Newsletter 2023 Issue 1
Executive Director
Gina G. Patterson
Focused on the Mission

Most of us have spent the last few weeks reflecting on the year past and planning for the year ahead. I have certainly done that and my resolve to promote excellence in public education through leadership, advocacy, and service is stronger than ever. For over a century, VSBA has been committed to those tenets and while the world has changed, the three core values that power our mission are as needed and effective today as they were 117 years ago.

January not only marks the beginning of a new year, but also the convening of the General Assembly and the swearing in of new school board members. Annually, our goal is to maximize student achievement by taking a leadership role in education reform; to advocate effectively for Virginia’s public schools and children before all levels of government and the public; and to increase engaged participation of member boards and stakeholders in all VSBA services and activities. These goals can only be met effectively by educating and building relationships.
I am looking forward to engaging with our newly elected school board members and facilitating networks that will help acclimate individuals to effective school board governance and aid in learning and growing together. It is important to the health and sustainability of this association that members build relationships with each other – respecting differences in perspectives and priorities and collaborating for the good of all students in the Commonwealth. This is the approach that has kept us viable over the years and it will take us well into the future. VSBA is an association made up of many voices that elected to unify so that common positions can be amplified for greater impact on student achievement. Our students are the ultimate beneficiaries of the work we do, and we are better together.
The relationships we build are not only important within VSBA membership but also with our members of the legislature and the media. Misunderstandings, false narratives, and erroneous information about the work that VSBA does can only be mitigated by an informed membership that is committed to looking beyond soundbites and headlines to educate stakeholders on our mission and goals. It is important that our elected officials understand the impacts of proposed legislation. It is also important that those who report about VSBA and the policies and positions the membership elect to take are only looking through the lens of improved governance and maximizing student achievement for all public school students.
VSBA must remain true to our vision, mission, and goals. We have been consistent in providing leadership, advocacy, and services to our member school boards and even when faced with distractions and disinformation, we cannot turn our focus away from the students. Let us move with intention in 2023, making sure that we listen to one another to understand, protect the ability of our members to have discourse, disagreements, and find common ground, and govern in ways that move the needle on public education by providing the resources and supports our boards, districts, and students need to excel.
Thank you for the work you do individually and collaboratively to promote excellence in public education. If we remain focused on our mission, 2023 will be a great year.

Amelia County Governance Team Earns Master Board Status
The Amelia County School Board and Superintendent recently earned the designation of a VSBA Master Board. The Team attended four sessions totaling over twenty hours of professional development beginning in September and ending on December 9, 2022.

The discussions, facilitated by staff of the Virginia School Boards Association, focused on team building, improving communication, listening, and board building behaviors.

For more information about VSBA Master Board Training, visit
Nelson County School Board Member Janet Turner-Giles Receives VSBA Advocate for Education Award
Nelson County School Board member Janet Turner-Giles was presented with the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) Advocate for Education Award at the closing session of the 2022 VSBA Annual Convention. This award recognizes school board members who have demonstrated significant and outstanding leadership, commitment, and contribution to public education that has had an impact on their region and the Commonwealth, and who have shown active involvement in local, state, and federal advocacy on behalf of their division, VSBA, and public education. This is the eighth year the award has been presented. The award was sponsored by ABM.

“Janet’s recognition as the 2022 VSBA Advocate for Education recipient comes as no surprise to our board. Janet embodies the very spirit of the award and lives it daily as she advocates for all students at the local, regional, state, and national level. Her ongoing and tireless commitment to education is an asset to our board, but more importantly to the success of our students. We are so pleased to see her commitment recognized,” said Nelson County School Board Chair Shannon Powell.
"Janet Turner-Giles is a model for what it looks like to be an advocate for education, whether it be for students in Nelson County, the commonwealth, and ultimately nationally. It comes as no surprise that she is the recipient of the 2022 VSBA Advocate for Education Award,” said Nelson County Public Schools Superintendent Amanda Hester. “She demonstrates a level of commitment to serving NCPS as a representative of the school board while also maintaining a high level of participation in the VSBA and Executive Committee. Ms. Turner-Giles is a past president of the VSBA and continues her ongoing service by actively participating in training, governance, and information sessions. She maintains a finger on the pulse of the community to advocate for the best interest of students, staff, school division, and the community as a whole. I appreciate working with Janet Turner-Giles to move Nelson County Public Schools and Education forward on our pathway to success."

