By Celeste M. Smucker–
Welcome to our annual public schools feature! This comprehensive article with overviews written by each of the school districts provides information about the host of educational opportunities available to students in Charlottesville City, Waynesboro and surrounding county schools.
If you are planning a move to central Virginia, or have your eye on the perfect house in a neighboring county or city, and have questions about the schools, start your research here. You will be amazed at the impressive resources available to students in every district.
Albemarle County Public Schools
The Albemarle County Public School Division’s strategic plan lists one goal—to have every student graduate having actively mastered the lifelong-learning skills they need to succeed as 21st century learners, workers and citizens.
This past year, the division’s on-time graduation rate reached 95 percent, higher than the statewide rate for every one of the nation’s 50 states. Seven out of ten graduates received Advanced Studies Diplomas, well above the 52 percent rate for all school divisions across the Commonwealth. The drop-out rate for Albemarle County public school students was 2.9 percent, well below both the 5.3 percent statewide rate and the national rate of 6.5 percent.
The foundation for this consistent outperformance by local students can be found in a 2016 national survey by Niche, an education assessment organization. Each year, Niche conducts a comprehensive analysis of school division performance data and evaluates more 60 million public K-12 school reviews and surveys to identify the Best Public School Divisions in America.
Top Five Percent of Nation
In 2016, Albemarle County Public Schools placed within the top five percent of all school divisions in the United States and among the top five school divisions in Virginia. The division earned an A+ rating for the college readiness of its graduates and A ratings for academics, teaching, health & safety and athletic programs.
In a companion study, all three of the division’s comprehensive high schools were ranked within the top ten percent of all high schools in the nation.
The pathway to this success is formed at the earliest grades based upon five objectives adopted by the School Board. They include engaging every student, implementing balanced assessments of student learning, improving achievement by improving opportunities, establishing and expanding partnerships with the business community and other organizations, and optimizing the value and impact of all resources.
Student engagement is addressed through the use of the contemporary technologies and instructional methods that empower students to complete self-designed projects. This hands-on model emphasizes not only the acquisition of knowledge but its application. Students, teachers and administrators have appeared at national conferences to showcase their work, including multiple presentations at the White House. School and university administrators and teachers from throughout the nation have visited Albemarle to learn more about this model.
Students develop problem-solving skills in such areas as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication. One such example involved middle school students who volunteered to design, develop and complete a project in which a weather balloon soared to more than 100,000 feet to collect data and photograph the earth’s curvature. Earlier this year, a team of students won a national competition to design, build and operate a wind turbine.
Balanced assessments represent a forceful step away from rote learning and evaluate students on the basis of the skills they bring to a project, whether printing out components on a 3D printer to assemble an invention, recreating an historical artifact to develop a deeper understanding of history, science or literature or writing and performing an original musical or dramatic piece.
Closing Opportunity Gaps
The division’s commitment to eliminating opportunity gaps led to its becoming one of the first public school divisions in the nation to adopt a plan to eliminate the digital divide for all school families. Re-purposing its FCC-allocated spectrum, the division provides free broadband access to the homes of students who have not previously had such access, often because of their geographic location. Within a short period of time, nearly all students will be able to fully access the Internet at home for their research and project-based learning needs.
For the 2017-18 school year, the division is piloting a new program to close opportunity gaps. The goals of this Equity and Access initiative are three-fold: to remove the predictability of success or failures that correlate with social or cultural factors; to create inclusive multicultural school environments for adults and children and to discover and cultivate the unique gifts, talents and interests that every child and family possesses.
A Social, Emotional and Academic Development (SEAD) team is closely working with principals and staff at each school to determine targeted needs in such areas as bilingual support, home and school counseling and assistance with technology learning resources. The program is being piloted at four urban ring elementary schools and eventually will be extended throughout the county.
Through its three high school academies for Math, Engineering & Science, Health & Medical Sciences and Environmental Studies, the division continues to build strong connections with local businesses and service organizations, more closely aligning curriculum with the county and nation’s professional requirements.
In recent years, the school division has increased its operational efficiencies through such innovative initiatives as energy conservation measures that have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost avoidance, new contracting guidelines that have reduced expenditures by nearly a quarter-million dollars and consolidated bus routes that have lowered fuel costs by millions of dollars.
This past November, Albemarle County voters were asked for the first time in more than 40 years to approve a school bond referendum. More than 74 percent of all voters approved the referendum. It included a building addition to relieve overcrowding at several schools, new science labs and security improvements and the modernization of classrooms throughout the county that had not been upgraded in several decades.
