Sharing Our Progress

Winter 2022-23

Turning Point Academy (Lynchburg)

Technology in the classroom: "Littlebits make Big Movements!"

When you first hear the word "little bits" you must wonder what those are?


Little bits are code kits in which our students are able to use to practice coding skills. Through these kits they have access to a coding app and bit materials in which they have the autonomy to create unique sounds, movements, and animations. Our students are able to implement their stem knowledge to make their "little bits" do "big things" and it is a joy to watch and be engaged in the classroom with them.

Submitted by

Ms. Scott, SOP Student Support Specialist & Ms. Johnson, Math Teacher

Big picture
Big picture

Shenandoah Valley

Ms. Harman’s social studies students studied Mesopotamia and its relevance in the development of human civilization. Students critically analyzed the most famous of the Mesopotamian codes of law, the Code of Hammurabi.

The study of this code and its creation enabled students to see how the growth of civilizations creates a need for laws to be established. Ms. Harman facilitated thoughtful student discussions about the code, as well as laws and why societies have them. Students were engaged in their studies of the code and had lively discussions about the harsher punishments and contradictions that can be found in the Code of Hammurabi.

Their study of the Code of Hammurabi culminated in each student creating their own code of laws. Students were challenged to envision themselves as leaders of their own country or kingdom and to create a code of just laws. Students not only enjoyed writing their own laws, but by sharing these laws with each other they were able to develop an understanding of what they each find important, creating an even stronger sense of community among the students.

The Code of Hammurabi is chiseled on a seven-foot-five-inch, four-ton monument. To help students grasp the immense size of the monument, Ms. Harman drew it to size and students were then able to add their laws to this monument which is proudly displayed in the school hallway.

Big picture
Big picture

Coach Campbell continues to create a positive and challenging experience for physical education students at SVJC with his fitness challenge T-shirt program. Students must complete different challenges in order to earn each of the T-shirts. Students are highly motivated by this opportunity and work hard to earn tangible evidence of their growth. It is fantastic to see students’ sense of accomplishment after setting and reaching a goal.

Students can earn an Iron Man shirt by completing challenges that focus on improving muscle strength and endurance. Working on cardiovascular fitness, students can work their way from the County Fair shirt to the State Fair shirt and finally the World Fair shirt, gaining strength and endurance with each challenge. Students also rise to the challenge for a 100 mile shirt.

These shirts not only have a positive impact on students’ physical fitness, but also their self-esteem. By setting and achieving goals in physical education students develop a greater sense of self-efficacy that helps them work harder to reach their goals in all subjects.

Big picture
Big picture
Students in Ms. Fix’s Science class have had numerous opportunities for hand-on learning in the classroom this semester.

Her young scientists were thrilled to get the chance to use microscopes to view protists. This experience also gave them an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of scientific tools and how to use them as well as a chance to show that they are responsible members of their learning community.

In order to reinforce their understanding of the scientific process, students performed experiments to find out which compounds would produce the strongest signs of life when added to yeast. Students enjoyed seeing the different reactions and recording data.

These types of learning opportunities take place regularly in Mrs. Fix’s classroom and not only increase student engagement with the subject matter but also help students build a positive mindset in regards to their role in their education.

Big picture
Big picture

Blue Ridge

BRJD x Charlottesville Mural Project x Jae Johnson

This winter, BRJD students in Rayne MacPhee’s art classroom have been hard at work with a mural project done in collaboration with artist Jae Johnson and Charlottesville Mural Project. The students are painting on four large wooden panels that are cut to be the exact size and dimension of the cell doors at BRJD. These panels will then be placed in various spaces around Charlottesville, primarily in neighborhoods where a majority of BRJD students live.

Earlier this month, students met with the mural artist Jae Johnson to discuss what kinds of images they would like to see in their community. The topic of the conversations centered around community repair, what hope looks like to the students, and what spaces or people bring them peace. Based on that conversation, Jae created four sketches that the students reviewed, asked for edits, and eventually approved.

This project is set to be completed by January 1, with an opportunity for community engagement / a celebration and mural-reveal in the spring. With the grant given for this project, each student will also be compensated for their hard work on this project. Stay tuned for the reveal!

Big picture
Big picture


Greetings using Triptych and Reflection

Students in PRJDC have been sending holiday greeting cards to family, combining techniques of olden days with a twist in a technique called Triptych. Bringing the Renaissance and Mid-evil times to the future, our students used paper and colored pencils to create a Triptych, minus the historical wooden tablets of the Renaissance! In art class, Mrs. Halsey had the students study Triptych which is a work of art that is divided into three sections, hinged together, and can be folded shut or displayed standing for interest. She explained to the students that one section of the Triptych was used to reflect a certain period in their life, or their timeline. Using the left pane as a reflection of their past, the center as a reflection of their present, and the right pane to become a hope or dream of their future.

