The Southampton Spotlight
Dear Southampton Students, Parents, Staff, and Community Members:
In this edition of The Southampton Spotlight, we showcase some of our Points of Pride within the Southampton County Public School Division. Our leaders, teachers, staff, and students have exemplified the Spirit of Excellence throughout November's eventful and exciting month. From bringing agriculture in the classroom at Meherrin Elementary School with Mrs. Susan Fowler, to making edible soil layers at Capron Elementary School with Dr. Muriel Artis, under the leadership of Ms. Natasha Rose, students enjoyed hands-on learning. Mrs. Susan Melbye brought the farm to students at Nottoway Elementary School. Co-Principals at Riverdale Elementary School, Mrs. Tamee Railey and Mrs. Kisha Watford, celebrated students with a PBIS party. Our elementary school students, staff, and administrators have had a month filled with excitement, encouragement, and quality teaching and learning.
Our middle school administrators, Dr. Tonica White, Mr. Billy Jenkins, and Mr. Mark Barfield, hosted a “Night Under the Stars” for our middle school students to celebrate homecoming. They also continue to make learning magical at Southampton Middle School by providing opportunities for our students, teachers, and staff to share in unscripted teachable moments, as well as a quality scheduled instructional and fun time. Dr. MeChelle Blunt, Ms. Marilyn Holder, and Mr. Chad Brock celebrated our staff who served in the military while continuing to ensure robust teaching and learning daily.
I hope that you and your family had a wonderful fall break and that you have a peaceful, pleasant, and restful winter break. Please, remember to cherish your friends and family this holiday season. I look forward to seeing everyone in January to continue our pursuit of excellence.
Making learning magical,
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.
Meherrin Principal Brings Agriculture to the Classroom
Written By: Wilhelmine “Willow” Bellevue
Southampton County, Va. —Thursday, November 3, 2022, the fourth and fifth graders of Meherrin Elementary filled the cafeteria at 9:20 am. Though it was too early for lunch, they were excited to hear about a prize they had won.
The students were familiar with growing food in their outside garden, but this would be the first time they could grow food from their classroom without using soil. Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) is a not-for-profit organization that collaborates with other organizations in the surrounding areas to raise agriculture awareness in the Virginia educational system.
The Principal of Meherrin Elementary, Susan Fowler, stood in front of the cafeteria, “Aside from lunch, this is the first time we have had an assembly. This (AITC) is a very special presentation. I am excited because you know when you enter a drawing, you cross your fingers because you don’t know. You might win, you might not win.”
Fowler paused, and the students waited for their principal to share the good news.
“Well, we entered into (a contest for) a system that we were learning about, and we are excited because we were one in four schools in Virginia to win this system!” Fowler exclaimed.
The Director of AITC, Tammy Maxey was present at the assembly.
“(AITC) is a 501c3 nonprofit. So, the Virginia Farm Bureau and the County Farm Bureaus are huge sponsors and partners. When I say sponsorship, I mean financial support to promote agriculture literacy through activities. (For example), donating the hydroponic unit you all received. They support (us) financially so that we can do teacher training, have our website up, and give grants to schools. We have other sponsors as well.”
Maxey had two students hold up a banner with a picture of a hydroponic system, then stated,
“You’re probably thinking, ‘I don’t know what a hydroponic system is. Do you know how you plant seeds outside? Well, this unit allows you to plant things inside with a water solution that has nutrients in it, and your plants will grow just by using the water solutions,” Maxey stated.
The students listened intently to Maxey as she spoke.
“You will be able to grow lettuces, herbs, parsley, chives, and things you can use in the classroom and maybe in the cafeteria. You will be able to grow things all year long and not just when it’s appropriate to grow outside,” Maxey said.
Maxey pointed to the hydroponic system, “The unit will be the size of a bookcase, which you probably have in your classroom. Inside each tray is a water system flowing into something for it to grow in; it might be cotton, wool, or a soil pod. And you know how your plants grow from the sunlight outside? These units have special U.V. (ultraviolet) lights to help your plants grow.”
Fowler surveyed the room and raised her hand, “Raise your hand if you have a family member who is a farmer or if you know someone who is a farmer.”
