Among all the challenges we face as a city, ensuring that we are providing a quality education and opportunities for success for all of our students should be a top priority. Here are just a few of the issues I believe are important. Check back from time to time for additions and updates.
Maintaining the quality of our schools
We must maintain the quality of our public schools in order to be successful as a city. Finding responsible ways to fully fund the needs of our schools, reduce class sizes, and provide quality programs will be my top priority.
How often have we heard from those who move to Virginia Beach that the reason they decided on living here is that we are known for the quality of our schools? I’ve heard it many times, and I believe that every person living in Virginia Beach should have an interest in preserving the quality of our schools.
The quality of our schools can’t be measured in arbitrary numbers. We need to ensure that we are preparing our students to succeed in the 21st Century, developing their abilities beyond the memorization of facts or how well they can do on a multiple choice test. We can be proud that Virginia Beach is already on the path to making sure our students are prepared for the challenges ahead; however, we need to ensure that we are providing the resources and leadership needed to continue the progress that has been made.
Our schools are precious gems in our city, they are invaluable, and when they successful, our city is richer, both in the quality of our students, and in the opportunities for economic development that great schools will bring to our city.
Attracting and retaining quality teachers
Virginia Beach must be competitive in attracting and retaining quality teachers and education professionals. I support finding ways to increase compensation and reward experience.
The quality of our teachers, and their morale, has an impact on the opportunities our students have for success. While I think most would readily agree that it’s very important to have well educated, trained, and experienced teachers in our classrooms, I believe the morale of our teachers is also important.
This belief comes from six years of working with teachers and seeing how the decisions of central administration, the school board, the Virginia General Assembly, and the federal government have on our teachers personally and how it impacts their performance in the classroom.
While teaching is a calling for so many of our teachers, our ability to attract and retain quality teachers is continually eroded. It’s more than just flattened salaries that fail to reward for experience. It’s also decisions made in how we evaluate our teachers, the ever-increasing workload and expectations placed upon them, and the level of respect, or lack thereof, that is given them.
I believe in placing people first. I understand that quality teachers and education professionals are invaluable. I know that we can do much more to attract and retain quality people who will successfully educate our students.
Providing opportunities for all students
In addition to providing for the academic success of our students, I am committed to finding additional funding and resources for vocational and technical programs that give students a competitive advantage in life.
One of the great things about our schools is the diversity in the opportunities provide to high school students. From our International Baccalaureate program, our academies, to our vocational and technical programs, students have the opportunity to, in addition to their core studies, focus on an array of disciplines.
Of particular interest to me are the vocational and technical programs we offer that give studies an opportunity to earn industry certifications and gain experience that opens doors to good jobs and possibly great careers.
When I graduated from Bayside High School in 2003, I graduated as a Cisco Certified Networking Associate (CCNA), which I earned at the Virginia Beach Advanced Technology Center through the Cisco Networking Academy. Within three months of graduating, I was recruited by Sentara Healthcare to work in their Information Technology department.
This is an example of the power of the vocational and technical programs we offer. The opportunities these programs provide are immense, especially for our students who may not be on the path to attending a college or a university immediately after graduating. With the rising cost of higher education, the ability to secure a well paying job with the industry certifications than can be earned by the time our students graduate will give them an advantage in life.