As the 2019 – 2020 school year wraps up, I am reflecting on the achievements and successes of our students and staff.
We started the school year by celebrating the success of the Class of 2019. More than 1,800 students crossed the stage into the future—college, career and citizen-ready. I am proud of their accomplishments: 94.8 percent of the class of 2019 graduated on time, in four years. Graduation rate for Newport News Public Schools (NNPS) tops the state average and is among the highest in state.
Our graduates earned nearly $60 million in scholarships to colleges and universities across the country. They also earned 3,037 industry and career certifications, giving them access to advanced post-secondary opportunities and highly skilled internships and careers.
There were 224 NNPS students named 2019 Advanced Placement (AP) Scholars. Students and graduates given this distinction have to take at least three AP courses, take the corresponding exam and earn a score of three or better on each exam. Eight NNPS students were named National Advanced Placement Scholars for their high achievement on AP exams. To earn this prestigious award, our students must earn an average score of at least four on all AP exams taken and scores of four or higher on eight or more of these exams. Newport News students have access to more AP courses than any other school district or private school on the Virginia Peninsula.
In August, five Newport News public schools earned recognition by the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Board of Education. Deer Park and General Stanford elementary schools earned the 2019 Virginia Board of Education’s Highest Achievement Exemplar Award. Discovery STEM Academy, Dutrow Elementary, Sanford Elementary and Denbigh High School earned the 2019 Virginia Board of Education’s Continuous Improvement Award through the Exemplar School Recognition Program.
Deer Park and Nelson elementary schools earned 2019 Virginia Board of Education Excellence Awards for exceeding all state and federal accountability benchmarks and making significant progress toward goals for increased student achievement and expanded educational opportunities.
Newport News Public Schools launched a CyberSTEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) program at seven schools this school year with the support of a grant from the Department of Defense Education Agency. CyberSTEAM is designed to activate computational thinking and problem-solving skills. Students make connections between the language of computer science and fun STEAM activities in several computer science strands: algorithms and programming, computing systems, cybersecurity, data and analysis, impacts of computing and networks and the Internet. The program exposes students to coding, robotics and a game-based cybersecurity curriculum.
The Newport News Education Foundation and NNPS were awarded a $300,000 One Community Transformation Grant from Newport News Shipbuilding to support STEM education. The grant builds on STEM education through collaboration with the Brooks Crossing Innovation and Opportunity Center to provide field experiences for 6,000 students and technology training for more than 400 teachers.
An Achievable Dream High School was named among the 2019 Best W!SE High Schools Teaching Personal Finance. It is the only national ranking that recognizes excellence in personal finance instruction among the W!SE (Working In Support of Education) national network of schools. The “100 Best” ranking is determined based on the average certification test score with consideration given to the number of test takers and the socio-economic background of the students.
NNPS was awarded two Programs That Work awards from the Virginia Mathematics and Science Coalition. One of these recognitions was for the STEM 360 program, a partnership with the Virginia Air and Space Center, NNPS, Suffolk Public Schools and Hampton City Schools that provides STEM learning experiences at six elementary schools. The second of these awards was presented to the Menchville High School Research Class, which studied the regeneration of zebrafish as a model for investigating Parkinson’s disease in humans and monitored E.coli and coliform bacteria counts in the lower James River.
Our dedicated staff earned recognition as well. Twelve career and technical education teachers earned national recognition for their students’ successful performance on the W!SE Financial Literacy Certification Test by being named Gold Star teachers. To receive the Gold Star Award, at least 93 percent of their students in one or more classes must pass the W!SE Financial Literacy Test. Patricia Franklin, visual and performing arts supervisor, was named the Virginia Art Educator of the Year by the Virginia Art Education Association. And, the Virginia Association for Elementary School Principals awarded a School Bell Award to Jacky Barber, principal of Riverside Elementary. The award is given to school-based administrators who have made significant contributions to their schools.
This has truly been a year of success for Newport News Public Schools due in large part to the support our students and teachers receive from our business community.