NPS NOW NEWSLETTER
A Message From The Superintendent
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it has certainly taught us that the ability to plan for the future even as we adapt to current change is crucial to our success. That lesson applies to us individually and to Norfolk Public Schools as a whole.
In this month’s newsletter and in months ahead, our families will receive important information regarding recommendations to repurpose, renovate, and rebuild the division’s aging schools and facilities. This 10-year facilities plan, known as Rebuild NPS 2030, has been years in the making.
Over the past several years, thanks to input from our families and other community stakeholders, hard work by the NPS administration, and expert consultation from our partners with Cooperative Strategies, NPS has finalized recommendations for consideration by the City of Norfolk School Board and is ready to move forward for positive change.
This plan is the realization of our commitment to improve our aging infrastructure so that our students are educated in school buildings that are worthy of them. The plan recommends changes designed to bring a brighter educational future for our students, our staff, and our community.
We also continue to adapt to the changing conditions of the pandemic. Virginia’s Governor Glenn Youngkin recently signed into law a requirement that masking be made optional for students within all schools in the Commonwealth. The School Board met on Friday, February 25, and passed a resolution to comply with the terms of this new legislation.
As always, we thank you for your support of Norfolk Public Schools. We will continue to keep you informed in this space and through our website, social media, voicemails, telephone calls, e-mails, and text messages regarding any changes and future plans for our school division.
Optional Mask Plan
A new law signed by Governor Glenn Youngkin makes wearing a mask optional for children in schools across the Commonwealth.
Governor Youngkin signed SB 739 on Wednesday, February 16, 2022. The law states:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law or any regulation, rule, or policy implemented by a school board, school division, school official, or other state or local authority, the parent of any child enrolled in a public elementary or secondary school, or in any school-based early childhood care and education program, may elect for such child to not wear a mask while on school property. A parent making such an election shall not be required to provide a reason or any certification of the child's health or education status. No student shall suffer any adverse disciplinary or academic consequences as a result of this parental election.
This law takes effect no later than March 1, 2022.
During a special called meeting on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, the School Board voted to make student masking optional on school property. Additionally, the School Board voted to eliminate the vaccine or testing mandate for Norfolk Public Schools employees, as well as progressive disciplinary actions associated with the failure to comply.
Norfolk Public Schools will continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and to employ the strategies noted within the NPS Health Mitigation Plan to include social distancing, handwashing and sanitizing, as well as cleaning and disinfecting our schools and other division facilities.
NPS Public Hearing
For the past several years, Norfolk Public Schools has worked with the consulting firm Cooperative Strategies to support educational planning efforts and to develop a comprehensive, 10-year facilities plan to consolidate, renovate, repurpose, and replace the division’s aging schools and facilities. This intensive process included an assessment of all facilities within the school division; a review of data including student enrollment and funding sources; and solicitation of stakeholder input through multiple community forums and surveys.
Now, Norfolk Public Schools is ready to embark on the implementation of the next phase of its facilities plan with recommendations for school transitions taking place beginning with the 2022-2023 school year. The School Board of the City of Norfolk considered these transitions during its retreat on February 4 and voted to move forward with holding a public hearing to provide another opportunity for community stakeholders to provide input on the facilities plan prior to any final decisions being made. This public hearing is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. at Richard Bowling Elementary School, 2700 East Princess Anne Road.
The recommended transitions include:
Lindenwood Elementary School will close. Students who are currently enrolled at the school will transition to W.H. Taylor Elementary School and Willard Elementary School, based on their address, beginning in the 2022-2023 school year.
The Madison Alternative Center will close. Students who will be enrolled in the school division’s secondary alternative education program will transition to the site of what is now Lindenwood Elementary School beginning in the 2022-2023 school year.
Easton Preschool will close. Students enrolled there will transition to the site of the former Fairlawn Elementary School, which is currently vacant, during the 2022-2023 school year.
Tidewater Park Elementary School will close at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. Students there will transition to Ruffner Middle, which will be repurposed from a traditional middle school to a combined school for grades 3 through 8 during the 2023-2024 school year. The 2022-2023 school year will be a planning year for this transition. Ruffner School for grades 3-8 will include a division-wide choice program.
These recommendations adhered to guiding principles established during the planning process: data-driven decisions guided by community input, with transparency and regular updates to families, with all options designed to create “trade up” scenarios for students. No option was considered if it did not improve the learning environment for affected students. The plan seeks to bring all facilities to equitable standards for academic, resource, and extra-curricular spaces.
Superintendent Dr. Sharon I. Byrdsong said these recommended transitions reflect NPS’ commitment to fiscal responsibility and allow NPS to “act on its vision of school buildings that are worthy of our students. We are closing old and outdated facilities as well as repurposing and renovating others.”
Additionally, she said, “These transitions reflect the School Board’s expectations of the NPS administration to balance school boundaries and work to eliminate the concentration of poverty at schools within the division.”