The room was filled with raised hands. After staring at the little hands waving in the air, Fowler stated, “Everything we do in our area is based on our local farmers, and now we can bring it inside the school! If we are growing our lettuce, what do you think we can do with it?”
“Sell it!” the students shouted and laughed.
Fowler nodded and smiled in agreement. She continued, “We can turn this into a math experiment. We can teach you guys how to run your own business.”
The students then spoke about the food they wanted to sell or grow. Clay Gaskins from the fifth-grade class stated he was looking forward to using the unit to farm.
“Planting is fun. I like farming. I want to use it to grow tomatoes, some fruits, and lettuce. I like it (the hydroponic system). I can’t wait to use it! “Gaskins said in a burst of joy.
Southampton County Public Schools Goes Electric
Written By: Wilhelmine "Willow" Bellevue
Courtland, Va. - Southampton County Public Schools (SCPS) received the first of its two electric vehicles (EVs) on Wednesday, November 2, 2022. The district's long-term plan is to replace all of its traditional buses with EVs. Coordinator of Auxiliary Services and Transportation, Will Melbye, investigated various avenues to attain electric buses for the district. As a result of his research, Southampton County Public Schools received funds from a grant to purchase electric buses.
"The grant is managed by Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The funds came from the 2019 Volkswagen settlement; $20 million was set aside just for school buses in Virginia. We were part of a group that received competitive grants to purchase these units. The other element of the initiative is the collaboration with Sunny Merryman, the Thomas Built Bus dealer for Virginia," Melbye stated.
According to Melbye, Southampton County Public Schools was awarded an 85 percent reimbursement grant of $583,000.
"We paid Sunny Merryman ($583,000). We contacted DEQ, and they gave us a check for 85 percent of what we paid," Melbye explained.
The Regional Sales Manager, Mike Wirt, delivered the Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2 School Bus (Thomas C2) to the district's garage. The Thomas C2 is well known for its advanced safety and visibility features. Wirt explained the advantages of the EV bus, "There is no exhaust pipe. So, you don't have any emissions. It's cleaner. No fuel. No gas. No diesel. It has 226 kilowatts of battery power, so it gives an exceptional range of 140 miles". Wirt pointed at the bus, "The Thomas C2 is nicknamed Julie. It is the jewel of current."
Dominion Energy also supported Southampton County Public Schools by building a charging station for SCPS worth $220,000.
"They (Dominion Energy) pretty much donated, designed, and installed the charging facility. They put in the infrastructure so that we can expand. The first two buses have charging stations, and as we progress, they will add more," Melbye shared.
The outside of the bus looks like a standard school bus. According to Melbye, the most significant changes were the lights, the brakes, the airbrakes, and the batteries.
"Four hours of charging will fully load the bus. It is a DC fast charge. The charge is straight off the line and into the bus. Right now, the stack of batteries under the bus goes from the back of the bus to the front of the bus, 25 feet. The brakes are not traditional padded ones; they can pull in energy. The airbrakes are now a pushbutton piece whereas before, it was a hard pull," Melbye explained.
The bus has the Mobileye N.V Earning system (Mobileye), which supports preventive measures for vehicle, pedestrian, and forward collisions. The driver's seat will vibrate if a possible collision is detected, and a warning alert will sound off.
Wirt developed a robust EV training plan to support the district's transportation staff. "Our technicians will do a ride and drive. We will train the drivers (the district's school bus drivers) how to drive the bus. The Sunny technicians will also train with (Southampton County Public Schools’) bus technicians and will show them how to service the bus," said Wirt.
Most notable are the capabilities of the future electric buses—the district plans on acquiring buses that will have vehicle-to-grid technology (V2G). Vehicle-to-grid technology enables the vehicle to convert the energy from the car into another source or vehicle.
"As technology moves up, the range on these buses will increase. Let's say we lost power in this area; Dominion Energy could take power from the bus to electrify the area. The next phases of buses will have V2G," said Melbye.
According to Melbye, Southampton County is over 607 square miles, and the typical bus route is 130 miles. Melbye shared that the district's goals are to become more environmentally responsible, increase safety, and reduce bus maintenance costs.
