The Southampton Spotlight
Dear Southampton Students, Parents, Staff, and Community Members:
Welcome to another awe-inspiring edition of The Southampton Spotlight where we are showcasing student and teacher excellence. In this edition, we will share an article from Mrs. Lynn Varian, discussing the progress of the pre-k students at Meherrin, as well as an article from Mrs. Kathy Thompson sharing details about the Flexible Seating Grant received by Capron Elementary School.
All other articles were written by our Human Resources and Marketing Specialist, Ms. Willow Bellevue, who shared the vast opportunities available to our students. She wrote about the Southampton High School students participating in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drone) course and obtaining FAA certification; the Career and Technical Center’s Career Fair, Nottoway Elementary School’s students having fun at their Book Fair, Riverdale Elementary School hosting a Glow Room Math Party, and Southampton Middle School students participating in Odyssey of the Mind.
We love sharing the great happenings within the Southampton County Public Schools Division. Here, our students are our greatest assets!
Please enjoy the wonderful work our students and teachers as they share in Making Learning Magical.
Make Everyday a Great Day!
Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon
Did you know that all district work revolves around our six major Division Goals? Our six goals are as follows:
GOAL 1: Expand Learning Opportunities and Increase Student Achievement
GOAL 2: Expand Our Safe and Healthy School Culture and Climate
GOAL 3: Expand Professional Training and Improved Employee Retention
GOAL 4: Expand Community and Parental Partnerships
GOAL 5: Expand Capital Improvement Efforts and Acquire More Fiscal Resources
GOAL 6: Expand Opportunities to Make School More Equitable for All Students
By focusing on these six goals, we can make learning M.A.G.I.C.A.L.! Look for a "Magical" section in each Southampton Spotlight that focuses on one of these areas, as tied to our Division Goals.
Southampton High School Brings Drone Classes to Students
By: Wilhelmine “Willow” Bellevue
The term "what's trending" is often used to describe what is surging in popularity. Trends provide leaders accurate solutions for the distant future while being relevant in the present. Educational Certificates and technology are trending. According to fireeducation.com, the 2021 Strada Gallup Education Survey showed that 50 percent of adults with a college degree also hold a certification in a non-degree program. Edupepper.com predicted the following by 2050: students will have more personalized learning experiences, there will be an increase in digital education, and schools will implement more interdisciplinary learning.
The Southampton County Public Schools Division is meeting the current educational demands and implementing programs that will prepare students for the distant future as well as for present times. As the trends for certificates rise, Southampton County Public Schools has continued to increase its certificate programs at their Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center, which is attached to Southampton High School. The Supervisor of the CTE Center, Chad Brock, shared how the school provides students with opportunities to attain or sit for certifications in the following areas:
1. Culinary Handlers Card and Culinary Arts
2. Basic Life Support for Medical Professionals (BLS)
3. Electrocardiogram (EKG) and Phlebotomy
5. Patient Care Technician (PCT)
6. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
7. Microsoft Office Specialist
8. Early Childhood Education
9. Practical Electrical Technician
10. Pharmacy Technician
11. Small Unmanned Aircraft (Drone)
One of the most popular programs at CTE is the Small Unmanned Aircraft Certification System Program. The drone program enables students to have a commercial license before graduating high school. Coincidentally, there is a high demand for individuals in drone technology. Drones are used in the following industries: public safety, videography, agriculture, photography, meteorology, climatology, real estate, zoology, and more.
The Unmanned Aircraft Instructor, Cormanica Crutchfield, stated, "We wanted to acclimate students to using drones in the agriculture industry. One of the program's goals is to have students sit for the Part 107 Unmanned Aircraft Certification exam to receive their full drone license so they can enter the drone industry. When they graduate high school, they will be able to get a job in the drone industry," Crutchfield explained.
Crutchfield confirmed how the drone course offered at Southampton County's CTE Center is at no cost to parents. Drone instructional materials, supplies, and exam materials are provided to the students. Moreover, the Southampton County Public School district covers the $175 certification exam costs. Juniors and seniors at Southampton High School are eligible to take the course. Students under 16 can sit for the exam, but they will receive their certification once they turn 16.
