June 28, 2019

De ar  RPS Family,

My apologies for skipping a week! Lots to discuss, so let's dive in!  7 topics today:
1. RPS Inspiration!
I'm thrilled to share that we launched a new, more engaging approach to summer school this year for all of our elementary and middle school students in partnership with the Richmond YMCA. Called Power Scholars, the program offers hands-on academic enrichment as well as many of the elements of summer camp, such as the arts and STEM activities. It also includes fields trips to cultural institutions throughout the city every Friday. The goal? Keep kids engaged and learning throughout the summer, and in doing so, prevent the "summer slide" that disproportionately impacts students in low-income communities. I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Tim Joyce and Abby Rogers from the YMCA for their vision and partnership. Can't wait to do even more next year!
2. RPS Shines 2019

We're excited to announce the launch of  RPS Shines 2019 , our second annual summer effort to beautify our schools before students return in the fall. Last year, over 1,000 Richmonders and 75 partner organizations donated their time, expertise, and resources to paint, fix bathrooms, plant flowers beds, and so much more!

This year, there are three ways to get involved:
  • Beautification Days - Volunteers will beautify school buildings and grounds by painting walls, organizing libraries, picking up trash, weeding gardens, and more. Click here to volunteer at the school of your choice, or here to donate supplies or funds.
  • Bathroom Blitz - Volunteers with expertise in plumbing, electrical work, painting, and deep cleaning are needed to help us continue the work of upgrading our school bathrooms. Click here to volunteer your time for one of these crucial projects, or here to donate supplies or funds.
  • Community Murals - Led by local artists and neighborhood leaders, community members will help create beautiful murals for our schools that celebrate Richmond's history and diversity. Click here to donate supplies or funds.
If you have questions about RPS Shines 2019, please email our Community Partnerships Coordinator, Grady Hart, at GHart@rvaschools.net . Thank you!

3. Rezoning
Last night, the demographics firm workin g with RPS presented two draft  rezoning plans to the Rezoning Advisory Committee. Rather than try to describe them here (a daunting effort),  I encourage you to take a look at the documents themselves . The summary document is the one called "Options Handout."
I want to stress that these are just initial drafts. They are nowhere even close to final. So if you see something that doesn't sit right with you, let us know here . And if you see something you do like, you can let us know that, too :) . Our next meeting is on July 30 at 6 pm at TJ. Please note that all rezoning meetings are public and live-streamed.

4. What Makes a "Good" School?
Take a moment to read this thoughtful (and short) piece that was recently published in Education Post . I'll cut right to the chase: it makes the argument that when many people talk about "good" schools, they're using code for schools that largely serve wealthy (and usually white) communities. We need to confront that thinking head-on. 
I'll start by reflecting on the thousands of teachers I've had the opportunity to meet over more than two decades in education. Where do I typically see the most skilled educators? At high-performing schools that serve mostly LOW-income students. Don't g et me wrong: there are many extraordinary teachers in high-income schools. My point is simply this: if, as a society, we use the income level and race of a school's students as a proxy for its quality, we will never create the equitable society we all  say  we want to achieve. 
5. Summer Reading
The best thing you can do to help the young people in your life get ready for next school year? Encourage them to read - every day. Below are four wonderful programs that will help you get started. 
  • Richmond Public Library Summer Reading Program - Children of all ages are invited to join Richmond Public Library's free Summer Reading Club! Students can pick up a reading log at any branch, and then turn them in at the end of the summer for special awards and prizes. All branches are also holding special events throughout the summer. Haven't been yet? Go!
  • Barnes & Noble Summer Reading for Kids - This is an amazing program: First through sixth grade students can earn a FREE book after they read eight of their own and log them on the Barnes & Noble reading sheet! 

6. Summer Meals
No Kid Hungry  is a wonderful initiative that allows children and families to easily and quickly identify open summer meal sites in their area with the use of a mobile phone. In 2018, No Kid Hungry connected over 200,000 families with information about summer meal sites. 

Users simply text 'FOOD' or 'COMIDA' to 877-877 and receive a text back prompting them to enter a street address, city, and state and/or zip code for their desired location. Upon doing so, users then receive a subsequent text containing site locations, contact information, and meal service times for up to three summer meal sites in their area. Please spread the word!
7. RPS Teachers Rock T-Shirts
We've had so much interest in these shirts that we're now on our third production run. You have until July 5 to order these fantastic shirts to show your love for our amazing teachers. Don't miss out; order one  today!
With great appreciation,

Jason Kamras
301 North 9th St, Richmond, VA 23219
P: 804.780.7710 | www.rvaschools.net
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