Prior to the actual artwork assignment, students used a reflection worksheet and a planning sheet to work out their ideas. The artwork was built upon their personal perspective and all students were told they could share if they felt inclined to do so, but this Triptych was for their personal reflection. One student’s artwork displayed a darker, colder past in which the student stated that path was not productive. The student’s present was described as a winding road with challenges and changes but a more positive light along the winding road. And the future was described as additional roads or avenues of possibilities as this student will embrace a new season in the near future. Other students shared their cold snowmen to depict the winter season. The snowmen served as a greeting card cover with their individual perspective or reflections shared on the inside of the greeting card.

During this time of holiday celebrations and reflections, it seemed a perfect time for students to participate in this self-reflection activity. Students made their greeting cards by hand and sent them via postal service to their families. The students loved the activity and shared that their families were excited to receive their personal cards.

As all good activities have more than one purpose, this activity served as a foundation for building positive self-concepts and expression in productive artistic ways.

Lynn Haley, Donna Matthews

Big picture
Big picture


Financial Literacy Comes to Life

Written by

Renita Davis-Kelley

Chesterfield Juvenile Detention Center

What a special treat! The Virginia Credit Union visits the Chesterfield Juvenile Detention Center. Mrs. Monica Van Arsdale, Sr. Financial Success Educator and former Economics and Personal Finance Teacher for Chesterfield County Public Schools was gracious enough to come and speak to our students. Mrs. Van Arsdale’s topic was, “Banking Basics.” She covered quite a bit of information that included: types of accounts that are offered by the credit union, age/document requirements needed to open an account, and how to become a member. The students were focused, engaged, and mesmerized by her energy along with her wealth of knowledge. The positive vibes and electrifying atmosphere were definitely captivating for the students. Mrs. Van Arsdale is scheduled to return throughout the 2022-23 academic year. Stay tuned…. her next planned visit is Friday, January 13, 2023. No bad luck here, her topic will be …. Building Generational Wealth.

Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture

Budgeting Makes It Better

Written by

Renita Davis-Kelley

Chesterfield Juvenile Detention Center

In this project-based learning activity, our students were tasked with building their dream gingerbread homes under a budget! Their budgets encompassed previously planning procedures discussed in class. These concepts included: net versus gross pay; discretionary income versus disposable income; and, understanding payroll deductions and withholdings. Additionally, they incorporated the ideas of being building developers and construction crews, while "buying" materials and building their homes. This fun project set the baseline for future learning activities that will prove beneficial for our students independent living.

Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture


Lights. Camera. Action.

Will Goss and Zack Marroto from Light House Studio, a filmmaking organization, brought a little piece of Hollywood to the post graduate residents of Rappahannock Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) during their December 7th-9th visit. They taught the residents about the power of visual storytelling and sharing their own voices through film.

According to the Light House Studio website, it is their desire to equip young people with the skills and confidence to tell their stories and build community through collaborative filmmaking. They seek to foster a community where young people flourish as students, storytellers, and citizens. They also strive to remove access barriers to provide film education for all youth.

During their visit at RJDC, residents had the unique opportunity to explore filmmaking by directing, editing and acting in their own short films. They learned various filmmaking techniques and terms such as Camera Movement, Close-up, Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI), Long Shot, Pick-Ups and Post Production. They quickly put their knowledge to work as they began to shoot a short film entitled Duck. In Duck, they explored the idea of having a duck for Thanksgiving dinner. Things took a turn when one of the students actually had to duck in order to avoid being hit with a ball. This comedic short broke the ice and piqued the interest of the residents.

The following day, residents pivoted from their comedic debut and filmed a documentary that detailed the day in the life of a resident at RJDC. Each resident expressed their feelings on the choices and mistakes that led them to being incarcerated. This emotional testimony had the resounding theme of honesty and hope. The advice residents had to the audience was to “never end up here”.

During the final day, the residents were completely in front of the camera with an action filmed entitled Dice. Here residents were able to act, including performing their own stunts, which they enjoyed.

Light House Studios provided this group of young people opportunities to cultivate long enduring skills. In addition to filmmaking and technical abilities, they were able to implement soft skills such as collaboration, communication, planning, citizenship, creativity, and empathy.

That’s a Wrap!

Porshia L. Foster

Literacy Coach and Testing Coordinator,

Rappahannock Juvenile Detention Center

Virginia Beach

The Post Graduate Program tapped into resources provided through RealityWorks: the welding simulator and the hydroponics kit. The teacher/students are still getting accustomed to it - and, we are waiting on a larger monitor but the students are excited about exploring welding - especially being so close to shipyards. You may be wondering about the hydroponics. We're cracking open the box as you read this! More on that later.
Big picture

Charlottesville Hospital Education Program

I Saved the Gingerbread Man!

