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. The owners, Jeff and Jamie Rhoads, generously donated over $2,400 to our School Nutrition Services Department.

Dr. Cotton receiving a donation from Your Pie in Greenbrier.  Dr. Cotton meeting touring Your Pie in Greenbrier for the grand opening.

Then, this week, at the grand opening of the new Kroger on Mount Pleasant Road, I was also grateful to accept a $2,000 donation. Both of these generous donations will be used by our School Nutrition Services Department to assist with unpaid meal charges. We have already utilized the Your Pie donation to pay off student lunch debts for over 600 Chesapeake students! What a great way to make an impact on our school community! #ImpactCPS

Another thing I’ve found myself incredibly thankful for is the variety of opportunities our division provides to our students. I had the chance to visit classrooms at the Chesapeake Career Center on Tuesday and was blown away by the real-world experiences happening within each classroom. Many of the programs offer dual-enrollment credit through TCC and all the courses offer industry certifications to students giving them a jump-start into the workforce upon graduation. The visit also gave me a unique opportunity to share some of my experiences with students and to reflect upon why career-readiness is one of my priorities as superintendent.

Dr. Cotton tours a cyber-security classroom at the Career Center.  Auto-body class at the Career Center.

Dr. Cotton meets with a welding student at the Career Center.In the Nursing classroom, students were busy discussing career options available to them upon completion of their program. I was proud to be able to share with them that my mother was a nurse and it provided her with the opportunities she needed to be able to support our family. Then, in a brand new Pharmacy Tech program, I was taken back to one of my first jobs as a Pharmacy Technician. Even though my ultimate calling was in education, the technical and interpersonal skills I gained from working in that field were invaluable, and I saw first-hand how students will gain similar skills in their mock pharmacy. The HVAC shop classroom immediately reminded me of my son, William, who decided to pursue a successful career in HVAC. I was also inspired by Amber, who I met in the welding program. She shared that she plans to secure a welding job with a reputable company after she graduates high school. She is hopeful that this company will help support her plans to further her education so that she can continue to develop her skills and earn additional certifications. In fact, she is already participating in an internship opportunity. It was great to chat with her during my visit, and I look forward to hearing about her future successes!

Dr. Cotton tours the Pharmacy Tech classroom at the Career Center.  Student working in HVAC classroom at the Career Center.  Dr. Cotton visits nursing students at the Career Center.

As we move into December, I’m looking forward to wrapping up my school visits. These visits, along with the feedback I’ve gathered from my Listening and Learning Survey, have given me the opportunity to get a complete picture of the strengths and the needs within our division.

I’m excited to use that knowledge as we begin the next phase in our strategic planning process, and I look forward to sharing our progress over the next few weeks and months.

Dr. Cotton's Countdown - As of November 28, 2018 - 85% of Schools visited