Newport News Public Schools (NNPS) prepares all students to graduate college, career and citizen-ready. To realize this vision, the school division’s strategic plan includes three benchmarks for student achievement and development: student achievement, advancement and youth development.
While academic success is important, we believe that youth development is an integral part of the learning experience, assisting students in empowering their skills in leadership, citizenship and teamwork.
NNPS is a school division that values the voice of our students and encourages student advocacy. At the core of this work is the Youth Development Department, a unique office that promotes student leadership and volunteerism. I have been very impressed and pleased by the quality of student-organized events that have been initiated under the guidance of this team, including bullying awareness campaigns, empowerment workshops and leadership training.
Student empowerment opportunities are designed to build college, career and citizen-readiness in all students. Newport News Public Schools encourages students to design and lead clubs, projects and activities, which not only provide an opportunity for self-development but also promote a positive school culture and discourage unacceptable behaviors.
Our school division has numerous initiatives to encourage student empowerment.
Bloom is a division-wide student-led empowerment initiative, designed to equip female middle school students with the information and resources essential for their development as global leaders, destined to make an impact in their schools, community and the world. Our high school students partner with students from local colleges and universities and community partners to serve as “Empowerment Coaches” for our middle school students.
Bloom organizations in each middle school meet regularly to address topics such as self-discovery, positive relationships and health and wellness. Bloom participants also experience an annual leadership institute and college and career exploration opportunities, conduct social entrepreneurship and service projects and learn valuable skills, such as public speaking and project management.
This school year, we launched the RISE Male Empowerment Network. RISE brings together abundant mentoring, leadership development, service learning, enrichment opportunities and college and career exploration resources from across our community to equip our male students with the skills, information and support needed to succeed.
The RISE leadership team is an extended network of educators and community partners with a diverse mix of experiences and knowledge. RISE participants participate in cultural field trips; college, career and leadership workshops; service-learning opportunities and an annual conference.
Student involvement is another important component of our youth development work. NNPS offers an abundance of clubs, activities and sports to engage students beyond the classroom. Every school offers a variety of these opportunities, often designed and directed by students themselves, to discover and develop new talents and highlight student strengths. Our goal is to ensure that every student participates in at least one extra-curricular activity.
Service learning provides our students with a wide range of experiences, which benefit others and the community. In Newport News Public Schools, service learning begins in elementary school and is practiced daily as part of the curriculum. Through student leadership conferences and participation in clubs and organizations, elementary students have the opportunity to develop leadership, volunteerism and citizenship skills.
Middle and high school students practice service learning in school and through community volunteer opportunities. They have given thousands of hours in service in and around our community, helping those in need and providing support to our friends and neighbors.
Youth development in Newport News Public Schools is building stronger students and ensuring they are citizen-ready.