The school division currently is in the process of working with the community on a redesign of the high school academic experience, which will impact curriculums at lower grade levels. It will add an Applied Knowledge and Skills Competency as part of the high school diploma requirement for all students entering high school for the 2018-19 school year; students who currently are enrolled in the eighth grade today.
The state Board of Education has recommended that every student’s academic plan be initiated in middle school and include work-based experiences, internships, independent studies, student projects, civic engagement, and other experiences designed to demonstrate applied knowledge and learning. Students will earn identified credentials in the college and career readiness areas of content knowledge, career pathways, community engagement, and workplace skills.
Augusta County Public Schools
Augusta County Public Schools has a comprehensive educational program for students from preschool through high school. The school system takes in approximately 10,500 students from around the county. Augusta County Public Schools operate 18 schools including five high schools, four middle schools, and nine elementary schools. Additionally, the division operates a regional career and technical center, a regional governor’s school, a regional special education program and a regional Head Start program.
Currently the division employs approximately 900 teachers and offers advanced curriculum in language arts, science, foreign language, mathematics, social studies, physical education, and fine arts with college credit available. The schools offer a program for gifted and talented students in the areas of language arts, mathematics, art, music, and drama as well as education programs in agriculture, business, family and consumer sciences, technology, trade and industry. Extensive media services and connections to the Internet are provided to all students and personnel. Summer school enrichment and remedial programs are available as well as special education programs to provide a continuum of services for students with special needs. We welcome you to visit our website at www.augusta.k12.va.us.
City of Charlottesville Public Schools
The City of Charlottesville values education highly, and the Charlottesville City School Division offers the best in curriculum and community. The City schools are comprised of six elementary schools (preschool-4); Walker Upper Elementary School (5-6); Buford Middle School (7-8) and Charlottesville High School (9-12). As of October 2015, enrollment for preK-12 was 4,379 students.
Neighborhood schools with a global orientation expose students to diverse experiences, viewpoints, and opportunities—preparing them not only for post-secondary education but for life. Small class sizes promote individual attention in a collaborative climate. With extraordinary fine arts, the latest STEM technologies, a computer for every student, and more, the City schools are White House-certified to be “future-ready” and a charter member of the League of Innovative Schools.
Charlottesville City Schools is known for its commitment to the fine arts. Just this year, the CHS Orchestra and both the Buford Middle School Band and Orchestra all earned Grand Champion in statewide or multi-state competitions. Art and music begins in the elementary schools, and fourth-graders even participate in a year-long dance program with the Richmond Ballet. From fifth grade on, students can be active in art, band, choir, orchestra, theatre, and special programs such as dance or step teams. Students also learn about the arts through regular field trips to live performances as well as school visits from guest artists and authors.
New science and engineering labs at Buford Middle School and Charlottesville High School support innovative STEM education. Buford’s science and engineering program is a cutting-edge collaboration between the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Smithsonian Institution, and other area school divisions. CHS offers every possible AP class in computer science, engineering, math, and science, and the school’s science club regularly wins honors in state and international competitions. Our “iSTEM” teachers work in all the Charlottesville schools—even at the elementary level—to lay a strong, hands-on foundation for science, technology, engineering, and math.
The Charlottesville schools are part of their community and the world! In the past year, CCS students won acclaim in art, athletics, debate, engineering, geography, math, music, science, and writing—and that’s simply the list from Buford Middle School! Students begin studying Spanish in first grade, and by the time they attend CHS, they can choose from Chinese, French, German, Latin, Spanish, and even American Sign Language. Student field trips and competitions take students to places like China, Europe, New York, San Francisco, and more. Charlottesville students excel in all areas and they go on to attend the world’s best colleges and universities.
CHS offers approximately 30 college-level (Advanced Placement and dual enrollment) courses, and the school is the only regional school on The Washington Post’s list of “Challenge Schools” that encourage a wide variety of students to take AP classes and tests. CHS students far outperform their state and national peers on AP and SAT tests, and our schools also surpass the state’s benchmarks for the “standards of learning” tests.
Nearly 300 students attend Charlottesville City Schools by choice, either in person or through the extensive virtual education program at CHS. Learn more! Find the schools on the web at charlottesvilleschools.org or on Facebook and Twitter at @CvilleSchools. To arrange for a visit, call your local school or 434-245-2400.
Fluvanna County Public Schools
The Fluvanna County Public Schools system is comprised of six schools: West Central Primary (preK-K), Central Elementary ( 1st – 2nd), Carysbrook Elementary (3rd-4th), Fluvanna Middle School, and Fluvanna County High School. All of Fluvanna’s schools are fully accredited. Fluvanna County Public Schools will:
Student enrollment is a little over 3,500 students with a targeted student-teacher ratio of 22:1. The school system offers a variety of student programs including special education, gifted and talented education, career and technical education, and alternative education. Parental involvement is high, as is the school system’s expectation of its students.
