County schools look for outside help for Walton

EDUCATION BEAT

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ACPS teachers gather on their first day back after summer break. Photo: Andrew Quarles. ACPS teachers gather on their first day back after summer break. Photo: Andrew Quarles.

Through a recent request for proposals, Albemarle County Public Schools staff announced the division is looking to “rebrand” Walton Middle School. The request comes on the heels of numerous leadership and student conduct complaints, and the hiring of a new assistant principal, Rick Vrhovac, who came to Walton from Albemarle High School earlier this summer after parents’ concerns over discipline issues escalated.

The RFP cites a “wider perception that there are special problems at Walton that need to be resolved.”

Spokesman Phil Giaramita said the division is seeking the benefits of an outside perspective of the school’s climate, and told a reporter the effort was initiated by former Chief Operating Officer Josh Davis, who left the division in July.

“It’s an opportunity to examine what resources an agency could bring that we don’t have,” Giaramita said, adding that the division’s decision on whether to hire a consultant will depend on the proposals received and on cost.

Whitney Bullock. Photo: Albemarle County Schools.

MEET YOUR EDUCATOR: Whitney Bullock, Kindergarten Teacher, Stony Point Elementary School

Q: What has your classroom experience taught you that studying education could not have prepared you for?

A: My first year experience taught me the importance of fostering a learning community. Creating a warm physical and emotional environment made the students feel comfortable in their learning space. As a result, my students became passionate learners who felt comfortable taking academic risks.

Q: What teaching adjustments do you plan to make moving forward?

This upcoming school year, I will focus on classroom learning spaces that foster independence. I have invested in designated learning spaces (e.g. math corner, reading jungle, etc.). In doing so, the students can take ownership of their space and develop as independent learners.

Q: In your eyes, what is the biggest challenge facing education currently?

We need more emphasis on making multiculturalism a more mainstream concept. Providing strong communication and engagement will better support multicultural families.

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