Janet Turner-Giles has represented the North District of Nelson County on the Nelson County School Board since January 2014. While initially focusing on the education of youth in her community, her lens has broadened to include the children who reside in our state and in our nation. Janet's boundless commitment to furthering the educational opportunities for all students has been recognized by many as she has served locally as a Trustee, Vice Chair and Chair of her local school board. Janet served in a variety of roles with VSBA including President from November 2020 to November 2021.

To learn more about the Education Advocate Awards Program, visit the VSBA website here.
Chesapeake City School Board Member Receives VSBA
Quarter Century Award
Recognized for 25 years of school board service
The Virginia School Boards Association is pleased to announce Thomas L. Mercer, Sr., Vice Chair or the Chesapeake City School Board, as this year’s VSBA Quarter Century Award recipient. He receives this award in recognition of 25 years of consecutive service as a school board member.

Mr. Mercer was elected to serve on the Chesapeake City School Board in May 1996 and was re-elected in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020. He has also previously served as Board Chair from July 2004 to July 2008, as well as Vice Chair from 2002 to 2004 and from January 2014 to June 2014. Mr. Mercer is a lifelong resident of Chesapeake and currently serves as pastor of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. He is also active in his community in civic and leadership roles such as member of the Hickory Ruritan Club, past Vice Chairman and past board member of the Chesapeake Care Free Clinic, member of the Board of Advisors of the Great Bridge Battlefield and Waterways History Foundation, and a member of the Great Bridge Clergy Association.
“We are honored to present Mr. Mercer with this prestigious award,” said VSBA President David Woodard. “Serving as a school board member is truly a labor of love and doing so for 25 consecutive years demonstrates admirable dedication to the students in his school division and public education in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
RRMM Wins People's Choice Award for Culpeper Technical Education Center in Exhibition of Architecture Competition
RRMM took home the "People's Choice Award" for their work on the Culpeper Technical Education Center as part of the VSBA Exhibition of School Architecture at the 2022 VSBA Annual Convention. 

The success of the new Culpeper Technical Education Center finds its roots in shared vision, community drive, and collaboration at all levels. In 2016, Culpeper County Public Schools, Culpeper County, the Town of Culpeper, Germanna Community College and many local businesses came together to answer the need for engaging students who excel in hands-on technical fields of study and the need to develop the regional workforce.

To read more about the VSBA Exhibition of School Architecture winners, visit:
J.T. Kessler
Director, Legislative Services
General Assembly to Address Proposed Budget Changes

On December 15, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin presented his proposed amendments to the 2022-2024 biennium budget at a joint meeting of the House Appropriations, House Finance, and Senate Finance and Appropriations Committees. In his address to members of the committees, the Governor summarized his proposals as “going faster and getting more done.” Governor Youngkin encouraged lawmakers to accelerate the work to improve the state’s economic competitiveness, protect public safety, meet the state’s Chesapeake Bay goals, and enhance efficiency in government. 

Included in the Governor’s mid-biennial budget updates are three priority areas for economic development which include corporate and individual tax cuts, increased state investment in business site development, and additional funding to prepare the state workforce for high demand jobs. Governor Youngkin also announced additional investments in K-12 education, public safety, mental health, and environmental initiatives to improve resiliency and water quality.

Following the Governor’s address, Secretary of Finance Stephen E. Cummings provided the committees with the Administration’s revenue forecast and an overview of the state’s economic outlook. State General Fund (GF) revenues have exceeded projections in FY 2023. Due to the strength in revenue collections thus far this year, GF revenues are expected to exceed the forecast that was used for revenue predictions in the current budget adopted in June 2022 by $2.2 billion.

Despite the continued robust revenue collections, Secretary Cummings cautioned lawmakers about the next 6-12 months stating that economic experts are predicting a mild recession beginning sometime in the spring of 2023. If a recession occurs, the severity and length of the recession is anticipated to last into early 2024. National and international factors will impact the overall affects of any recession on the United States and Virginia economies.

To alleviate any potential fiscal stress on the budget that may result from an economic downturn, Governor Youngkin attached revenue contingency language to several of the larger tax policy or spending items in FY 2024 (reduction in the top individual income tax rate, $250 million for business sites, $100 million for the Resilient Virginia Revolving Loan Fund, a performance bonus for state employees, and supplemental funding to address shortfalls for capital projects). 

