Schools

( 1 Vote )

Sensory swing in BEST roomCarysbrook Elementary Principal Scott Lucas didn’t like what he saw.

Lucas wanted students on the edge to feel supported, not punished.

After a year of searching, he and his staff opened the Behavioral, Education, Social/Emotional Teaching lab – the BEST room – in August.

“Any student who needs a time out, or to finish work, or decompress can ask to go,” Lucas said.

The room is available and open to any student. Students whose teachers know they routinely struggle can apply for a pass, which then hangs on the wall in the student’s classroom. Students who feel the need ask the teacher for permission, pick up the pass and go.

“We have the pass because we can’t have students just roaming around in the hallway,” Lucas said.

In the BEST room students get to hang with William Reese, a licensed teacher hired as an aide.

The room has study or work zones where students can finish work, a “zones of regulation” area where they can talk about how they’re feeling, and a “take a break” corner furnished with a hammock swing, exercise balls, books and bean bags.

They can also do “Teach Town,” an educational computer program with a social and emotional component. Each day, some students are scheduled to sign in to Teach Town. “We also have organized small group discussion led by Mr. Reese,” Lucas said. “The whole process is more reflective rather than punitive.”

But there are rules written clearly on the board:

  • I treat others kindly;
  • I follow directions;
  • I keep my hands to myself;
  • I take care of BEST lab materials and equipment; and
  • I leave the BEST lab when my time is finished. Add a comment

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( 1 Vote )

Middle school kidsRemember middle school?

Most of us would rather not.

What with the fluctuating hormones, the peer pressure, the growth spurts and the clumsiness, it’s hard to figure out who you are and where you’re going.

Social media thrown into the mix complicates things even further.

Fluvanna Middle School Principal Brad Stang and his administrative and guidance staff wanted to do something to help students navigate the often rocky road of adolescence. School Counselor Lynn Jenkins said it became obvious students needed help learning things other generations took for granted.

“We notice on a daily basis the changes that seem to be occurring in their ability to interact with kindness and compassion,” Jenkins said. “It appears that social media is attempting to replace the hard social work of dealing face-to-face with their peers, a skill that they will now need to practice in order to be successful in real life. It seems to be easier to be mean or cruel because they can do it either anonymously, or without provocation, and with no need to feel any empathy.”

Teacher Hillary Pleasant had her own concerns. Pleasant noticed students didn’t know how to greet each other or adults. She shared her observations with Jenkins.

As Jenkins, Pleasant and two other teachers and administrative staff spent hours over the summer researching packaged curriculums, Jenkins said they realized none fit. Either they didn’t cover the topics the FMS team felt were important or they were too expensive.

“I also didn’t want this to be a burden on teachers,” Jenkins said. “They already have so much to do. I knew we needed their buy-in. And we didn’t want just a video they’d put in and have students watch.”

Finally, Jenkins told Stang, “Let me take a stab at it.”

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Carol Tracy Carr and Camilla WashingtonIt takes courage to run for elected office and commitment to do the job once elected.

After serving on the Fluvanna School Board since 2009, Vice Chair Camilla Washington (Columbia) decided to not run for re-election. Chair Carol Carr (Rivanna) was appointed in February 2012, then ran for and won the seat in November that same year. Carr also decided to step down.

The Fluvanna Review asked them both to share their experiences as a Board member and their thoughts on the work they did.

Camilla Washington

Why were you interested in running for School Board and what convinced you to do it?

My sons, Nick and Chris, were fifth graders at Central Elementary School when the Columbia District seat became available. I had been an active participant in my children’s education since kindergarten and a member of the Parent Teacher Association at Columbia and Central Elementary. I was approached by several teachers in the division to pursue becoming the School Board candidate. As I began to think about the position, I saw it as an opportunity to represent the constituents in my district and have a voice for all children in the division.

What was the mood of the county and the country when you first ran?
In 2009 the economy was being challenged with high taxes and financial instability. Locally, the high school was in the final stages of construction and there was still quite a bit of conflict in Fluvanna about the need for the facility and the funds that were spent on the building. Add a comment

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( 0 Votes )

Jane SmithLet’s admit it, when students know that they have a substitute teacher, they assume they have a day off.  That would not be the case for a very special substitute teacher named Jane Smith.

Smith may be the oldest active substitute teacher in Virginia. Subbing for Buckingham County Public Schools for almost 20 years, Smith, at the age of 86, reports to the school division’s classrooms on a fairly consistent basis; she’s a regular at Buckingham Middle School.

Why would an 86-year-old go into the classroom when she could be doing most anything else? Because of her love for children and the joy of teaching.
Originally from Page County, Smith attended Radford University (nee College). Because her husband was a forester, the family moved to a number of locations in Virginia. While living in Charlotte County, Smith taught at Randolph Henry High School – she recalls teaching Gene Dixon, Jr. and Patrick Henry’s great-great grandson – where she also ran the debate team. “Those were wonderful years,” said Smith.

Sadly, those wonderful years ended when Smith and her husband had to deal with the death of their college-aged son at the hands of a drunk driver. “That destroyed our marriage,” said Smith. “My husband was angry and could not get over our son’s death.”

Smith, now a single woman, entered Union Seminary in Richmond to earn a master’s in religious education. “Those four years in Richmond were enriching,” she said. “I went into very depressed areas of the city to assist in feeding the poor. I found out what life was really about. It allowed my life to broaden and see across cultural and economic lines.” Add a comment

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Percentage of Fluvanna school-aged children not in public school lower than national average

One School Board candidate intimated students are leaving Fluvanna County Public Schools (FCPS) in droves.

Is that true?

Like most things, there are no simple answers.  Multiple factors go into a parent’s choice to homeschool or send a child to private school.

Six Fluvanna families agreed to tell their stories of why they don’t send their children to public schools. While each story is unique, most had two things in common: a dissatisfaction with their public school experience and a desire for more control over what their child learned and how it was taught.

Here are some facts:

FCPS are one of only 22 Virginia districts fully accredited four years in a row.

The FCPS on-time, overall graduation rate in 2017 was 97.4 percent, placing it fourth out of 132 districts. FCPS students categorized as disadvantaged graduated at 98.7 percent; black students graduated at 100 percent.
There are 169 Fluvanna school-aged students going to five private schools in Fluvanna: Fork Union Military Academy (FUMA), Effort Christian School, Open Door Christian School, The Light Academy and Saint Nicholas Learning Center.

There are 228 students who are homeschooled and 55 who have a religious exemption from attending public school.

All told, there are 452 school-aged children in Fluvanna who are either homeschooled or attend a private school in Fluvanna.

Nationally in 2016, 10 percent of school-aged children attended private schools and 3.4 percent were homeschooled – totaling 13.4 percent of children who don’t attend public schools. That’s according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Add a comment

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