Celebrating School Nurses …

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 is National School Nurse Day!

We honor more than 95,000 school nurses in the United States who make a difference in the lives of children every day!

The theme this year is School Nurses: Advocates for 21st Century Student Health.

Five Ways a School Nurse Benefits the School

Attendance — School nurses improve attendance through health promotion, disease prevention and disease management. Students with a full-time school nurse have about half the student illness- or injury-related early releases from school where no school nurse is present.

Academics – Improved attendance means the healthy student is in the classroom and ready to learn. School Nurses enable better performance, which also contributes to reducing drop-out rates.

Time – School nurses save time for principals, teachers and staff. A school nurse in the building saves principals, teachers, and clerical staff a considerable amount of time that they would have spent addressing health concerns of students. A school nurse in the building saves:
• Principals almost an hour a day
• Teachers almost 20 minutes a day
• Clerical staff over 45 minutes a day

Staff Wellness – School nurses improve the general health of staff. According to school reports, principals, teachers, and clerical staff are VERY satisfied with having school nurses in their schools for several reasons:
• Teachers can focus on teaching
• Office staff spend less time calling parents and sending students home
• Healthy staff means increased attendance and productivity

Accountability – School nurses help schools stay accountable.
• Promoting compliance with federal and state law mitigates lawsuits
• Advocating for adequate staffing aligns with Healthy People 2020 recommendations of the ratio of one school nurse per 750 well students (1:750)
• Preparing for emergencies saves lives and property
• Addressing student mental health links to academic achievement School nurses are instrumental in the identification and referral to community resources for health risks and are often the only health professional who see students on a regular basis.

School nurses are responsible for: 

• Significantly decreasing the amount of days missed due to asthma, the leading cause of school absenteeism, accounting for more than 14 million missed days annually
• Managing students with chronic conditions such as diabetes and seizures to allow them to stay in class
• Identifying and treating accidents and injuries
• Counseling students about physical and emotional issues

Healthy Children = Academic Success


— Allen, G. (2003). The impact of elementary school nurses on student attendance. Journal of School Nursing, 10(4), 225- 231.
— Baisch, M.J., Lundeen, S.P., & Murphy, M.K. (2011). Evidence-based research on the value of school nurse in an urban school system. Journal of School Health, 81(2), 74-80. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1746-1561.2010.00563.x/abstract
— Engelke, M., Guttu, M., Warren, M., & Swanson, M. (2008). School nurse case management for children with chronic illness: Health, academic, and quality of life outcomes. The Journal of School Nursing, 24(4), 205-214. — Fauteux, N. (2011). Unlocking the Potential of School Nursing: Keeping Children Healthy, In School, and Ready to Learn. Charting Nursing’s Future, 14, 1-8. Retrieved from http://www.rwjf.org/files/research/cnf14.pdf
— Levy, M., Heffner, B, Stewart, T., & Beeman, G. (2006). The efficacy of asthma case management in an urban school district in reducing school absences and hospitalizations for asthma. Journal of School Health, 76(6), 320-324
— Puskar, K. & Bernardo, L. (2007). Mental health and academic achievement: Role of school nurses. Journal of Specialists in Pediatric Nursing, 12(4), 215-223.

Wednesday, May 2 @ FGMS – Community Sessions Continue on Teen Depression

Suffolk Public Schools is expanding the same student mental wellness outreach offered at high schools to include all 8th grade students in middle schools.  The division is actively bolstering its student mental wellness curriculum and building a stronger safety net for Suffolk teens by engaging parents and caring adults in a new, division-wide initiative. Partnering with The Sarah Michelle Peterson Foundation, Suffolk Public Schools is starting conversations around a video created by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to educate staff, teens and the community about teen depression. These discussions are the latest phase of an initiative the school division is undertaking to enhance support for students’ behavioral and mental well-being.

Mental well-being is an issue across the country, Virginia, and Suffolk as headlines increasingly link teen mental wellness to tragic events. Since 2006, teen suicide rates in the U.S. have been steadily increasing. Nationally, nearly 1 in 5 teens has reported seriously considering suicide in the past year, and depression is the single greatest risk factor for suicide. As hard as it is to say, nearly every city in Hampton Roads has suffered the loss of a teen by suicide in recent years. Suffolk Public Schools recognize that many more students are struggling.

“More than Sad: Teen Depression” is a video designed to help students recognize the signs of depression in themselves or others, to challenge the stigma surrounding depression, and learn how to ask for help. All Suffolk 8th-graders will see the video in their geography class. A trained mental health facilitator along with school guidance counselors will then lead a discussion about depression. A companion version of the video and adult discussion will be shown to middle school teachers and support staff, and to parents and the community before the student discussion at each school. Adults will learn about warning signs, what to say, and how to guide teens to help.

Anyone who works with teens such as coaches, community sports directors, youth pastors, activity directors, and scout leaders is invited and encouraged to attend any of the parent and community discussions.

Schedule of Upcoming Parent & Community Presentations:

  • Wednesday, April 11 at 6 p.m. – John F. Kennedy Middle School
  • Wednesday, April 18 at 6 p.m. – John Yeates Middle School
  • Wednesday, April 25 at 6 p.m. – King’s Fork Middle School
  • Wednesday, May 2 at 6:30 p.m. – Forest Glen Middle School

NOTE: This parent/community presentation is an adult discussion covering the information students will receive in their classroom. It is not intended for young audiences as sensitive content is discussed.