Greene County Public Schools
Greene County Public Schools (GCPS) educates 3,107 children in grades Pre-K through 12 in one primary school, two elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and one technical school. Greene County Public Schools has four Nationally Board Certified Teachers; over 50 percent of the division’s professional staff has a masters or doctoral degree, while 99 percent of its professional teaching staff is considered “highly qualified.”
- The class of 2017 had 72 Early College Scholars.
- 74 percent of the class of 2017 will continue their formal education after high school.
- 23 percent of the class of 2017 will take the skills learned at our Technical Education Center and move into the workforce.
- 20 students in the class of 2017 earned their Associate Degree prior to high school graduation, and 88 students are enrolled in the Early
- College Scholars Program for 2017-18, where they are simultaneously earning 60 college credits and 26 high school credits
- 84 Honor Graduates in 2017
- 6 AP Scholars
- 3 AP Scholars with Honors
- 4 AP Scholars with Distinction
- 52 percent of the class of 2017 earned an Advanced Studies diploma.
- The class of 2017 earned over 2 million dollars in scholarships. ($2,023,455)
- Jennifer Hogsten was recognized as the Educator of the Year for the 2016-2017 school year.
- David Deane was recognized as the Support Staff of the Year for the 2016-17 school year.
- 2016 saw adoption of a 5 year strategic plan titled “Innovate 2021” focused on Innovation and Academic Excellence, Safe and Secure
- Learning Environments, Communication and Collaboration with Stakeholders, and Efficient Utilization of Resources. This strategic plan led to the creation of “Innovation Teams” at each school to support our teachers in exploring, applying, and experimenting with the latest in technology and engaging instructional strategies.
- Implementation of a one to one Chromebook initiative in grades 4 – 8.
- Implementation of Summer Enrichment Academies. These academies last for 1 week and are designed to provide students with authentic project-based learning opportunities over the summer.
- 2 students from NGES designed a watch that can be used to detect food allergies and took 2nd place nationally in the Toshiba Innovation ExploraVision competition.
- 7 RES students qualified to compete in the Destination Imagination Global Finals in Knoxville, TN
- 3 WMMS students placed 1st in the Virginia National History Day Competition
- 1 WMMS student placed 2nd in Virginia National History Day Competition
- A WMMS teacher was Awarded The Brunn Creativity Award for Geography Education & K12 Distinguished Teaching Award from the
- National Council for Geographic Education
- A WMHS HOSA student was recognized as a US Presidential Scholar Finalist
- 2 WMHS students qualified for the National Forensics Competition in Louisville, KY
- WMHS had its first ever VHSL State Champion in wrestling
- The GCTEC HOSA Chapter won the National Service Award and the Outstanding Service Award
- The GCTEC FBLA Chapter was recognized as an Honor Chapter
Louisa County Public Schools
Louisa County Public Schools (LCPS) currently has six schools: one high school (9-12), one middle school (6-8), and four elementary schools (PK-5). Two of the schools are new, Thomas Jefferson Elementary in 2014 and Louisa High School in 2015.
The division also has an alternative education center for students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. The high school has an extensive Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department and access to a Governor’s School. Our CTE Department now has a Director and Coordinator and is expanding from the high school programs to include STEM and STEAM in all of the elementary schools.
All LCPS schools are accredited by the Virginia Department of Education, having met or exceeded the standards required on the SOL assessments.
The school division employs approximately 390 teachers, and serves about 4,850 students. The division strives to maintain a 21:1 student/teacher ratio at the elementary level and a 25:1 student/teacher ratio at the middle and high school levels.
In May of 2017 a total of 303 students received their diplomas at the high school’s seventy-seventh annual commencement service. Approximately 33 percent of these students planned to attend a 4-year college, 38 percent planned to attend a 2-year college, 24 percent planned to work and 5 percent planned to enlist in the military.
Madison County Public Schools
In all, Madison is known not so much by “schools” as by educational families—students surrounded by caring, thoughtful parents and community members who expect graduates to have earned a top-notch education. Our students attend Virginia’s and the nation’s top colleges and enter the workforce exceptionally well prepared. This great feat is accomplished by a caring community centered on what we call “Madison Pride”—the drive to provide children with an absolutely remarkable education and a plethora of opportunities.
