VA Weekly Navigator
Your Guide to News, Updates, and Reminders in the VA
(Week of October 17, 2022)
MVA Student Represents at the Antiracist Audit Summary of Findings Meeting
Naila Trench-Muhammad, one of our MVA seniors, volunteered to attend the county's Antiracist Audit Summary of Findings Press Release for Students this week. This student meeting, featuring Dr. McKnight, representatives from the county PTSA and the NAACP, and other esteemed guests, preceded the official release/discussion at the Board meeting. The Executive Summary is viewable online here. Naila and I got together to discuss her experience and perspective, distilled in interview form below. [I've paraphrased Naila's responses, checking with her to make sure I represented the spirit of her comments accurately.]
Dean, Montgomery Virtual 6-12 Academy
SO: What questions do you have about the findings?
NT-M: One thing I was thinking, and that someone else actually asked, is, why now? Why are we starting this work so late? And Dr. McKnight shared that they really started delving into this in a new way in 2020, with the pandemic and everything else that was happening. So that makes sense... But also, I asked what all of this means for the Virtual Academy students. Because they talked a lot about how they're going to connect with students in all the schools, and come visit and have conversations and circle groups and stuff, but I want to make sure they don't forget about those of us who consider the VA our home school. Our voices are important too, and I want to make sure we're heard and understood, you know?
SO: Of course. We'll need to follow up and make some plans there -- great point, and thanks for representing the Academy. How do you think this will affect the future of MCPS and the experiences of students and families in the near future? In the longer term?
NT-M: So, I've seen this happen before, and I hope it's different this time. Like, a big initiative or a promise to make things better comes out, and you're hopeful, because it sounds like everyone is dedicated to change things... but then nothing really happens. You know, I've watched the experiences of my friends, with discrimination, bullying, miscommunication... and we can do better. But I do have a feeling that it will be different this time, because the county is trying to make sure to speak directly with students, and not overlook or discount our experiences and perspectives. I think we’ll look back at this moment in the near future, and see that things really are different... and I'll be really proud to have been part of that.
SO: What's your personal sense of where we are and where we're going -- what's the most important thing to keep in mind as we move forward?
NT-M: They really focused on relationships, which I think is key. There was a lot of discussion about asking parents for their perspective and support, around new curricula and subjects being explored in classes, and that's really important. They shared that parents were more concerned with the outcome than the subject matter -- like, what is the impact of learning about the real history. And that touched a nerve for me, because I've experienced that -- we touch on a subject like slavery or racism, but then we kind of bounce back off of it, you know? Like we touch it, but bounce off. I don't know how to explain it, but it feels like teachers need to be more comfortable to go deeper, and to really talk about the reality, not just glance off the surface so they can say it's been addressed or covered. You know?
Like, in eighth grade I had this one teacher -- a black woman -- who really got into things, and I felt like, wow, she hears us, and she's talking to us like real people, with real perspectives and feelings about this stuff, because it's hard... but then the next year, it was back to just kind of covering things, and that felt disrespectful. It felt like a loss.
And I know nobody wants to do it wrong, and it's hard... but it's also important to keep it real, right? Like, we have real feelings about this history, and about where we are right now, and the best thing -- the most important thing -- is to let us share those feelings and understand our own reactions to it all. I don't know, maybe teachers need to do more research, like beyond what's covered in the curriculum, so they can give us a sense of all the underlying stuff that maybe can't be covered, so then we can follow up on our own if we want, to learn more? I don't know, it's all hard to do, but it's so important.
Virtual Academy Calendar for October 2022
MVA World Languages Website
The Montgomery Virtual Academy’s World Languages Department has a new website!
MVA language learners and anyone interested in American Sign Language, French, and Spanish can access a rich database of digital resources. Fostering our MVA vision for an innovative, personalized virtual learning community, this website enables students to engage with the MCPS World language curriculum outside of the “traditional” modes.
Students will receive up-to-date announcements on all the happenings in our department and ways they can engage with their peers in the virtual or in-person community. The website has over 30 web pages, a growing database of videos, and a plethora of stock images to engage our Gen-Z learners.
Please watch the following promo video and access the website.
MVA Science Website
Inspiring Person of the Week (Another SSL Opportunity!)
The Virtual Academy has launched the Inspiring Person of the Week Campaign. The campaign is designed to elevate the diverse people who have contributed their knowledge and talents to the United States.
Students can earn 2 SSL hours by submitting a slide to the "Inspiring Person of the Week" committee. Student submissions must have the student's name and MCPS ID number, a title, a summary, a picture of the inspiring person, and links to additional information about the inspiring person.
Students can email their slides or Canva poster and reflections to Mr. Henrique Vissotto: firstname.lastname@example.org. Because this is a school-hosted SSL opportunity, we will keep a log of the students who submit posters along with their reflections.
