrico County Public Schools’ first Life-Ready Expo was recognized by the National Association of Counties for its innovation. The event attracted thousands of HCPS students and families and 150 participating businesses, government agencies and other groups. This year the Expo has been split into smaller virtual events organized by theme. The event is sponsored by HCPS’ Department of Workforce and Career Development. Other expos planned for the 2020-21 school year are below.

Schedule of HCPS Life-Ready Expos:

  • Nov. 17, 2020: Energy
  • Dec. 8, 2020: Natural Resources and Agriculture
  • Jan. 13, 2021: Human Services
  • Jan. 26, 2021: Business Management and Technology
  • Feb. 9, 2021: Health Services
  • Feb. 23, 2021: Industrial and Engineering Technology
  • March 9, 2021: Arts and Communications

Community meeting will focus on Achievable Dream Academy at Highland Springs ES

Henrico, Va., Nov. 13, 2020 — Henrico County Public Schools families and other community members are invited to a Highland Springs Community Meeting Thursday to discuss the Achievable Dream Academy at Highland Springs Elementary School. The meeting will be held both in person at New Bridge Learning Center auditorium and in a virtual format using Microsoft Teams. Alicia Atkins, Varina District School Board representative, will attend. The meeting will involve a presentation and an opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts and recommendations. No registration is required.

Highland Springs Community Meeting

  • Nov. 19 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • In-person location: New Bridge Auditorium, 5915 Nine Mile Road, Henrico, Va.
  • Virtual link: https://tinyurl.com/hsprings-community-meeting
  • Attendee: Alicia Atkins, School Board member, Varina District
  • Topic: The Achievable Dream Academy at Highland Springs Elementary School

You can attend virtually using Microsoft Teams without creating a Teams account. For more information about using Microsoft Teams, go to https://henricoschools.us/school-board/ and click on “Other Upcoming Events.”

The School Board heard a presentation about the Achievable Dream Academy at its Thursday work session. To see a video of the presentation, go to the HCPS YouTube channel at https://youtube.com/henricoschoolstv and click on “HCPS Staff Presentation on the Achievable Dream Academy at Highland Springs ES” or go directly to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gt73iGVlKLo&feature=youtu.be.

You can also see the presentation slides by going to BoardDocs, the school division’s web-based tool for publishing School Board meeting agendas, support documents, audio and policies. Go to the School Board page at https://henricoschools.us/school-board/ and click on “BoardDocs.” Under “Meetings,” select the Nov. 12 Work Session, then “View the Agenda.”

In January 2017, the Henrico School Board approved a unique public/private partnership with nonprofit group An Achievable Dream to bring its program to Highland Springs Elementary. Under the agreement, HCPS provides basic curricula and staffing, student services, transportation, food service and maintenance. An Achievable Dream creates a unique learning environment with state-of-the-art technology and extensive extracurricular and cultural activities. Students learn life skills, ethics, etiquette, conflict resolution, healthy living and financial skills. The program also operates in public schools in Newport News and Virginia Beach.

Here come the Mavericks: New nickname, chapter for Douglas Freeman High School

Henrico, Va. Nov. 12, 2020 — When Douglas Freeman High School competitors next take the field or court, it will beFreeman HS new logo The Mavericks as the Mavericks. John Marshall, principal, announced the new nickname — along with a new logo — in a message Thursday to students, families and staff members. The choice was the favorite of respondents in a survey of four options, and was selected by the school’s administration, in tandem with student leaders.

The final contenders — Mavericks, Pioneers, Trailblazers and United — were announced in October by a committee made up of members of the school community. The group had help from VCU’s nationally recognized Brandcenter, which includes Douglas Freeman alumni. The Brandcenter also helped develop the logo for the final selection, a stylized “M” above the words “Freeman Mavericks.” The new branding will join the school’s interlocking “DSF” logo, which will remain in use.

“After a careful and intentional process to find a new school nickname, symbol and mascot, we are overjoyed to announce that we are moving forward together, starting today,” said Marshall in a message to the school community.

Marshall noted that the nickname describes the school’s independent spirit and is consistent with the school’s core values of excellence, pride, intensity, family, diversity and tradition.