The recommendation to close Tidewater Park Elementary School, Easton Preschool, and the Madison Alternative Center was also made in response to area redevelopment, declining enrollment, and poor building conditions. The City of Norfolk is planning redevelopment in the St. Paul’s corridor, including the area around Tidewater Park Elementary School by the 2023-2024 school year. The surrounding elementary schools are projected to lose more than 300 students over the next five years.
Consolidating the prekindergarten program at Easton Preschool into a repurposed Fairlawn Elementary School (less than 2 miles away) will provide the capacity for a strong prekindergarten center serving the same community.
Full details of Norfolk Public Schools’ long-range facilities plan, “Rebuild NPS 2030,” can be found on the school division’s website. Additionally, documents from School Board discussions of this plan can be found in its records, posted under the “Meetings and Information” tab on the School Board’s section of npsk12.com, and videos of past meetings can be found on the school division’s YouTube channel.
6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Richard Bowling Elementary School
2700 East Princess Anne Road
Online Tools to Assist with Student Success
This year, Norfolk Public Schools has added instructional software to help meet the individual learning needs of each student. The two platforms, Lexia for reading and Edmentum for mathematics, were carefully chosen to match class goals for both mathematics and English classes throughout the year.
There are two levels of Lexia, Core5 for elementary students and PowerUp for secondary students.
Lexia Core5 Reading is a fun, computer-based program that builds on your child’s classroom curriculum to develop reading skills in multiple areas. Core5 engages students in online activities throughout the week by providing direct instruction and immediate feedback as they learn new skills, with progress and performance reported directly to teachers. Paper-and-pencil activities for practice may be completed in school or at home. To learn more on how to support your child’s learning through using Lexia please use this link - https://www.lexialearningresources.com/lexia-at-home.html. Additionally, here is a link to a quick informational video on Lexia Core5 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qniBoekxRo.
Lexia PowerUp helps middle school students improve their skills in the areas of grammar, word study, and comprehension and boosts their overall confidence as readers. PowerUp also supports teachers with activities and resources that align to the Virginia SOLs. Click this link to learn more about PowerUp- https://www.lexialearningresources.com/lexia-at-home-powerup.html and here for an informational video on Lexia PowerUp - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ7PTstf1R8.
Edmentum's Exact Path for Mathematics provides individualized support to help students increase growth in mathematics and accelerate talent, which will increase the percentage of students at or above grade level. It can be used during the school day or at home and works best when it’s used for at least 20 minutes at a time at least 3 times a week in addition to direct teacher instruction. For a quick informational video on Edmentum follow this link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hk2H6aJsYnQ.
Measuring Student Success
Norfolk Public Schools uses two division-wide assessments throughout the year to measure students’ success. Students in prekindergarten through grade 2 take the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening, or PALS assessment, in the fall, winter and spring. This screening tool assesses early literacy development. Results are used to determine individual children’s learning goals, plan classroom instruction, and help identify children who need additional support or instruction in early reading and literacy.
To learn more about the PALS assessments please review this link - https://pals.virginia.edu/public/learn-about-pals.html. For additional at home resources, please visit this link - https://pals.virginia.edu/public/resources-home.html.
The Renaissance STAR Assessments for reading and mathematics are used to measure success in reading and math for students in grades 2 through 8. Renaissance STAR assessments are universal screeners and progress monitoring tools administered in the fall, winter, and spring. These assessments assist teachers in understanding what students know and what they are ready to learn next. This helps teachers to better prepare all students for success on state-mandated SOL tests where students ultimately need to earn verified credits for graduation.
Parents can support students' growth by encouraging students to do their best on the STAR assessment and celebrating topics on which students performed well. As with any big day, it’s best to take the STAR assessment on a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast. For additional information on the STAR assessments please refer to the following link - https://www.renaissance.com/2016/09/09/parents-guide-star-assessments/.
For a calendar of testing dates, follow this link - https://www.npsk12.com/domain/6797
Community Partner Corner
Links, Inc. Hosts Annual APP-A-THON; Students interested in the “Internet of Things” are invited to participate!
On Saturday, March 19, 2022, from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m., the Links, Inc. Norfolk VA Chapter will host its 3rd Annual APP-A-THON, focused on enhancing awareness, knowledge, and information on STEM areas for the region’s youth. This year’s program will focus on the “Internet of Things” (IOT). IOT describes the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet. The session will include “hands-on” learning exercises such as introducing coding concepts and learning to use and edit code.
This free, virtual program is offered to students of all ages, and parents/guardians and friends are welcome. IT experts will lead the sessions, and the day will include prizes, cash giveaways, and opportunities for adults/parents/guardians to get involved.
Pre-registration and a parental consent form is required. Sign up here: www.eventbrite.com/e/3rd-annual-app-a-thon-registration-255760876667.