Highlights of Governor Youngkin’s amendments to the K-12 Education Budget are as follows:
  • Updates sales tax estimates (approximately $168 million GF over the biennium) and updates Average Daily Membership projections based on actual fall membership ($71.2 million over the biennium).
  • Provides $10 million GF in FY 2024 for incentive payments for instructional positions in hard-to-fill positions or hard-to-staff schools.
  • Provides $16.9 million in FY 2024 for the state share of one reading specialist position for each 550 students in grades 4 and 5, beginning in school year 2023-2024.
  • Provides $7.2 million in FY 2024 for the state share of math instructional specialist positions at underperforming schools. The state share of one math specialist position will be provided to local school divisions with K-8 schools that rank in the lowest 10 percent statewide on the spring 2021 Standards of Learning assessment. 
  • Deposits an additional $50 million in FY 2023 to the College Partnership Laboratory Schools Fund.

Budget Resources:
  • Presentation from Secretary Cummings’s: click here.
  • An overview of major spending items in the Governor’s proposed amendments presented by the Director of the Department of Planning and Budget, Michael Maul, click here.
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction Memorandum on K-12 Budget, click here.

Virginia General Assembly Convenes for 2023 Legislative Session
The 2023 session of the Virginia General Assembly convened at noon on Wednesday, January 11, 2023. The VSBA Government Relations team is excited to be back in Richmond advocating on behalf of school board members. We will be sending Legislative Action Alerts throughout the session and hope you will take the time to talk to your legislative delegations about important legislation being considered by the general assembly.

Please be sure to check out the VSBA Legislative Update Blog as well as the VSBA Facebook and Twitter pages daily for real time information from the General Assembly.
In the fall semester, George Washington High School Japanese world language students wrote bilingual letters to Japanese students in Fukuoka, Japan. This year, students in Japanese levels 1 through 3 exchanged pen pal letters with students from the co-educational public senior Shuyukan High School in Fukuoka, Japan. Mr. Toshishige Yamasaki, who started and runs the international project in several states in the United States, had sent over 70 letters from Shuyukan high school students to George Washington High School Japanese students. Ms. Sharon Leigg, a GWHS Japanese language teacher, assisted students in writing letters back to those students. Students received both handwritten paper letters and electronic letters. GW students sent letters electronically and also had the option of typing or handwriting letters in Japanese script.

This is the second year that GW students have participated in the international pen pal project. Leigg is delighted that her students are able to participate in this project. In their letters, students write in English and Japanese about their hobbies, class subjects, favorite songs or musical groups, sports they enjoy, their school, the foods they like, and places about their hometown they recommend. They become mini-ambassadors for what is good and generous about their town to those who may one day visit, and they also get a glimpse into cultures different from and similar to their own in a way that transcends the textbook.

Finally, early in the spring semester, GW students will create and receive 年賀状 Nengajo (New Year's
Cards). At the end of all correspondence, students keep the letters as a memento of the project. Here’s to a great 2023! Happy New Year! (Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!) 明けましておめでとうございます!
In each newsletter, VSBA will spotlight a recent initiative or best practice taking place in a school division in Virginia. If you have a story you would like to submit for inclusion in the spotlight section of the VSBA newsletter, please email it to [email protected] with the subject: Division Spotlight and your school division's name. Pictures and a link to the story on your division/school's website should also be included with the submission.
February is School Board Appreciation Month!
Join us in saluting the service of the almost 850 school board members in Virginia in February 2023 during School Board Appreciation Month. The theme — Rising to the Challenge — reflects the leadership of local school board members as they serve their local divisions and advocate for public education with local, state, and federal leaders on behalf of all students. The month-long observance is an opportunity for your school division and community to build a stronger understanding of the crucial role school boards assume in a representative democracy. School boards voluntarily tackle the enormous job of governing multi-million dollar public school divisions, while preserving the core of our democratic values. Use the month to highlight the accomplishments of your local board, and encourage community leaders, business partners and local civic groups to join in your recognition efforts. 
School Board Clerk Appreciation Week is February 13-17!
The VSBA Board of Directors has designated the third week in February as VSBA School Board Clerk Appreciation Week, with a goal of building awareness of the role board clerks play in assisting school board members, superintendents, and our local schools. Please plan now to show your local clerks you appreciate their work. The VSBA encourages all school boards to take the opportunity to acknowledge your local board clerk by officially designating the third week in February as School Board Clerk Appreciation Week.
2023 VSBA Employer Commendation Program
The VSBA Employer Commendation Program was created to thank the employers of school board members for providing the support and/or encouragement that is often needed to perform school board duties in addition to their day-to-day job tasks.