"Over 15 years, this bus will save us $1 million. We will not have to spend money on gas, brakes, oil changes, and lights. Over time, the price of the buses will come down, and we will eventually be able to buy more electric buses for what we are paying now for standard buses," Melbye said confidently.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has The Clean School Bus Program, funding schools to replace conventional school buses with low-emission or no-emission school buses.
“We have done a lot to get the heavy diesel buses off the road. We are on the waiting list for an EPA grant. We would receive three buses, and Dominion Energy would add charging stations for those buses,” Melbye said.
As they wait to attain additional buses, Melbye and his team are excited about their EVs and the future of transportation for Southampton County Public Schools students.
SCPS Recognizes, Rewards, and Retains Employees
Southampton County Public Schools District Recognizes, Rewards, and Retains Employees
Written By: Wilhelmine " Willow" Bellevue
Over the past five years, Southampton County Public Schools (SCPS) has hosted an Employee of the Month luncheon. During this luncheon, distinguished staff are acknowledged by their peers, the administration, and the heads of departments. SCPS makes it a priority to make their staff feel appreciated for their work, regardless of one’s tenure at the district.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, over 47 million Americans quit their jobs. The mass exodus of workers from various fields has been referred to as "The Great Resignation," "The Big Quit," and "The Great Reshuffling." Though the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the Great Resignation, the World Economic Forum shared in its survey that 60% of employees want to feel appreciated at work. Southampton County Public Schools has been rewarding, recognizing, and retaining its employees long before the Great Resignation and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Human Resources and Marketing Coordinator, Bobbie Grant, shared with the attendees at the luncheon the event's purpose and how their work was significant to the district. Superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools , Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon, further elaborated regarding the purpose of the luncheon and then told a story about a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam, Charles Plumb. Dr. Shannon explained how Plumb successfully parachuted over 74 times before being shot down on his 75th mission and held captive as a prisoner of war for six years.
"One day, while Plumb was dining out, the sailor who packed his parachute recognized him and introduced himself to Plumb. The sailor told Plumb how he always wondered if his parachute worked. Plumb stated, 'Of course, it worked; had it not been for you, I would not be here.'"
The recipients laughed, and Dr. Shannon continued, "I share this with you because it was the person who thought he had a small job, a sailor, who actually had a huge impact on the life of the captain. Many of you may not realize how important your job is in the grand scheme of our organization…but you all are like the sailor to me."
The attendees nodded, and some of them were close to tears." Bus drivers, teachers, custodians, school services, paraprofessionals, and secretaries…Because of what you do, we can safely jump out of the plane and carry out our mission," Dr. Shannon concluded.
The audience gave loud applause, and shortly after that, the Interim Director of Human Resources, Debra Hicks, provided certificates and pins to the honorees.
Some had worked for the district for over 30 years, and others had been with Southampton County Public Schools for as little as one year. Hicks highlighted each recipient's strengths and what they have contributed to the district.
Hicks spoke about Tiffany McGhee, a teacher at Capron Elementary School who stays after school to provide professional development to teachers. "She elected to assist teachers with their plan books and with technology. She did not ask for anything extra. She does this on her own," Hicks shared.
Shawanda Harris, a paraprofessional at Meherrin Elementary School, also received recognition. "From North Carolina, Shawanda started as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and wanted to become a paraprofessional. She is a hard worker, and we appreciate all you do!" Hicks exclaimed.
Kristy Gray, who works in the Southampton County Public Schools central office, was acknowledged for her precision and commitment: "Kristy is coming from a legal background. She was a paralegal for years before coming over to us," Hicks stated.
Dr. MeChelle Blunt was awarded the Principal of the Month, "If you want to know somebody that is innovative, and if you want to know somebody who works on challenges in the middle of the night…if something goes sour, she makes lemonade…We do appreciate you for being a high school principal!" Hicks said.
"Do you want to see walking and talking greatness?" Hicks pointed at Rachel Boag, "Rachel is an expert in Chemistry, Physics, and Math…thank you, Rachel, for bringing your expertise to Southampton County."
The Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Kelli Gillette, read her poem, "Thank you all for making a million little split decisions in an instant, for the benefit of your students…Thank you, for putting your own needs on hold, and for putting the needs of students first… you matter; thank you so much!"
The Transportation Supervisor, Joshua Griffin, serenaded the audience with a song, "Lean on me." The audience joined the chorus, "we all need somebody to lean on."
Griffin also teased the audience in his ad lib and stated," If you need me, I'm at the school board. If you need me, you have my cellphone. I will try to pick it up. You can call me." The attendees laughed and cheered.
The Coordinator of Technology, Bill Hatch, delivered words of inspiration to the recipients before opening the floor to the self-serve buffet. The menu included the following: fried chicken, grilled chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits, string beans, and cheesecake. As they ate, they had light-hearted conversations, congratulated each other, and received individual praise from
The Auxiliary Service and Transportation Coordinator, Will Melbye, echoed Dr. Shannon's words in his closing remarks. Melbye congratulated the recipients once more before dessert was served. As everyone ate, Dr. Shannon surprised the recipients by announcing they could take the rest of the afternoon off or use their bonus half day off at a later date. They then took a group picture, went their separate ways, and felt appreciated as they packed parachutes.
Edible Soil Layers at Capron Elementary
Written By: Kathy Thompson
Capron Elementary third-grade students enjoyed their edible lesson taught by their teacher, Dr. Muriel Artis, on Friday, November 18, 2022. As the students were learning about the Science Standard of Learning objective on soil, they participated in an activity entitled "Edible Soil Layers". The students used chocolate chip cookies and graham crackers for the bedrock and parent rock layers, vanilla pudding for the subsoil layers, and chocolate pudding with Oreos for the humus layers. The children used pretzels, pumpkins, and candy as fertilizers for their soil. The students then added gummy worms to replace real-life worms found in the ground. By the lesson's conclusion, the children could distinguish between the different soil layers.
Riverdale Elementary Students Attend PBIS Party
Written By: Wilhelmine "Willow" Bellevue
Courtland, Va.- The smell of cotton candy and popcorn saturated the cafeteria at Riverdale Elementary School. The students sang Christmas songs and danced to their favorite tunes. Co-Principals, Tamee Railey and Kisha Watford swayed along with the students as they distributed cotton candy. It was a special day for the students; they had earned a Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) party.
PBIS is a reward system in which teachers and principals focus more on praising students for positive behavior rather than addressing students’ misconduct. According to the Center on PBIS, the method focuses on students' emotional, social, behavioral, and academic growth through positive reinforcement. The PBIS system fosters a joyful and productive learning environment.
"We started PBIS a couple of years ago, and it is a reward system in which children earn points for doing great things. At the end of many weeks, students can cash in their points for different rewards. This time it is popcorn, cotton candy, or both depending on how much they would like to spend," said Watford.
"I earned points for the PBIS party because I studied and listened to my teachers," Lopez stated proudly.
Evidence-based research has shown that students are more likely to make better choices when rewarded for constructive behavior. Studies have also demonstrated how celebrating students for their healthy behaviors influences their peers to make effective decisions. According to the Center on PBIS website, more than 25,000 schools use the PBIS system. All Southampton County Public Schools have integrated PBIS into their schools. Each school has uniquely customized its PBIS incentive.
"The PBIS system does reflect growth in students. Usually, after the first party, we will see an increase in students' positive behaviors and choices because they know they will have something to work towards," Watford stated.
Barnhill Reserve Comes to Nottoway Elementary School
Written By: Principal of Nottoway Elementary School, Susan Melbye
On November 14, 2022, Barnhill Reserve brought its exotic animals to Nottoway Elementary School. Barn Hill Preserve provides free mobile animal education to children while exposing them to wildlife. Our students got an up-close look and held some of the following creatures: opossums, lizards, owls, and tortoises. Students also had the chance to take pictures with the animals and ask the speaker questions. Overall, our children enjoyed the experience.