"This is a great program; we don't see a lot of programs like this. When you think about certification programs, most students must be 18 years old to be certified, but younger students can gain certification and start working," Crutchfield said.
One of Crutchfield's students, 12th grader Mason Jernigan, plans on looking for a job as soon as he obtains his certificate. Jernigan also shared how the certificate would assist him in the military.
"I want to go into recon [reconnaissance] operations. This is where we would go behind the enemy lines with a drone. This [drone certification] would help me get to the point where I would be ready for recon. This feels good; I have everything lined up. I will try to get a local job in the area to see if they need help so I can get experience before going into the military on July 2," Jernigan said confidently.
The students took the Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft System certification exam in January.
"I taught them how to fly different missions. I have prepared them for the Part107 Small Unmanned Aircraft System certification exam. The Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft System certification exam is a written test. It tests their knowledge of maps, regulations with flying objects in the air, aeronautical charts, charts that pilots use when they fly airplanes," Crutchfield said.
One of Crutchfield's senior students, Joaquim Steele, shared how Crutchfield made learning drone technology easy for him.
"There is a lot on the map, and it takes time to know what everything means. It's a map with a whole bunch of symbols and words. Mrs. Crutchfield taught this class very well. She has taught us everything we can know about drones," said Steele. Crutchfield has undoubtedly prepared her students for the present and distant future.
Southampton Middle School Students Participate in Odyssey of the Mind
Written By: Wilhelmine "Willow" Bellevue
On March 18, 2023, Southampton Middle School (SMS) students will participate in the Odyssey of the Mind (OM) competition in Newport News. OM was founded in the 1970s, with Dr. Sam Micklus’s industrial classes at Rowan University in New Jersey. Dr. Micklus was well known for his unique assignment, “Cross a lake without getting wet,” which prompted students to discover and engineer innovative ways to get across a lake or to build a boat. Dr. Micklus’s problem-solving challenges have since grown internationally.
OM is essentially a combination of theater, math, and creativity. It pushes students to stretch their minds to think of creative solutions with limited resources. They must also manually execute every detail of their plan. Each year, participants are given a choice of five challenges to solve, with strict guidelines and stipulations.
This year, SMS chose problem one: Pirates and the Treasure. With this prompt, students must return the Queen’s stolen treasure to her as they battle the opposition guarding it. The performance must include a pirate, captain, flag, and song.
The other problems are equally riveting. Problem two entails building a robust device. Three requires students to create a modern version of the Trojan Horse from Homer’s The Illiad. Four involves constructing a structure made of balsa wood and glue that can hold as much weight as possible. Lastly, problem five calls for students to develop a humorous play, which includes something that grows and a costume that represents the characters.
In addition to having a complex problem to solve, students are given a strict budget. They are not permitted to purchase their solution as everything has to be built or made by hand. Lastly, students can only receive advice or ideas from their teammates, which means their coaches or teachers cannot give them feedback.
SMS students were thrilled to take on the challenge of stretching their minds to the limit. Sixth-grader Cora Bailey was incredibly excited as she participated in OM in the third grade.
“I did it [Odyssey of the Mind] in Riverdale [Elementary School]. We designed the costumes, painted all the backdrops, wrote our script, memorized our lines, and then COVID-19 happened, and everything got shut down. We did not have a chance to compete,” Bailey said. “It seemed so long ago, but I am glad I can be a part of it now.”
Dr. Dawn Cavanaugh, Southampton Middle School’s sixth grade math teacher, is a coach for OM. As a math instructor, Dr. Cavanaugh was intrigued by an afterschool problem-solving club.
“This is not problem-solving as you would think problem-solving; it is very different. The kids must create a ship with pedals that can move across the stage and back! Their ship has to fit in a four by six area, and they cannot spend over $145 on items for their performance,” Cavanaugh said.
For Dr. Cavanaugh, the hardest part is not being able to help her students. She has to allow them to make decisions and develop ideas without influence. She said, “So if a child asks, ‘How do I make this?’ we cannot give input. And if I accidentally tell them what to do, I have to say, ‘But that’s just my opinion.’”
“We are a division one group, and we will be competing with other division one middle schools,” said Cavanaugh. “We are allowed to have pedals on our vehicle to make it move. We can’t have a pre-made vehicle like a bike, but at least we can have pedals. Our vehicle has to show damage. It’s a challenge, but we are getting a lot done today.”
