West Point school district employees prepare for new school year

jojacobs@tidewaterreview.com

School division faculty and staff prepared for a new school year with reflections on past success and plans for the future during their annual district convocation.

"It truly takes a village and everybody matters and everybody makes a difference," said West Point Superintendent Laura Abel.

West Point schools racked up several awards in 2017, including a State Board of Education Distinguished Achievement Award for the middle school and State Board of Education Excellence Awards for the elementary and high schools, Abel said.

West Point Public Schools was one of two districts to earn a State Board of Education Excellence award in 2017, Abel said. The other district was Falls Church Public Schools.

In the class of 2017, 66 percent of students earned advanced diplomas. All schools in the district continue to be accredited, Abel said.

West Point Public Schools’ showing against Falls Church is notable given the differences in budgets and student populations. West Point Public Schools has an operating budget of about $10 million, compared to Fall Church’s operating budget of more than $50 million in fiscal year 2018. West Point students number about 800, while Falls Church has about 2,700 students, School Board member Paul Diggs said.

"The quality of the administration has a lot to do with that, and so does the staff," Diggs said.

The town is proud of the school district, which is a major expenditure in the annual budget. The success of the school district makes it possible to justify that investment, West Point Mayor Jim Hudson said.

“Keep on doing what you do so well,” Hudson said.

The district recognized Kristy Britt, Julie Zwerner and Britney Ball as Teachers of the Year at the middle school, high school and elementary school, respectively. Ball was also recognized as the district’s Teacher of the Year.

Eleven new staff members were introduced, and 12 long-serving staff were awarded pins for their service during convocation. Director of instruction Linda Minor was recognized for 35 years of service with the district.

District officials will continue to emphasize focus areas such as technology usage, collaborative culture and performance-based achievement in the 2017-18 academic year. There isn't any one simple path to success in working to improve students’ education, and teachers will make progress through incremental steps, Abel said.

"Be brave, the board's got your back," Abel said, referring to the School Board. "Small changes make a huge difference."

West Point teachers of the year

Britney Ball, division Teacher of the Year, elementary school.

Julie Zwerner, high school.

Kristy Britt, middle school.

Years of service

Misty Osborne, cafeteria manager, five years.

Peter Vlaming, French teacher, five years.

Britney Ball, elementary school teacher, 10 years.

Paula Burse, high school teacher assistant, 10 years.

Doug Hagen, high school teacher, 10 years.

Connie South, middle school nurse, 10 years.

Cary Tomlinson, middle school teachers, 10 years.

Julie Zwerner, high school teacher, 10 years.

Melvin Banks, lead custodian, 20 years.

Melody Raef, high school teacher, 20 years.

Nelson Harris, elementary school teacher, 25 years.

Linda Minor, director of instruction, 35 years.

New staff

Bianca Gresham, elementary school teacher.

Brittany Ferguson, elementary school teacher.

Cameron Ritcher, elementary school teacher.

Amber Gibbs, teacher assistant.

Sarah Bray, school counselor for elementary and middle schools.

Jonathan Westmoreland, English as a second language teacher for elementary and high schools.

Tonya Gay, middle school science teacher.

Deanna Edwards, athletic trainer at high school.

Benjamin McCallister, high school history teacher.

Spencer Kennon, high school math teacher.

Summer Woods, high school cafeteria.

Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.

Copyright © 2017, The Virginia Gazette
46°