Southampton High School Principal Honors Veterans
Written By: Wilhelmine "Willow" Bellevue
Friday, November 4, 2022, was the embodiment of a perfect fall afternoon. The bus arrived early to pick up students for a half-day dismissal. And though the sun was beaming, a cool-warm breeze comforted the group gathered beneath the flag pole where the American flag waved with grace and confidence. Dr. MeChelle Blunt, the principal of Southampton High School (SHS), stood across from the three veterans of honor. She held red, white, and blue gift bags in her hands, and teachers and staff surrounded them in a closed circle.
Dr. Blunt created SHS’s annual Veterans Day ceremony to acknowledge and honor the school’s distinguished staff members who served in the military. She keeps the tradition close to her heart as her father was a World War II veteran.
“I appreciate what he did, and they [veterans] are humble servants,” Dr. Blunt said. “The humility warrants the recognition. They are not looking for thanks. They are simply here to give service.”
Coincidentally, two of the three honorees are history teachers at SHS. The first, Andrew Williams, served in the Navy for eight years and currently teaches World History and Geography.
“I always wanted to be a teacher since I was in the sixth grade,” said Williams. “My brother was in the Marines, so I thought of him when I went into the Navy. I then transitioned into becoming a teacher, which was my lifelong dream of becoming a teacher.”
Williams had nothing but warm words for the ceremony. He said, “It feels good to be recognized. None of us go into this to be recognized. It’s nice when someone takes a brief minute to say thank you.”
The high school’s other veteran history teacher, Daniel Morris, followed family tradition by joining the military and serving in the Navy for 20 years, from 1998 to 2018. He also expressed appreciation for the event.
“It’s nice the high school recognizes the sacrifices which veterans made,” Morris said. “I have a passion for history, and I found myself teaching here for Southampton County.”
The third honoree, Alfred Charity, served as a paratrooper for five years in the United States Army. Today, he is the Supervisor of Security and Safety at Southampton Public Schools (SCPS) and has worked at Southampton County Public Schools for nearly 19 years. In addition to ensuring safety, Charity assists a group of SHS students with attaining their General Education Development (GED) diploma.
“The students are brought in on the regular school day, and they work towards getting their GED. He [Charity] also works with our alternative education program and with our in-school intervention program. So, he wears a lot of hats here, and he also coaches track and field hockey,” said Dr. Blunt.
Along with the three honorees, Dr. Blunt commended assistant principal Marilyn Holder who could not make it to the ceremony. Holder served in the military for over six years as an army medic. This is Holder’s first year as an assistant principal at Southampton County Public Schools.
“Mrs. Marilyn Holder is not here. She is our assistant principal, but her background in the military was medicine,” said Dr. Blunt. “She brings firmness, consistency—she has a presence. She is an advocate for the children.”
During the ceremony, many of the staff wore red and blue in honor of Veterans Day. They cheered respectfully as Dr. Blunt presented the veterans with gift bags.
“We want to express our thanks and gratitude for going above and beyond the call of duty,” she said. “You are an asset to our staff. We appreciate the sacrifices you have made and the ones you continue to make.”
The veterans nodded and humbly accepted their gift bags. Inside were snacks, a personalized thank you card, and a gift card.
The staff of SHS cheered once more before the veterans walked away. The American flag continued to wave in the warm breeze. One might say the flag also saluted the veterans that day.
Kindergarten Election at Meherrin Elementary
Written By: Lynn Varian
On November 7, 2022, Mrs. Sarah Graham’s kindergarten class at Meherrin Elementary learned about the election process. The students studied two “candidates,” Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies and Oreo cookies, to make the information fun and practical. The class compared the two candidates, discussing the pros and cons of each. The students then made a selection on their ballot and placed it in the makeshift ballot box. Oreo cookies won by a landslide! Keep learning and growing, Meherrin Eagles!
Written By: Alfred S. Charity
Courtland, VA. (October 27, 2022)- Southampton County Public Schools (SCPS) is proud to announce that it has applied for and received grant funding from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to participate in the Digital Mapping Program for Virginia K-12 Schools. The division submitted a memorandum of understanding and an application with DCJS to qualify for the grant.
Paper and two-dimensional digital maps have become obsolete for today’s school emergencies. The Gridded Reference Graphic (GRG) will share the exact location of a crisis with law enforcement and first responders.