The Links, Incorporated is an international, not-for-profit corporation, established in 1946. The membership consists of more than 16,000 professional women in 292 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and the United Kingdom. It is one of the Nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women who are committed to enriching, sustaining, and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. Links members contribute more than 1 million documented hours of community service annually.
For more information, contact Dr. Felicia Blow, 757.408.0057 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Norfolk Public Schools welcomes positive, collaborative, meaningful partnerships between our schools and our communities to enhance student academic learning and success. For more information on community engagement, contact LaEunice Brown, Community Engagement Coordinator, Office of Communications & Community Engagement, 628-3459.
Integrated First Grade Curriculum
First grade students in Norfolk Public Schools no longer learn their subject areas in separate blocks. Through an innovative approach introduced this school year, these young students have been learning about mathematics and science, or English and Social Studies together in an integrated curriculum. There is no longer a separation for mathematics lessons, English lessons, or science lessons while students learn how the subjects support each other.
Thank You to NPS’ School Counselors!
During National School Counseling Week, February 7-11, 2022, we proudly highlighted some of the school counselors who collaborate with school psychologists, social workers, nurses, teachers, and principals to ensure each student receives needed supports on the road to success. The help these dedicated professionals provide is vital to the academic, social, and emotional growth of every student in NPS!
Take Off With School Breakfast Week
National School Breakfast Week is March 7-11, 2022.
This year’s theme is “Take Off with School Breakfast.”
Research shows that eating breakfast may help students do better in school by improving their mood, memory, alertness, concentration, attendance, and more! Norfolk Public Schools provides FREE breakfast and lunch to ALL students.
Congratulations to Granby and Norview High Schools' Scholastic Bowl teams! Granby won the Region 5b Championship and Norview finished in second place. Granby and Norview are the 2nd and 3rd teams in Norfolk's history to advance to State in Scholastic Bowl!
Good luck to all of the teams, student athletes, and coaches in the Regional and State Championships that are currently underway. Stay tuned for a winter sports season wrap up coming soon!
NPS Celebrates Black History Month
Throughout February, Black History Month was celebrated in the division. To highlight some of the amazing student work, take a moment to watch this short video tribute on the activities at Azalea Gardens Middle School.
Shaquira Johnson Named a 2021 Most Outstanding Crossing Guard
Congratulations to Norfolk’s Shaquira Johnson, named on Crossing Guard Appreciation Day as a 2021 Most Outstanding Crossing Guard!
Johnson helps students safely cross the streets every day near Tidewater Park Elementary School.
More than 50 Virginia crossing guards across the Commonwealth were nominated for this award, and Johnson is one of six selected for the honor this school year.
To read about Johnson and the other Most Outstanding Crossing Guards of 2021, visit https://bit.ly/3BhIY7N.
Thank you Shaquira Johnson and to all NPS’ crossing guards. NPS appreciates each one of you!
Month of the Military Child is just around the corner!
In 1986, the Department of Defense (DoD) established April as Month of the Military Child in order to underscore the important role children play in the Armed Forces community. There are approximately 2 million children in military families; 1.3 million of whom are school-aged. Care of military children sustains our fighting force, and strengthens the health, security, and safety of our nation's families and communities.
In Norfolk Public Schools, more than 3,000 students are identified as military-connected, with at least one student in every building!
NPS will recognize and celebrate military-connected students throughout the month of April. All students and staff are asked to wear purple on “Purple Up Day,” Wednesday, April 20, 2022, to show their support.
For more information about NPS’ dedication to making sure all of our military-connected children thrive, along with information on the division’s Purple Star designated schools, visit https://www.npsk12.com/domain/919.
Work as a lifeguard or swim instructor at Old Dominion University!
ODU Recreation & Wellness is seeking individuals aged 16 and older to work at the ODU Student Recreation Center indoor pool this summer.
Not certified yet? No problem! ODU can certify you as a lifeguard or swim instructor at no cost if you plan to work for them.
Starting pay is currently $13.55 for lifeguards and $16.50 for swim instructors.
Priority will be given to those who apply online by April 1, 2022. Ideally, staff will begin working around May 1.
Questions? Contact Lexi Ricciuti, Coordinator for Aquatics & Operations, at email@example.com or 757-683-4156.
For more information and to apply: https://odu.edu/recwell/student-employment.html#tab3=1&done1612907281342
Art Connects Us: Youth Art Month is Here!
Norfolk Public Schools’ students will upload their masterpieces for an art exhibit in recognition of Youth Art Month. Elementary, middle, and high school students will have separate exhibitions celebrating this year’s theme, Art Connects Us. One piece of art will be selected to serve as the image used for promotional materials surrounding the exhibitions.
In other NPS art news, Granby High School’s Anthony Merritt was selected as one of 26 students out of the more than 330 entries in the Commonwealth to receive an award at the 2022 Hampton Roads Student Gallery Reception held in early February.
Congratulations to Anthony and his teacher, Nicole Harp!