“We are free-thinkers and forward thinkers,” Marshall said. “We challenge the status quo to make the world a better place.”

To see a video featuring students and staff members talking about the selection, go to www.freemanmascot.info/announcement.

The school will share details soon about a planned “spirit-wear swap” where students can trade in Rebels gear for items with the new nickname and logo.

Marshall also announced in August the creation of the “Freeman Forward Fund” in partnership with the Henrico Education Foundation. The fund will build school culture and support long-term efforts to promote inclusivity and innovation. Members of the public can donate to the fund by going to Freeman HS new logo The Mavericks.

The school announced in August that, after a review process that included public input, it was retiring its “Rebels” nickname and would seek a more inclusive nickname and mascot. That process drew more than 2,000 comments, including around 1,500 responses through an online form. The input also included emails, social media posts, handwritten notes, voicemails, videos and an online panel discussion on the topic.

While the school had used the Rebels name since it opened in 1954, it has not used a visual mascot for many years, instead opting for the “DSF” logo.

The school is named for Douglas Southall Freeman, a Richmond historian, author and journalist. While Freeman won Pulitzer Prizes for his biographies of both Robert E. Lee and George Washington, the school’s original mascot was likely inspired by his Confederate subjects.

Eighth-graders: Specialty center application window opens Monday as open houses continue

Henrico, Va., Nov. 12, 2020 — Virtual open houses continue for Henrico County Public Schools high school specialty centers and interested students will be able to begin the online application process Monday. The window to submit applications is Nov. 16, 2020 through Jan. 15, 2021.

Henrico County eighth-graders and their families can explore the benefits of HCPS specialty centers through the open houses, which are being conducted virtually this year to prioritize safety during the current pandemic. Links to attend the open houses will be available the day of the event at https://henricoschools.us/specialty-centers/ on the “Open House Schedule” tab. Open houses for some specialty centers have already taken place, but families can view short informational videos and slide presentations about each center by clicking on the “Information Sessions” tab.

Remaining HCPS specialty center virtual open houses (sessions at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.):

  • Center for Spanish Language and Global Citizenship (J.R. Tucker H.S.): Nov. 17
  • Center for the Humanities (Hermitage H.S.): Nov. 18
  • The Todd A. Phillips Center for Medical Sciences (Mills Godwin H.S.): Nov. 23
  • Center for Leadership, Government and Global Economics (Douglas Freeman H.S.): Dec. 1
  • Advance College Academy for Social Sciences (J.R. Tucker H.S.): Dec. 2
  • Center for Information Technology (Deep Run H.S.): Dec. 7
  • Center for the Arts (Henrico H.S.): Dec. 8

Each specialty center will hold two sessions on its scheduled open house day, one at 5 p.m. and another at 7 p.m. There will be a question period during each open house. Students can attend as many specialty center open houses as they wish. Open houses will be conducted using Microsoft Teams. No registration is required, participation is free and you can take part without creating a Teams account.

To apply, go to https://henricoschools.us/specialty-centers/ starting Monday and click on “Application process for HCPS eighth-grade students.”

HCPS specialty center application window:

  • Online application window opens: Nov. 16.
  • Application deadline: Jan. 15, 2021.

The specialty centers offer students a chance to immerse themselves in an area of particular interest, engage in a rigorous, tailored curriculum and be part of a community that shares their passions. Admission to HCPS specialty centers is open to current HCPS students as well as Henrico residents who are currently enrolled in private schools or being home-schooled.

Public Service Announcement: Nov. 6, 2020

The County School Board of Henrico County, Virginia, will hold the following meeting:

Thursday, Nov, 12, 2020 

1 p.m.                Work Session

1-2 p.m.            Public Forum (Sign up in advance using this form.)

The meeting will take place in the auditorium of the New Bridge Learning Center, 5915 Nine Mile Road, Henrico, Virginia. Closed sessions will be held during the work session as deemed necessary. School Board meetings are open to the public and interested citizens are invited to attend. Note: In accordance with the policy for access to all buildings operated by Henrico County, attendees aged 10 and older are required to wear masks at the meeting, and the seating policy will reflect social distancing guidelines. Attendees will also undergo a brief health screening before entering.