Seventh-grader, Leah Pooley was also eager to take on the challenge as she had previously assisted her brother, Bryson Pooley, a third-grader at Capron Elementary School. Moreover, Pooley shared how her aunt, Melissa Edwards, an educator at SMS, has inspired her to think outside the box and achieve her goals.
“My aunt [Melissa Edwards] told me about Odyssey of the Mind. She is like me. She works very hard. She is a leader, and she is awesome,” Pooley said. After thinking about her statement, she added, “Okay, so I got it from my aunt. I am a hard worker, and I like sharing my ideas. I’ve been throwing ideas at my brother while working on his script. He has the same problem as us, ‘Pirates and the Treasures.’”
Southampton Middle School’s OM group is a small but fierce group of seven students. According to Dr. Cavanaugh, 60 students applied to participate in the OM afterschool group, but only seven were selected.
“You are only allowed a maximum of seven students in your group, but you need a minimum of five. For students to qualify to be a part of Odyssey of the Mind, they had to be creative, artistic, independent, and a leader. We needed students who had a little bit of everything because of how much they would be asked to do. They also had to obtain recommendation letters from their teachers to submit with their applications,” Cavanaugh said.
Dr. Cavanaugh coaches OM alongside Jasmine Davis, a seventh-grade science teacher at SMS who previously coached OM. Davis will also serve as a judge on March 18. In addition, Kristie Howell, a sixth-grade long-term substitute teacher, will be one of the judges. Howell has been with the Southampton County Public School district since 2019.
With a dynamic group of students and coaches, Dr. Cavanaugh is optimistic about the competition. However, she also shared that the spontaneity of the competition has her on her heels.
“This is the first time I have experienced this [Odyssey of the Mind]. It has been stretching our minds, but we are enjoying it. We also don’t know what type of problems the other schools chose, so it’s quite possibly more than one school may have the same problem as us. Aside from competing with other schools, the students will have a spontaneous problem to solve that day. They will only have a few minutes to discuss and solve the problem, so all of this has been fascinating,” Dr. Cavanaugh said.
Thus far, the entire experience has been an adventure. The students have been steering each other’s imaginations as their coaches support them from afar Together, the students and staff have learned how the excitement of an odyssey is its ambiguity.
Teamwork at Meherrin Elementary School
Written By: Wilhelmine "Willow" Bellevue
On December 26, 2022, the fire alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. at Meherrin Elementary School, part of the Southampton County Public School (SCPS) District. SCPS Superintendent Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon, Meherrin Elementary School Principal Susan Fowler, and Coordinator of Auxiliary Services, Will Melbye and Maintenance Supervisor Richard Davis promptly received a call from the Southampton County Sheriff’s office. Within 20 minutes, Davis and Melbye arrived on the scene to investigate what may have triggered the alarm.
On arrival, they noticed a pipe had burst in Ashley VanDyke’s first-grade classroom. The water from VanDyke’s room flowed into Barbara Blow’s first-grade classroom, which was adjacent to VanDyke’s. The water also seeped into nearby classrooms, the library, and a hallway. Upon further inspection, Davis and Melbye found a hole in the ceiling of VanDyke’s classroom that led to the attic. The water had leaked through the insulation the sheetrock, and the drop ceiling, pouring around 15 to 20 thousand gallons of water into the classroom.
“It was determined that a piece of ice had formed in the pipe, and as the dry system built its pressure back up, as it continually does, the pressure could not get from one side of the pipe to the other,” Melbye explained. “The dry system continued to pump the pressure in and backed the pipe out of its fitting. The pipe was about an inch and a half to two inches. It just unloaded water into the classroom.”
Davis shut off the sprinkler system promptly and stopped the downpour. Before the pipe burst, Melbye said he and Davis were vigilant in monitoring the pipes throughout the SCPS district.
“We had been in all our schools on December 22, 23, 24, and 26. It was cold that week. We were in the single digits. We watched it [the pipes] because we knew it would be possible. The only day we were not in our schools was December 25,” Melbye said.
According to Melbye, there were about eight inches of water in VanDyke’s classroom and two inches in one of the hallways.
