Free Training Offered

The Sarah Michelle Peterson Foundation, who has been leading our “More than Sad” presentations on teen depression is offered a free training to become a “Suicide-Alert Helper.”  ……

safeTALK is a half-day alertness training that prepares anyone 15 or older, regardless of prior experience or training, to become a suicide-alert helper. Most people with thoughts of suicide don’t truly want to die, but are struggling with the pain in their lives. Through their words and actions, they invite help to stay alive. safeTALK-trained helpers can recognize these invitations and take action by connecting them with life-saving intervention resources, such as caregivers trained in ASIST.

Fri, March 29, 2019

9:00 AM – 12:00 PM EDT
First Lutheran Church
1301 Colley Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23517

Since its development in 2006, safeTALK has been used in over 20 countries around the world, and more than 200 selectable video vignettes have been produced to tailor the program’s audio-visual component for diverse audiences. safeTALK-trained helpers are an important part of suicide-safer communities, working alongside intervention resources to identify and avert suicide risks.

Register at

Learning goals and objectives

Over the course of their training, safeTALK participants will learn to:

  • Notice and respond to situations where suicide thoughts might be present
  • Recognize that invitations for help are often overlooked
  • Move beyond the common tendency to miss, dismiss, and avoid suicide
  • Apply the TALK steps: Tell, Ask, Listen, and KeepSafe
  • Know community resources and how to connect someone with thoughts of suicide to them for further help

Training features:

  • Presentations and guidance from a LivingWorks registered trainer
  • Access to support from a local community resource person
  • Powerful audiovisual learning aids
  • The simple yet effective TALK steps: Tell, Ask, Listen, and KeepSafe
  • Hands-on skills practice and development


Organizer of safeTALK- Suicide Prevention Training

The Sarah Michelle Peterson Foundation was founded in 2014 with the goal of fighting depression and suicide in adolescents. In almost five years, we have been able to extend our services to the furthest reaches of Hampton Roads (and even beyond). We provide educational programs, both presentations and trainings, for schools, colleges, churches, workplaces and so many more. Our goal is to deliver an assortment of community outreach programs dependent on the needs of our wonderful community!

New Face with Instructional Team

Congratulations to Dr. Lisa Meyers, who was appointed as Supervisor of English Instruction by the Suffolk School Board earlier this month.  She will start April 1.

Meyers has worked with Chesapeake Public Schools and Virginia Beach Public Schools as a reading specialist, building administrator, instructional specialist, instructional coordinator, and assessment director.  She also served as a consultant with Simply Achieve through the Virginia Department of Education.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University, and her master’s and doctorate degrees from George Washington University.

Budget FAQs

The FAQs are now posted here. Open this story to get the link to the online budget question form.  Individuals will be emailed a reply, and the questions will be used to create a Frequently Asked Questions document.

2019-20 Proposed Budget (PDF)

Budget PowerPoint presentation to School Board (PDF)

Have a question to ask about the budget?  Use this form to submit your questions.


Here are answers to the questions submitted to date:

Now that the additional guidance positions has been cut to 1.5, will SPS still qualify for the state’s matching funds to improve salaries?

The two are separate issues. The Guidance positions were reduced by the General Assembly and so the state revenue was reduced. The Superintendent’s Proposed Budget was revised to match the state’s reduced Guidance positions.  This did not free up money to add to the raises, it simply lowered the state revenue and lowered guidance expenses.   The Superintendent’s Proposed Budget as presented February 14, 2019 qualified SPS for the state’s matching funds to improve salaries. The Compensation supplement funds were cut further by the General Assembly as they changed the start date of the 2019-2020 raise to September 1st, 2019 from July 1st, 2019.  The Superintendent made other reductions in expenses in order to protect the raises as presented at the March 14th meeting.

Will teacher raises this year be the combination of a state matched raise or just the proposed 2.25% cost of living raise?

Teachers under the proposed budget would receive a 2.25% cost of living raise only from their current salary for the 2019-2020 school year. This means that the entire scale would change and as teachers step to the next year experience, the salary on that step would equal 2.25% more than their current base salary.   The Governor’s Budget called for 5% over a two year period. Teachers received a minimum of 4.32% last year, so the 2.25% cost of living raise proposed places SPS above the required 5% amount over the two year period.  Please keep in mind that this is a proposed budget and is subject to change.

If passed in its current form, will this budget qualify SPS to receive the state matching funds offered with the 5% scenario?
Yes. Teachers received a minimum of 4.32% last year and adding the 2.25% this year is actually MORE than the state is requiring to receive the 5%. 

There are a lot of very large allocations in almost every department for travel and training. What is the grand total that is being requested for this in the upcoming budget? What was the grand total travel/training amount used last year? Which departments used the most travel/training money? How much of the travel and training funds were actually used by classroom teachers within the district?

