Pittsylvania County Schools: 
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P.O. Box 232 • 39 Bank Street, SE 
Chatham, Virginia 24531  
Telephone:  (434) 432-2761 • 1-888-440-6520
Fax: (434) 432-9560


Superintendent's Weekly Wrap-Up



Superintendent's Weekly Wrap-Up

School Year 2017-2018


December 15, 2017


Governor McAuliffe Signs Executive Directive 14 and Announces Budget Actions to Address Virginia’s Teacher Shortage:
Governor McAuliffe has announced a series of budget actions and signed a new executive directive to address Virginia’s growing teacher shortage. These actions are as follows:

  1. New funding ($1.1 million over biennium) to automate the teacher licensure process, which is currently paper based and burdensome for both teachers and Virginia Department of Education staff;

  2. New funding ($1 million over biennium) to support the recruitment and retention of principals in Virginia’s most challenged school divisions. Principal leadership is critical to the success of our challenged schools, and has a direct impact on the ability to attract and retain our best and brightest teachers;

  3. An increase in the Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) program ($225,000 in FY2020) to encourage students attending Virginia’s private colleges and universities to enter into the teaching profession. Seniors pursuing degrees in education will receive an additional $500 increase in their TAG award amount;

  4. New funding ($100,000 over biennium) to help cover the cost of tests and test-preparation programs for provisionally licensed minority students who pass those exams at disproportionately lower rates than their peers. This is one of the contributing factors to Virginia’s shortage of teachers of color, which has huge implications for the success of the Commonwealth’s students; and,

  5. Revised budget language to improve the Virginia Teaching Scholarship Loan Program to better incentivize teachers to fill vacancies in the places where they are needed the most. Students will be eligible for up to $20,000 if they teach for two years in a top five critical shortage area, in a division with 50% free and reduced lunch student population.

The Governor’s full budget, including additional K-12 actions, will be announced on Monday, December 18, 2017.

Pittsylvania County Schools’ Administrators Participate in “More than Sad” Training:
During the December principals’ meeting, Mrs. Amanda Oakes and the staff of Danville-Pittsylvania Community Services provided training on the “More than Sad” suicide prevention program developed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Virginia Lottery Encourages Thank you Notes to Teachers:
Each year, the Virginia Lottery encourages students, parents and the general public to send thank you notes to Virginia’s public school teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. In its first two years, Virginians distributed more than 70,000 thank-you notes as part of the Thank a Teacher campaign.

This year, the Lottery is looking for three student artists to have their artwork featured on thousands of thank you notes distributed across the state as part of its inaugural “Thank a Teacher Art Contest.” The contest is open to K-12 students enrolled in one of Virginia’s public schools, and one top-prize winner will be selected from each level: elementary school, middle school and high school. The three winners will not only get to see their artwork featured on the 2018 Thank You notes, they will also receive a $150 gift card and win $1,000 for their school’s art department.

The Lottery is accepting submissions from January 2, 2018, through February 2, 2018. For more information about the Thank a Teacher Art Contest including official rules, eligibility and entry requirements, visit www.ThankaTeacherVA.com.

Pre-K-12 Policy Council for the Commonwealth Appointment:
Dr. Jessica Jones, Tunstall High School Agricultural Education Teacher and FFA Advisor, has been appointed to serve on Governor-elect Dr. Ralph Northam's PreK-12 Policy Council for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Policy Council discusses significant issues and potential recommendations for how to address such challenges in PreK-12 education. Out of these conversations, the Council will produce a report to be delivered to the Governor-elect and his incoming Cabinet.

Union Hall Elementary School students visit the North Pole through Google Expeditions:
This week, Mrs. Brenna Takata, ITRT at Union Hall Elementary School, took third grade and fourth grade classes on a Google Expedition to the North Pole. Mrs. Takata led them on a guided tour of the North Pole and Santa's workshop. Students used the iPads and the Expeditions app to travel virtually. Students enjoyed visiting the North Pole through the Google Expeditions app with their eyes lighting up as they navigated.

ACDA 2018 Regional Honors Choir Results Released:
On December 8, 2017, the results of the American Choral Director's Association 2018 Regional Honors Choir were revealed. After two (2) months of hard work, the ten (10) students who auditioned from Pittsylvania County were all accepted.

In February these students will travel to Louisville, Kentucky to rehearse and perform in three (3) Regional Honors Choirs. The ten (10) students will not only represent Pittsylvania County and the state of Virginia, but an entire region, including 11 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Please congratulate these young singers as they are now counted among the best young vocalists in the ACDA Southern Region. Susie Wilkinson is the first elementary student in Pittsylvania County to receive such an honor. Susie attends Twin Springs Elementary School and is a student of Mr. Jeffrey Chapman.
Twin Springs Choir

Jamestown at Brosville Elementary School:
Fourth grade students were visited by a guest speaker from the Jamestown, Yorktown Outreach Program. Mr. Anthony Burcher engaged the students in a lively discussion of the history of the early Virginia settlement and all the peoples involved. Students were active participants in the lesson using props to dress up as different characters in Mr. Burcher's narrative and handling artifacts and replicas of tools. Even the teachers were spellbound by this wonderful program.

Mr. Jacob Thompson, Guidance Counselor at Dan River High School, Earns UVA Hall of Fame Entry:

Please join me in congratulating Mr. Jacob Thompson, Guidance Counselor at Dan River High School, on his selection into the University of Virginia’s Baseball Hall of Fame.  Mr. Thompson played for UVA from 2006 to 2008, completed a 27-8 win/loss record along with a 2.65 ERA.  He is ranked fifth all-time in innings pitched (296) and sixth all-time in strike outs (248).  He earned First Team All-American and First Team All-ACC honors as well as other accolades while at UVA.