Assessments revealed that as the water fell from the ceiling, so did debris. The debris sealed the door, causing the water to rise. Pressure from the water and debris eventually forced the door open, which caused the water to run into the hallway and nearby classrooms.
VanDyke was most impacted as the water gushed directly on her desk and the classroom’s resources. Classrooms with mats, carpets, or floor items stored on the ground level were also heavily affected. For example, the books on the bottom shelves of the library were damaged.
“The water damage could have been a lot worse. Thankfully, the water was contained in that one hall. We took inventory of the books that were damaged in the library so that we could re-order the books,” said Fowler.
Water Extraction and Mitigation
Melbye and Davis used two companies to assist with the mitigation process. An Xtreme Carpet Clean and Restoration dealt with water extraction, and ServePro of Suffolk, Smithfield, and Franklin removed the debris. According to Melbye, extracting the water from Meherrin Elementary’s two classrooms and hallways took about six hours.
“They [An Xtreme Carpet Clean and Restoration] came in on Monday night and extracted the water. Afterward, they deployed fans to begin the drying process. They focused on water extraction and floor restoration. ServePro [ServePro of Suffolk, Smithfield, and Franklin] handles demolition. They are getting all the wet sheet rock out of the classroom. They are cutting out drywall sections and removing the ceiling up to the attic,” said Melbye.
By January 1, 2023, Melbye, Davis, and the IT Technicians had finished cleaning the classrooms. In addition, the two most impacted classes, Vandyke’s and Blowe’s, were moved into two unoccupied rooms.
Melbye and Davis are looking for the right contractor to undertake the reconstruction process, and the time frame of when the two classrooms will be rebuilt is yet to be determined. However, Fowler conveyed that the students were thrilled about their temporary classrooms and seamlessly acclimated to the new settings.
“The students were impacted very minimally. Their direction of traveling around the pond [hallway] was different, but the students knew exactly where to go. The kids enjoyed their new classrooms more than I thought they would. They were excited about their new environment,” Fowler said, laughing.
Thanks to the resilience and teamwork of SCPS staff in conjunction with VanDyke, Blowe, and Darden, the school resumed operations without too much disruption. Credit must also be given to the Meherrin Elementary students who were adaptable and enjoyed taking a different route to class.
Capron Elementary School Receives a Grant for Flexible Seating
Written By: Kathy Thompson
Capron Elementary School is the proud recipient of International Paper's All Students Love to Learn with Flexible Seating grant. Funds from the grant will expand flexible seating into the classrooms while maintaining a traditional classroom-room arrangement. Southampton County Public School's (SCPS) Reading Specialist, Kathy Thompson, wrote the grant.
Capron Elementary School’s fifth grade classes received the following for their classroom:
· Two futons.
· Two area rugs.
· Two coffee tables with storage cubes.
· Four oversized bean bag chairs.
· Ten portable lap desks.
· Eight core engagement wobble stools.
· Two storage benches with cushions and a class set of transparent clipboards.
The flexible seating classroom allows students to choose their learning space, creates a more positive learning environment, and increases classroom engagement and overall attentiveness. The flexible seating classroom alters the fundamental dynamics of teaching and learning, giving students more control and responsibility while undermining the typical face-forward orientation of the traditional, static classroom designs.
Capron Elementary School is appreciative of International Paper's generosity. Moreover, Capron Elementary School's staff is excited about the opportunity to allow students to choose the spaces they need to succeed. The students were all smiles while completing their school work using the flexible seating classroom options. The flexible seating options will make them better learners, building collaboration, communication, and creativity skills.
Glow Room Math Party at Riverdale Elementary School
Written By: Wilhelmine "Willow" Bellevue
On February 9, 2023, the students of Riverdale Elementary school felt the vibration of instrumental techno music echoing in the halls. The fifth-grade students were excited about the innovative lesson their teacher Dana Jones had planned for Friday. As they walked into their classroom, the students gasped at the colorful disco ball attached to the ceiling. The array of lights illuminated the walls, desks, and floor in brilliant color.
“I wanted to do something different. I saw the glow party transformation kit and thought it would be cool,” said Jones. “The students are not learning any new material, so everything they do at each station is a review of what we have already learned. There is a go-to person at each station for help. I also added glue sticks and cutouts so students could create a picture. The picture would be a way of them self-checking.”
