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Principal's Message

August 7, 2018

Woodbrook ElementaryWelcome back to great year of learning!  

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher wrote: Nothing endures but change.  Nowhere is this truer than in the field of education and here at Woodbrook as we get ready to begin the 2018-19 academic year! 

I hope your summer vacation has been relaxing and filled with laughter and learning while providing you with memories for years to come. Research shows that allowing ourselves to take a break increases our productivity and creativity because it refreshes the mind and replenishes our mental resources allowing us to become more relaxed, recharged and ready to start something new. It is with great excitement and anticipation that we begin our new school year with you. I am so delighted that you are part of our amazing learning community and welcome and value your positive energy and dedication to excellence in your child’s education. We are very much looking forward to working with you and your children in our newly designed learning spaces, using a multi-age pedagogical instructional approach that meets the individual needs of all learners. 

The start of a new school year is always a moment of great anticipation, excitement, and at times fear.  Whether your family is new to Albemarle County Public schools, new to Woodbrook, or you are simply returning to your school after a fun-filled summer, this is going to be a very special moment for all. For everyone: students, families, and staff, there is that wonderful sense of a new beginning and a fresh start and this will only be further enhanced when we walk through the front doors of a whole new school on that first day!  It is natural for students to have a bit of anxiety and maybe even a few questions – who will my teacher be, what will my teacher be like, who will be in my class, etc.  Nevertheless, the focus should always be on the new upcoming adventure of learning and growing.  There has never been a more exciting time to be in education or to attend school than when a child is in elementary school.  A key responsibility of ours as parents is to help our children embrace this moment and prepare them to get the most out of this experience.

There are a number of things that you can do as parents to make this educational experience as positive, productive, and worthwhile as possible. As a parent, you can help create a climate of positive anticipation.  If possible, take time before school begins to visit us. We will be excited to share our new school with everyone starting on Tuesday-August 15th.  Feel free to walk the grounds and take in the beautiful changes. We invite you to walk the hallways, explore all of the new learning spaces, and begin to make everything feel familiar for your child. This will be “their” school and we all want them to feel a sense of pride and passion in being there.  For your child, encourage that sense of “can’t wait to get to school” and together build joy and excitement for their learning.

Prepare for an adventure.  This educational adventure is real and all about change, growth, and development.  There is so much that is happening in our schools today.  There is the creative use of technology.  A focus on the development of “21st century learning” through Maker Infused and Project-based Learning and opportunities to learn in new and exciting ways.  Your child will learn to collaborate, communicate, think creatively and critically, and they will develop a strong sense of character.  All of these traits come from our commitment to our values, beliefs and mission and can only occur when school and home are working closely together. School today looks and feels differently than it did when you and I went to school.  This is that tremendous sense of momentum that is evident in good schools today as we prepare our children for a world that is also changing rapidly.  The skills that your child’s education will produce will have an impact on how they learn and will ultimately be the key to their future success.

Each school year brings new faces and ideas. We recognize and honor the many contributions made by those who have recently completed their service at Woodbrook, while welcoming the arrival of new staff who are sure to affect growth in our learners.  I cannot wait for you to meet and greet new and returning staff. When you visit, I hope that you will make a point to drop in the main office and introduce yourself to our new and amazing Assistant Principal, Ms. Jennifer Underwood. She is so excited to meet the students and their families. While in the office, you will also notice a couple of other new and important individuals. We welcome Ms. Yolanda Gonzalez and Ms. Lourdes Graves to our front office staff. Yolanda and Lourdes will be joining Ms. Anita Taylor. Our enthusiastic office team is registering new families, ordering needed materials, updating student files, finalizing class rosters and so many other things. Together these individuals will do all that they can to ensure that you and your child’s needs are met in ways that make coming to Woodbrook each day a positive experience. They are sure to be very busy as we work diligently to open our new office space to be prepared for our first day of school! Our hard working and conscientious custodians under the leadership of Mr. Joe Gains are working tirelessly to clean and move things as we unpack our school and prepare our new classrooms for our students. 

Our amazingly talented and appreciated PTO is gearing up to welcome families, provide volunteer opportunities, and offer other exciting events and programs. We are indeed a joyous and caring community with the common goals of nurturing responsible, caring students and promoting high-level learning.  Under the incredible leadership of our co-presidents, Jen Smith and Dana Griffin, we ask that you become an active member of this important school organization. It will strengthen your understanding of your child’s school while providing you with a network of friends and supporters for years to come.

