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Celebrating the Back-to-School SeasonPosted by Sandra Osborn on 8/18/2023
This August and September, millions of students across the country will return to their public schools and classrooms for another exciting year of learning and growth. This time of the year signifies the next phase in our children’s educational journey. It’s akin to opening a new chapter in a book filled with exciting new prospects, challenges, and boundless opportunities for students to explore.
The dawn of each school year presents a blank canvas that gives children opportunities to engage with diverse subjects, stoke their curiosity, and cultivate innovative thinking skills. These early days of school, layered with intrigue and exhilaration, provide more than just academic growth. They also foster social and emotional development. As kids settle into their new routines, they begin to comprehend their responsibilities, attain independence, and nurture empathy and respect for others.
Each academic year unfurls its unique set of challenges. Our young learners often exhibit remarkable resilience as they adapt to their new grade levels, sometimes even transitioning to a new school. We applaud their adaptability as they navigate these changes, reinforcing their integral role in our communities and our nation's future.
Supporting the educational journey of our kids requires collaborative effort, as students thrive when their schools, teachers, and education professionals have the support they need. The back-to-school season presents several opportunities for parents and community members to do their part to ensure their local schools truly thrive.
Volunteering time to assist with school activities, donating supplies, and actively participating in Parent Nights, PTA meetings, and fundraisers are all ways to show your support. You can also advocate and voice support for policy improvements, increased funding, or other initiatives that can enhance the educational opportunities available to our children.
As we greet the new academic year, let’s celebrate both the promise of academic excellence and the broader horizons of personal growth and community development our public schools offer. This back-to-school season, we acknowledge the essential role of education in shaping our future and the significance of collective support to make that future bright and rewarding.
African American History Month Staff Feature - Stephanie A. BurchettPosted by Stephanie Burchett on 2/21/2023
Stephanie A. Burchett, Assistant Principal at T. Benton Gayle Middle School
- Share your background and how you ended up at Stafford County Public Schools.
- Mrs. Stephanie Burchett is joining the Panther Nation from Spotsylvania County. She has been in education for a decade and has served as a classroom teacher, Instructional Technology Resource Teacher and the Elementary History Liaison. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Religious studies and received her first Master’s in Criminology from Indiana State University before receiving her Master’s in Elementary Education and her Post-Master’s Certificate in Educational Leadership from the University of Mary Washington where she also served as an adjunct professor for elementary teacher candidates. Mrs. Burchett is the wife of an Army Veteran and a mother of three.
- Why do you feel it is important to share your heritage with the Stafford Schools community?
- Malcolm X once said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” My family, Spotsylvania natives, believed that education was truly the key to success. My great-grandmother, Rosa Dyson was the first African American licensed teacher in Spotsylvania County. She encouraged all of her children to learn all that they could growing up and ensured that they all either had a trade or went to college. My grandmother, Miriam Dyson Pendleton instilled this same importance in her children and grandchildren. My aunts, Rita Pendleton and Charlene Pendleton Chew, were two of the seven black children that integrated Spotsylvania County public schools in the 1960s. Their tenacity and strength has allowed generations to come in our family to understand the foundation of education and how we will excel.
- What are some traditions or practices of your heritage/community that you incorporate into your daily life?
- Some of the traditions of my heritage or community that I incorporate into my daily life is unconditional love and encouragement. In my family, no matter what the situation was, we always showed and/or told each other that we love each other and encouraged each other to do better. Everyday, I make sure my students know that I love them and I encourage them to make good decisions that will have a positive impact on their future.
- Why is it important to be a positive role model for students who have a similar background?
- It is important to me to be a positive role model for students who have a similar background because it allows them to see what their future can be like. It is important to me that students have someone that they can relate to and can encourage them to get through even some of the toughest times in their lives at their age.
- Why is it important for Stafford Schools students to feel represented in their school community?
- It is important that students feel represented in their community because when they feel a sense of belonging, they are more likely to succeed. It is important that students feel represented and have the ability to imagine themselves in specific roles. I was in 6th grade when I had my first black teacher and in 8th grade before I had my first black administrator, Dr. Deborah Hamilton Frazier, who later became the first black elected to the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors in 2020. Seeing Dr. Frazier in her position allowed me to know that this was a path that I could pursue.
- Share your background and how you ended up at Stafford County Public Schools.
African American History Month Staff Feature - Megan BrooksPosted by Megan A. Brooks on 2/7/2023
Megan A. Brooks, T. Benton Gayle Middle School
Happy Black History Month! My name is Megan Brooks, I am a teacher of students with Autism at Gayle Middle School and it is an honor to tell you a bit about myself.
I am a native of Spotsylvania County and a product of the City of Fredericksburg private school system and the County of Spotsylvania public school system. I am an 80’s baby and very proud to be one. I am a dance mom and future band mom of my 13 year old son, David.
I am in my 6th year of teaching in the Special Education Department, I started out as a paraprofessional at Lee Hill Elementary School, a teacher of ID Moderate and Autism at Brock Elementary School where I was both a classroom teacher and Special Education Team Lead for 2 years, now I am here at Gayle Middle School.
I had the awesome opportunity to graduate from the #1 Public (HBCU) Historically Black College and University in the nation: THE North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, located in Greensboro, NC (AGGIE PRIDE!). I graduated with a BA in Liberal Studies with a concentration in African American Studies. It was when my feet were planted there did I begin my journey of acceptance.
Growing up in Spotsylvania, I rarely had the opportunity to see people who looked like me outside of my family and my church family and no teachers that I received direct instruction from. I had amazing instructors growing up, but it makes a difference when you have someone who not just empathizes with your experience, but has also experienced what you have.