Here is this week’s Inspiring Person of the Week...
BOOK WARS: Attention 6-8th graders. Do you love to read? Are you amazing at trivia? Join the MVA Book Wars team! Members read approximately 20 books a year and meet to discuss, collaborate, and celebrate reading, as we prepare for the MCPS spring Book Wars competition. Ms. Jeffcott will be hosting an informational meeting on October 11th at 3:00. Click on the flyer for more details! https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Zjy9v5mh-jXzrX2SSH7cL2Q1HHEHmKEn/view?usp=sharing
Maximizing Student Engagement, Participation, and Attendance
Research indicates that meaningful personal engagement with their teachers and peers is one of the most important predictors of student learning and achievement.
As a result of a review of the research, the Montgomery Virtual Academy (MVA) presents the following revisions to its policies and expectations around student engagement, participation, and attendance for the 2022-2023 school year and beyond.
- All students are expected to appear on camera for the majority of every class
- Students should actively demonstrate engagement throughout each lesson.
- Students who demonstrate no engagement for the entire class period may be marked “Absent” for that class period.
- The MVA continues to expand opportunities for students to engage meaningfully with teachers, staff, and each other outside of the classroom.
For more detailed information on these expectations, please see this document. Thank you for your support and encouragement as we work together to connect students with their teachers and each other!
Annual Notice for Directory Information and Student Privacy
Using this form, parents/guardians may also indicate that the student does not want to be recorded during virtual classroom sessions for future viewing by students in the same class. Completing this form does not exclude a child from having a camera on during non-recorded instruction. Parents/guardians who choose to complete this form should do so by September 12, 2022. Please use the following guide to support you in this process: https://montgomery.service-now.com/csm?id=kb_article_view&sysparm_article=KB0010232
MVA Library Media Center Announcements
Click here to view the site! The Media Center Website is also linked at the top of the Montgomery Virtual Academy website.
Zoom Links and Contacting Teachers
The MCPS website features "Calendar Central," where you can find information on holidays, early release days, and other special events throughout the school year.
SSL Updates & Opportunities
Students need 75 student service learning (SSL) hours to graduate from Maryland public schools. Every month, Dr. Simarjeet Sandhu, the Virtual Academy SSL Coordinator, provides a listing of SSL opportunities that are virtual and in-person. Click on the link and get your child involved in these fun and rewarding service opportunities.
ASIRT Road Safety PSA Contest
Deadline: October 21, 2022 - The Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) and the Montgomery County Regional Student Government Association are hosting a Public Service Announcement (PSA) competition for middle school and high school students centered on road safety and how to keep yourself and others safe on the roads. Participants who submit a PSA that meets the competition requirements will earn 10 SSL hours and have a chance to win prizes. To learn more, please visit this link: https://montgomerycountymd.galaxydigital.com/need/detail/?need_id=730249
MoCo Board of Elections Future Vote
The Montgomery County Board of Elections Future Vote Student Election Worker Program provides high school students with an exciting opportunity to serve as election workers. Depending on the number of days served, volunteers may choose to earn up to 65 Student Service Learning (SSL) hours or up to $630 stipend for their service along with a great hands-on introduction to the democratic process. Students with bilingual skills in Spanish and other languages encouraged to apply.
Interested students must meet the following requirements to participate as a student election worker:
• Must be at least 16 years of age by the time of registration
• U.S. Citizen of the United States
• Registered to vote in Maryland
• Must have parental consent for workers under 18 years old
Info: High School Poll Workers - Montgomery County MD
To apply: Board of Elections (montgomerycountymd.gov)
Questions: Email email@example.com or 240-777-8533
NPR News: The midterm elections need workers. Teens, veterans and lawyers are stepping up | MPR News
Deadline: Tuesday, October 18, 2022
Four Seasons World Dance Auditions
Arise & Flourish:
Students will need to visit the Montgomery County Volunteer Center (https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/volunteercenter/) and in the red box “Find a Volunteer Opportunity”, type in Arise and Flourish. Students will find the volunteer opportunity for the cycle of addiction video review project. This SSL opportunity has been approved by the MCPS SSL department. Please let the students know NOT to use their MCPS email address as we will not be able to respond to them.
Once students respond for the volunteer opportunity on the site, we will send the student/parent permission slip and detailed volunteer information. Please make sure the students do NOT use their MCPS email address as we will not be able to respond to them. Students will watch two video presentations provided by our organization. One video is our speakers who are people in recovery who share their personal experience. The second video is the presentation on the cycle of addiction which has information on how addiction happens.
Students have the ability to earn the following for the quality completion of this project:
1) Earn 1 SSL hour for watching one speaker video and the video for the cycle of addiction and completing one paper or artwork or;
2) Earn up to 4 SSL hours for watching up to 4 speaker videos along with the one video for the cycle of addiction and completing 4 papers or 4 artworks.
