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SCHOOL ays Little Feet Meet | Page 3


Inspirational students, teachers and alumni | Page 7

Volume 43, No. 4 • Summer 2014

Sp tlight On:

Summer Reading | Page 8


Students dig into Learning Gardens... Page 4


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Warm Summer Wishes and Hot News Dr. Patrick C. Kinlaw Superintendent of Schools


YOUR AD HERE With 25,000 print circulation and prominent display on our highly-trafficked home page, School Days is a bullseye.

HCPS Division Leadership Team in order to develop effective ways of engaging the community and benefitting our students. We’re looking forward to providing new laptop computers for our middle and elementary school students and instructional staff this fall. It has been many years since an upgrade has occurred. In May, the School Board awarded a contract to Dell for the new computers. This will be an exciting, but also important summer for students and staff in preparation for these forthcoming changes. Our technology and instructional teams look forward to providing more details, including information about training opportunities, as they become available. Speaking of staff, I’m so proud to say that our School Board worked together with our HCPS finance team and our partners in general government to provide a pay raise for eligible employees in January 2015. This will include teachers and staff who have worked so hard without receiving a raise for several




hat is the ABCD Award? It’s a way of recognizing HCPS support staff who go “Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.” That means making a significant contribution to Henrico Schools, including: improving job efficiency, quality of services or safety; conserving resources; performing a humanitarian or heroic act; or responding proactively by anticipating needs and solving problems without specific direction. The Henrico Education Foundation (HEF) and Henrico Federal Credit Union join us in recognizing these

individuals by providing a check to each recipient. In March, the winners were Hilary Deegan of Pemberton Elementary, Rodney Johnson of J.R. Tucker

High School and Cathy Watson of Ruby F. Carver Elementary School. Congratulations and thanks to all honorees!


For more information contact Chris OBrion at or call 804-652-3725

ello, and welcome to the home stretch of the 201314 school year! I hope you’ve enjoyed the transition from the snow and ice of winter to the sunshine and warmth of spring (not without some serious rain). Before we get into the fun and excitement of all that coincides with the end of the school year, I would like to share some information about what’s happening with Henrico County Public Schools. Our Student Performance Task Force (25 staff, student and community volunteer members) recently completed the important work of determining a path forward in terms of raising student achievement countywide and reducing discipline disparities. The task force developed four specific action plans for: (1) changing school practice; (2) improving community involvement; (3) implementing school culture changes; and (4) developing more parental involvement. The ideas for each of these four areas will be thoroughly reviewed by the

years. Please join me in thanking the School Board and the Board of Supervisors for this development. We are so pleased to offer this welldeserved adjustment to our valued HCPS employees for their dedication to our students. As a reminder, our grading practices will be changing for the 2014-15 school year. This includes the implementation of a 10-point scale for our middle and high schools. Answers to some frequently asked questions about these changes are posted at Just find the link beneath “Hot Topics.” Finally, I wanted to offer a word of thanks and congratulations to our students, especially our seniors who I know will make us proud as they take their next steps in college, the military or the workforce. Please enjoy this special time in your lives, and celebrate safely! I hope you have a great summer, and I look forward to seeing our returning students in September! Sincerely,

March ABCD winners (L to R) Cathy Watson, Hilary Deegan, and Rodney Johnson.

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4 1 T 0 e 2 a s c h r e o rs of the Yea n o H S P C H r

Charles Cuccherini, a science teacher at J.R. Tucker High School, is the division’s 2014 First-Year Teacher of the Year. Cuccherini is a former research scientist who teaches biology in Tucker’s International Baccalaureate curriculum.

Audra Yerian, a kindergarten teacher at Sandston Elementary School, is Henrico County Public Schools’ 2014 Gilman Teacher of the Year. Judges cited Yerian’s “positive, honest and compassionate” demeanor and the environment of her classroom.

Winners of the inaugural Chris Corallo Distinguished Leadership Award were: Greg Metcalf, an instructional technology resource teacher at Deep Run High School; Joe Koontz, the principal of Donahoe Elementary School; and Nyah Hamlett, the division’s director of exceptional education. The award is named in honor of Corallo, a former HCPS assistant superintendent for instruction and organizational development, who died in 2013. The three were chosen from among almost 50 nominees for their vision, passion, innovation and student-centered focus.