There will be a Public Forum from 1-2 p.m. for interested citizens to address the Board in person. Citizens are required to sign up in advance via an online form. Speakers who sign up in advance may not transfer their speaking spot to another individual. To ensure the School Board the opportunity to hear from as many constituents as possible, it is requested that only one member of each household reserve a spot to speak. Individuals providing public comment on behalf of a group may speak and then provide the Board hard copies of written comments from each member of their group. Each speaker will be limited to two minutes. Due to health and safety guidelines, capacity in the meeting location is limited so speakers may be asked to wait outside of the meeting room or outside of the meeting building until it is their turn to speak.

To ensure all constituents have the opportunity to comment, comments may also be provided via an electronic format in lieu of attending or speaking in person. Written comments must be submitted by 8 a.m. on Nov. 12, by going to the School Board webpage and clicking “Submit comments for the next available public forum.” Written comments submitted within the deadline are an official part of the public record for the meeting and will be posted for public view in “BoardDocs,” where all meeting materials are archived. Board members will receive written comments, and equal consideration and attention will be given to both written and in-person comments.

Anyone wishing to attend who needs visual, audio or physical assistance should contact Andy Jenks, chief of communications and community engagement, at 804-652-3726.

How should Henrico Schools allocate its funds? Share your thoughts on HCPS’ budget for the 2021-22 school year

Henrico, Va., Nov. 5, 2020 – Henrico County Public Schools will hold two opportunities to get community views on the school division’s budget for the 2021-22 school year. There will be a virtual stakeholder meeting held Tuesday, Nov. 10, and a public hearing held at New Bridge Learning Center Dec. 10 before the Henrico School Board.

At the stakeholder meeting, a short presentation by HCPS budget staff members will be followed by opportunities to comment and ask questions. The public hearing is simply an opportunity for public comment and will include no presentations or discussion. The public hearing will precede the Board’s monthly meeting for December.

The school division will develop a budget proposal using feedback from stakeholders. The superintendent’s budget is scheduled to be released in January.

Budget stakeholder meeting:
Nov. 10 from 5:30-7 p.m. Attend the meeting by going to https://tinyurl.com/HCPS-stakeholder-meeting. This event uses Microsoft Teams. No registration is required, participation is free and you can take part without creating a Teams account.

It was previously communicated that a public hearing would take place on Dec. 10. That hearing will be rescheduled for early 2021. In the meantime anyone can provide written feedback and input directly to the School Board by using this form for the Board’s Dec. 10 work session:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe7TeqDPDFGxI9OyG3AsN4FpLqrUGADMWfojfQnrvvTgzOnCA/viewform

To see details about past budgets, go to https://henricoschools.us/budget-finance/.

Henrico County Public Schools educators receive grants, awards in recognition of classroom excellence

Henrico, Va., Nov. 5, 2020 – The Community Foundation has recognized seven Henrico County educators for outstanding instruction for 2020. Four Henrico County Public Schools instructors won the REB Award for Teaching Excellence and three additional teachers were finalists. The winners received grants ranging from $8,300 to $11,900, which will enable them to engage in personalized learning experiences to become even better instructors. Winners will travel to continue their love of learning and pursue cutting-edge study in their fields. Across the Richmond area, a total of 18 winners and 13 finalists were selected from among the 109 teachers nominated by students, parents and colleagues.

The foundation’s awards identify, recognize and support teaching excellence in the Richmond area, and are given to nominees who have distinguished themselves through their inspiring performance in the classroom.

“Congratulations to these seven HCPS educators on this tremendous honor,” said Amy Cashwell, HCPS superintendent. “Our teachers are second to none, and these teachers are stellar examples of the amazing work they do in the classroom each day.”