Collaborative Response Graphics (CRGs) are standard site-specific and visual graphics that display facility floor plans. The map includes high-resolution images of room numbers, hallways, external doors, stairwells, key utility locations, parking areas, and security camera locations. Responders will have access to these graphics.
The maps will also display 911 calls in a plotted format. Maps are accessible on terminals inside emergency vehicles, unified command centers, tactical commander’s stations, and contact teams to improve communication and control during all stages of emergency responses. The Critical Response Group (CRG) will conduct the mapping for all our schools.
Before integrating the system, CRG will complete a walk-through of all the Southampton County Public Schools. CRG will then hold a meeting with the Safety and Security Supervisor, Alfred S. Charity; Superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools, Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon; Southampton County Sheriff, Josh Wyche Sr.; chiefs from the local fire and rescue departments, and Area 34 supervisors of the Virginia State Police Department (VSPD) to discuss the integration of the system into the Southampton Public Schools District.
Please contact Alfred S. Charity at email@example.com regarding any questions pertaining to this article.
Southampton County Public Schools Awarded School Security Equipment Grant
Written By: Wilhelmine “Willow” Bellevue
Courtland, Va.- Southampton High School (SHS) and Southampton Middle School (SMS) received $229,514 for a School Security Equipment Grant. To qualify for the competitive grant, The Coordinator of Technology, Bill Hatch, and, The Parent and Community Liaison, Lorraine Greene-Whitehead, submitted a Security Equipment Management (SEGM) application requesting $250,000. Virginia’s Department of Education (VDOE) awarded SHS $188,647 and SMS $110,787.
According to the VDOE, for a school system to receive the grant, it must receive a local match of 25 percent of the awarded amount. Southampton County Public Schools provided the local match of $57,378 to the schools.
“Dr. Shannon loves these children as if they were her children. If there is something that can make our school safer, she wants our name on it,” said Whitehead.
The breakdown of what was awarded to SHS is indicated below:
Vaping Detectors, which detect smoke and vapes - $2,100
Cameras mounted on the interior and exterior walls of school structures-$24,6000
Security and scanning equipment, which permits security to control the cameras- $79,987
Voice and video internal communication systems, which provide teachers direct communication to offices within the school building - $81,960
The breakdown of what was awarded to SMS is indicated below:
Vaping Detectors, which detect smoke and vapes - $10,800
Cameras mounted on the interior and exterior walls of school structures -$20,000
Security and scanning equipment, which permits security to control the cameras - $79,987
Whitehead further shared, “These security systems will allow us to repair, replace, and update our current system. Our students must be safe and feel safe. Feeling safe is one of the necessary components in learning.”
The schools will receive their new security equipment by the end of the 2022-2023 school year.
Southampton County Public Schools are Conquering the SOLs
Written By: Wilhelmine “Willow” Bellevue
The pandemic has impacted students' academic performances. The principals of Southampton County Public School District (SCPS) have addressed the low scores on the Standard of Learning (SOL) exams. The SOLs measure the student's ability to meet the state's academic standards. According to Virginia's Department of Education (DOE), the SOL scores for reading and mathematics have plummeted statewide within the past two years.
The Superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools, Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon said, "We are now on the upswing. The teachers have sharpened their skillset and are integrating more creative methodologies in the classroom."
"We felt a small dip the first year [of the pandemic] when we were virtual. The second year when we were hybrid, 85% of our students returned, and parental involvement increased," said Principal of Nottoway Elementary School (NES),Susan Melbye.
Melbye purchased transformation kits to convert classrooms into specific learning themes. "We've had a Safari theme, candy land theme, and more,” explained Melbye. “Once the classes are transformed, we teach lessons tied to that theme." NES teachers have also designed educational boot camps for students.
Principal of Capron Elementary School, Natasha Rose, described how her innovative team of teachers integrated new techniques in the classroom to engage learners. "We have small groups; this is when teachers split students based on assessment data. The small groups rotate every 15 minutes and spend group time with their teachers," Rose said. "Our parental involvement has gone up. We were packed at this year's open house, and parents were present for over an hour."
In addition, elementary schools have started utilizing a combination of innovative learning lessons and Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) systems to help students experience a constructive learning environment.