We support the notion of community citizenry and awareness. MCPS embraces our local community that is rich in history and tradition. Our landscape boasts preeminent countryside—mountain life and flatlands—rich with agriculture, viniculture, forestry, and pastureland. We expect students to know our Madison community and natural wealth as we encourage field trips, community service projects and service learning. In our preeminent countryside, students have the opportunity to experience and learn from our amazing location. Schools
For nearly two decades, student enrollment has hovered around 2,000 students in four schools: Madison Primary School (PK-2), Waverly Yowell Elementary School (3-5), William H. Wetsel Middle School (6-8), and Madison County High School (9-12).
Madison County Public Schools (MCPS), a student-centered and community-supported school division, insures a superior education in a changing world. Our vision is to build on excellence to exceed community expectations—to be the best. In Madison, we are proud of excellent schools, which focus on traditional methods and progressive programs in our never-ending cycle of improvement.
We are committed to helping students acquire the strong values to deal effectively with important intellectual, ethical, and social problems.
Responding to community, parent, and workforce expectations, MCPS aims to educate children to be prepared for good citizenry and life-long learning. Twenty-first century skills require that tomorrow’s workforce be adept at technology, be excellent communicators, be responsible employees, and remain physically fit and active. To this end, we want every secondary student to take Dual Enrollment, Advanced Placement, or earn an Industry Certification prior to graduation.
Additional information can be found on the division website at: www2.madisonschools.k12.va.us
Orange County Public Schools
Over 97 percent of the teachers employed by Orange County Public Schools are highly qualified. This fall they will educate approximately 4,780 students in nine schools, including six elementary, two middle schools and one high school. Average pupil/teacher ratios are 1:20 in elementary; 1:24 in middle; and 1:23 in high school. All schools in the system are accredited by the Virginia Department of Education.
OCPS has 14 percent of its student population identified as gifted and talented students. The division also offers a summer scholars program for enrichment as well as Head Start, Early Head Start and Virginia Preschool Initiative. OCPS utilizes the School Messenger system to notify parents, students, and staff of school-related events.
Blue Ridge Virtual Governor’s School, Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment and Distant Learning opportunities are offered by OCPS. In addition, 977 students earned an Industry Certification.
Three hundred and sixty students graduated from OCPS in 2016, of which 190 received an Advanced Studies Diploma. Approximately 79 percent of the graduating class will continue their education.
Waynesboro Public Schools
A Little Community with Giant Opportunities
With a population of approximately 3,000 students and 500 employees, Waynesboro Public Schools is the center of the Waynesboro community. Berkeley Glenn Elementary, Wenonah Elementary, Westwood Elementary, and William Perry Elementary Schools serve our students in grades K – 5. Upon leaving elementary school, our students from all over the city come together to attend Kate Collins Middle School (grades 6 – 8) and then, Waynesboro High School (grades 9 – 12). We also have a prekindergarten program at the Wayne Hills Center.
Waynesboro Public Schools is committed to a quality education that includes a strong academic program designed to meet student needs; comprehensive programs which prepare and encourage students to be productive citizens; quality learning environments and school facilities; a diverse, highly trained staff committed to working effectively with youth; and strong partnerships with parents and the community. Ultimately, our goal is to provide the foundation for our students to graduate career-ready—to enter the workforce, to further educational opportunities, to join the military, or to pursue other options for their future.
We do this by providing “Giant” opportunities. Our students are recognized for their academic achievement earning a Standard or Advanced Studies Diploma with the opportunity to earn additional seals—Governor’s, Board of Education, Career and Technical, Advanced Mathematics and Technology, and Excellence in Civics. Students take advantage of Dual Enrollment Opportunities in a partnership with Blue Ridge Community College, Advanced Placement Opportunities, Virtual Virginia Classes, and the Early College Scholars Program. Other opportunities include the Regional Programs at Valley Career School and Technical and Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School. A fourth cohort of Valley Scholars, made up of Kate Collins and Waynesboro High School students, begins this fall in a partnership with James Madison University.
The opportunity for student expression through the arts and physical education is another “Giant” opportunity in Waynesboro Public Schools. Our students have music, art, and physical education programs taught by specialists in all of our schools. Skillful Sketchers and Signature Singers extend the learning for our students who want to expand their musical and artistic experiences in the elementary schools. Full time art, band, and choral teachers provide for music and instruction in both the middle and high schools. In fact, because of our strong foundational programs in the lower grades, our high school has three full time art teachers. Our physical education programs have flourished as well. Our teams are competitive and provide many evenings of entertainment and pride for the community. Regional track meets are often held in Waynesboro because of the state of the art track and soccer facility.
The Waynesboro High School mascot is the “Little Giant.” All of our students will become a “Little Giant” and we are very proud of that. You will recognize them by their ability to problem solve, their use of technology, their strong work ethic, and their commitment to excellence. Waynesboro’s students are ready for the world and will continue to benefit from this “Little Community with Giant Opportunities.”