Pittsylvania County Schools: 
A Great Place to Learn and Work!

PCS Logo

 

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

 

February 2, 2018

 

Employee of the Week:
Please join me in recognizing Mr. Mark Newman, seventh grade Pre-algebra and Civics teacher at Chatham Middle School, on his selection as Employee of the Week for Pittsylvania County Schools. Please click on the following link to find out what employees do to make this A Great Place to Learn and Work! http://www.pcs.k12.va.us/staff/employee-of-week/


February is School Board Appreciation Month:


School Board Members Pictured Above: Mr. Don Moon, Mr. Todd Sanders, Mr. J. Samuel Burton-Vice-Chairman, Mr. George Henderson, Mrs. Cassandra Crump, Rev. Raymond Ramsey, and Mr. Calvin Doss-Chairman

The month of February marks the annual observance of School Board Appreciation Month—a time to salute the work of school board members and celebrate public education. The theme of this year’s celebration, “Advancing Opportunities for All,” reflects the top priority of local school board members as they advocate for public education with local, state, and federal leaders on behalf of all students. The Pittsylvania County School Board develops policies and makes tough decisions on complex educational and social issues impacting the entire county. They bear responsibility for an annual budget of $88 million, 8,700 students, 1,500 employees and 22 buildings. They preserve the core of our democracy—public education.

Please join me in recognizing and celebrating the work of our school board.

Online Direct Deposit Vouchers Will be Available in February:
The payroll department is pleased to announce that direct deposit pay vouchers from Pittsylvania County Schools will be available online beginning in February 2018. They ask that you take a few minutes to try out KeyNet and take advantage of this exciting service!

It is our hope that this new feature will be convenient and beneficial. If you should have any questions, please contact Mrs. Robin Holley at ext. 5016 or Mrs. Dawn Perkins at ext. 5025 in the payroll department.

Pierce Group Presents Informational Session on a Proposed Comprehensive Benefits Package:
Last week staff members were invited to attend a meeting with the Pierce Group on Thursday, February 1, 2018, at 3:30 p.m. in the ECC auditorium. Mr. Chris Pierce and his staff made a presentation to those in attendance about the products his company has to offer Pittsylvania County Schools. Voluntary benefits include accident, cancer, critical care, disability, life and vision insurance. If Pittsylvania County Schools moves in this direction, the division will have only one company providing these types of benefits. This company will be present in every location for open enrollment, provide a booklet to every employee describing the voluntary benefits available and develop a website for PCS to include this information. Assistance will be provided to employees to move current post-tax benefits from payroll deduction to an employee’s personal account. Current pre-tax deductions will be grandfathered in for employees who wish to keep those policies. If you have any questions or concerns please contact the Finance Department at ext. 5016, 5024 or 5025.

If you were unable to attend and would like to preview the products offered through the Pierce Group you may go to https://piercegroupbenefits.com/subcontent/winchester-public-schools-benefits-booklet-2017-2018/. This link provides the list of products available for Winchester City Schools. You may also find the resources available for other divisions in Virginia and North Carolina by perusing the Pierce Group website. While the products offered to Pittsylvania County Schools may differ, they should be similar to what is provided to other school divisions.
 

All-County Bands Perform On January 27, 2018:
The All-County Silver and Gold Bands performed in front of a packed auditorium last Saturday afternoon.  Sixty-six of the top band students from the County’s middle and high schools provided an outstanding performance for all in attendance.  Mario Ruiz, Band Director of Altavista Combined School, and Michael Hairston, a former Band Director in numerous schools in Virginia and Washington, D.C., were guest conductors.  Please join me in thanking the band directors in Pittsylvania County Schools and Mr. Cedric Hairston, Supervisor of Specialty Curricula Areas for their hard work in planning and holding this event.  

E-Mail from a Tunstall High School Alumnus:
Dear Pittsylvania County School Board,

My name is Jason Moore, and I am a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of California, Davis.  I also grew up in Bachelor's Hall and am a graduate of Tunstall High School '00.  I am writing to you all to share my professional opinion as an engineer and university educator on some activities that have recently caught my eye at Tunstall High School.

This past year I was fortunate to learn of the Tunstall Robotics Team, initiated and mentored by Mr. Edward Sherlock, and was thoroughly delighted to see this opportunity for the students in the area.  Mr. Sherlock and some of his students kindly showed me the fruits of the robotics team's labor when I visited my family this recent holiday, and it blew me away to see something like this in my rural home.  Mr. Sherlock, his students, and his collaborators are doing a herculean effort to bring this most valuable experience to the students in the county, and I applaud the work. 

It was virtually impossible for me, as a high school student, to envision anything close to the future in which I have fortunately found myself.  I did not start to see the possibilities open to me until I had left the area.  I now have worked on advanced technologies around the world from powered exoskeletons to experimental aircraft at NASA and educate some 200+ students a year that end up in jobs at the nation's top tech companies (Boeing, Telsa, Google, Aerojet, etc).  If only there were something akin to this robotics program when I was there, then so many more students would have the chance to see and make a different future.

The First Robotics competition that Mr. Sherlock is using as a learning incubator at Tunstall is one of the Nation's premier programs that lead over 400,000 youth into the future of the country's technology-related careers and jobs.  It embraces the idea that traditional manufacturing may be declining, but we have the opportunity to develop an entire new tech economy around the design, development, and use of robots that will ultimately employ large numbers of people to support this.