2020 Henrico Schools REB Award winners:

  • Donna Kouri, Greenwood Elementary School: $11,900 to visit national parks and participate in traditional folk schools to learn, connect and apply independent, sustainable living skills.
  • Sarah Peña, Greenwood Elementary School: $11,700 to explore museums, model schools and multicultural traditions in Dubai, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City. Peña will study ways to foster global citizenship by connecting students across cultures, languages and continents.
  • Michael Fetsko, Mills E. Godwin High School: $8,300 to travel to national parks in Alaska to observe the impact of climate change on the environment and topography.
  • Erin Daniel, Quioccasin Middle School: $11,000 to travel to visit some of the healthiest places on earth — Spain and Costa Rica — to study habits and ideas that promote health and wellness. The innovative learning coach aims to expand her skills by adding authentic health and wellness strategies to improve herself, the school and the school division.

2020 Henrico County Public Schools REB Award finalists (all receive $750 grants):

  • Susan Chamberlin, Holman Middle School.
  • Neeley Karkosak, Gayton Elementary School.
  • Cristina Lynn, Shady Grove Elementary School.

The winners were surprised Wednesday by Cashwell with announcements at three virtual school staff meetings.

Mike Fetsko, REB award winner from Mills Godwin High School
Mike Fetsko, REB award winner from Mills Godwin High School
Sarah Pena, REB award winner from Greenwood Elementary School
Sarah Pena, REB award winner from Greenwood Elementary School
Donna Kouri, REB award winner from Greenwood Elementary School
Donna Kouri, REB award winner from Greenwood Elementary School
Erin Daniel, REB award winner from Quioccasin Middle School
Erin Daniel, REB award winner from Quioccasin Middle School

Virtual information session on the in-person option: Spanish

Únase a nosotros el lunes 2 de noviembre para entender sus opciones para el resto del año asistiendo a la escuela en persona o en forma virtual. Tendremos tiempo para compartir información y responder preguntas con intérpretes presentes.

Virtual information session on the in-person option: Portuguese

Junte-se a nós na segunda-feira, 2 de novembro para entender suas opções para o resto do ano em ir à escola pessoalmente ou virtualmente. Tempo será alocado para compartilhar informações e responder perguntas com a presença de um intérprete.

Virtual information session on the in-person option: Dari

دوشنبه، 2 نومبر با ما همراه باشید، تا گزینه های شما را برای حضور درمکتب بصورت حضوری یا مجازی برای متباقی سال تعلیمی بفهمیم. وقت برای شریک سازی معلومات و پاسخ به سوالات همراه با یک ترجمان اختصاس داده خواهد شد.

Virtual information session on the in-person option: Vietnamese

Tham gia với chúng tôi vào Thứ Hai, ngày 2 tháng 11 để hiểu các lựa chọn của bạn trong thời gian còn lại của năm trong việc đi học trực tiếp hoặc hầu như.  Thời gian sẽ được phân bổ để chia sẻ thông tin và trả lời câu hỏi với thông dịch viên có mặt.

Virtual information session on the in-person option: Arabic

ندعوكم إلي الانضمام إلينا يوم الاثنين الثاني من نوڤمبر لفهم اختياراتكم للفترة المتبقية من العام الدراسي في العودة للدراسة بصورة شخصية أو عن بعد. سيتم تخصيص الوقت لمشاركة المعلومات والإجابة على الأسئلة مع وجود خدمة الترجمة.

HCPS families: Submit Student-Intent Form for your student’s learning option by Nov. 8 Family information sessions are scheduled for Monday in five languages

Henrico, Va. Oct. 30, 2020 — The process is underway for Henrico County Public Schools families to select a learning option for their students for the second nine weeks and second semester of school. Parents and guardians should submit Student-Intent Forms by next Sunday, Nov. 8, indicating whether each student intends to continue learning using a virtual format, or participate in the in-person option that will be phased in through February. Families should check their emails for details about submitting their form and information about the two learning options.

To aid in planning that will accommodate families’ needs and staffing requirements, parents and guardians are asked to submit their forms by Nov. 8 at 11:59 p.m. and commit to a learning option for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.

Getting more information

HCPS held a virtual informational meeting Oct. 27 to address common questions about the in-person option. That session, conducted in English, was recorded and is available to view by going to https://henricoschools.us/returntoschool/ and clicking on the embedded video. Families can also see answers to frequently asked questions about the in-person option by going to https://henricoschools.us/returntoschoolplan/ and clicking on the link.