For more information, please contact Cheri Hinshelwood, communications specialist, at (757) 925-6752.


Driver Elementary Farewell Celebration – May 8

Celebrating 50 Years of History

– 1968 to 2018 –

Driver Elementary invites the community, former students and staff to join them Tuesday, May 8 at 6 p.m. for a special closing ceremony.

A special cake-cutting ceremony at 5:45 p.m. will be held for participants and guests.

Please RSVP to driverpta@gmail.com

Driver Elementary School will be closing its doors on June 15.

Students and staff will relocate in September to the newly constructed Florence Bowser Elementary School.

The Driver building will be used for parent and teacher resource centers, and possible alternative programs.

SPS Raises $28,700 for March of Dimes

Congratulations to our top school teams who raised money and awareness for this charity.

… Hillpoint Elementary – $10,300 !!!

… Pioneer Elementary – $4,420

… Creekside Elementary – $2,600

… John Yeates Middle – $2,190


Did you know that each year, 1 out of every 8 babies is born too early?  That’s half a million babies in the United States alone.  Premature birth is the leading killer of America’s newborns.  Those who survive often have lifelong health problems.

Since 1989, Suffolk Public Schools has fielded a team each year at the March for Babies.  Why?  First, the school division sees first-hand the impact being born too early can have on a child.  Students with special needs share a special place in our hearts.  Second, as an employer, the division wants to educate its staff members on the ways to reduce the risk of premature babies in their own families.


Congratulations to Our Young Authors Winners

ºThanks to our dedicated teachers, children throughout Suffolk Public Schools are encouraged to submit a sample of their creative writing for a city-wide contest called Young  Authors. The categories include fiction, nonfiction, poetry and autobiography.

This program is sponsored by the Suffolk Reading  Council.

A celebration was held to honor all city-wide winners on Tuesday, April 17.


High School

9th Grade
1st Place Fiction -Brendan Old – NRHS- The Darkest Season – Murray

Middle School

8th Grade
1st Place Poetry- James Poole – JYMS- This Was a Blank Page- K. Pierce
1st Place Non-Fiction- Alexis Olsen – JYMS- Heart of a Champion – K. Pierce
1st Place Fiction- Salma Amrou- JYMS- A Pitch Black House- K. Pierce

7th Grade
1st Place Poetry- Emma Rotzler- FGMS- Poetry-  Rotzler
1st Place Non-Fiction- Armani Milteer- FGMS- The Strong Black Woman: The Pivotal Roles of Black Women in the Black Panther Party- Phillips
2nd Place Fiction- Kylee Newberry- FGMS- Amber Alert- McArdle
1st Place Fiction- Quinn Whitworth- JYMS- The Academy: A Story from the 3000 Series- German

6th Grade
1st Place Fiction- Savannah Stephens- JYMS- The Opposite Realm: A Liza Monroe Story- Reeves

Elementary School

5th Grade
3rd Place Poetry- Jordan McGee & Ethan Zang- CES- Riddles, Comics, n Jokes- Giarratano
2nd Place Poetry-  Shea Wilkerson- PES- My Poetry Booklet: All About Spring – Lee
1st Place Poetry- David Davenport- DES- The Things around Me: A Book of Poetry – Brombacher
Honorable Mention Autobiography- Janae Truman- NPES- Janae’s Story- Crosby
3rd Place Autobiography- Alina Zheng- DES- Alina Zheng’s Autobiography – Moore
2nd Place Autobiography – Cameron Worrell- PES- untitled – Leitner
1st Place Autobiography- Kalie Howard- CES- Growing Up as a Military Child- Powder
Honorable Mention Non –Fiction- Zion Eason- Massenburg- DES-Lions- Brombacher
3rd Pace Non-fiction- Andrew Perkins- NPES- Bowling- Crosby
2nd Place Non-Fiction- Louis Overton- CES Domesticated Bunnies – Giarratano
1st Place Non-Fiction- Sarena Vann- PES- A Brother Like No Other- Siverio
Honorable Mention Fiction- Kaia Monell- DES- Cats of the Beyond- Moore
3rd Place Fiction- Dani Nieves- NSES- Magical Day- Bullock
2nd Place Fiction- Ava Waldo- CES- The Unicorn Queen- Welsh
1st Place Fiction- Henry Reeves- PES- Traveler- Siverio

4th Grade
Honorable Mention Poetry- Audrina Chew- NSES-Poems of my Favorites- Burnor
3rd Place Poetry- Christian Drames- KSES- A Book of Diamante Poems- Floyd
2nd Place Poetry- Demetria Burton- CES_ My Book of Poems- Hawk
1st Place Poetry- Caroline Ferguson- PES- My Poetry Collection- Langston
Honorable Mention Autobiography- Alexis Morrison- DES- All About Me! – Thornton
3rd Place Autobiography- Maria Webb- NSES- My World- Parham
2nd Place Autobiography- Marissa Johnson- PES- Autobiography of Marissa O. Johnson- Crowell
1st Place Autobiography- Caia Davis- KSES- All About me- Floyd
Honorable Mention Non-Fiction – Colin Cirilli – PES- Fact Abut Salt Water Crocodiles- Crowell
3rd Place Non-Fiction- Christina Baker- HES- All About Lemurs- Wilson
2nd Place Non-Fiction- Madisen Jones- DES- How to Take Care of Chinchillas- Thornton
1st Place Non-Fiction- Leila Ertekin – KSES- Amazing Animals Sharks- Floyd
Honorable Mention Fiction- Gabby Seneca- NPES- The Diamond Heist- Jackson
3rd Place Fiction- Ryleigh Moore- KSES- Kallik & Taqqiq: This is Their Story- Bradley
2nd Place Fiction- Emma Aberle- DES- The Magical Fish- Belcher
1st Place Fiction- Ethan Welton & Aiden Pate- CES – Finding Max- Boyd