Before taking a seat at their designated stations, Jones gave each child a neon party bracelet. Next, she divided the students into groups of five and organized the desks into five stations. Every station featured a topic the students had learned leading up to their benchmark test. In addition, each post contained material they had learned earlier that week, including division, multiplication, decimals, and fractions.
The students were tasked with completing the math problem as a group before moving on to the next station. Station Five was the wildcard station, where Jones worked with the students on a random math problem and provided them with additional support. To further challenge her class, Jones timed the students.
“Take your paper, pencil, and iPad with you, and let’s go!” Jones said. The students walked briskly to their stations and immediately started working. After looking intently at their work, they solved the math problems in a round-table manner. They strategized how to solve a problem, why an answer was correct, and the best method for checking their work.
“Let’s simplify this to make sure it is the correct answer,” one student told his group members. The kids agreed and individually simplified their answers before comparing. Students who excelled in a particular topic reiterated what their teacher had taught them to their teammates. Those who previously struggled to understand a concept began contributing to their group and asking questions. No one was embarrassed if they had the wrong answer and were open to their classmates’ feedback.
“The glow party is very learnable. I don’t know if learnable is a word, but I like learning and having fun,” said Chloe Snow. “The math problems are tricky, and I like the glow-in-the-dark colors.”
“I like the colors. I like working in a group. I like that Ms. Jones put all of this together for us; she is always doing something for us,” said Kalani Artis.
Co-principals Tamee Railey and Kisha Watford also attended the glow-in-the-dark party. They even took the time to solve a few math problems themselves.
“This [the glow room party] allows them to have fun while learning,” Watford said as she attempted a long division problem. “The stations challenge them to think, and it also allows them to work together. The students who may be struggling may not know they are struggling since they are helping each other. Students sometimes learn better from their peers, which allows them to grasp the material differently.”
“Whoa,” the students said as the lights turned on to signal the end of the class period. As they attempted to adjust from dark to light, the students were still glowing with glee. The kids packed their items in their bags and continued to talk about math solutions as they walked to their next class.
Glow What You Know at Meherrin Elementary School
Written By: Lynn Varian
The Pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) students at Meherrin Elementary School have been busy reviewing key concepts like name writing, upper and lower case letters, shapes, and numbers in their unique way: glow learning. Using black lights, highlighters, neon masking tape, and other glow-in-the-dark objects, the students moved from one station to another to enjoy the activities and showcase their knowledge. Kudos to the Pre-K and preschool team for making learning fun for even the littlest Meherrin Eagles!
Book fair at Nottoway Elementary School
By: Wilhelmine “Willow” Bellevue
Courtland, Va. – Nottoway Elementary School held its annual book fair on Tuesday, November 29, 2022. The school has been celebrating National Family Literacy Month in November. The book fair concluded the school’s month of reading festivities.
The book fair was the day's highlight, as the school's library was transformed into a mega bookstore. For many students, the book fair was like Candyland, a charming place filled with all their favorite authors and genres. The students also had the option to buy posters, bookmarks, journals, and pencils. Students who did not have the funds to buy a book could still experience the joy of purchasing a book.
"If a kid does not have money to get a book, we will figure it out," said Nottoway Elementary School's 5th-grade Teacher, Haley Boykin. I have not had a kid who wanted a book and was unable to get it," she stated. Boykin shared how important it was for her to provide her students with the same resources and support that she was given as a young reader.
"I went to school here [Nottoway Elementary School]; I find it funny that I am teaching reading," Boykin laughed. "I used to be pulled out of class for remedial help. My students know that I struggled as a reader, and maybe that is why they feel comfortable reading with me," Boykin shared. One of Boykin's students, Jase Johnson, explained how Boykin made reading exciting.
"Our teacher makes reading fun. If there is a word we do not know, Ms. Haley [Boykin] will give us details about it so we can figure out what it means," said Jase Johnson.
"I get books they are interested in because it is easier for them to buy into reading. I also do fun reading activities, like participating in escape rooms and transforming the classroom into a theme. They are always reading without knowing it," Boykin stated, smiling at her students.