HCPS will hold virtual information sessions Monday in five other languages. HCPS staff members will join interpreters who speak Arabic, Vietnamese, Dari, Portuguese and Spanish at five sessions using Microsoft Teams. See more at https://henricoschools.us/bridgebuildersacademy/. To attend any of the sessions, go directly to https://tinyurl.com/bridgebuildersacademy/ at the scheduled session time.

Nov. 2 virtual information sessions on the in-person option:

  • 8 a.m.: Arabic
  • 3 p.m.: Vietnamese
  • 4 p.m.: Dari
  • 5 p.m.: Portuguese
  • 6:30 p.m.: Spanish

Commonly asked questions about the learning-option selection process:

Q: Are learning-option selections binding?
A: Generally, yes. HCPS is asking families to commit to a learning option for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. However, given the fluid nature of the situation created by the pandemic, conditions can change rapidly. The school division is attempting to create a plan enabling HCPS to respond to those changes, while providing the most consistency for HCPS staff, students and families. Families may discuss extenuating circumstances with their school principals. Principals will also be happy to address other detailed, school-specific questions but please some answers may not be known until families complete the Student-Intent Form.

Q: Will students be able to stay with the same teachers?
A: While strong student-teacher connections have been made during the predominantly virtual start to the school year, teachers and schedules may change as a result of this process. More will be known about those changes after Student-Intent Forms are submitted and evaluated.

Q: If health conditions change, will families still be locked into an in-person or virtual learning option?
A: If COVID-19 cases spike at any time during the school year, HCPS will be ready to return in-person students to fully virtual learning. Additionally, if community transmission becomes so low that health-risk mitigation strategies (physical distancing, limited groupings of students, etc.) are no longer recommended by health experts, the school division would be able to bring more students (those who originally chose virtual learning) back to school buildings.

Q: What happens if families select the in-person option and their student needs to quarantine or is asked to quarantine? How will they continue to access instruction?
A: In most cases in-person students who have to miss school for a period of time due to exposure, potential exposure, or a positive test should still be able to participate virtually if the rest of the class remains in-person. Because circumstances vary, families and schools will work together to address each student’s unique situation in more detail to determine the best course of action. Should an entire class need to quarantine, then the class would be held fully virtually.

Q: What if families experience extenuating circumstances and need to revisit their selection during the school year?
A: Families who have challenges arise with their chosen option can work with the school principal to change modes of learning as space permits.

A recap of the plan. HCPS’ plan will:

  • Keep a fully virtual option for students.
  • Expand optional in-person learning opportunities.
  • Adopt a phased-in approach that prioritizes pre-K and elementary students:
    • (New) Wednesday, Nov. 4: Asynchronous day (independent learning) for all students in grades pre-K-5 and secondary students who are in integrated services programs. Workday for pre-K-5 teachers and secondary integrated services teachers who are returning for in-person instruction Nov. 30/Dec. 7 (classroom setup, planning, etc.). Normal virtual learning day for middle and high school students and teachers unless otherwise communicated by school.
    • (New) Thursday, Nov. 12: Asynchronous day (independent learning) for all students in grades pre-K-5 and secondary students who are in integrated services programs. Workday for pre-K-5 teachers and secondary integrated services teachers who are returning for in-person instruction Nov. 30/Dec. 7 (classroom setup, planning, etc.). Normal virtual learning day for middle and high school students and teachers unless otherwise communicated by school.
    • Monday, Nov. 30: Grades pre-K, K, 1 and 2 would have the option to return to in-person learning four days a week.
    • Monday, Dec. 7: Grades 3, 4 and 5 would have the option to return to in-person learning four days a week.
      Jan. 4-8: One week of virtual learning for all students (including pre-K through grade 5) during the week after Winter Break.
    • Monday, Feb. 1 (start of second semester): Grades 6 and 9 would have the option to return to in-person learning four days a week.
    • Thursday, Feb. 4: Grades 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12 would have the option to return to in-person learning four days a week.


Henrico County Public Schools, an innovative leader in educational excellence, will actively engage our students in diverse educational, social, and civic learning experiences that inspire and empower them to become contributing citizens.


P.O. Box 23120 | 3820 Nine Mile Road | Henrico, Virginia 23223
804-652-3600

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