3rd Grade
Honorable Mention Poetry – Jayleen Colon- Reyes – KSES – All About Blue- Johnson
3rd Place Poetry- Grayson Day- DES- Sports Poems- Frarey
2nd Place Poetry- Abigail Maynard – PES- Abigail’s Book of Poems- Bass
1st Place Poetry- Saiera Derry – CES – Love Poems- Amos
3rd Place Autobiography – Caitlin Outlaw- DES- My Wonderful Life- L. Miller
2nd Place Autobiography- Josiah Joyner- KSES- My Life- Perry
1st Place Autobiography- Haley Johnson – PES- My Life- Bass
3rd Place Non-Fiction- Cinthia Saenz – CES- My Brother & I – Amos
2nd Place Non-Fiction- Logan Powell- PES- My Beach Trip Vacation- Bass
1st Place Non-Fiction- Katie Kincheloe- DES- Killer Whales- L. Miller
3rd Place Fiction- Parker Evans- PES- The Power of the Sword! – Griffin
2nd Place Fiction- Malakhi Haynes- CES- The Lost Unicorn- K. Morring
1st Place Fiction- Lexie White- DES- Olivia’s Wings- Harsh

 2nd Grade
Honorable Mention Poetry- Abigail Powell – OES- Book of Poems- Griffith
3rd Place Poetry- Mateo Rocha- DES- Poems- Q. Young
2nd Place Poetry – Kavya Rajaram – CES- My Book of Poems- Hirsch- Brooks
1st Place Poetry- Kylee Wilson – PES- My Poetry Booklet – Jensson
Honorable Mention Autobiography- Madelynn Adams – NPES- All About Me- Sammons
3rd Place Autobiography- Lainey Laud- DES- All About My Life- Q. Young
2nd Place Autobiography- Reginald Evans- KSES- My Life- Cobb
1st Place Autobiography – Molly Winslow – PES- An Autobiography of Molly Winslow – Bertero
Honorable Mention Non-Fiction- Willow Hamlin- OES- My Special Person- Griffith
3rd Place Non-Fiction – Maleah Ashburn- KSES- My Best Friend Arianna- Cobb
2nd Place Non-Fiction- Brooke Hanks- NPES- How to Make Slime- Sammons
1st Place Non-Fiction- Taylor Branch – CES- The Life of Coretta Scott King – Rouse
Honorable Mention Fiction- Peyton Rossler – DES- If you Give a Lion Lemonade- Threatt
3rd Place Fiction- Mikaylah Allen – CES- The Day the World was Under Attack- Eley
2nd Place Fiction- Haley Gray- KSES- The Magic Steed- J. Williams
1st Place Fiction- Kevin Williams- CES- Super Ninja Ghost – Hirsch- Brooks

1st Grade
3rd Place Poetry- Tailik Burke- PES- Tailik’s Book of Poetry- D. Weaver
2nd Place Poetry- Taylor Wright – NPES- My Poem Book – Jefferson
1st Place Poetry- Mariyah D’Addio – Brown- CES- Book of Poems- Tinoco
Honorable Mention Autobiography – Deborah Pierre – HES- All About me and My Family – C. Askew
3rd Place Autobiography – Susan Fears- NPES- All About Susan- Judkins
2nd Place Autobiography- Tylia Rhodes – CES- My Life!- Parham
1st Place Autobiography- Chloe Lebire – KSES- All About Me- Rasberry
Honorable Mention Non-Fiction- Brylee Prillaman – NPES- A Horse named Blackie- Jefferson
3rd Place Non-Fiction- Jacob Thompson- HES – How to Behave in School- S. Lewis
2nd Place Non-Fiction- Natalie Petruzalek- CES- All About Horses- Largena
1st Place Non-Fiction- David Jenkins- KSES- PawPaw and Me- Rasberry
Honorable Mention Fiction- Robie Walton- NPES- Danny and Rose- Judkins
3rd Place Fiction- Mason Carter- OES- The Far Away Land- K. Daniel
2nd Place Fiction- Ashton Howard- DES- Ashton the Skelton Knight vs. Cosmo the Evil Zombie – Chambers
1st Place Fiction- Harper Gray- KSES- If I had a Dragon!- Rasberry

1st Place Poetry – Charlotte White- KSES- Summer- M. Williams
2nd Place Autobiography- Thomas Gulilat- CES- I Like to Play- Larsen
1st Place Autobiography- Hannah Parker- KSES- A Girl Named Hannah- M. Williams
3rd Place Non-Fiction- Darrius Thompson- BTW- The Brain Book – K. Patterson
2nd Place Non-Fiction- Elise Harris- CES- I Love Books- Outlaw
1st Place Non-Fiction- Ava Pacitto- KSES- The Awesome Pacitto Family- M. Williams
Honorable Mention Fiction- Demi Torrence- NPES- My Butterfly- C. Boone
3rd Place Fiction- Joseph Poole- CES- A Robot- Outlaw
2nd Place Fiction- Morgan Goodman- HES- The Princess and the Shark- Flick
1st Place Fiction – Corbin Greene- KSES- The Chain Chomp Shark – B. Terry

Kindergarten Class Books
Honorable Mention – Mrs. Patterson’s Class – BTW- Our Favorite Animal
3rd Place – Mrs. Johnson’s Class- HES – If I Were a Super Hero…
2nd Place- Mrs. Wise’s Class- CES – Our Zoo Animals!
1st Place- Mrs. Yunker’s Class- DES – The Ninja Pig & the Prin

Summer Curriculum Development

Information regarding Summer Curriculum Development can be found by clicking the links below.

