Passage Middle School principal named Virginia Administrator of the Year by Virginia Association of School Librarians
Janelle Spitz, principal of Passage Middle School, was named Virginia Administrator of the Year by the Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL) during its annual awards banquet in November. The award is bestowed upon an administrator for supporting the development of an exemplary school library program and for making an outstanding and sustained contribution, advancing the role of the school library program as an agency for the improvement of education.
Spitz has positioned Passage Middle School’s library as an integral component of the school’s literacy program, which champions inquiry and reading advocacy. She is a strong advocate for her school library and its librarian, Patrice Lambusta. One of her notable accomplishments is the development of a makerspace. Spitz researched makerspace concepts and how they enhance learning through creativity and choice. Spitz and Lambusta worked together to design the space and incorporate some of Lambusta’s ideas, including an 80″x 80″ LEGO wall. Spitz also created a magnetized Scrabble board for students to play while they wait to check out books.
”As a reading advocate, Spitz models reading for pleasure by sharing new books she has read or plans to read on the school-wide morning announcements,” said Mary Keeling, library media services supervisor for Newport News Public Schools. She also supported and helped plan a One Book/One School program initiated by Lambusta.
Fourth and fifth-grade students work as structural engineers in latest design challenge
Teams of Newport News fourth and fifth-grade students worked together to design and build portable floating bridges at the latest Engineering Design Challenge. The design challenge, named River Rescue, presented with Endview Plantation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, blended history, engineering and math into one unique learning experience. Students from Heritage High School’s Governor’s STEM Academy served as STEM mentors for the student engineers.
Students began by building background information through an interactive reader’s theater to answer the question: How did engineering impact America’s Civil War? A video then provided the teams a look into the current-day work of a military engineer. Applying their new background knowledge, teams were tasked with building a portable bridge that would float and support as much weight as possible.
The teams were judged on how much weight their bridge could hold while remaining afloat. Saunders Elementary placed third, B.C. Charles Elementary placed second and Greenwood Elementary School earned first place and a trophy to display in their school. The Design Challenge is part of the school district’s ongoing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education initiative.