Giving Thanks

As we return from Thanksgiving break this week, I realize how much we have to be thankful for in our division. Personally, I’m thankful for the dedication of all of our staff members who work tirelessly every day to support the needs of our students. Whether it’s the bus driver that greets them early every morning, the nutrition services worker who provides them with healthy meals, or the teachers who focus on educating every child, each member of our CPS family plays an important part in nurturing the whole child. In particular this week, I’m thankful for the amazing community partnerships we have maintained throughout the years and for several new ones being established. Before Thanksgiving break, I was honored to attend the grand opening of Your Pie in Greenbrier. … Read more

Showing Off

October is probably one of the busiest months in a school calendar year. So busy, it’s been difficult to find the time to sit down and write about it all. We finally got into the swing of things after a few restarts due to Hurricanes Michael and Florence. I know it is tough on both teachers and students to miss days unexpectedly and still maintain the high expectations we have for all of our students, but as I’ve been visiting the schools, I am happy to report that they haven’t missed a beat. One of my most recent visits was to Thurgood Marshall Elementary where the students and staff were excited to welcome Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. Dr. Qarni was greeted by an impressive display of student leadership … Read more

Safety First

Safety has, and will always be, a top priority for our division–and we are not alone. Across the nation division leaders are conducting conversations about how to best keep our students, staff, and communities safe. This week I was honored to participate in the Town Hall Meeting, sponsored by The Safe Virginia Initiative (SVI), Senator Lionell Spruill, Sr., and Delegate Cliff Hayes, Jr. The focus of the meeting was to discuss ways to reduce violence and secure the safety of Virginians through legislative action. As I listened to the discussion that evening, I couldn’t help but reflect upon the awesome responsibility that falls upon our school principals and division leaders. When our doors open each day, thousands of students, teachers, and staff members walk the halls. Our building leaders must … Read more

Following Their Lead

  I was reminded of why I became an educator this week when I met with the Student Council Association (SCA) leaders from across our division.  What an inspiring group of student leaders they are! I am a big advocate for providing student leadership opportunities and encouraging our students to take the lead.  During our meeting, I had the opportunity to get their perspective on a number of issues facing our division. Being a student today is a very different experience than when I walked the halls of Great Bridge High School.   The internet has opened up an information superhighway that connects us with our counterparts across the world. As a result, we have more information at our fingertips than ever before–creating the challenge of where to focus our … Read more

Navigating Flo

This has been a challenging week–some would say historic! Never before have we been impacted by a mandatory evacuation ordered by the Governor. I was impressed by how well our Emergency Team came together to address Hurricane Florence. We were all thrown for a loop when Governor Northam made his announcement on Monday evening. As the week unfolded, our teams went to work making preparations to help prepare our community. Shelter teams at several of our schools were put on notice.     Luckily, the forecast shifted Florence’s path away from Hampton Roads, which dramatically changed our outlook. We opened two of our schools, Greenbrier Middle School and Indian River Middle School, to assist in providing shelter for our community while we waited out the storm. Fortunately, we survived the … Read more


This week marks the start of a new school year–one that I have been anxiously awaiting for a while now. The halls are sparkling, the rooms are inviting, and we are ready for our first students of the year to walk through the doors. A personal goal of mine is to visit all 47 of our schools and centers this year to meet with the faculty and staff at each location. Last week I was able to get started on that mission by stopping by a few of our schools during the pre-service week. At Grassfield High School I stumbled upon an outstanding show of student leadership. The SCA supported the faculty and staff at GFHS by serving breakfast and assisting in organizing a staff development day featuring Dr. Phil … Read more

How do you want to be remembered?

There’s something about the start of a new school year… it is energizing!  You could feel the excitement building this week as we continue to prepare for the start of a new school year.  Many of our schools welcomed students as they held the first of many back-to-school events to allow new students the chance to visit their buildings and prepare for the year. This week I finished up the last two of my Meet & Greet events—at Deep Creek and Oscar Smith High Schools.  Both Deep Creek and Oscar Smith involved students in the events—including the band!  I was amazed at the talent and dedication of our students!      I did not expect all the attention, and I was completely humbled by these experiences. Even though these events have … Read more

Summer Celebrations

I finally had the chance to visit The Branch this past week.  The students, staff, and community at Western Branch High School really made me feel welcome!  I can’t get over the sense of pride you feel in each part of our city.  Each community is unique and I am enjoying getting to meet and talk to members of this great community.  I have to give a shout out to the students who got up early on that summer day just to make sure I felt welcome—they even painted a message on the WBHS rock.  Now that’s school spirit! You know, it is easy to forget exactly how big the city of Chesapeake is—until you take a trip to Western Branch.  It really puts things into perspective.  Chesapeake covers more … Read more

Remembering Our Why

Last week my administrative staff put the finishing touches on their back-to-school presentations to kick off the year for our administrators.  We met at Grassfield High School on Thursday to reflect upon the events of the past year, share important information, and set goals for the future.  I was impressed watching the team come together to create an event that was as inspiring as it was informative.   Best-selling author, Simon Sinek encourages leaders to “Start with Why.”  The administrative teams sported their school colors as we sat down and discussed the “why” behind what we do.  What I mean by that is we talked about our purpose for what we do each day.  This can be different for each person involved in our organization.  Your “why” might be different … Read more

Dedication and Service

What a great week!  I have been working hard to get reacquainted with Chesapeake, and this week I was able to talk with some of our community partners.  I sat down with Dr. Rhine from Tidewater Community College on Wednesday.  I am proud that we have such a strong partnership established with TCC.  I am a big supporter of continued education for our students, and TCC provides a great avenue for our kids to earn college credit and industry credentials.  Dr. Rhine shared with me that we already have a great partnership in place and there are new opportunities for us to explore.  As I shared during my “Meet and Greets,” great things happen for students when community leaders work together.  I’m looking forward to continuing to expand on our … Read more