– Grand total being requested in the Proposed Budget $373,729
– Grand total used last year? $324,429
– Departments using the most travel/training money? Instruction General Ed $96,019, Instruction Special Education $56,188, Directly sent to Schools for teachers/teacher assistants for professional development $40,000, Instructional Support $27,215, Office of the Principal $14,252, School Board $15,349, Executive Administration $9,432, Transportation $9,952 are the largest amounts.
– Most of these dollars are spent reimbursing staff including teachers, and instructional support for local travel to/from schools and various state, local, and regional  meetings.

Since additional core instructional positions are not provided for in the budget, what is the plan to address the overcrowding already being seen at the new schools (and the northern Suffolk schools in general), especially in light of the continued development in the area?
We will be reviewing each school’s student population and teacher student ratio and make necessary adjustments in teacher assignments to best address any overcrowded schools or classes throughout the division.

I read that a portion of $95,000 allocated to middle and high schools in terms of Professional Development will be used for instrument repair and replacement. I wanted to know if it is $95,000 divided amongst all eight (8) combined middle and high schools? If not, how is that type of funding being distributed and will size of program be looked at prior to allocation?
For instruments, high schools will receive $20,000 each, for a total of $60,000.  Middle schools will receive $5,000 each, for a total of $25,000. For Professional Development, $10,000 has been added to the $40,000 allocation and divided by the total number of teachers and teacher assistants.  The per-person amount is then multiplied by the number of teacher and teacher assistants at each school to get that schools’ allocation for professional development.

Do we have a proposed Teacher Salary Scale and Paraprofessional (TA) Salary Scale?
No, we do not have proposed scales for teachers or teacher assistants as we do not produce scales until we have an adopted budget. Teachers can take their base salary (less stipend for degrees and/or additional periods taught) and multiply by 102.25%. This will give them the proposed salary for next year. Teacher Assistants can take their current year salary and multiply by 103% and get within rounding of their proposed salary.

What is FTE? and why did it decrease in 2019-2020 year?  On page 34 of the budget it discusses FTE Teachers under Compensation:  2018-19 Revised:  724.24 FTEs  … 2019-20 Proposed: 723.24 FTEs
FTE refers to Full Time Equivalent positions and is another state reporting compliance piece. Part time employees must be converted to a portion of a full time position and reported in the budget.  If you will direct your attention to page 33 “Personnel Changes,” the explanation shows that a teaching position included in last years’ budget was moved to Instructional Support Student Services to comply with state reporting requirements. This refers to the Behavioral Specialist previously coded as a teacher. This position is now coded as an “other professional” and since the position is not in the classroom, but reports to the Student Services Department, it was moved to comply with state reporting.

Why are teachers only allocated roughly 800 copies per month? Is this budgeted per building or does the principal set the limit?
This limit is set by the building principal based upon available funds to pay the copier per click charges on the Electronic Systems contract. Most schools use allocation funds based upon the number of students in the building to pay for these services and paper.

Will there be extra money for field trips? It seems that we are limited every year due to limited funding for field trips.
The district is reimbursing schools for field trips that were approved by the School Board for each grade level (less the amount collected from students). The total budget set aside for this is $174,000 and is a new item to the budget in 2019-2020. Other field trips requests must be approved by the building principal and instructional department prior to the trip being planned. Funds are not allocated in budget to cover these other requests. Usually, schools collect from the students to cover the costs of these other field trips.

If you have no more steps in your pay grade on the support pay scale, are you only receiving 0.5% as indicated on the proposed budget? Or is there a formula used to calculate what your new step increase would be based upon your current salary, which is then recalculated to include the 0.5% cost of living raise?
The proposed budget includes a step plus 0.5% cost of living raise for support positions, which is about 3%. Included in the budget proposal is this 3% regardless of where a person is paid on the scale. Please remember this is proposed and the final amount of the raises will be decided when the School Board adopts its budget in May.