Summer Curriculum Development Committees_2018
2018 Summer Curriculum Development Application-K-12_Core Content
2018 Summer Curriculum Development Application–Electives and World Languages


Librarians: The Original Search Engine

The month of April is School Library Month … Wednesday, April 18 has been designated by Suffolk Public Schools as a day to tell your library media specialist : “Thanks for all you do!”

National Spokesperson

New York Times bestselling author, Jason Reynolds, is the 2018 Spokesperson for School Library Month.

Jason Reynolds (Photo by Ben Fractenberg)

“It’s impossible for me to talk about the importance of the school library without talking about the school librarian,” said Reynolds. “In full disclosure, the library wasn’t a place I frequented in school, but if I were in school today I’d practically live there, because there’s a good chance the coolest person in the building works where the books are. Not only can the school librarian help to curate a comfortable and welcoming space for all students, not only can they usher them to a vast array of books and reference materials, librarians also usually have the ability to connect with students on a personal level, because, well, they’ve read the most stories, which makes their potential for empathy and openness ceiling-less.”

Now Available! A downloadable video PSA from Jason on the impact of school libraries and librarians.

Be Sure to Thank Our School Volunteers …

Suffolk Public Schools will celebrate volunteers during Public School Volunteer Week is April 16-20.   We would like to thank all of our volunteers for dedicating thousands of hours to our students and schools. Through their continued commitment, they help make our schools a great place for students to learn and grow.

  • Close to 1,800 volunteers have registered so far this school year
  • More than 5,000 volunteer hours have been logged  so far this school year
  • Value of those volunteer hours if we’d paid for the manpower — $135,000  so far this school year


If you know someone who would make a great school volunteer, sent them to our website at www.spsk12.net/volunteer_connect

SPS volunteers generously give their time every school year to improve the academic, cultural, and athletic environments through tutoring, mentoring, and parent involvement programs. Volunteers are called upon to provide their skills and ideas in our learning communities and day-to-day activities as chaperones, club leaders, sponsors, tutors, mentors, classroom aides, coaches, and much more.

SPS celebrates our school volunteers this week for offering their time and encouragement with the ultimate goal of helping all students achieve. Help us celebrate Public School Volunteer Week by thanking your school volunteers for their service.

Renewal Deadline and Retirement Reminder …

Announcements from the HR Department …

  • License Renewal …  Teachers whose licenses expire June 30, 2018 may should renewal paperwork to Erma Goodman or Beth Simpkins in the Human Resources Department by May 7, 2018.  Call 925-6758 for details.
  • Retiring? … Anyone who is interested in retiring July 1, 2018 should contact Erma Goodman or Beth Simpkins in the Human Resources Department at 925-6758 to schedule an appointment.  NOTE:  In order to receive a personalized retirement gift, you must complete retirement paperwork by April 30, 2018.

Tips on Our New Division & School Websites

While you were on Spring Break, we launched  our new division website and new websites for each school.

TIP #1  If you had been getting to the Staff Portal from the old SPS website, you will now need to go direct.
Make a bookmark … http://staff.spsk12.net/

TIP #2  The log-in at the top right is only for webmasters.  It is not a log-in to your SPS computer or accounts.

TIP #3:   The SEARCH at the top right is your first tool to help you find your way.

TIP #4:   Your school has a webmaster who worked very hard to transition to the new sites.*  If you have questions, webmasters can help.

General Info:

  • No changes made to any individual or department/program blogs
  • No changes to the Student Portal or the Staff Portal
  • No changes to the web URL addresses for the division site or for any of the school sites
  • School sites have Quick Links to the Staff Portal and the Student Portal


Reasons for the Change:

  • Replaces outdated web technology with current functions expected by web visitors
  • Delivers news and information in a more concise, consistent fashion
  • Provides easier-to-read format including “quick links” to our most popular content
  • Allows web content to be responsive so easily navigated on any mobile device
  • Meets federal ADA compliance making information accessible to individuals with disabilities
  • Provides alternate language options for families with English Language Learners
  • Delivers emergency messages to all school websites simultaneously
  • Offers freshly picked SPS videos to all school sites at the same time
  • Adds links to division and school social media accounts, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • Includes a division app to launch in May, which pulls info directly from the division and school sites as they are updated
    • Allows users to select which school(s) to follow
    • Connects to automated notification system to send announcements by phone, email, text, and now by app

The division and school websites were last updated in 2011.   We are expanding our relationship with School Messanger, which has provided the division’s parent notification system since 2012.  School Messenger will now be hosting the new sites and providing support.

