The Virginia Board of Education today recognized seven school divisions and one school with its annual Innovative Practice Award. The recognitions are part of the board’s Exemplar Performance Awards program and are based on performance and practices during 2021-2022 and prior school years. The winning divisions and school, along with summaries of their innovative practices, are as follows:

  • Goochland County Public Schools — Increased virtual reality experiences for students by allowing students to create new content using virtual reality tools used by professionals and by incorporating strong curricular connections in multiple content areas.
  • Louisa County Public Schools — Developed strategies to enhance teacher retention and recruitment. The strategies included the creation of a learning lab to provide daycare for division staff involved in mentoring and offering authentic teaching experiences, while providing scholarships to support the traditional higher education path, as well as tuition assistance for an online paraprofessional-to-teacher course.
  • Radford Public Schools — Implemented and enhanced STEM offerings by adding courses, incorporating STEM content into existing curricula, creating STEM pathways at the high school level and altering schedules to provide large blocks of time for labs, problem-based learning and exploration for students to highlight their experiences and learning through the creation of digital portfolios, exhibitions and senior capstones.
  • Roanoke County Public Schools — Implemented a system to promote a school environment that cultivates students’ physical, emotional and intellectual well-being using Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports; having a licensed health counselor in every secondary school; violence and suicide prevention programs and enhanced school safety and security.
  • Roanoke County, Roanoke and Salem Public Schools — Developed and implemented a regional approach to the Student Registered Apprenticeship Program with regional businesses to provide students with apprenticeship opportunities that could lead to industry-recognized credentials and/or full-time employment to meet local business needs.
  • York County Public Schools: Implemented a program in 14 elementary and middle schools that provides a STEM-focused curriculum, maker spaces, summer enrichment camps, career exploration, STEM-related club activities, teacher professional learning and access to STEM professionals.
  • Kempsville High in Virginia Beach — Created a cohesive, multi-pronged, school-wide plan to align student experiences with the Virginia Beach Public School Graduate Profile. The plan ensures students are actively involved in setting post-high school goals, reflecting on relevant experiences, as well as building strong community members who serve the community through service-learning projects.

“I congratulate all of the winners for developing innovative practices that address the needs of their students and communities and for implementing them successfully over time,” Board of Education President Dan Gecker said. “These awards recognize the creative and innovative work of educators and provide an incentive for other divisions and schools to develop their own innovations to improve outcomes and expand opportunities for students.”

“I am looking forward to visiting each of these divisions during the next school year to learn more about their innovations and see firsthand how students are benefitting,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons said. “I see every school division and school as a potential laboratory for innovations that could potentially inform statewide policies and practices.”

School divisions earn recognition for exemplary innovative practices based on division-wide implementation for at least two full academic years of a new or creative evidence-based alternative to existing instructional or administrative practices. The goals and objectives of the innovative practice must align with one of the following priority areas:

  • Closing achievement gaps among vulnerable and/or minority student groups.
  • Developing an integrated STEM approach to learning.
  • Building genuine relationships with families to support overall family well-being and children’s healthy development.
  • Elevating the quality and character of the school environment and supporting norms, goals, and values of the community.
  • Retaining high-quality teachers.
  • Developing life-ready students through implementation of the Profile of a Virginia Graduate.
  • Data provided by the school or division demonstrate that the practice is meeting its objectives and is having a significant impact on outcomes for the targeted student population.