Upon the recommendation of any Virginia school board, the VSBA executive director will send a letter of commendation to the board member's employer and a certificate suitable for framing and display during the month of February in recognition of School Board Appreciation Month.

If you are a school board member who is also employed full-time (salaried or hourly wage) that would like to submit a request for a letter and certificate to be mailed to your employer, please email [email protected] with the subject 2023 Employer Commendation Submission including your employer's name and mailing address no later than February 10, 2023.
REGISTER NOW! 2023 COSSBA National Conference
Early Bird Discount Deadline: January 28, 2023
Join school board members and education leaders from across the country at COSSBA's inaugural national conference for training and networking opportunities to engage around issues that directly impact the work of governing public education. There will be a variety of dynamic speakers and unique programming to choose from at this premier educational event! Click the link below to view the schedule.
Thursday, March 16, 2023 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.
Webinar #1: Building a Future Focused Culture
In this first webinar, Dr. Bill Daggett will share how leaders of public education can prepare students for their future. Advancements in technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), are redefining the skills and attributes that young people need to be successful in the workplace, home, and society of the future. Building a future focused culture does not happen overnight. That change occurs no faster than the rate of readiness and trust. Therefore, it is essential to first understand the values and beliefs that the community embraces. Strategies such as the Portrait of a Graduate design process, for example, is effective at engaging the education system and the broader community to help build a unifying, collective vision for all students. During this webinar, Dr. Bill Daggett will share practices and programs being implemented in the nation’s most successful districts.
Reserve your webinar seat now, by clicking here!

Tuesday, April 11, 2023 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.
Webinar #2: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Public Education
In the year 2023, is it even possible to remember a time when people managed their lives without the aid of the Internet, Smart Phone, or electronic banking? In reality, digital and information technology (IT) has impacted society on a global level so much, so quickly that 30 years sometimes feels like a hundred. Now, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to have an even greater impact on how we live our daily lives, conduct our business, and communicate with others; and this will occur in a far shorter amount of time than IT did. What does this mean for education? How will AI affect what, how, and when (and why) we teach? In this second webinar or the series, Dr. Bill Daggett will provide specific examples of what schools can do to prepare for the major challenges and opportunities that AI will present.
Reserve your webinar seat now, by clicking here!

Thursday, May 18, 2023 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.
Webinar #3: Are We Preparing Students to be College and Career Ready?
The changing nature of work and the skills and dispositions required of entry-level employees are fundamentally different than those demanded of postsecondary students. Shortages of qualified laborers in the workforce pipeline is a growing concern for business and industry sectors; and now parents, community and political leaders are beginning to express similar worry. How do we create a true PreK-12 curriculum that provides students with a balanced focus between developing both college and career skills, knowledge, and attributes? In this third webinar in the series, Dr. Bill Daggett will share the nation’s most innovative and research-based best practices that deliver that delicate balance.
Reserve your webinar seat now, by clicking here!
Thursday, June 15, 2023 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.
Webinar #4: Engaging this Generation of Students in School
Students today have different interests, values, and modes of socializing. They are the first generation to live their whole life in age of advanced technology and AI. As such, they have become an extension of the technology they consume. So, in a world where technology dictates how people work, live, and interact, why is it that technology is underutilized in the classrooms that these technology-native students learn in? In this last webinar in the series, Dr. Bill Daggett will share the nation’s most innovative and research-based best practices that increase student engagement.
Reserve your webinar seat now, by clicking here!
VSBA Profile in Leadership:
Michael Lake, VSBA Valley Region Chair
As a means of encouraging community awareness and positive press coverage of public education, the Virginia School Boards Association is inviting school divisions to recommend programs and initiatives that would serve as appropriate “Showcases for Success” in public education. Last year, 64 programs were profiled and the list was shared with journalists, school board members, superintendents, legislators, and top state officials. Press coverage was generated statewide, and this project served to be an effective tool for disarming the critics of public education. We are compiling a new list for 2023, and these successful programs will be showcased on the VSBA website for the entire year.

The 2023 focus is Virginia Public Schools: Building a Foundation for Lifelong Success

Each division can submit up to 3 programs/initiatives.


Monday, March 6, 2023

Contact [email protected] or 434-295-8722
News and Tidbits From Across the Country
With ChatGPT, Teachers Can Plan Lessons, Write Emails,...

The education community has been abuzz with the rise of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence tool that can write anything with just a simple prompt.

Read more
States eye universal school meals ahead of legislative...

More state-level efforts supporting universal school meals are on track now that there’s little hope for a more immediate federal pathway to providing free meals to all schoolchildren.