Little Feet Meet

“This is my second year of taking Doc… It’s so well-organized, and Doc always has the best time,” said Mary-Curtis Smart, Doc’s stepmother … I think his favorite part is getting cheered on by all of the high school “big kid” volunteers.” The competitors also brought along “buddies,” students from their schools who help the competitors train, cheer them on and sometimes compete alongside the athletes. Little Feet Meet is presented by Special Olympics Virginia and Henrico County Public Schools, with funding from the U.S. Department of Education. The school system’s transportation department brought the competitors and their buddies from all over the county for the event. Fourth-grader Nathaniel Marsh (top) and pre-K students Doc Powell and Laveigh Simon came out for Little Feet Meet.



sun-splashed April morning greeted hundreds of Henrico County Public Schools students, teachers and volunteers at the Sixth Annual Little Feet Meet at Douglas S. Freeman High School. The event is a competitive showcase for HCPS students in pre-K through fifth grade who have autism and intellectual disabilities. Students from all over the county ran from station to station on the Freeman football field and surrounding lawns as onlookers cheered. Among the dozens of events were races on the track, a long jump pit, a tennis ball “shot put,” soccer goal kicks and a parachute station. Energetic Freeman student volunteers manned each event, clapping and yelling support as they helped the competitors into action. Doc Powell, 5, of Springfield Park Elementary School, sent a whiffle ball blasting off a plastic tee and skittering across the grass as his mom and stepmom clapped.

HCPS Music Education Among Nation’s Best Once again, HCPS has been named one of the nation’s Best Communities for Music Education. The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) has bestowed the designation for 15 years, and Henrico is the only school system in the country to hold the distinction for all 15. The “Best Communities” designation is based on a detailed survey of a school division’s commitment to music instruction through funding, staffing, access and a commitment to standards. It recognizes collaborative, from-theground-up efforts of teachers, administrators, students and parents. “We are extremely proud,” said Rick Tinsley, HCPS music education specialist. “It’s a group achievement. There’s no way we could have done this without the support of our administration, Henrico School Board, parents, teachers and the local music community. The best part is, it highlights the incredible musical programming and instruction provided each day in all our K-12 schools.” NAMM works to promote music education as an important part of the core educational curriculum. Numerous studies have shown an association between arts education and academic success.


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JUNE 2014

HEF Corporate Spelling BEE


hat happens when you pit teams from some of the Richmond area’s most competitive businesses and organizations against one another? Some tension, some laughs and some much-needed money for education. The Henrico Education Foundation holds the HEF Corporate Spelling Bee each year to raise money for instructional grants, scholarships and other programs in Henrico County Public Schools. Ten teams competed in April at the University of Richmond’s Jepson Alumni Center and helped raise more than $26,000 for the foundation through team sponsorships and sales of raffle tickets for prizes such as vacations, gift cards and a 55-inch TV. The squad from Magellan Health Services won the contest by correctly spelling “glissade,” a verb meaning “move along smoothly and effortlessly.” The “Busy Bee Spirit Award” went to a team of Varina High School teachers representing Excel to Excellence, the community foundation started by Seattle Seahawk Michael Robinson. Robinson, a Varina High School graduate, attended the bee to cheer on his team. The winning Magellan squad featured Sri Santhanagopalan, mother of Rivers Edge Elementary fifth-grader Tejas Muthusamy. Muthusamy won Henrico’s divisionwide spelling bee in

February, the Times-Dispatch Regional Spelling Bee in March, and advanced to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May. The student looked on as his

Bee’s Knees Event Sponsor • Anthem Bumble Bee Sponsors • Connexions Loyalty • SNL Financial • The Martin Agency Honey Bee Sponsors • Capital One • Excel to Excellence • Henrico School Board • Magellan Medicaid Administration, Inc. • O'Brien Associates

Contes t winne rs Mag Health ellan Service s

mother won her own trophy. Thanks to our team sponsors for their support of Henrico County students and teachers and Henrico Education Foundation programs!

Seattle Seahawk and Varina High School graduate Michael Robinson wi th Susan Stanley (L), executive director of HEF, and Paula Roop, HEF program manager

ard Spirit Aw Busy Bee cellence x E Excel to rs e n in w

All Henrico Reads (and then talks with Lee Smith)


conic Virginia author Lee Smith talked about the craft of writing, coming of age in a small town and her book “Guests on Earth” at All Henrico Reads in April. Smith was the focus of two events at Glen Allen High School: a lively morning talk with county high school students and a packed evening appearance open to the general public. Smith advised the students not to wait to start writing. “You know things now you will never know again,” she said. “When I was a teenager I wrote a book in the voice of a nine-year old. There’s no way in the world I could do that today.” As a child growing up in the small town of Grundy in far southwest Virginia, Smith published a handwrit-

ten newspaper with articles about her neighbor’s grumpiness and her piano teacher’s preference for correcting mistakes with the hard smack of a pencil. She had to apologize but said she

learned a valuable lesson about the power of the pen. The New York Times Best-Selling author attended Hollins University and has published 15 books since 1968. All Henrico Reads is an annual literary program designed to foster community discussion of a chosen book, while highlighting the importance of reading for all ages. It is sponsored by Henrico County Public Schools, Henrico County Public Library and the Friends of the Henrico County Public Library.