Why are teachers only getting 2.5% COLA and not 5% that was given by the state?
Please see State Superintendent’s memo 051-19 Attachment A  “Returns to the original Compensation Supplement in Chapter 2, which includes a July 1, 2019, effective date for a 3.0 percent Compensation Supplement. The General Assembly also funds an additional 2.0 percent Compensation Supplement for SOQ funded instructional and support positions effective September 1, 2019. Only a maximum 3.0 percent salary increase provided by local school divisions in fiscal year 2019 will be credited towards eligibility to receive the 3.0 percent Compensation Supplement in fiscal year 2020. Additionally, only salary increases provided in fiscal year 2020 up to 2.0 percent by September 1, 2019, can be credited towards eligibility to receive the additional 2.0 percent Compensation Supplement effective September 1, 2019. School divisions providing less than a 2.0 percent local salary increase by September 1, 2019, would be eligible for partial state funding from the 2.0 percent portion of the Compensation Supplement in fiscal year 2020. Returns to the original Compensation Supplement in Chapter 2, which includes a July 1, 2019, effective date for a 3.0 percent Compensation Supplement. The General Assembly also funds an additional 2.0 percent Compensation Supplement for SOQ funded instructional and support positions effective September 1, 2019. Only a maximum 3.0 percent salary increase provided by local school divisions in fiscal year 2019 will be credited towards eligibility to receive the 3.0 percent Compensation Supplement in fiscal year 2020. Additionally, only salary increases provided in fiscal year 2020 up to 2.0 percent by September 1, 2019, can be credited towards eligibility to receive the additional 2.0 percent Compensation Supplement effective September 1, 2019. School divisions providing less than a 2.0 percent local salary increase by September 1, 2019, would be eligible for partial state funding from the 2.0 percent portion of the Compensation Supplement in fiscal year 2020.”

The 5% raise is split over 2 years — 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. Teachers received a flat $3,000 raise for the current year (2018-19), which at the lowest percentage was 4.32%. To meet the minimum requirements to receive the state funding, SPS must give a minimum of 2% in 2019-20. The Superintendent’s Proposed budget calls for a 2.25% raise for teachers which exceeds the state’s requirement and the funds provided by the state for the raise.

Why are the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent getting a raise?
The Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent are full time support staff of SPS. The Superintendent’s proposed budget calls for all full time support staff to receive a step plus a 0.5% COLA (or 3%) raise so that SPS meets the state minimum requirements of 5% over two years and SPS can qualify to receive the state money to fund raises.

What exactly are the “other funds”? Almost a million dollars is allocated to such things as rebates/refunds(350k), rental of facilities, adult workplace(242,000k) – 100,000 for “other funds” in the other funds section? Money towards sale of equipment-56k for a universal discount?
These revenues come from sources other than State, Federal or City Appropriation:
     Rebates and Refunds includes revenue from vendor contract rebates that we take advantage of in our purchasing contractual process, insurance reimbursements for claims where we are not replacing the equipment, revenue from lost damaged textbooks and equipment, etc.
     Rental of Facilities: includes for profit companies who use our facilities and churches who rent our facilities on the weekend pay rental for the areas they require and reimbursement for staff needed. The revenue received from this activity is recorded here.
     Other funds: includes donations and small local grants received. The $100,000 revenue is a place holder as this fluctuates annually. Some years we receive nothing and other years we receive donations etc.
     Universal Discount E-rate: is a government program by which SPS receives reimbursement for a portion of a portion of our internet costs back. Information Technology is required to spend the money on infrastructure replacements or additions that further internet access. On page 159 of the Proposed Budget you will see the expense line for this revenue.
     Sale of equipment: Under state law, any equipment including buses, vans, old desks, cafeteria tables, copiers, old textbooks,  etc. must be declared surplus by the Superintendent and sold at auction. Annually, SPS has an auction and the proceeds are recorded here.


Renewal Deadline and Retirement Reminder …

Announcements from the HR Department …

  • License Renewal …  Teachers whose licenses expire June 30, 2019 should renewal paperwork to Erma Goodman or Beth Simpkins in the Human Resources Department by May 6, 2019 ….
  • Retiring? … Anyone who is interested in retiring July 1, 2019 should contact Erma Goodman or Beth Simpkins in the Human Resources Department at 925-6758 to schedule an appointment.  NOTE:  In order to receive the first payment on time, you must complete retirement paperwork by May 1, 2019.

Call 925-6758 for details.

March of Dimes: Join the March for Babies on April 27

Suffolk Public Schools will be walking for babies again this year.

Teams are forming at each school, as well as other wrap-around fundraising events.

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.


Spotlight on Wellness

Kisha H. is the Wellness Champion for JFKMS.  She works hard with staff to stay healthy and well.  Staff walk together and complete exercises right where they are.  It could be a hallway or the gym and you will see staff keeping healthy throughout the day.  Kisha has also given her staff a March Madness Mental Health challenge with an easy to follow calendar. 

JFKMS Wellness (Video Link)

Thank you Kisha H. for all you do!  Go JFKMS!

2019 District-Wide Teachers of the Year Surprised

Congratulations to Patricia Waegerle, an 8th-grade math teacher at Col. Fred Cherry Middle School, who has been selected as the Suffolk Public Schools’ 2019 City-Wide Teacher of the Year.

Congratulations also to Qua Cummings of Nansemond Parkway Elementary School, who is the district-wide Elementary School Teacher of the Year … Ronald Daughtrey of Lakeland High School, who is the district-wide High School Teacher of the Year … and Cassandra Eagan of Lakeland High School, who has been selected as the City-Wide Rookie Teacher of the Year.