Read more
The School Board, Explained

Behind each of the nearly 14,000 public school districts in the United States there's a small group of individuals who play an important, high-level role in deciding how schools are run: the school board.

Read more
VSBA Affiliate Member Profiles

Three VSBA Affiliate Members will be featured in each issue of the VSBA newsletter. Visit for a complete list of VSBA's Affiliate Members.
A national company with over 65 years of experience in the education and contract furniture markets.

Tiffany Hanna  
Phone: (804) 986-3321
First Student, Inc.
We offer more than 100 years of transportation expertise, from route optimizations and specialized management teams to full turn-key operations.

Beth Wilson  
Phone: (513) 419-3304
Quinn Evans
Quinn Evans focuses on providing award-winning architecture and design with a perspective informed by history and place.

Jodie Day, Marketing Manager  
Phone: (804) 788-4774
Thank you for your support of the VSBA and Virginia's public education system!
January 30-31, 2023 – Capital Conference *Now Open to Student School Board Representatives!*
Board members and superintendents annually meet when the General Assembly is in session to be briefed on education issues before the General Assembly and to learn effective lobbying techniques. This conference provides participants with the opportunity to be personally involved in the legislative process.

Location: Virtual or Downtown Richmond Marriott: 500 E. Broad Street, Richmond, VA, 23219
Cost: $250 per registration

There are few elected/appointed positions as important to the future of our communities as a school board member. As election season wraps up and new educational leaders prepare to take their seats on school boards across the state, VSBA is here to help them become the best board member they can be. This year, the association is excited for the New Board Member Orientation trainings that will focus on the legal aspects of being a school board member, along with the key areas of work that school boards influence. New school board members are encouraged to attend with a mentor school board member along with the superintendent to provide the local context for the content that will be shared. Full day, in-person session will take place on January 31, 2023 at the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Richmond. There will also be an online version for those that can’t make it in person.

Location: Downtown Richmond Marriott: 500 E. Broad Street, Richmond, VA, 23219
Cost: $235 per registration

Are you a newly selected Chair or Vice-Chair? Have you been in the position but still feel like you could be more efficient, or garner a better understanding of your position and all it entails? Well if your answer to either of these questions is yes, have you registered for the VSBA Orientation for Chair and Vice-Chair yet?

As Chair or Vice-Chair of your board, we encourage you to take advantage of this informative session. The meeting features experts in many topics whose presentations have been designed to help you seamlessly navigate your position and responsibilities. From media relationships to superintendent relationships, this orientation has you covered. Learn more about parliamentary procedure and attorney client matters. You will also hear from a panel of your peers on their experiences and how to navigate some of the challenges that you may face taking on your new role with the school board.

Location: Downtown Richmond Marriott - 500 E. Broad Street, Richmond, VA, 23219
Cost: $235 per registration

On March 17, 2022, the Virginia Board of Education approved revisions to the Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Principals and the Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards for Superintendents to be implemented in the 2022-2023 academic school year in alignment with § 22.1-298.1 of the Code of Virginia. The Board of Education revised the principal and superintendent performance standards and evaluation criteria to add a new Standard 6, bringing the total number of performance standards to eight.

Location: VSBA Offices or virtual
Cost: $180 per registration

March 15, 2023 - March Hot Topic Conference
Join us for the March Hot Topic Conference in Wytheville, Virginia on March 15, 2023. This will be an informative and important hot topic conference that focuses on multiple trending education topics like workforce readiness, virtual reality in public schools, and the “new pandemic” teacher shortages.

Presentations will feature “Seeing Outside the Classroom” with Virtual Reality where both Bristol City and Cumberland County Public Schools will discuss how they use these tools to their advantage. Next, attendees will hear from Dr. Matt Hurt from The Comprehensive Instructional Program on the teacher shortage crisis. The final session will focus on workforce readiness and how Secure Futures Solar is working with school divisions to get students prepared for a career in Solar Technology.

Space is limited for this in person event, so make sure to register early!

Location: Wytheville Meeting Center - 333 Community Blvd, Wytheville, VA 24382
Cost: $190 per registration

Join school board members and education leaders from across the country at COSSBA's inaugural national conference for training and networking opportunities to engage around issues that directly impact the work of governing public education.

Location: Tampa, FL
Cost: Early Bird Discount - $549, Cost after January 28, 2023 - $599
200 Hansen Road, Charlottesville, VA 22911
Tel: 434-295-8722 Fax: 434-295-8785