For example, the district's positive behavior program focuses on rewarding and acknowledging good behavior. Principal of Meherrin Elementary School, Susan Fowler said, "Students like to be rewarded. They like hearing their names on the loudspeaker, taking pictures, or being rewarded for their positive behavior." As a result, students are more engaged in their learning and feel supported by staff.
Southampton High School (SHS) also implemented a PBIS system. By creating attendance punch cards for students, they successfully incentivized attendance. SHS Principal Dr. MeChelle Blunt and her team are outside-the-box thinkers. They aspire to make learning fun and meaningful.
"I told my students I would get a dunk tank if they passed the SOLs. I don't want them to think of the SOL as a test," Dr. Blunt said.
Blunt holds after-school remediation and credit recovery sessions to better prepare students for the SOLs. Students receive additional tutoring in math, science, and social studies. The credit recovery sessions allow students to make up time missed from school absences.
"I know it sounds cliché, but our motto is no child left behind. I don't want any child left behind due to absences. Students can make up for their absences within the marking period," said Dr. Blunt.
Co-Principals Tamee Railey and Kisha Watford have implemented growth assessments at Riverdale Elementary School. Railey said, "We do growth assessments three times a year. These assessments have helped our teachers plan one to one's intervention."
In addition to growth assessments, schools have created a dashboard that monitors student progress. Southampton Middle School Principal, Billy Jenkins, shared that teachers use data from the dashboard to develop learning strategies.
"Right now, only the administrators can see the dashboard. We let teachers compile the data from the math, benchmark, and SOL unit tests for posting on the dashboard," said Jenkins. "We are going to start pulling kids into small groups, we have already started implementing remediation techniques, and we already began calling parents of students who are struggling to see how we can help."
Jenkins shared the same sentiment with the other principals regarding parental involvement. He said, "Parental involvement has been good! The parents also join us during our planning period, where all the teachers are present. We come together to plan the best learning strategy for students. Parents have been very accepting and appreciative because they see the big picture. Our parents know what the goal is."
The district's overall goal is to provide students with resources to pass or exceed SOL tests. Moreover, every principal has set the goal to provide additional emotional support to students so that they know they have a community of people who love them.
"If students know they are loved and respected, they will move mountains. Our students will do amazing things on this year's SOLs," said Melbye.
A Night Under the Stars
Written By: Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Kelli Gillette
Southampton Middle School students and staff celebrated “A Night Under the Stars” at Southampton Middle School on November 18, 2022, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Students came in their best dress clothing and danced the night away…well at least until 9:00 p.m.
The 2022-2023 Homecoming Court was introduced and a homecoming king and queen where crowned for each grade-level:
6th grade: Nylah Peterson and Malakai Warren
7th grade: Livia Deskins and Muzik Manning
8th grade: Nikiya Claude and Qmarai Allen
Parents of our homecoming court attended the dance to see their child crowned
Students of the Month
Southampton County Public Schools recognizes its exemplary students each month. Each student is recognized by their building principal and given a certificate.
Below are the names of the students who were honored at November's Board Meeting:
Adeline Maynard, seventh-grader from Southampton Middle School
Amani Evans, eight-grader from Southampton Middle School
Annabelle Upton, kindergartener from Nottoway Elementary
Brantley Bennett, kindergartener from Meherrin Elementary
Breanna Bynum, fifth- grader from Capron Elementary
Claire Jarratt, fifth-grader from Riverdale Elementary
Jamia Butler, eleventh- grader from Southampton High School
Morgan Young, first-grader from Capron Elementary
Keegan Joyner, sixth-grader from Southampton Middle School
Keith Knight, Jr., eleventh-grader from Southampton High School
Laney Butler, sixth- grader from Southampton Middle School
Malaya Porter, first-grader at Riverdale Elementary
Matthew Yoder, eighth-grader from Southampton Middle School
Morgan Young, first-grader at Capron Elementary
Muzik Manning , seventh-grader from Southampton Middle School
Rorey Criser, kindergartener from Nottoway Elementary
Saniya Ivey, fourth- grader from Meherrin Elementary
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.