* School Webmasters:
BTWES – Denise Singleton, Ebonie Lassister
CES – Deborah Topping
DES – Amy Autry
EFES – Brian Van Der Linden
HES – Elizabeth Riley
KSES – Allison Greene
MBES – Pamela Kline
NPES – Tosha Penkrot
NSES – Mary Mathia
OES – Anne McCoy
PES – Katelyn Leitner-Black
FGMS – Debra Shapiro
JFKMS – Rhonda Grimsley
JYMS – Lisa O’Leary, Angelique Moyers
KFMS – William Carter
KFHS – Kathleen Coleman
LHS – Donna Smither-Waller, Mary Eva Old
NRHS – Melissa Glover
TWS – Ramona Harrell
CCAP – Mona Parker

Strategic Plan Draft Available for Review

In the December 2017 School Board Meeting, the Suffolk Public Schools Board of Education adopted new goals for the 2018-2023 school year.

The new goals are:
  • Ensure all students demonstrate academic growth and acquire skills to become productive citizens.
  • Ensure all students learn in a supportive, safe and nurturing environment.
  • Maintain efficient, effective and accountable management of operations and resources.
  • Attract, develop and retain high quality and diverse staff.
  • Strengthen family engagement and community investment.
The staff has developed a draft Strategic Plan to accomplish the Board’s goals. The draft plan is being posted on the website for public review and comment. A hearing will be held at the School Board’s next meeting on Thursday, April 12, beginning at 7 p.m. The public is invited to provide public comment on the plan at that time.
Click on this link to view the Strategic Plan update provided to the Board in the March 15 meeting. The update includes the draft plan, timeline and some of the feedback received to date.

New Tiers for the 2018-19 School Year

Open the headline to see the full-sized flyer.

VRS Offering Two Seminars – Thursday, April 5

Workshops will be held on Thursday, April 5 at Tidewater Community College, Regional Workforce Development Center, 7000 College Drive, Suffolk VA  23435.

The Virginia Retirement System (VRS) is hosting two sessions for to members and their guests.

Nearing Retirement Workshop:
Planning to retire within the next five years? During this half-day workshop, industry professionals will share information to help you better prepare for the transition to retirement. Featured topics include social and psychological changes that accompany retirement, how to determine retirement costs and timing your Social Security benefit.

  • Thursday, April 5, 2018 *
  • 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • Tidewater Community College, Regional Workforce Development Center
  • 7000 College Drive, Suffolk VA  23435.
  • (757) 822-1234

    * Program delivery is subject to adequate registration levels.


Are You Ready to Retire?
This presentation for current Plan 1 and Plan 2 members (hired before January 1, 2014) who are within five years of retirement guides you through important retirement decisions (such as when to retire and selecting a benefit payout option). Other topics include using myVRS and benefits after retirement.

  • Thursday, April 5, 2018 *
  • 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Tidewater Community College, Regional Workforce Development Center
  • 7000 College Drive, Suffolk VA  23435.
  • (757) 822-1234

    * Program delivery is subject to adequate registration levels.


Register for the Workshop and the VRS Presentation, at http://www.varetire.org/members/education/index.asp

You can register via e-mail-just click on the link provided


2018 City-Wide Teachers of the Year Announced

Congratulations to Katelyn Leitner-Black, a 5th-grade teacher at Pioneer Elementary School, who has been selected as Suffolk Public Schools’ 2018 City-Wide Teacher of the Year.

Congratulations also to William Carter of King’s Fork Middle School, who was named Middle School Teacher of the Year … Kristen Ellis of Nansemond River High School, who was named High School Teacher of the Year … and Christopher Stadler of Northern Shores Elementary School, who was selected as Rookie Teacher of the Year.

2018 City-Wide Teacher of the Year

Now in her fourth year of teaching, Katelyn Leitner-Black is known for her enthusiasm, creativity, and engaging teaching style.  Her students call her the “crazy teacher” because they’ve never had a teacher stand on a desk to teach a class, or sing rap lyrics to help them understand a science concept.  They say she never has a bad day and she makes learning fun.

“I have realized that I might be the only smile they see that day; I might be the only one who has ever played with them during recess and I might be the only positive role model they have in their life,” she explains. “How powerful is that?  I am a leader, I am a friend, I am a nurse, I am a mom, I am a Teacher!”

Unlike many teachers, Leitner-Black says her career choice was not because a great teacher inspired her.  Instead she went into teaching because she struggled as a student.  She says she became a teacher because she knew learning could be fun and engaging, “and I wanted to be the change.”  She wants to teach struggling students because she knows how it feels, and she is “passionate about reigniting a love for learning.”

Her grandfather’s story also pushes her.  He struggled through school, was unable to read, and dropped out at a young age. “When he found out I was going to be a teacher, tears filled his eyes and he had a heart-to-heart conversation with me expressing his concern for students who are so low that they get left behind, like himself.  I then promised him that I would do my best every single day to close that gap for students like him.”

Parent Katie Moegenberg praises Leitner-Black for sparking a significant change in her son Griffin, who has autism.  He now loves going to school to see his friend Mrs. Leitner-Black.  About three weeks into the new school year, Griffin came home crying happy tears because Mrs. Leitner-Black “told me today how smart I am. She is the only teacher that has ever told me I am smart. She understands my brain.” His mother says her son’s grades have improved tremendously, his passion for learning is back, and his social skills have improved. “It has been said that everyone has that one teacher they will never forget,” she wrote. “I know without a doubt that Mrs. Leitner-Black will be Griffin’s.”

Beyond her impact in the classroom, Leitner-Black also leads a weekly after-school science club at the Whaleyville Community Center.  She represented the school division on a state curriculum committee.  She serves on the board of the local non-profit Down the Middle Foundation.