2019 City-Wide Teacher of the Year

Now in her 20th year of teaching, Patricia Waegerle is known for her enthusiasm, diligence, and instructional leadership at the division and state level.  She teaches Pre-Algebra to 8th-graders, and strives to recognize the vast potential within each student and to help them see it within themselves.  “My students are my children … I am their biggest cheerleader,” she explains.

Her immigrant parents did not graduate from high school, but raised four children “with a strong work ethic and a life that valued education. They spent every spare minute and spare penny making sure we had the opportunity” they didn’t have.  “Their connection to our school and their support of our teachers implanted in me a desire to become an educator.”

At school, Waegerle is known for engaging lessons and student teamwork.  “Whether they are working collaboratively to escape the breakout box, or planning for how to most effectively put a Barbie on a bungee cord and send her down the balcony without hitting her head, we are engaged in real world activities and working together to do it.”  There is some fun mixed in, of course.

She explains that students take charge of their own learning, set their own goals, and thus become intrinsically motivated.  “My students feel they matter, and my students are given a purpose and taught to reach their own goals. My students are taught how to adjust for mistakes.  Mistakes are expected in my classroom.  How can we fix them? I tell my students that it is when mistakes are made that their brain is able to grow and learn.

“If I can give my students self-confidence, I have succeeded,” she adds.

Waegerle is honored to be a part of the state-wide Excellence in Co-Teaching Initiative, and her classroom serves as a demonstration site for other Virginia teachers to visit and see quality co-teaching in action.  Co-teaching is when a special education teacher works collaboratively with a subject-area teacher to share responsibility to help all students achieve, including those receiving special education services.

She also works with the school’s Girls on the Run program, which inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. She volunteers after school twice a week to work with “her girls.”

Her relationships with parents is also outstanding, asking them the first week of school to tell her “in a million words or less” about their child, their hopes, their interests, and their fears.  Families appreciate this opportunity and Waegerle gains some great insight into how to reach her students. “Unfortunately, I teach one of the least glamorous, most hated content areas,” she explains. The first thing parents tell her is that they themselves never understood math, so their child struggles too.  Last year, she helped lead a Saturday tutoring program to provide extra help beyond the school day – which proved very successful.

Waegerle earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Akron, and her master’s degree from the American College of Education.

(PHOTO: Left to Right, Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney, Ms. Waegerle, Principal Shawn Green)


2019 Elementary Teacher of the Year for Suffolk Public Schools

Qua Cummings, an art teacher at Nansemond Parkway Elementary School, has been named Elementary School Teacher of the Year.  Now in her 13th year of teaching, she is known for her passion for art, her enthusiastic approach to teaching, and her compassion, patience and encouragement.

Teaching art, she has the privilege to work with students for six years.  Developing relationships with her young artists and working to create art once a week means many “graduates” leave with a life-long appreciation of art.  She will also likely be a teacher they remember because of their multi-year interactions.

“My teaching style allows for curiosity, personal expression, and technique,” she explains. “Art provides an outlet for their creativity and self-expression in a unique and personal way.”  Students learn that it is okay to be different and approach a project differently, which builds their self-confidence.

Cummings earned her bachelor’s degree from Norfolk State University.

(PHOTO: Left to Right, Dr. Whitney, Ms.  Cummings, Principal Jennifer Conner)


2019 High School Teacher of the Year for Suffolk Public Schools

Ronald Daughtrey, an agriculture education teacher at Lakeland High School, has been named High School Teacher of the Year.  Now in his 39th year of teaching, he is known for his quiet spirit, his sound reasoning, and his commitment to transition high school students into future community leaders.

“By allowing students to build off the basics that I teach, they put the principles into practice through hands-on activities. Things don’t always work perfectly, but we can all learn from mistakes,” he says. “It is especially rewarding to see students use the knowledge and skills learned in my class to move on to rewarding careers.”

In addition, Daughtrey exemplifies service to the community, which is also an important lesson taught through National Future Farmers of America, an organization which offers skill challenges and leadership opportunities for students.  He serves on the Virginia FFA board of directors.

Daughtrey earned his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech.

(PHOTO: Left to Right, Mr. Daughtrey, Dr. Whitney)

2019 Rookie Teacher of the Year for Suffolk Public Schools

Cassandra Eagan, an English teacher at Lakeland High School, has been selected as the City-Wide Rookie Teacher of the Year.  She is known for her calm demeanor combined with powerful classroom management skills, based on building relationships with her students.

One student wrote in the application that Eagan “has a glow that outshines all the teachers in the building.”

The rookie teacher explains that as an English teacher, she connects with students through the craft of writing.  She also adapts the same English 11 content to fit the personality of each of her five classes – a class of introverts, a class of talkers, a class of laid-back learners, a class of dramatics.

