From the Castle

Parent Newsletter for Thomas Dale High School-February 2019

Big picture

Greetings from the Castle!

Knight Families and Community Members,

Is it me, or was January a LOOOOOONG month!? It is now February, and by now, you've realized how fast the school year begins to move. Soon, we will be talking about Spring Break, the testing season, and for our seniors, GRADUATION! So far, this year has been an amazing year for Thomas Dale, and especially for me as your proud principal!

There are 5 pillars we need to focus on in order to achieve our goals and work toward becoming a flagship school for Chesterfield County and a premier school in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

  • a safe learning environment as part of a healthy and joyful school culture
  • collaborative processes that allow us to continuously improve
  • high-quality instruction
  • student voice and leadership
  • community engagement

Although we have taken just a few small steps toward the realization of our potential, we are well on our way to a tremendous status. Please take time to talk with your child about their experience at Thomas Dale. I welcome dialogue with you and our students at any time regarding how we can make Dale better so that we are delivering on the promise of Every Knight, Every Day.

Please take a few moments to review our School Improvement and Innovation Plan. You will find that we are focused on three measures: Graduation Rate, Math Achievement, and Consistent Attendance Rate. To achieve these goals, we must maintain our focus on continuous improvement in our 5 pillars listed above. I am proud to report that as of the halfway point in the year, we are on target to reach our 2018-2019 goals!

I look forward to continued dialogue and our sustained partnership in the delivery of a better tomorrow!


Don't forget to follow us on Twitter: @GoTDKnights, Facebook: Thomas Dale, and Instagram: @GoTDKnights. Our website is updated regularly for more information:

Big picture


  • Job Shadow Day. On March 26, we will host our first Job Shadow Day. The intent of this experience is to offer our Juniors an opportunity to "taste" the profession they think they want to dive into after they graduate, whether it is directly into the field or a major in college. Would you like to serve as a Job Shadow host? Do you own a business? Do you work for a company that would host our students? Just email ME, and I will ensure we get you linked in.
  • Volunteer Opportunities. Many hands make for light(er) work. Operating a school with 2,400 students and 220 adults creates a tremendous workload, and we need your help. Are you in a position to donate a bit of your time to assist with the heavy lifting required to operate a large, comprehensive high school? Just email ME, and I will ensure we get you linked in. For quick access to volunteer information from CCPS, click HERE.
  • Community Partners Meeting. Want to be a part of our community school? HERE are the minutes from our last Community Partners Meeting. Our next meeting will be on February 12 at 1:00pm in the Main Campus Library. Join us!
  • Thomas Dale is proud to be a high-quality public educational setting and center of the Chester community. Because of the nature of our service and purpose, there are a few reminders about what is not permitted on school grounds at any time: weapons, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco products of any kind (including vapor).

Committed to be a Strong Social and Emotional Learning School

Now, more than ever, our students and children need great leadership.

In November, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) released their report on the perspectives of youth on high school and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). I wanted to share THAT REPORT with you and give you a few talking points with your children and find out how we can better support the development of the whole child at Thomas Dale.

The report is robust and is not at all light reading; however, you will find tremendous value in the Executive Summary on pages 2-8. Below, I've also highlighted the three themes from their research.

  • Theme 1: Students and young adults from strong SEL schools report a more positive social climate and learning environment, doing better academically, and being better prepared for life than those in weak SEL schools;
  • Theme 2: Schools that emphasize social and emotional skill development are broadly appealing to students across background, race, ethnicity, income, geography, and type of school attended and students see the benefits of such schools, but fewer than half believe their high schools are doing a good job of helping them develop SEL skills; and
  • Theme 3: Students – particularly some of the most vulnerable – cite social and emotional problems as significant barriers to learning, doing their best, and fulfilling their potential.

Please take some time to review the report (especially the Executive Summary), share it with your child, and then engage in dialogue with your child, with your child's teachers, and with me. Some things to think about:

  • How is TD doing with supporting the social and emotional needs of our students?
  • What, specifically, are we doing well with regards to Social and Emotional Learning?
  • What could we do better to align our success with the three themes above?

As always, I enjoy engaging in dialogue about the growth and development of our youth, as well as taking a great school to the next level. A link to the report is below. Enjoy!

Respected: A Report for CASEL

From the Counselors


Students continue their adjustment to high school, socially and academically. They are wondering where the time has gone while planning for next year’s schedule of courses. During the time-frame of January 30th through February 26th, students will meet individually with their counselor to discuss course selections, graduation requirements and post-secondary options.