This summer, she will travel to Ghana as a teacher leader as part of the Limited Resources Teacher Training (LRTT) international program.  LRTT sends teachers from economically developed countries to poor countries in Africa and Asia.  She will be part of unique team of qualified and dedicated teachers to co-facilitate effective and contextually relevant professional development for native teachers.

Leitner-Black earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Radford University, and was just awarded a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Averett University.

2018 Middle School Teacher of the Year

William Carter, a technology education teacher at King’s Fork Middle School, has been named the 2018 Middle School Teacher of the Year for Suffolk Public Schools.  In the classroom for almost three years, Carter is a “career switcher” who came to teach after years in the manufacturing industry.

Keeping his students curious, engaged, and active are directly connected to his success as an instructor.  Students make balloon cars, LED light arrays, electromagnets, computer code, stick bridges, herb plantings, and tabletop catapults.  They put the textbook lessons about technology to the test every day, working in teams and learning that failure along the way is just part of the process toward success.

“With each new learning plan, I have been increasingly placing the students in the driver’s seat. This approach provides me the opportunity to act as a facilitator rather than just the provider of information.”

Beyond the classroom, Carter leads a student technology club and shares his knowledge with other teachers at the Suffolk Excellence in Education Conference.

Parent Renita Ruffin praises Carter for challenging her children to think outside of the box, develop their own creations, and strive for excellence.  “He is loving, passionate, enthusiastic, and relatable to the students and staff. His real-world approach in his classroom created a culture where all students can learn.”

Carter earned his bachelor’s degree from Bridgewater College, his master’s degree for James Madison University, and his teaching licensure through Old Dominion University.  He was also an instructor in computer programming, decision sciences and operations management at JMU for six years.

2018 High School Teacher of the Year


Kristen Ellis, a Spanish teacher at Nansemond River High School, has been named the 2018 High School Teacher of the Year for Suffolk Public Schools.  Now in her eighth year of teaching, she is known for quiet, consistent professionalism and a strong rapport with students and their families.

Teaching Spanish, she often has the same students for several years.  Because of that, her students become a big part of her everyday life.  Meghan Pearl, who graduated from NRHS in 2017, says Ellis “is a teacher who not only cares for her students’ academic success, but also for their personal well-being.  She takes the time to get to know each of her students and becomes a positive influence in their life.”  Pearl chose to go into nursing so she could help people and have an impact, just like Ellis does as a teacher.

Before teaching, Ellis worked for 15 years with the Visiting International Faculty (VIF) program, which brought international teachers to teach U.S. schools as part of a cultural exchange. She traveled to Mexico, Chile and other Spanish-speaking countries.  Immediately
after college, she lived in Spain for a year.

Because of those experiences – learning to be fluent in a non-native language – Ellis says she understands when her students struggle.  Her travels also help her introduce them to the culture, history, literature, art, music, sports and legends of Spanish-speaking countries.

Ellis earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia.

2018 Rookie Teacher of the Year

Christopher Stadler, a music teacher at Northern Shores Elementary School, has been named the 2018 Rookie Teacher of the Year for Suffolk Public Schools.  His colleagues note his “hard work, initiative, loyalty, and dedication to his students and his profession” has helped him be a “real hit” at school.

Elementary resource teachers instruct students from all grade levels – and for Northern Shores, that’s 900 students all with different reading levels, music backgrounds, and social skills.  By keeping a “Students First” mentality, Stadler has managed teaching the fundamentals of music one classroom at a time, and collaborates with grade levels to create parent performances that emphasize history, science, math and reading Standards of Learning.

Principal Lori White says Stadler “is a natural in the classroom and presents as an educator with many years of experience.” Despite teaching 900 students, he often calls students by name and interacts with them as a mentor.  Another colleague says he “demonstrates thoughtfulness, leadership skills, collaborative skills, the willingness to take risks, and genuine compassion for children and their development.”

Stadler earned his bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University.

School-Level Teachers of the Year

  • Booker T. Washington Elementary – Paige Kluck
  • Creekside Elementary – Leticia Rouse
  • Driver Elementary – Courtney Frarey
  • Elephant’s Fork Elementary – Ashby Stancill
  • Hillpoint Elementary – Jade Jones
  • Kilby Shores Elementary – Leah Moulton
  • Mack Benn, Jr. Elementary – Casey McKenna
  • Nansemond Parkway Elementary – Stacy Sammons
  • Northern Shores Elementary – Adrienne Bullock
  • Oakland Elementary – Lucy Willis
  • Pioneer Elementary – Katelyn Leitner
  • Forest Glen Middle – Leslie Wolfe
  • John F. Kennedy Middle – Tracie Smith-Banks
  • John Yeates Middle – Hope Paquette
  • King’s Fork Middle – William Carter
  • King’s Fork High – Matthew Fike
  • Lakeland High – Brian Rountree
  • Nansemond River High – Kristen Ellis
  • Turlington Woods – George Old
  • College and Career Academy at Pruden – Crystal Taylor

School-Level Rookie Teacher of the Year
* Schools not listed below did not have new teachers this year.