Eagan is also Lakeland’s swim team coach – “45 practices, 21 swimmers, 12 swim meets, 4 broken records, and 2 potential state qualifiers later, we built a family.  I could not be prouder.”

Eagan earned her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

(PHOTO: Left to Right, Assistant Principal Earling Hunter, Ms. Eagan,
Assistant Principal Brenda Ingram, Dr. Whitney)



Teacher Supply Store Open on Thursdays

Regular shopping days are 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays.

… Remember:  You are on your honor to only shop ONCE a MONTH


What’s the purpose of the Teacher Supply Store?
The SPS Teacher Supply Store will offer Suffolk Public School teachers the opportunity to shop for free classroom supplies on a monthly basis.   This initiative is a partnership with the Suffolk Education Foundation.

Where is it located?
The teacher supply store will be housed at the former Driver Elementary School building located at 4270 Driver Ln, Suffolk, VA 23435.

What’s the schedule for the store?
The store will be open every Thursday from 2:30-6:00 pm. During the 2018-19 school year the store will be open September 13 through April 26. Please note, the store will be closed on Thursday Dec. 20 and over Spring Break. The store will also open during extended hours on preservice days and on some teacher work days. Special store openings will be posted on the SPS website.

Does the Teacher Supply Store replace the $100 School Specialty Voucher that teachers usually receive?No. The Teacher Supply Store is in addition to the $100 School Specialty Voucher that teachers receive.

How often may I shop?
Teachers may shop once a month in the store.

Who is eligible to shop at the Teacher Supply Store?
Any teacher in Suffolk Public Schools who works in a school building directly with students. This includes classroom teachers, Special Education teachers, resource teachers, Title I Teachers etc.

What’s the process for shopping in the store? How does it work?
Teachers will be given a designated amount of “STAR Credit” each month to spend in the store. Once teachers arrive, they should follow the steps below to shop:

  1. Display your SPS badge to the Teacher Supply Store Associate or volunteers when you arrive
  2. You will receive a shopping bag.
  3. Shop for your items up to the maximum STAR Credit value
  4. Complete a brief store Check Out Form on your SMART Device or on the store computer.
  5. Check out at the counter with a Store Associate


What types of supplies do you have in the store?
The store is stocked with everything from copy paper to markers, pencils, chart paper, glue sticks, office supplies, art paper and much, much more. The stock of the store may vary from, month to month based on donations that are provided to the store. But in general, teachers can expect to find a wide range of useful classroom resources on our shelves.

What’s the process for getting supplies for students who are unable to purchase school supplies?
School administrators and Guidance Counselors should contact our Parent Relations Facilitator, Bonnie Maki at 934-6202 if supplies are needed for specific students in your school. We are happy to coordinate with you individually to provide an opportunity for counselors and principals to come to the store to pick up items for students in need.

Binders … Children’s Books … Colored Pencils … Composition Books … Construction Paper … Copy Paper … Disinfecting Wipes (Lysol only, not Clorox on any with bleach) … Dry Erase Markers … File folders … Glue sticks … Hand sanitizer … Legal pads … Loose Leaf Paper … Markers … Paper clips … Pencils … Prize box items … Sticky notes … Tissues … Young Adult Books … Ziplock Baggies 


How to Volunteer — Sign up here.
The Suffolk Education Foundation will coordinate the volunteer schedule, but if you are interested in helping on “shopping days” and/or with behind-the-scenes volunteer opportunities, please contact Bethanne Bradshaw, the division’s Public Information & Community Relations Officer, at 757.925.6752 or

Integrated (Role Model) Preschool and Early Start Taking Applications

Learn about the Early Start screening process …

….. Read More about the Integrated Preschool …

Suffolk Public Schools is currently looking for parents of children without delays who are interested in exploring the opportunities provided to all children in this classroom following the 2019-20 elementary school schedule at no cost to the parent, with transportation being provided via school bus.

Suffolk Public Schools operates classrooms for children who are developmentally delayed (delays in cognitive, motor, communication or perceptual skills), ages 3 to 5. The integrated/role model program at Florence Bowser, Kilby Shores, Booker T. Washington, Oakland and Northern Shores Elementary Schools offers the opportunity for children without developmental delays or disabilities to join the preschool classroom daily to develop friendships and learn together through play.To be considered for enrollment/interview, students must reside in the city of Suffolk and be 3 years old by September 3, 2019. Please be aware that spaces for this program are limited for each preschool site.

Please use this link Integrated/Role Model Preschool Program 2019 to be directed to our online application.

Applications for consideration must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. Friday, April 12, 2019. Those who are selected for an interview will be contact by telephone and/or email. A program overview meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, 6:30 PM at King’s Fork High School.

