HENRICO COUNTY, Va (WRIC) — 8News reached out to every school system in Central Virginia to see how superintendents are preparing for the coming school year. Here is what Superintendent Dr. Amy Cashwell of Henrico County had to say.
What do you believe your school system’s biggest strength is?
Henrico Schools is a thriving learning community with many strengths, but I’ll choose three:
1. Our community’s diversity is a tremendous strength. It affords our students the opportunity to learn in a climate that not only represents but honors a variety of viewpoints and unique perspectives. “Amy’s Passport” (a booklet and blog), which chronicles my visits around Henrico County during my first year as superintendent, showcases this amazing diversity; and in fact the inspiration for the passport theme came from this diversity. Because there are so many languages spoken in our schools and so many countries represented, I almost felt as if I could travel the world right here in Henrico County.
2. Henrico County is a caring community. I’ve been struck over and over by how much people care and how willing they are to get involved and help. We are thankful for the many community organizations and volunteers who generously share their time and talents with us.
3. I’m proud of the variety of opportunities open to our students. No two students are alike, and the pace of change in our world is so fast, that it’s important to provide students with options to get where they want to go. One avenue students have for personalized opportunities is through the division’s offerings at 13 high school specialty centers. The centers enable students to concentrate in a particular area, such as information technology or communications. We are also increasing opportunities for all students in STEAM education – science, technology, engineering, the arts and math. Our Career and Technical Education program is first-rate and continues to experience explosive growth as we add additional programming to meet local and national industry trends.
What are you most looking forward to this school year?
Whether I’ve been a teacher, a principal or an administrator, I’ve always been excited to welcome students to a new school year. Learning is so dynamic, and I can’t wait to invite new students to be part of that. Similarly, I love continuing to foster relationships with students I’ve met before. The Henrico Schools team is committed to helping all our students become #LifeReady, and it’s exciting to see how that is continuing to unfold in our classrooms through innovative learning experiences at all levels.
What changes can parents expect to see in your school system this year?
Families can expect to see a continued emphasis on classroom activities that ensure our students master more than just course content. Schools are leveraging the Deeper Learning model to design classroom experiences that allow students to build quality character, be global citizens, effective communicators and collaborators, and become critical and creative thinkers. In the Deeper Learning model, learning is connected and can take place anytime, anywhere, and our laptop program and other initiatives continue to support that. Learning is most powerful when it is authentic and student-owned, so our staff continues to find ways to personalize learning and enable students to explore a variety of learning pathways. Finally, the Deeper Learning model emphasizes community-supported learning, and we are working to increase opportunities with our community partners in order to create more learning experiences beyond the classroom.
Is there anything else you want parents to know ahead of this school year?
Yes! The first day of school is Sept. 3. The Henrico team is excited to greet returning students and to welcome those who may be new to the school division. Families new to Henrico or who have moved within Henrico should register new students as soon as possible at the school they will attend. Registration information can be found on our website. It’s also important for parents and guardians to make sure their school has the most current student records, such as contact information and health information, and that any needs or special circumstances are communicated to teachers and counselors. We are eager to serve our students well and doing so is first made possible by having this important information. For bus riders, our transportation schedules will be available for grades 2-12 beginning Aug. 27 at 9:30 a.m. using our Power School Parent Portal. We encourage those students who will be riding the bus this school year to begin their school year routine by riding their assigned bus on the first day! Lastly, we’ll be offering a number of opportunities for stakeholders to attend public information sessions related to the comprehensive redistricting process.The School Board welcomes feedback from all Henrico communities throughout this school year. Each school community will have a voice in developing the plans that could affect attendance zone boundaries in the future. We hope our families will stay tuned for meeting dates; please plan to participate in these important discussions.
8News Anchor Katie Dupree sat down with Dr. Cashwell. That story will be coming soon on 8News.