Do you remember the story about the gingerbread man? “You can’t catch me. I’m the gingerbread man!” Do you remember the ending? How did the fox outsmart the gingerbread man? After listening to the story of the gingerbread man, the kindergarten and preschool students at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital wanted to find a way to save the gingerbread man from the fox. What could they use to build a floating device to get the gingerbread man across the river safely? First they used model magic to make a gingerbread man. They used a scale to determine the gingerbread man’s weight. Next they listened to the book Floating and Sinking by Amy S. Hansen, and conducted an experiment to determine what items float and sink. Using aluminum foil, the knowledge they gained from the book, and their experiment, they molded the foil to hold and protect the gingerbread man from the water. Before placing the gingerbread man in their flotation device they tested it using weights equivalent to the gingerbread man’s weight. Adjustments were made to the device as needed. Once it passed the weight test, the gingerbread man was set assail and saved.

Submitted by Lisa Black and Denise Meyer

New River Valley

In the late 1980’s public schools began to introduce computers as a part of their regular instructional program. Schools were equipped with computer labs and school administrators provided assigned lab times to every class. At that time, providing students with access to computers was considered to be “cutting edge.” Forty years later almost every student has access to their own personal computer both at school and at home and in most cases on their phone.

Technology is ever changing and as educators we must stay current and do our very best to prepare our students for the future. Research indicates that one of the latest trends in technology is the continual expansion of how drones are used and how they are becoming a part of our daily lives. As a matter of fact, there is a company in the New River Valley that is already making home deliveries of items such as groceries, prescription drugs and even ice cream.

In 2021 the NRVJDH purchased 10 mini drones for the school to provide students with the opportunity to learn more about drones and how they are currently being used not just in our area but also worldwide. The exposure to the drones have enabled students to not only learn about the drone but to also pilot, program, and fly a drone.

At NRVJDH we see this as a teachable moment for our students. The appropriate exposure and implementation of these drones has provided the students with a number of teaching and development opportunities. Just like the computer, the drone can be a tool for enhancing instruction and enabling students to learn the essential skills of problem-solving, coordination, and creativity.

Due to the ever-increasing amount of technology and online forms of communication that have become so apparent, it is important that students develop social and emotional skills. When students at NRVJDH are provided the opportunity to fly a drone they are expected to share and discuss their experiences with other students and seek out assistance from other students when things do not go right for them This helps to improve their communication and problem solving skills and affords them the opportunity to work together as a team to resolve issues.

In addition, learning how to control and maneuver a drone helps students improve their fine motor skills as well as their hand-eye coordination. It also helps to improve the student’s depth perception as they learn to judge the distance in space that the drone is flying to ensure they have enough space to safely land the drone.

At NRVJDH we strive to find ways of keeping our students motivated. Studies show that anytime students are exposed to hands-on learning experiences the chances of them retaining and applying the information increases significantly.

Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents

CCCA Students Join Millions in an Hour of Code

By Robert Craft, Social Studies Teacher

Students attending the Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents joined millions of students around the world celebrating Computer Science Education Week on December 2 with an Hour of Code event.

The Hour of Code, a global movement intended to introduce students worldwide to computer science, aims to inspire kids to learn more about computer science and break stereotypes along the way. Students at CCCA began with an introduction to movement coding by participating in a Human Robot Coding Challenge. During this activity, students directed movements of a “human bot” to reach a physical goal using commands while facing challenges of increasing complexity.

Students then explored coding movements of a robot using an Ipad app. After completing the first two activities, students moved on to beginner coding activities and Scratch Game Design. Using block-based coding, students learned about sequencing and looping while creating online games. More advanced students were introduced to resident functions, if-then loops, and user-defined variables using block coding freeware. Students enjoyed taking a break from their typical day of classes to create games and participate in the largest learning event in history.

Hospital Education Program at UVA

UVA Children’s Hospital Patients Create Custom Shoes for the UVA Basketball

Staff of the Hospital Education Program at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital helped to welcome 25 cancer patients to paint sneakers for “Shoes for Hope” on Wednesday, December 14, 2022. The shoes will be worn by the coaching staff of both the men’s and women’s UVA basketball teams during their home games starting next month to show their support for the children. After the shoes are worn, they will be auctioned at the “Coaches vs Cancer” fundraiser for the UVA Children's Hospital Oncology Program.

This was an extra special day for the children as this was an occasion for a fun event for the entire family, including siblings, at the hospital rather than a visit for health care. It was also a great opportunity for the UVA Children’s hospital teachers and education consultants to reconnect with students and their families. Of course, there was an abundance of orange and blue colors used on the shoes, but no color went unused! Some of the children even added their own names to the shoes! This was a great opportunity for the athletes to give back as well, especially during this time of the year. The children worked hard to plan the designs on the shoes and many spent more than an hour to complete their creations.

The players and coaches from the UVA men’s and women’s basketball teams were in attendance to spend time with the patients and their families and to help paint some of the shoes! The University’s Nike coordinator donated all 27 pairs of white Nike Air Force Ones. “Shoes for Hope” was founded by UVA student Ben Herold. Herold had a friend who was diagnosed with cancer and they painted shoes together to relax. Herold would like for this event to become a tradition at UVA.

Submitted by Lisa Black (UVA Hospital Education Program

Big picture