Questions may be directed to Jennifer Worrell, Preschool Educational Diagnostician for the Early Childhood Resource Center, at 925-6767.

Nominations Open for Gifted Eligibility …

Suffolk Public Schools is currently holding open referrals for the Q.U.E.S.T  gifted education program.  Students in grades 3-7 are eligible to be tested in the spring if they have not been tested during the 2018-19 school year.  Please complete the attached referral form and submit it to your school’s gifted resource teacher by March 29, 2019.  Testing dates will take place in April and May and will vary with each school.

Below is a link to the gifted blog that will provide additional information and a link to the form.

For more information, please contact Dr. Maria Lawson-Davenport at or (757) 925-6759.

School Social Work Week … March 3-9

Take time to thank the school division’s school social workers, who help children, families, and schools thrive!

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) joins the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA), the American Council of School Social Work (ACSSW) and the National Association of Social Work (NASW) in celebrating School Social Work Week, March 3-9, 2019.  School social workers provide mental health services in schools and have specialized training to meet students’ social-emotional needs.  They serve as the mental health providers for students and offer counseling services to students and their families.

School social workers serve a vital role in supporting schools and school divisions in striving to achieve excellence in education for all students by promoting conditions for learning across home, school and community settings.  As part of the education team, school social workers address a wide range of issues that impede students’ learning, including bullying, attendance, truancy, drug use and behavioral problems.  The responsibilities of school social workers also include providing crisis intervention, conflict resolution and staff support, and connecting students with community services.

School social workers are needed in every school to create fully supportive environments for learning to take place.  For many students and families, school social workers are vital in navigating the bureaucracy of school systems and accessing social resources that foster an environment conducive to student success.

Join VDOE in celebrating School Social Work Week and take a moment to recognize and support school social workers.  For additional information contact SSWAA at, ACSSW at, or NASW at  Questions regarding school social work services may be directed to Dr. Vivian Stith-Williams, school social worker specialist, via e-mail at; telephone (804)225-4543.


Dine IN Registration is Now Open!

Challenge #3, Dine IN Registration is Now Open!  Be one of the first 200 SPS Staff to Register and Complete this challenge to earn (one) SPS Lunch Cooler.
**Once you have registered for this challenge, make sure you click on the Details and Rules Links within the challenge. Simply Well Challenge Scoring processes must be followed to be considered as a completed challenge.
Registration: 02/26 – 03/19, 2019

Challenge Runs: 03/09 – 04/06, 2019

February 22 HelpDesk Coverage

There will be no HelpDesk coverage today. Please report all technical issues via the HelpDesk ticketing system.

SPS Staff Selected for Lead Innovation Team

Congratulations to the SPS staff selected for the Lead Innovation Team cohort.
The Virginia Department of Education, Virginia School Consortium for Learning, and James Madison University are partnering to offer Virginia educators the opportunity to innovate structures and practices through a collaborative Lead Innovation Team Cohort.
Teams will lead local implementation of strategies and deeper learning pathways to develop learner competencies prioritized in the Profile of a Virginia Graduate.
Suffolk Public Schools, along with 26 other divisions, was selected out of 40+ divisions to be a part of the initial cohort.
The team will meet four times with other divisions from across the state to leverage high-quality customized support, implement local system innovations in structures and practices specific to their community, and help build the Virginia is for Learners Innovation Network to virtually share local innovation artifacts and connect divisions across Virginia.
Suffolk’s team consists of the following individuals:
  • Barbara Tidd, Assistant Principal Pioneer Elementary
  • Andrae Riddick, Special Education Teacher King’s Fork High School
  • Katrina Cary, Supervisor of Social Studies K-12
  • Katelyn Leitner-Black, Science Instructional Specialist K-12
  • Andre Skinner, Coordinator of Career and Technical Education and Adult Education
  • Maria Lawson-Davenport, Supervisor of Advanced Instruction K-12

Art Teachers Donate Original Works to Benefit SEF

If you plan to attend the SEF Gala for the Arts on Friday, Feb. 22, be sure to bring enough cash to win some original artwork donated by professional artists.

These custom works of art would sell for up to $800 in the community.

You could win a beautiful handmade piece of art and also directly support fine arts in your schools.

Be sure to bring cash to buy tickets.


Gala Tickets Now on Sale . . . . . . . . Join Us on Friday, Feb. 22

Don’t Miss the Event of Year…

Here’s your opportunity to support the music and art programs in Suffolk Public Schools by attending the Suffolk Education   Foundation’s fifth 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 fifth annual Celebration of the Arts will welcome you on Friday, February 22 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.  Besides some “Under the Sea” musical selections, the theme continues 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 if purchased by Feb. 8.

For tickets, contact or call (757) 774-7500 or (757) 237-3249.