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Twin Hickory Principal is Leadership Winner


hile he sometimes wears a Superman costume, Mike Dussault’s super power isn’t flying – it’s leadership. The Twin Hickory Elementary School principal was awarded a 2013-14 REB Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership. The Community Foundation presents the award to four principals annually – one each from the school systems of Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties and one from the city of Richmond schools. The award recognizes principals who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their jobs to create an exceptional educational environment. The award stresses management and communication skills, and the ability to inspire, encourage and advocate for the school. It includes $7,500 for personal development and an additional $7,500 for school projects of the recipient’s choosing. Dussault said part of his grant would help buy a school greenhouse. Dussault spent a day in May on the school roof dressed as Superman to recognize the PTA and to celebrate the school’s collection of canned goods for feedmore. org. After announcing the news to the school faculty, Superintendent Pat Kinlaw said, “We congratulate Mike on this tremendous accomplishment which not only illustrates a high level of instructional leadership, but also the amazing work of his teachers and staff at Twin Hickory.” “I’m completely shocked,” Dussault said. “For me this represents everything Twin Hickory is about: diverse cultures and backgrounds working toward a common goal. It’s a unique and special place.” Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., Dussault has been with Henrico County Public Schools since 1994. Now in his fourth year at Twin Hickory, he was previously a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher, an instructional technology resource teacher and a division elementary science specialist.

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Inspirational Henrico students, teachers and alumni

Deep Run ju nior Michae l Schiavo is flanked by D eep Run Mar athon Dance organizers D avid and Kath le en Kern. The 2014 dance ra ised more th an $245,000 for local ch arities. Sch ia vo was the top fundraiser, with a who pping $14,100 .

e School Fairfield Middl Ben Clay eighth-grader y contest entered an essa most describing his acher. His inspirational te sent FMS winning entry Edwardsteacher Karyn to Paris. Hill on a trip

Robotic s teams from (L to R ) J.R. T u c ker, Godwin and Dee p R un high schools went to the wor champio ld nships in St. Lou is in Ap ril. Tuc “Sparky ker’s 384” tea m won the Eng ineering Inspira award f tion or its d ivision.

ed the ove, has polic Rose Davis, ab ementary Seven Pines El at k al sw os cr honored ars. She was ye 40 r fo l Schoo service, her years of r fo ly nt ce re ementary by F. Carver El along with Ru , who Virginia Haden School guard alk sw ning the cros has been man ars. ols for 43 ye at HCPS scho

Holman Mid dle School’ s robotics team won m ultiple troph ies - includi a tournamen ng t champions hip - at the Virginia VEX Robotics C ompetition.

Varina High School’s Sheniah Williams made it all the way to the finals of the Virginia state poetry championship, “Poetry Out Loud.”

Science teacher Elizabeth Miller of Trevve tt Elementary takes a selfie w ith President Obam a. Miller was invited to th e White House after rece iving the Presidential Aw ard for Excellence in M athematics and Science Teac hing.

The creation of a thousand forests is one acorn. — Ralph Waldo Emerson


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Sp tlight On: Summer Reading I t’s summertime, and while the living may be easy, keeping kids reading can sometimes be a challenge. We talked with Suzanna Panter, educational specialist with HCPS Library Services, about what parents and guardians need to know.


if you’re not necessarily reading novels, you’re reading all day long in your classes; it’s just keeping your mind active. So many of our kids don’t have the chance in the summer to do that. That’s why we partner well with our Henrico County Public Library. They have an amazing summer reading program. You read a certain number of books and you get entered for prizes.


