A Visit to Murray, some updates, and our special students!

Dr. Haas visits Murray Elementary School, gives some important school division updates, and celebrates our special students!

School Visit: Virginia L. Murray Elementary School

Matt thumbnail for blog

I thank principal C’ta DeLaurier and her staff for a terrific visit to Murray Elementary School yesterday morning. I stopped in to see what was happening in Elaine Broadus and Janice McGinthy’s first-grade class, and I was treated to the students dancing to review the math concept of inequalities. This warm-up activity got the students moving physically and helped solidify their ability to remember greater than, less than, and equal to signs through their body movement. Check out a quick video of the activity: Math Inequalities Warm-Up. As you can see, some of the students just wanted to dance!

I also visited Courtney Dillard’s fifth-grade class. I so enjoyed observing Ms. Dillard’s use of Daily Oral Language, especially because I used the same program when I was an English teacher. A couple of routines I noticed that are super effective were her use of popsicle sticks to randomly call on students for editing ideas and her teaching of specific editing marks for students to use in their work—tools of the trade.

I have to give a special shout-out to Ms. Dillard for her highly effective way of providing feedback to the students. Each of the two sentences the students worked on had a finite number of edits to find and make. After completing a class dialogue about each sentence, Ms. Dillard asked her students to record the number of edits they found over the total number possible. Then she said:

This is not a grade. This is for you to track your progress and see your growth. Please remember to keep your work in your folder so that you can see how you are improving over time.

Ms. Dillard’s practice here is in complete alignment with evidence-based practice for providing feedback to students and adheres to our Grading Policy, where we say, “Healthy grading practices encourage and support learning by helping students and teachers see that their continued efforts will result in success.”

Kudos to both teachers for their instructional use of display technology. Having said that, I want to be sure to let all of our teachers know that last April, the school board approved $2.5 million in funding to upgrade all K-8 display technology. As I am sure you all are well aware, there are many display devices in schools that need to be replaced, and not having a replacement cycle in place in previous years has created a current state of haves and have-nots across our schools.

Our board’s approval to move forward with K-8 will make a big difference, and we will work to identify future funding to do the same work at the high school level. One strategy in our new strategic plan is to create replacement cycles for all hardware so that we do not get behind like this again. Please note the graphic below, which tells the story of where we were in April. Replacements and installations are currently underway across ACPS.


Thank you, Ms. Broadus and Ms. Dillard, for having me in your classes. Your excellent work typifies the great work of all our educators across the county in support of Learning for All!


Operations Update

Recently, we published a special video message to alert our school community to our transportation challenges: Transportation Update from the Superintendent.

At our September 9 school board meeting, Director of Building Services Joe Letteri updated the board on summer renovation and construction projects throughout the school division: Building Services Summer Update Presentation. The video that Joe shared featuring Deputy Director of Building Services, Lindsay Snoddy, didn’t run properly during the meeting, so here is a direct link so you watch that video: Building Services Summer Update Video.

Annually, I am amazed at both the quality and scope of the work that our Building Services staff accomplishes to maintain and enhance our facilities and grounds. Thank you!


Employee Vaccination Update

I want to thank all of you for completing the Staff Vaccination Status Form. It turns out that 89.5% of our workforce and 95% of our teachers attest to being fully vaccinated. I think it is safe to say that we must have one of the highest rates for school division employees in Virginia.


Media Highlight

Albemarle County Public Schools made Forbes’ 2021 list of America’s Best Employers!

Here are a couple of recent media stories that feature ACPS:


Observance for Next Week

National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed September 15 – October 15.


Cross Country Running at Panorama Farms

I thought you might appreciate a couple of photos of our students racing at Panorama this past Wednesday evening. We have special kids in our schools, don’t we?