Our skilled and devoted staff is has been planning and preparing for your child throughout the summer, while making sure that they too make time to relax and recharge.  Woodbrook teachers are committed to making a difference. They want to have a positive impact on your child and above all, they want to provide them with an engaging and joyful learning experience that supports them in becoming independent learners. To make this happen our teachers have been busy engaging in a variety of activities that enhance the work that they will do with your child throughout the school year. In June, we had nine of our returning teachers’ join nine of our new teachers in attending our school division’s Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction Institute to deepen their understanding of instructional strategies that lead to powerful learning experiences for our students. These teachers will serve as teacher leaders in this work so that all classroom exhibit best practice when it comes to teaching and learning. We also had a team of 10 teachers; four of them new to our staff facilitate our 4-week summer school program. This opportunity engaged teachers in a co-teaching model and helped them to begin to build relationships with some of our newest redistricted students. Almost all of our new teachers engaged in the weeklong Responsive Classroom professional development. There were two days in July where almost all of the staff joined me as we kicked off a yearlong learning journey around co-teaching. It’s not at all surprising that throughout the summer, every Woodbrook teacher opted into one or more professional development opportunity that aligned with their interest and our school division’s goals. This kind of commitment speaks to the high caliber of teachers we have at our school. They model life-long learning for our students and never settle for giving anything less than their best! Enjoy the chance to get to know them. Appreciate the fact that they want to partner with you in helping to nurture and support your child.  Great schools always come back to the relationship between the child and the teacher. Be sure and find ways to engage yourself in school life – your child will notice and respond. I want to say “thank you” to our incredible staff for their amazing professionalism and incredible energy as they prepare for the start of the school year. Their commitment to ensuring that Woodbrook remains a celebrated and successful school is awe-inspiring!  

As the principal of this amazing school, I feel honored and privileged to have the opportunity to work with such outstanding students, staff, families and community members.  It is a gift to be able to share my passion for public education with such a dedicated, supportive and hardworking group. I am confident that we will have a productive and enriching year as we continue our mission of developing compassionate, innovative, collaborative learners prepared to access and contribute to the ever-changing world.

Make the educational experience at Woodbrook “a way of life,” not just the place where you “send” your children.  Make it something special that you all share and benefit from together.  Trust our staff and value all that they will be doing for your child

Above all else, cherish these years with your child.  Never lose sight of the fact that time moves quickly and the growth that you see on a daily basis will seem to flash by you in no time. Appreciate the fact that never in their lives has your child had so many adults looking out for their best interests.  Home and school together make a tremendous partnership and the beneficiary of all of that love and care, challenge and support, nurturing and mentoring, is ultimately your child.  Helping our children get a strong and vibrant education is a gift – a priceless gift that will last a lifetime.

In Partnership,

Lisa Molinaro

student butterflies 

August 7, 2017

Dear Woodbrook Families,

We are very excited to begin a new school year.  As the relaxing days of summer come to a close, we are anxiously awaiting the start of another year of learning together at Woodbrook Elementary School.  We are honored to lead a school where the community plays such an important role in our success.  The learning village that envelopes the Woodbrook community is amazing and always offers incredible opportunities for our learners.  Albemarle County Public School’s mission is to “establish a community of learners and learning, through relationships, relevance and rigor, one student at a time.” At Woodbrook, we work every day to make this mission statement a reality for each and every student.

Amidst the many changes happening structurally to our school, our teachers have been preparing to greet each student with excitement.  Even though there will be construction happening throughout the school year, the Woodbrook commitment to authentic, student-centered lifelong learning will continue as normal.  At Woodbrook, we strongly believe that every student can learn and as a staff, we will challenge all students to be creative, think critically, and collaborate using 21st-century technology.  Furthermore, we stress the importance of communication and community realizing the essential role parents play in the success of a school.

This year, we are excited to welcome new staff to our Woodbrook family.  Michael Thornton will be our new Assistant Principal.  Michael joins us with over 12 years of teaching experience. Even though this is Michael’s first administrative position, he has been a leader within schools and with division-wide learning projects over many years.  Specifically, over the last 3 years, Michael played an essential role in developing the multi-age curriculum and learning space at Agnor-Hurt Elementary School.  He is eager to bring that knowledge and experience with him to guide us through our process in his new role as Assistant Principal at Woodbrook. 

At Woodbrook, we know the importance of the state standards of learning but the more important work is for your child to experience authentic learning in an environment that fosters lifelong learning.  We want your child to be engaged in the learning process, to have a voice in the development of his/her learning, and above all, have FUN.  Learning is fun!

We are happy to report that once again the preliminary data we have received from the state demonstrates that we have met or exceeded all of the state benchmark mandates to remain a fully accredited public school.  The entire Woodbrook family should be proud of this knowing that we all worked together to achieve this goal and to give every child the best education. 

Lastly, Woodbrook Elementary is lucky to have a talented and dedicated parent population.  The role you play in the success of our school is invaluable.  Everyone is a member of our Woodbrook PTO, we urge you to become an active participant and have a voice in the many exciting community events happening during the 2017-2018 school year. When we model lifelong learning and a commitment to student success, the students see this and mimic our work.  In the end, we are all here to help every student discover success in school and in life.  Working together, we can make a difference and ensure that we experience a school year filled with fantastic learning adventures for each and every student.


Ms. Lisa Molinaro
Mr. Michael Thornton

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