What would you tell parents who are having a hard time getting kids to read in the summer months? How can books compete with the pool and camps and all the other summer activities?

with Suzanna Panter

Q. What is “the summer slide”? A. Kids lose a lot over the summer.

If a student takes a standardized test at the end of the school year and takes the same test at the beginning of the next school year, you’ll find that they’ve lost a lot of capability – especially reading. They lose grade levels of reading ability, just due to the fact that they don’t read over the summer. That’s one reason some districts have looked at going to school year-round. In some cases they are doing other family extracurricular activities. Going to Europe is going to help you [academically]; sitting around and playing video games all day is going to make things go down a bit. And it’s very cumulative. So even in second grade to third grade, let’s say, you dropped a grade level over the summer. You can catch back up to grade level, but the next summer between third and fourth grade, if the same thing happens, you’ll slide back even more.

Q. Can reading over the summer help reverse it?

A. That’s

pretty much the only thing that can reverse it. But you can’t just read one book and feel that you’re over the summer slide. The people who study this recommend reading four to five books over the summer in order to maintain your reading level and expand it a little bit. During the school year, even

A. Instead of putting on the radio,

some families play an audiobook. That still helps reading comprehension and fluency. It also gets them excited. If you want to start off a series, get the audiobook and then all of a sudden they want to know what happens. Well, go to the library and get the next book! It hooks them a little bit, and then it becomes something easy that you can do as a family in the car or on long trips to grandma’s or wherever you’re going; it’s better than them putting in the DVD! Any summer field trips you take can all spur into other things. You go to the gardens, you see a butterfly, and it’s “let’s go get a book on butterflies and see what we can find out about it.” Any kind of summer activities: the pool, the beach, anything. Try to find a book that ties into it. There’s a book about everything.

Q. How can you get kids to read who don’t or won’t?

A. The

key is really just finding something that they’re interested in. And if your kid is interested in airplanes, he can check out a nonfiction book of airplanes; it doesn’t have to be a novel. Whatever keeps them motivated. Going to events at the library keeps them motivated. Don’t be afraid to let them read a book about Iron Man, because they know who Iron Man is. They make a lot of connections to characters that they already know something about. They know who the character is and who their friends are, and are more apt to read about them. So if you have a reluctant reader, you can go that way sometimes. Even though it may not be the best literature, it will hook them. A lot of comics are written on a very high level and gives them that visual support. You can try book tie-ins to movies, too. You can read to them. You can try audiobooks in the car. Ultimately we can’t force kids to read. All we can do is invite them: invite them and try to find every way you can to make it interesting and different.

Q. Are HCPS libraries open during the summer?

A. They used to be open but during

the recession that changed. Now they are open during Summer Academy. Schools that have Summer Academy programs

will have the school library open during those hours: one school for each magisterial district. And you don’t have to be enrolled at that school to check out a book there. We also have eBooks, as well as databases like Brittanica Online, that are available 24/7 at Under “Resources” you’ll find our catalog with links. Middle and high schoolers use their HCPSLink login, but for elementary students, they already have a unique username, and they can contact their school librarian if they aren’t sure what the passwords are. We also have Tumblebooks, which is a great one for your younger students, where the picture books come to life. We also have a subscription to National Geographic Kids, so they have access to online magazines, which is another great way to appeal to reluctant readers.

Q. Can you suggest some good summer reads?

A. Check in with Henrico County Public Library. They have great lists.

Q. What

was your all-time favorite summer book when you were a kid?

A. Probably “Where the Red Fern Grows.” I cried and cried. That was a tough one. I remember reading that in sixth grade, in the summer.

Q. Are there specific summer reading

lists that parents should consult for their students?

A. At the elementary level, it’s sug-

gestions: books that we think are good. Those will be online at under “reading lists.” In secondary education, it depends on the class they’re going into, but they often have a list of required books because they’re going to talk about them in their classes in the fall. They should check with their schools on that.

Henrico County School Board Lisa A. Marshall Chair Tuckahoe District

John W. Montgomery Jr. Vice Chair Varina District

Beverly L. Cocke Brookland District

Lamont Bagby Fairfield District

Robert G. Boyle Jr. Three Chopt District

Patrick C. Kinlaw Superintendent

Contact Us

P.O. Box 23120 3820 Nine Mile Road Henrico, VA 23223-0420 804.652.3600 Twitter: @henricoschools

Awards & Credits School Days is an award-winning publication produced quarterly by the Department of Communications & Public Relations of HCPS. If you have questions about this publication, call 804.652.3725 or email

Chris OBrion - Editor April Sage - Production Manager Larry Willis Jr. - Website Manager


School Days - Summer 2014  

"School Days" is an award-winning publication serving parents and citizens of Henrico County.