Students can watch anywhere from 1 - 4 speaker videos and the video for the cycle of addiction and completing one paper or artwork for EACH speaker video watched.
Project Linus is a national organization with chapters across the country (www.projectlinus.org). Their Montgomery County Maryland chapter works with partner organizations like Holy Cross Hospital, Children's Hospital, A Wider Circle, and the Montgomery County Department of Social Services, to distribute blankets to children who are in the hospital, homeless, in foster care, in shelters, and in other situations where just a small comfort can make a major difference. All these blankets are made by volunteers. See our previous newsletters (linked below) for more information.
Check Out Our VA SSL Website
Here you'll find...
- Contact information for our SSL Coordinator (Dr. Simarjeet Sandhu) and our counseling team
- An introductory video about SLL hours and how to complete them
- The official submission form for reporting hours
- Timely updates on service opportunities within and outside of the Virtual Academy
- and more!
How to Check SSL Hours in ParentVUE
- Navigate to https://md-mcps-psv.edupoint.com/PXP2_Login.aspx.
- Select "I am a parent" or "I am a student."
- Enter your User Name and Password, then click "Login."
- Click "Course History" from the left-hand navigation.
- The Course History page shows the student's graduation progress, test requirements, and SLL hours earned. (Students need 75 hours for graduation.)
- Toggle on "Detail" to see full Service Learning details.
Useful SSL Resource
Need to Reach a Counselor?
Office hours are:
- Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 8:00 - 11:00 a.m.
- Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:35 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Students and families can also reach out to their counselor using this resource or consulting the list below (alphabetical by last name). Please note that during these first few weeks of the year, all counselors are inundated with schedule requests and questions -- thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to serve the needs of our 1,800 students and families! (Click the image of the list below for a web browser version, for easier viewing.)
Please use this link to access important information about connecting with school counselors.
Apply Online Now for Free and Reduced-Price Meals Benefits
Apply here. Learn more about the program.
MVA Parent Teacher Council Updates & Reminders
MVAPTC Special Education Committee Meeting will be held this Thursday, October 20th. The topic will be: Sports & social activities: What is available in the DMV?
MVAPTC Meeting: Thursday, November 10th at 6:30 PM.
Meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month. Meeting slides, meeting minutes and other documents in English and Spanish are available for review on the MVAPTC website located at http://www.mvaptc.org. A board member election will be held for the Vice President of Grades 3-5. Additional positions available are Vice President for High School, President Elect and Treasurer Elect. Please contact Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest. No experience required.
The zoom link is:https://mcpsmd.zoom.us/j/83004264203?pwd=M09hQzNtbVgyWVB6SGF3UE1sU2Fodz09, the Meeting ID is: 830 0426 4203 and the Passcode: mvaptc
Helpful Links: Website: http://www.mvaptc.org Facebook page: Montgomery Virtual Academy Parent Teacher Council Facebook Discussion Group: MVAPTC Discussion Group - Montgomery Virtual Academy Families & Staff(MD) Facebook Special Needs Discussion Group: MVAPTC - Children with SN - Montgomery Virtual Academy (MD)
Shirts, Dues & Donations: https://mvaptc.square.site
Please contact Jessica, MVAPTC President, at email@example.com to volunteer, or with any questions or concerns.
Attendance Questions and Absence Notes
Activating and Utilizing ParentVUE
Activate Your ParentVue Account
This important tool will provide near real-time access to information on assignments and scores, attendance, class schedules, transcripts, graduation status, and more. You may access ParentVUE online, but for the best mobile experience, we encourage you to download the ParentVUE App from the Google Play Store or Apple Store, as this app will replace the current myMCPS mobile application.
Contact Your Child's Administrator or Counselor for your activation letter
Free English as Second Language Classes for Parents
In collaboration with MCPS, the Literacy Council of Montgomery County (LCMC) is offering free English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for MCPS parents. The classes will be held virtually and there will be options for all levels of English speakers. They are available to any MCPS parent for whom English is not their first language.
Please see this flyer for details:
Parents can complete this Interest form to receive a placement test.
If you are having technology issues, please submit an e-ticket by emailing your question or issue to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit a ticket via the Community Tech Support portal. This account is monitored daily and you will receive email notifications throughout the process.
For helpful support guides and screencasts in English and Spanish, please visit https://montgomery.service-now.com/csm.
A support guide for the Community Tech Support portal is available here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cczbhEXF7x3TBquSMQGUGsxIcqsm_BtG2KBBi_bA0_0/edit
Helpful SSL Tip
When you submit your SSL forms, it’s really important that you complete all sections properly, so the form does not get returned to you. Check out this video from our SSL committee that demonstrates how to complete the SSL form in its entirety.
Thank you, Ms. Marks, for the helpful video!
Free Computers for MoCo Residents in Need
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