As with our freshmen, sophomores are in the midst of meeting with counselors individually. The sophomore timetable for meetings is February 14th through February 26th. These second year students continue to investigate the vast amount of opportunities they have at their fingertips. One such opportunity was explored through CTC’s (Career & Technical Center) Opportunity Day (January 11th). Over 300 of our sophomores took advantage of a county sponsored field trip to the technical center to visit 2 of the 38 career programs offered. The students returned excited and ready to apply to one or more programs offered by CTC. Applications to CTC should be submitted to school counseling by February 1st. However, until each program slot is full, students may still submit applications.


Junior year second semester…a stone’s throw from senior year! Students are excited, but just as nervous that the end of high school is just beyond the horizon. Their thoughts often lead them to imagine what lies beyond high school….college, military, trade-school or employment. Students are encouraged to begin taking steps toward one or more of those paths. SATs and/or ACTs (college entrance exams) are highly recommended during the 2nd semester of this year. Additionally, the ASVAB test is suggested for those students interested in possibly pursuing a branch of the military. Continued career exploration and resume development is also important for this timeframe. These options and much more are presented to the juniors collectively and individually as part of their scheduling sessions with their counselors. Juniors are scheduled to meet with their counselors during the timeframe of January 30th through February 13th.


Ah, the senior year…the final year before the beginning of the rest of their lives. Students experience a range of emotions…excitement, pride, nervousness, fatigue and so much more. They are ready to turn their tassels to the left and throw their cap into the air. But, they realize, there are a couple more things they have to do…

Mid-year grades…if students need to send semester 1 grades to colleges, they will be given information regarding the process during their English 12 class on February 6th or 7th

Scholarship Opportunities…Green Sheet #3 will be released through the senior google classroom and posted to the school’s website on or before February 7th. Please encourage your senior to apply for as many scholarships as they are eligible for.

Resumes…if your senior would like to develop or refine an employment resume, please have them see their school counselor.

Finish the year strong…we understand that graduation has been a long time coming and students may want to coast through the remainder of the year. We ask that you encourage your senior to continue giving this year and the rest of their high school experience the best that they have!!

Each year of high school is filled with endless opportunities. Thank you for helping to support our students as they navigate through each year...Every Knight, Every Day!!

From the Testing Coordinators

TD Families, March is not far behind and is a very busy "testing" month for some of our students. Students that are enrolled in English 10 will be taking the Writing SOL in March on the Main Campus. This SOL has two components, a Multiple-Choice component, administered on March 6th and a Prompt component, administered on March 13th. Both components must be completed to receive a score.

Also, for the first time, our students enrolled in English 9 will be administered a Performance-Based Assessment (PBA). These students will earn their verified writing credit for graduation through this performance-based assessment. This assessment will be administered on the West Campus, during the same time as the English 10 Writing SOL. An adjusted bell schedule will be used for March 6th and March 13th.

Our English 9 and 10 teachers will be sharing more information with their students in the upcoming weeks and more detailed information will be included in next month's newsletter.

Yearbook for 2018-2019 School Year

New this year, Thomas Dale’s yearbook, The Reflector, will include an interactive feature where you can scan QR codes to view videos of events happening around Dale.

Yearbooks are still only $60 until the end of January, then prices are $65 until we sell out.

To purchase a yearbook, go to (Code 4232) or simply drop cash or a check off to Ms. Vaughn at Main 205.

Upcoming Events

Stay connected to OUR CALENDAR and mark yours!

February 2 - Specialty Center Auditions, continued

February 2 - All-District Band and All-State Recognition (Cosby HS)

February 5 - Boys Basketball Senior Knight

February 7 - Theatre Outreach at the Chester Library

February 7 Medford League Basketball at LC Bird

February 8 - Girls Basketball Senior Knight

February 9 - PTSA Reflections Contest Awards (CTC@Hull)

February 11-15 - Spirit Week

-Monday: Meme Day

-Tuesday: Tropical Day

-Wednesday: Way-Back Day

-Thursday: Valentine's Day

-Friday: Love Dale Day

February 12 - PTSA Meeting (6pm in the Main Library)

February 12- Pyramid Concert for Chorus

February 12 - Community Partners Meeting (1pm in the Main Library)

February 13 - Coffee with the Principal (7am at Door 9, West Campus)

February 13 - Sunset Snacks with the Principal (7pm at Door 1, Main Campus)

February 14 - Medford League Basketball at Clover Hill

February 14 - Pre-Assessment Band Concert

February 15 - Adjusted Dismissal for Students (12pm)

February 18 - Presidents' Day (No School)

February 19 - Even Day

February 21 - Medford League Basketball at Midlothian

February 21-23 - Commonwealth Choral Invitational

February 23 - Congres at Monacan (French Students)

February 28 - Medford League Basketball (at TDHS)

February 28 - College Symposium at 6pm

Stay In-the-Know! There have been over 4,400 views of our newsletter, From the Castle! Click below for previous issues.