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


Help Your School Win $500

If your school increases parent participation in the 2019 Parent Perception Survey, your school could win $500.  There will be an award for one elementary school and one secondary school for the greatest percentage increase in participation.  The money will be designated for family engagement activities.

Staff and students will also participate in the annual perception (or climate) survey.   You’ll hear more about that from your administrator.

Parents will receive an email on Feb. 15 with more details and a special web link to take them directly to the online survey for each child’s school.

If preferred, pick up a paper copy of the survey at the school.

Parents can Share their Opinions on:
. Quality of Programs
. Title 1 Services
. Family Involvement
. School Safety
. Communication
. Discipline
. Technology

Contact the Communications & Engagement Department at (757) 925-6752 if you have any questions.

Celebrating First Semester’s Star Award Winners & Honorees

Congratulations to 15 division employees who have been named winners of the Superintendent’s Star Award for First Semester 2018-19.

A recognition reception will be held Thursday, February 7.

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 46 nominees — were selected as top honorees for the Superintendent’s Star Award recognition.

(Be sure to scroll beyond the photos to read more about the winners, as well as the top honorees.)

Division-Wide Instructional Staff Award: 
Hope Paquette
Math Teacher at John Yeates Middle School


Division-Wide Support Staff Award:
Kathy LeGrand
Teacher Assistant at Mack Benn, Jr. Elementary School

















Hope Paquette was nominated by parent JoAnn Murray, who was “deeply grateful for Paquette’s daily commitment to excellence and to meeting the needs of EVERY child in her classroom.”  Murray’s daughter Samantha has cerebral palsy with limited fine motor skills.  In math, her writing difficulty is quite an obstacle. Murray praised Paquette’s willingness to go above and beyond Samantha’s individualized education plan (IEP) to create adapted handouts and review notes. “Mrs. Paquette tells me that she has taught for 40 years, but her passion is still as vibrant as that of a first-year teacher,” the parent said.  “We appreciate the clear pattern to her instruction– she provides notes, gives classwork activities, and then follows with diagnostic quizzes that show us Samantha’s strengths and weaknesses.”  Murray said her notes and examples are “so thorough that her father and I can easily help her at home.”  While Samantha has an assistant during the school day, Paquette has developed a way to help her in group after-school tutoring sessions.  Murray came early to pick her daughter up one day: “My heart was full at the sight of Samantha enjoying every moment.  She was actively participating and learning, while loving the extra attention.”

Kathy LeGrand was nominated by teacher Barbara Espinosa, who praised LeGrand’s devotion to school spirit and staff morale: “She does things every day for our staff that are not required, often without being asked.  I am sure that if she was paid overtime for all the hours she puts in, it would probably exceed her salary!  And best of all, she does it ALL with a huge, warm smile on her face and hugs all around.”  Espinosa first met LeGrand this summer.  LeGrand was not even required to be there yet, but she took her time out of summer break t

o be in the school helping other staff accomplish their jobs.  Part of LeGrand’s back-to-school assistance includes covering every teacher’s door with bulletin board paper, so they can get a head start on their door decorations.  She is also a power player with school bus arrival and dismissal, working closely with bus drivers to resolve any “bumps in the road” with student riders.  LeGrand is also a magician with making holidays and events special, boosting joy in the building and photographing classroom events to share with the community.

Additional Instructional Staff Honorees

  • Elizabeth Alston, Health & PE Teacher at Pioneer Elementary School
  • Draya Burden, Guidance Counselor at Creekside Elementary School
  • Valerie Cobb, 2nd-Grade Teacher at Kilby Shores Elementary School
  • Keri Dudley, 4th-Grade Teacher at Creekside Elementary School
  • Glenda Jones, Guidance Counselor at Turlington Woods School
  • Jennifer Niemi, English Teacher at John Yeates Middle School
  • Paula Pulley, Instructional Technology Resource Teacher, Technology Dept.
  • Angela Salerno, Art Teacher at Kilby Shores Elementary School
  • Erika Williams, 3rd-Grade Teacher at Creekside Elementary School

Additional Support Staff Honorees

  • Leslie Littlejohn, Teacher Assistant at Northern Shores Elementary School
  • Jill Queen, Teacher Assistant at Pioneer Elementary School
  • Latricia Russell-Wilkerson, Textbook & Records Technician for SPS
  • Angela Van Hemel, Custodian at Nansemond River High School


Suffolk Public Schools is comprised of more than 2,000 employees whose sole purpose is to educate, feed, transport and administer to more than 14,000 students each school day. To recognize the outstanding work and contributions of our employees in each semester of a school year, Suffolk Public Schools has established the Superintendent’s Star Award.  Employees selected as Star Award winners will receive a recognition certificate signed by Superintendent, a $100 check provided by the Suffolk Education Foundation, and a 4-by-3-foot vinyl congratulations banner to be displayed at the winner’s work location.  Second semester nominations for the 2018-19 school year are due will be due April 15, 2019.