Dan River Middle School Receives Chamber Teacher Creativity Grant
Dan River Middle School is excited to announce that Ms. Elizabeth Hoskins and the Special Education department have received a Teacher Creativity Grant in the amount of $9,500 for a Chromebook cart and 30 Chromebooks. Their grant, “Promoting Inclusivity and Student Engagement through Collaborative Technology,” aims to allow students better and more efficient access to technology in both their reading and math classrooms. Congratulations to Ms. Hoskins and her department for their hard work in writing the grant!

Hour of Code at Brosville Elementary School
The week of December 4-8, 2017 was National Computer Science Education Week, and Brosville Elementary School hosted an Hour of Code event. Students were able to explore the games on Code.org that are geared towards teaching beginning coding skills. Students used command blocks to create programs for their characters to follow and looked at the Javascript that they used to create their programs. The Coding Club members (second graders who have been meeting once a week throughout the school year to learn these basic coding skills) were available to help other students through the games. All students will receive a certificate of completion of the Hour of Code Event and information to continue the learning at home. It was an exciting and very educational hour for our students!

Skype a Scientist:

The 7th grade students at Tunstall Middle School had the opportunity to participate in the Skype a Scientist program. Science teacher Nathalie Bennett setup the Skype session with Dr. Dennis Claessen at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Dr. Claessen presented a quick slide show via Skype.  The show was about bacteria and antibiotics.  Following the show, students were given an opportunity to ask questions.

Union Hall Elementary School participates in International Hour of Code:
Union Hall Elementary School participated in the Virginia Computer Science Education Week and the International Hour of Code December 4-8, 2017. Ms. Sydney Edwards, librarian at Union Hall Elementary School, worked with fourth and fifth grade students during library time to expose them to coding and computer science. Students practiced coding on Minecraft activities where they programmed animals and other Minecraft creatures in their own version of Minecraft. They used coding to navigate the characters through the game. Students enjoyed the activities, and Ms. Edwards plans to do more coding activities to further their interest in computer science.
Gretna Middle School Student Participates in STEM events sponsored by Capital One and the Virginia Office of the Secretary of Technology:

Gretna Middle School Student Participates in STEM events sponsored by Capital One and the Virginia Office of the Secretary of Technology:

Skylar Craft, a seventh grade student at Gretna Middle School, recently had the opportunity to participate in two (2) technology filled events sponsored by Capital One and the Office of the Virginia Secretary of Technology. The first event, Capital One Coder’s Experience, was held at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, Virginia, on October 14, 2017. This event, free to girls in grades six through eight across the region, was filled with interactive experiences and designed to offer a glimpse into careers in technology. Skylar and her team of two (2) other girls from the region were introduced to problem solving, teamwork, and basic principles of technology in a hands-on environment. Using MIT App Inventor software and guided by mentors from Capital One, the girls were taught to design and develop their very own Android App! At the end of the day, all participants received a tablet, and the apps created were presented to a group of judges. Based on their app, Skylar and her team were selected to win a trip to Capital One’s Annual Women In Technology Summit held in Richmond, Virginia, on November 15, 2017, at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. At the Women in Technology Summit, Skylar and other middle school winners from across the State were treated to further coding-rich experiences. Throughout the day, they heard from inspirational female professionals in technology and even Governor Terry McAuliffe! In addition, the girls were treated to a performance by iLuminate, a computer coding creation by Miral Kotb who was a finalist in America’s Got Talent in 2011. The performance involved dance and software engineering. At the end of this fun-filled day of technology, each attendee received a swag bag full of goodies including a t-shirt, book bag, fidget, and a new HP laptop of their own. Gretna Middle School is very proud of Skylar and her accomplishments. We wish her the best in her future endeavors and believe that she is a role model for other girls interested in coding and technology.

Salvation Army Bell Ringing:
Teachers from Kentuck Elementary School participated in ringing the bells for Danville Salvation Army at Hobby Lobby on December 2, 2017. The teachers rang the bells from 9-6

Pen Pals with Brosville, France:
Brosville Elementary School was recently contacted via letter by the residents of the OTHER Brosville… in France! Students in Mr. Daniel Jones' 3rd grade class were the first to send return letters. They were very excited to make new friends in a different country. Many students had questions about what school was like in France and how to say things like “pizza” in French.


  • Family Life: Twin Springs Elementary for Grade 4 December 18-20

  • Graduate of Merit Application Deadline, Wednesday, December 20, 2017

  • Early Dismissal, Wednesday, December 20, 2017, Students – 1:00 p.m., Teachers – 1:30 p.m., and All Staff – 3:00 p.m.

  • Holiday for Students, December 21, 2017 – January 7, 2018

  • Holiday for Teachers, December 21, 2017 – January 3, 2018

  • Holiday for All Personnel, December 21, 2017 – January 2, 2017

  • Teacher Workdays, Thursday, January 4, and Friday, January 5, 2018

  • School Board Reorganizational Meeting, Thursday, January 4, 2018, @ 5:00 p.m. with Budget Committee Meeting to follow

  • School Board Disciplinary Committee Meeting, Thursday, January 4, 2018, @ 6:00 p.m. (Closed)

December 18
– 1620 Mayflower docks at Plymouth Harbor
December 19 – 1972 Last lunar-landing mission ends
December 20 – 1783 Virginia cedes western land to federal government
December 21 – 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over Scotland
December 22 – 1900 First “Mercedes” is delivered to its buyer


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Last update: 01/05/2018 02:57 PM