  • Booker T. Washington Elementary – Blake Eure
  • Creekside Elementary – Presley Rona
  • Driver Elementary – Linda Lewis
  • Hillpoint Elementary – Christyna Mencarini
  • Mack Benn, Jr. Elementary – Wayne Rau
  • Nansemond Parkway Elementary – Suzanne Cardwell
  • Northern Shores Elementary – Christopher Stadler
  • Pioneer Elementary – Haley Jones
  • Forest Glen Middle – Olivia Graham
  • John F. Kennedy Middle – Amanda Weisiger
  • John Yeates Middle – Tiffany Antonucci
  • King’s Fork Middle – Christina Bradshaw
  • King’s Fork High – Valencia Sykes
  • Lakeland High – Rebecca Sapp
  • Nansemond River High – Kelsey Sutter
  • College and Career Academy at Pruden – Varnestine Lefevre

Nominations Due for Superintendent’s Star Awards

Second semester nominations for the Superintendent’s Star Award program are due by April 15, 2018. 

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to recognize employees who demonstrate commitment, initiative, school spirit, creativity, and a great attitude.

Link here for details on the award program.

Link here for the NOMINATION FORM.

Congratulations to 15 division employees who have been named winners of the Superintendent’s Star Award for First Semester 2017-18.

Watch a video of the recognition reception by clicking here.

A recognition reception was held on Tuesday, February 6 at Creekside Elementary School.  Judges consider initiative, school spirit, creativity, commitment, and attitude to recognize those who are making a real difference in the lives of students.  A total of 15 staff members — out of 69 nominees — were selected as top honorees for the Star Award recognition.

Division-Wide Instructional Staff Award: 
Andre Paquette

Band Teacher at John Yeates Middle School

Division-Wide Support Staff Award:
Donna Purkey
Tutor for English Language Learners at Northern Shores Elementary School

Andre Paquette was nominated by parent Samantha Linneman, who said he “provides the perfect blend of structure, support, and discipline that kids in a music program need while instilling the work ethic required to be successful.”   Paquette was applauded for his willingness to work with individual students beyond school hours as they prepare for district band auditions and school concerts.  His nominator said he “teaches all the subjects rolled into one” … teaching math when student musicians figure out rhythm patterns and count out beats per measure… teaching foreign language by providing translations for musical terms shared by the composer, like “fortissimo” to direct them to play very loud … and teaching history so students will understand the times and setting of specific compositions.  Paquette “gives kids the gift of music,” Linneman explained.  When many band students pick up an instrument for the first time in sixth grade, it’s quite an undertaking for them to decipher visual notations from sheet music to finger movements on an instrument to actually creating pleasantly audible sounds.  Linnemann said resource teachers whose subjects do not focus on SOL scores often don’t get recognized for their contributions to students.  Paquette “has significantly impacted my daughter by encouraging and supporting her development” as a musician, a student, and a young person.

Donna Purkey was nominated by guidance counselor Maria Eiring, who praised Purkey’s leadership and dedication to students at Northern Shores Elementary.   She tutors English Language Learners, and helps Spanish-speaking families make the transition to Suffolk Public Schools.  A military wife and mother of two, Purkey has published a children’s book called Miss You to Pieces: A Deployment Story & Project Idea for Kids.  She is the volunteer adviser for the military’s program “Anchored 4 Life,” which promotes resilience in military connected children and families.  Her own family has managed various deployments.  She has a sixth-grader and a fifth-grader.  On a broader scale, Purkey is a key factor in the success of two after-school programs for Northern Shores students — Girls on the Run and Hero Boys,  Eiring added: “I am blessed to work with her … She is loved and well-received by our staff, students and families.  Donna Purkey is a gem!”

Additional Support Staff Honorees

  • Ella Mae Anderson, a paraprofessional at King’s Fork High School
  • Larry Chapman, a bus driver for John Yeates Middle School
  • Barbara Miskin, a bus driver for Creekside Elementary
  • Stephen Shapiro, a master tradesworker for Suffolk Public Schools


Additional Instructional Staff Honorees

  • Melanie Burnor, a teacher at Northern Shores Elementary
  • Allison Greene, a media specialist at Kilby Shores Elementary
  • Jessica Johnson, a teacher at Kilby Shores Elementary
  • Erik Johnson, a teacher at Creekside Elementary
  • Karen Jones, a guidance counselor at Kilby Shores Elementary
  • Austin Kulp, a teacher at Kilby Shores Elementary
  • Karen Lawson, a teacher at Oakland Elementary
  • Leah Moulton, a teacher at Kilby Shores Elementary
  • Valerie Smith, a teacher at King’s Fork Middle School
Second semester nominations for the Superintendent’s Star Award program are due by April 15, 2018.

Link here for details on the award program.

Link here for the NOMINATION FORM.

Open Nomination for Gifted Eligibility …

Students currently in grades 3-7, who have not been tested for the gifted program in the last 12 months are eligible for nomination.

Parents, teachers, administrators, and students may nominate a student for gifted services.  Nomination forms can be accessed from school offices, gifted resource teachers, or the gifted blog at http://blogs.spsk12.net/spsgifted/gifted-open-eligibility-period

For more information, please contact Dr. Maria Lawson-Davenport at marialawson-davenport@spsk12.net or (757) 925-6759.

Gala Tickets Now on Sale – A Night at the Movies – April 27

Don’t Miss the Event of Year
  Last year’s Gala sold-out, so get your tickets now!  


Here’s your opportunity to support the music and art programs in Suffolk Public Schools by attending the Suffolk Education   Foundation’s fourth annual Gala in Celebration of the Arts in Suffolk Public Schools! 

Buy your Gala tickets now for a dinner and a fabulous night of entertainment by our students.  The fourth annual Celebration of the Arts will welcome you on Friday, April 27  from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn Riverfront (100 East Constance Road.)  Proceeds will directly benefit the fine arts programs in Suffolk Public Schools.