Link here to fill out the Nomination Web Form


Now Available Online — SEF Grant Applications for 2019-20

The Suffolk Education Foundation announces that applications are now available for its 2019-20 instructional grant program.  Proposals are due electronically by email no later than Friday, April 26, 2019.

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


The Suffolk Education Foundation (SEF) coordinates an instructional Grant Program annually.  These funds supplement regular departmental expenses and budgets. The Grant Program is designed to encourage faculty efforts to support innovation and to enhance the quality of instruction at Suffolk Public Schools.

SEF grants are awarded either directly to a specific school in Suffolk Public Schools or to the Suffolk Public Schools division as a whole, and to no other type of organization or institution. For purposes of this document, the grantee is the school/division; the agent is the school employee. The funded grant must meet both the mission of the Suffolk Education Foundation, and the priorities of Suffolk Public Schools.

Scope and Requirements
A SEF instructional grant is a commitment of funds to support an experience, a program or a project that otherwise might not be funded. There shall be no minimum award amount for instructional grants; however the maximum amount awarded from SEF will be $2,000.

Projects may relate to one teacher’s classroom, to the needs of a particular grade, subject or school, or to the needs of the division. Grant-funded activities will be shared with colleagues at both the school level and the division level upon completion of the program. Grant dollars will not be used to fund refreshments or personnel costs, such as stipends or salaries.

Primary consideration will be given to applications which supplement and enrich the curriculum; benefit a diverse student group; promote an innovative approach to student learning experiences; and would not normally be funded from other sources.

Grant Requirements
1- Participate in at least one site visit by SEF staff and/or board member(s).
2- Submit a satisfactory Follow-Up Summary Report upon completion of the grant program (form provided by SEF) by May 1, 2020.  Positive, negative, and unexpected results should be shared. Failure to submit a follow-up report will preclude the grantee from receiving additional funding.
3- Share the results upon completion at least once within your school and once division-wide, so the program can be replicated or improved upon, extending the grant impact.

Summer Employment Opportunities

Hiring for Elementary & Middle School Summer School  (LEAP & LAUNCH) … as well as SOL Academy.

Click on the headline to get more information.

Thank You, School Counselors …

The week of February 4-8 is National School Counseling Week, recognizing the tremendous impact school counselors have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.

Counselors work with all students to remove barriers to learning by addressing academic concerns, personal social skills, and career awareness for post-secondary options.  Comprehensive and developmental school counseling programs help to increase student achievement and are a vital part of the educational process for all students.

This year’s theme is “School Counselors: Providing Lessons for Life” and is sponsored by the American School Counselor Association.

Visit their website at for more information.

Visitor Access to Schools Changing for Safety

Suffolk Public Schools is pleased to announce that we will begin a more formal visitor management process in all our schools to strengthen the district’s program of campus safety for students and faculty.

The “Raptor” system will soon be in all schools, but for the next several weeks, it is being piloted at Booker T. Washington Elementary School and John F. Kennedy Middle School.

Part of keeping students and faculty safe is knowing precisely who is in our buildings at all times, and this formal process will allow us to do that.  The process will help us track visitors, contractors, and volunteers in our schools more closely and provide us with a safer environment for our students and staff.

Upon entering a district building, visitors will be asked to present a valid state-issued ID, which will be checked against a national sex offender database to ensure that registered sexual offenders are not entering our buildings.  We will only record the visitor’s name, date of birth and photo for comparison with the national database. We will not share any information on the ID with any other agency or authority.

Once entry is approved, we will issue a badge that identifies the visitor, the date, and the purpose of his/her visit. Children who do not have a valid ID may be allowed to visit as long as they are accompanied by an adult who has completed the check-in process and been issued a badge. Substitute teachers, regular volunteers, and all contractors or subcontractors will be subject to the same procedure as visitors at all times. If identity cannot be verified through an acceptable form of identification, they will not be allowed on district property.

A visitor’s badge will not be necessary for those who visit our schools simply to drop off an item in the office or pick up paperwork.  In the event that a person does not have valid identification, he/she may still be given access to the building, but will be escorted at all times by a school staff member.

The visitor management process will only be used during school hours. Attendees at after-hours events such as performances, ceremonies, or academic/athletic competitions will not be required to complete the process.

If you have any questions for district personnel regarding this new procedure, please contact David LeFevre, Coordinator of Student Services, at 757-925-6751.

The safety of our students is our highest priority, and our new visitor management process will help us insure that people who may present a danger to our students are kept away from them. Thank you in advance for your understanding and support of enhancing school safety protocols in our district.