The Dan River region, as we all know, has struggled greatly since the decline of fabric manufacturing and tobacco.  The community has been looking for new paths for many years now with varied success.  I believe that embracing and institutionalizing programs such as First Robotics could play a significant role in developing the area's youth.  In fact, I believe that for every hour of time spent in project-based STEM programs there is at least a tenfold amount of learning as compared to standard curriculum. This gives truly practical and valuable skills to the students, and there is a large body of education research that supports this hypothesis. 

If you embrace STEM programs like the First Robotics competition and weave the related activities directly into the elementary, middle, and high school curriculum, you will empower the youth to bring new ideas and skills to the region that have a high likelihood of changing the future of the community for the better.  For example, if a tech company found out that your schools had every student go through a robotics curriculum, culminating in them designing and building robots for the First Robotics competition, they would be begging to move to the region knowing that a constant supply of students with these skills were pouring out of the doors each year.

I understand that things are not so simple to execute, but I implore you to at least empower the educators leading these efforts in the Pittsylvania County system.  I also encourage you to have serious discussions at the county level about putting project-based STEM learning directly into the curriculum.  These kinds of courses and activities build intrinsic motivation for students to learn both new skills and much of the traditional curriculum paths that we struggle to get them to care about.  It has the advantage of providing directly marketable skills to students as well as increasing their drive to learn more math, science, writing, and all the other important knowledge we know will benefit them.

Thank you for your time in reading this email.  I hope that you find it helpful.  If you have any interest in the topics I bring up, I would be happy to provide you with any follow up information or discus them further.  I deeply care about my home and want to see it flourish.

Hopefully my dual perspective as a Pittsylvania County native and professional engineer/educator can play some role.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jason K. Moore, PhD
Faculty, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department
University of California, Davis

CALLING ALL TEACHERS:
Are you interested in teaching a summer camp at IALR?

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research is recruiting instructors for its 2018 STEM Summer Adventure Camps. The camps are offered for students in grades K-12 during the months of June and July. The focus will be on science, technology, engineering and math, and the camps will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Interested teachers are asked to contact Dana Silicki at dana.silicki@ialr.org or 434-766-6729 with the following information by February 9, 2018: Topic ideas, Preferred grade levels, Dates available (during the months of June and July), and Teaching experience

Former Chatham High School Graduate Receives President’s Frontier Award at Johns Hopkins University:
Dr. Deidra Crews, a graduate of Chatham High School and daughter of Donald and Deloris Crews and cousin of Medina Miller, received a $250,000 grant for her work with chronic kidney disease. Dr. Crews is an associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology at Johns Hopkins University.
 

100th Day of School:
Mt Airy Elementary School students celebrated the 100th Day of school on Monday, January 29, 2018. The day was filled with various fun activities in celebration of being 100 days wiser. Students in kindergarten through second grade had a parade and marched through a "100 Banner."

SOL Kick-off Event:
Students at Brosville Elementary School were excited to start the countdown to the SOL tests! On Monday, January 22, 2018, students in grades 3, 4 and 5 attended a pep rally to pump up the excitement and review good study habits. Since the theme this year is Emojis, students created their own Emoji to chart their progress in mastering SOLs. Later that evening, parents were invited to come to the school for a free spaghetti dinner and a chance to talk to teachers about what is expected of their students during the SOL tests. We are pumped up to show what we know!

Third Marking Period Accelerated Reading (AR) Party:
Students at Brosville Elementary School began the second semester of the year with a bang! The Accelerated Reading (AR) party for the third marking period was held on Wednesday, January 10, 2018. Students who had reached their AR goal were invited to attend the celebration. The party had an Olympic theme to go with the opening of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, part of Asia. The day started with a torch run through the school that ended at the site of the event in the gym. Students participated in sock skating events like relay races and figure skating with absolutely hilarious results. Snacks and crafts were available, and the students even competed in a miniature archery contest! At the end, top earners of AR points for the marking period were honored on an Olympic style podium. Keep up the hard work!

Smokey the Bear Poster Contest:
Students in Grades 1-5 at Mt Airy Elementary School completed posters for the Smokey the Bear Art Contest sponsored by the County Garden Club.

Character Word of the Month – Self-Control

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

  • Family Life

  • Dan River Middle School     
    Grades 6-8     
    February 27-March 2, 5-8

  • Tunstall High School            
    Grade 9          
    February 21-23
    Grade 10        
    February 12-16, 20

  • Tunstall Middle School
    Grades 6-8
    February 1 & 2, 5-8

  • FBLA Week – February 5 – 9, 2018

  • National Skills USA Week – February 5 – 9, 2018

  • National School Counseling Week – February 5 – 9, 2018

  • School Board Disciplinary Committee Meeting, Monday, February 5, 2018, School Board Office, 6:00 p.m.

  • All District Chorus, Saturday, February 10, 2018, Christiansburg High School, @ 5:00 p.m.

WHAT HAPPENED THIS WEEK IN HISTORY?
February 5 – 1883 Southern Pacific Railroad completes “Sunset Route”
February 6 – 1952 Elizabeth becomes queen
February 7 – 1775 Benjamin Franklin publishes “An Imaginary Speech”
February 8 – 1943 Americans secure Guadalcanal
February 9 – 1942 Daylight saving time instituted

Please send media requests to: http://www.pcs.k12.va.us/media/. This may be (1) to request media presence on site to cover an upcoming event or (2) to request media coverage (without media on site) of an upcoming event or (3) to report news from a past event. Thank you for identifying the great things happening in the schools!

 

This site is supported solely by Pittsylvania County Schools:  www.pcs.k12.va.us  
Last update: 02/03/2018 09:28 AM