As a parent and a teacher, I wanted to always be able to share my experiences with my son and my bonus children (my students) that my history is “everyone’s history” ; it should not just be subjected to 28 days in the month of February. I celebrate my Blackness and the contributions that my local ancestors have made in Spotsylvania County. I also celebrate the individuals who risked their lives to sit down, march, protest, fight in wars, run, walk, escape and die so I could afford the opportunities that I have been blessed with thus far.
Here at Gayle, I have been able to shine that light through dance, allowing some students to express themselves in a way that they may not have and having the chance to learn about a history and a culture that has made such an impact on their lives that they didn’t even realize, through music. This class, AFROFLEX, has allowed these students to show their talents to not only their peers, but their family and community.
An unspoken tradition that we share as Blacks, paying it forward, passing the torch and pulling our brothers and sisters up. That is how I celebrate, I want students to have a memory that is specific to them, that they will be impacted enough to do the same for others.
Best Buds: Mentorship Program Forges Friendships Between County Employees and Stafford StudentsPosted by Jessica Anderson on 11/14/2022
Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” This school year, nearly two dozen Stafford County employees are making good on this philosophy by giving their time and creativity to mentor Stafford students in two of our elementary schools. Through an ongoing collaboration with Stafford Schools known as the Best Buds Program, county employees are given the opportunity to make real differences in the lives of area youth. Launched in 2014 by Stafford County’s Human Services Department, the program was created with a simple objective - to link area students with natural mentors. Recruiting some of the best the county has to offer from across multiple departments (including Human Services, Parks and Recs, Sanitation, and Fire and Rescue), the program has connected 22 mentors to Hartwood and Conway Elementary students for the ‘22-23 school year.
Presently, mentors and mentees meet twice a month in their respective school’s cafeteria. Each session has a theme and activities are centered around this theme. Students and mentors share a snack during their time together, and mentors take the opportunity to get to know the students, encourage them academically and learn more about their personal goals. Emphasis is also placed on improving self-esteem and creating healthy relationships.
Since its initial inception at Conway Elementary nine years ago, the program has expanded to include Hartwood Elementary in 2016 with program leaders hoping to involve more schools in the near future. Program Liaison and Human Services Manager Stephanie Ball describes the program as a “highly successful collaboration,” due largely in part to the unwavering support of principals JR Raybold (Conway) and Brian Raksa (Hartwood). Ball also calls school counselors Lisa Snow (Conway) and Laura Mungo (Hartwood) “champions” of the program, with their collective coordination efforts at the school level empowering the program to run seamlessly and make the greatest impact possible.
Due to the current size of the program, students must currently be referred by school staff. For those looking to become mentors, recruiting takes place in August and requires completion of program paperwork and mentor training. For the greatest impact, there is also a one-year commitment required in order to become a “best bud.” Stafford Schools is deeply committed to fostering the social and emotional well-being of every child. We are proud to partner with the Department of Human Services to bring such a meaningful initiative to our students.
To learn more about the Best Buds Program, please contact the Stafford County Human Services Department at (540) 658-8720.
Feature Friday: AutomotivePosted by Sandra Osborn-Peters on 12/17/2021 9:45:00 AM
Automotive Pathway: Driving the Plane, Train, and Automobile
Are you interested in the automotive industry? Stafford County Public Schools (SCPS) has the perfect program to build your skills!
Open to high school students as early as the sophomore year. Students at any high school in Stafford have the opportunity to participate in an automotive program.
By completing an automotive pathway, students may earn an industry credential and have the opportunity to apply for job shadowing and internship with local automotive businesses. Programs are available in Automotive Technology and Auto Body Technology. These courses are taught by Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certified Instructors.
The Automotive Technology program is a 3-year program focusing on mastery of each task for entry-level job skills. Students will complete an application and a pre-test before being admitted to Automotive Technology I. In this one-credit course, students learn all aspects of repair, safety, and customer service by concentrating on the four primary ASE certified areas: brakes, steering and suspension, electrical/electronics, and light-duty vehicle repair. The Automotive Technology II course would be next in the program. Students will learn to repair cooling, brake, drive train, and suspension systems. Instruction is also given in adjusting and repairing individual components and systems such as radiators, transmission, and fuel injectors. Students will have the opportunity to apply for job shadowing and internships with local automotive businesses through the Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) program. Automotive Technology III, is a more advanced course with required background in Automotive Technology II. In this two-credit course, students will continue to master skills related to suspension and steering, brakes, electrical/ electronic systems, and engine performance.
The Auto Body Technology program is also a 3-year program focusing on mastery of each task for entry-level job skills as a priority. Students will complete a pre-test before being admitted to
Auto Body Technology I, as required by NATEF. The first course is Auto body Technology I- Collision and Repair, a two-credit course. Students are taught non-structural analysis, damage repair, and
welding. Students will understand the construction of the body and frame. While working with various tools and materials, using metal finishing and body filling techniques to prepare surfaces and repair panels, students learn automotive history, practice shop safety, gain career skills, and use custom techniques. Once students have required the background from the first course, then Auto Body Technology II- Painting and Refinishing course is next. Students are taught to repair, mask, and refinish auto body components and entire vehicles in the four-credit course. In addition, they use spray guns and personal safety equipment, apply undercoats and topcoats. Students continue to improve their skills in welding and body repair. The third course in this program is Auto Body Technology III- Collision and Repair and Painting and Refinishing.
Students further apply the tasks/competencies learned in Auto Body Technology I and II in this four-credit course. This course may also be used as a capstone course in which students may perfect their auto body skills and move toward employment in the industry. Students who complete this program sequence will be prepared to take and pass the respective ASE exam.
Students may continue developing their knowledge through a secondary education program or an internship. Students may also have the opportunity to work right after high school in the automotive industry.
If you would like more information about the automotive pathways, contact your school counselor for more information.