The students sat at their tables and showed each other the books they had bought from the book fair.
"I bought the book Amari and The Night Brothers because it looks interesting. Amari [the main character] looks like me. I was going to get The Lonely Ghost, but Jillianne got the last copy," said fifth-grader Noelani Sterling; she giggled as she pointed at her friend.
"It's okay; we can share and read it together," Jillianne Bowen stated as she smiled back at Sterling. "The Lonely Ghost is a scary book, and I like creepy endings. It makes my heartbeat when I read surprise endings!" Bowen shrieked.
The book fair provides an opportunity for students to buy what they have read in class as well as discover authors they have learned about from one another. It was evident the students enjoyed exploring new terrains.
"This year, there were many more books at the book fair, and it is going to be fun to read the different books. When I read a new book, I want to keep reading more," Bowen stated.
Jase Johnson had yet to attend the book fair, but he was thrilled about the books he would get.
"I am going to get the Dog Man book. It is about a dog that becomes part cop [police officer], a human cop, and part canine after something happens to the both of them. I am also going to get a poster and the Goosebumps book," Jase stated as he nodded at his classmates.
Throughout the day, the other grades attended the book fair. Though the book fair lasted a few days, the student's love of reading will last a lifetime.
Career and Technical Education Career Fair
Written By: Wilhelmine “Willow” Bellevue
February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) month. CTE month allows students to attain professional certifications and academic and technical skills while attending high school. Southampton County Public Schools (SCPS) has a CTE building where students can fully immerse themselves in their craft. For example, the culinary arts students have a classroom kitchen. Early Childhood Education students develop and deliver lesson plans under the supervision of SCPS educators. The cosmetology students teach others self-care while providing makeovers to clients.
CTE Supervisor, Chad Brock spearheaded a CTE career fair held on February 17, 2023. Melissa Edwards, who teaches Desktop Multimedia, Web Technology, and Advanced Placement Art, was one of the fair’s CTE instructors and organizers. Southampton’s CTE business teachers, Quiena Diggs and Charisse Cooper, were also part of the team that executed a seamless event. “We had Paul D. Camp Community College and local businesses come to the career fair to let students know what local career opportunities are available after high school that corresponds with their current classes,” said Edwards.
“We had electricians, accountants, construction companies, the United States Army, and the Department of Corrections. We even had students doing the plan and push-up challenges!”
According to Edwards, the Department of Corrections offers a sign-on bonus and hires students right out of high school. In addition, students in grades 9–12, enrolled in a CTE class attended the career fair. Students enrolled in government classes also participated.
“The common dominator at the fair today was that they need people to work. So, on May 24, the seniors will have the opportunity to meet with the same companies or more and have mock interviews with them. A lot of these companies are willing to train and hire new graduates. The interviews can lead to jobs,” Edwards said.
Edwards also shared that Southampton’s CTE students impressed the businesses and representatives.
“We got a lot of compliments on our students. They [the businesses] stated, ‘We want to come back and interview one on one with your students.’ We even had our culinary students cook a hot meal for the businesses and recruiters; they served them all lunch. The culinary art students made chicken, potatoes, rolls, spice cake, and sugar cookies,” Edward stated.
According to the United States Department of Education, studies have shown that students who focus on CTE are more likely to earn higher incomes as adults. SCPS CTE instructors and Superintendent Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon are passionate about helping students gain professional certifications before graduating high school. Moreover, Dr. Shannon and Brock have expanded the programs in the CTE curricula.
Most recently, they added a pharmacy technician (PT) program. If you have ever waited in line for a prescription or called the pharmacy, you have received support from a PT. They assist in filling or ordering prescriptions, answering the phones, answering questions, and more. With a shortage of PTs, now would be a perfect time for Southampton High School students to enroll in the PT program.
CTE month was undoubtedly a success and ended with numerous student job opportunities. However, Brock and his team are committed to ensuring that CTE is a yearlong focus.
The mission of the Southampton County Public Schools is through the combined efforts of staff, students, families, and the community we will ensure a quality education in a safe environment that will prepare students to be successful learners and productive citizens
in an ever-changing society.
The vision of Southampton County Public Schools is that all students will be successful, productive, lifelong learners in an ever-changing world.