The evening will feature live entertainment performed by Suffolk Public Schools’ middle school and high school student musicians and singers.  The Movie theme continues beyond music to showcase the visual arts with a display of 50 original works created by student artists and art teachers from all Suffolk Public Schools’ secondary and elementary schools.


  • Tickets are $35 a person. Proceeds benefit the music and arts programs in Suffolk Public Schools.

  • A table for 10 is $300


For tickets, contact suffolkgala@gmail.com or call SEF president Jennifer Schmack at (757) 272-8718.



The SEF Gala hits all your senses…from the visually stunning artwork and moving musical performances to the fabulous food and whimsical masks. Your generosity and support of this Gala directly benefits the most important thing in Suffolk — our students!  
                                          Sandra Darden, Art Teacher, King’s Fork Middle School


SEF supports the schools, helping with items that are more than “brick and mortar” but rather the “heart and soul” of teaching. The gala benefits our future innovators, dreamers, and artists – the ones who create the world in which we live.  Our students need to know their talent is valued and appreciated, and not just relegated to a test score. 
Dr. Joleen Neighbours, Fine Arts Department Chair, Nansemond River High School



The SEF Gala is a wonderful coming together of our extended arts community for a fabulous evening filled with both student and teacher works of art as well as musical performances. The best reason of all to attend is to enjoy this celebration of creativity right here in Suffolk, and to support the arts programs in our schools.   

Linda Hurwitz, Orchestra Director, John Yeates Middle School


Technology Course Offerings

Need points?  We’ve got you covered!  View the flyer for course offerings that are available through the Technology Department.

Technology Course Offerings

Free Community Workshops from WTCSB …

Teachers, counselors, coaches and others who work with teenagers and young adults might be interested in the free public training opportunities being offered by the Western Tidewater Community Services Board.

Times and Locations for Each Workshop Varies, so please contact Anderson Wright awright@wtcsb.org


Mental Health First Aid: for Youth and Young Adults: MHFA: Youth focuses on teaching individuals who work with youth and young adults about the various mental health challenges and disorders which often develop during adolescence and what can be done to help provide support.

Upcoming MHFA: YOUTH training dates:
Each date is a stand-alone session, with 4 options to take the single workshop … It is not a series.

March 09, 2018     June 08, 2018     September 7, 2018        November 9, 2018


Mental Health First Aid for Adults: MHFA: Adults teaches the public how to recognize symptoms of mental health problems, how to offer and provide initial help, and how to guide
a person toward appropriate treatments and other supportive help.

Upcoming MHFA training dates:
Each date is a stand-alone session, with 10 options to take the single workshop … It is not a series.

February 23, 2018       March 23, 2018       April 27, 2018        May 18, 2018

June 22, 2018            July 27, 2018       August 24, 2018        September 28, 2018

October 26, 2018     November 16, 2018


Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training: ASIST is a 2-day, interactive workshop that provides a practical guide for the average person on how to provide suicide interventions.

Upcoming ASIST training dates – Two-Day Series:

March 15 – 16, 2018       October 18 – 19, 2018

REVIVE:  REVIVE teaches the public how to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose emergency with the administration of naloxone (Narcan ®)

Upcoming REVIVE training dates:
Each date is a stand-alone session, with 5 options to take the single workshop … It is not a series.

March 14, 2018     May 09, 2018     July 11, 2018     September 12, 2018     November 07, 2018


Times and Locations for Each Workshop Varies, so please contact Anderson Wright awright@wtcsb.org to register.

Learn More about the Proposed 2018-19 Budget

The Superintendent’s Proposed 2018-2019 Operating Budget was presented to the Suffolk School Board on February 8, 2018.

Click on the headline to open the most.

Learn more at this link: 

Now Available Online — SEF Grant Applications for 2018-19

The Suffolk Education Foundation announces that applications are now available for its 2018-19 instructional grant program.  Proposals are due electronically by email no later than Friday, April 20, 2018.

This year’s grant application is available online at the SEF’s website.


Ready to Quit Smoking?

The free Quit For Life® Program helps people learn to live without tobacco for all kinds of reasons. 

It can be hard to quit. That’s why the Quit For Life Program offers tobacco users powerful tools and support every step of the way.

The Quit For Life Program includes:

  • Phone coaching. Through a series of scheduled calls, the Quit Coach® team helps tobacco users create a quit plan, identify which prescription or over-the-counter medications might curb cravings and they provide tips and support throughout the quit journey. Program participants can also call the Quit Coach team anytime they need extra support.
  • Patches or Gum. The urge to smoke is powerful, but quit aids can help. Many Quit For Life participants qualify to receive nicotine patches or gum as part of the program.
  • Web Coach®.   With great tools and a friendly community of others trying to quit, this members-only website offers support 24/7.
  • Text2QuitSM.   Personal quit reminders are sent right to members’ mobile phones.


Enrolling is quick and easy.


Suffolk Public Schools employees will earn 200 wellness points upon successfully completing the program.

Click here for a printable 2-page flyer with more details.


The Quit For Life Program is brought to you by the American Cancer Society and Optum. The two organizations have 40 years of combined experience in tobacco cessation coaching and have helped more than two million tobacco users. Together we will help millions more make a plan to quit, realizing the Society’s mission to save lives and create a world with more birthdays.  The Quit For Life Program provides information regarding tobacco cessation methods and related well-being support. Any health information provided by you is kept confidential in accordance with the law.