Newsletter 2024 Issue 1
Gina G. Patterson
Executive Director
From the Executive Director
As we embark on a new year filled with possibilities and opportunities, I am thrilled to extend my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you for your unwavering commitment to the betterment of education in our local school divisions. Your passion, dedication, and tireless efforts have not only shaped the experiences of countless students but have also contributed significantly to the success of our organization.

This February, we are proud to join the statewide celebration of School Board Appreciation Month in Virginia. It is a time to acknowledge the vital role our school board members play in steering the course of education and ensuring the success of our schools. Your leadership and vision continue to inspire positive change and foster an environment where every student can thrive.

Additionally, let us recognize the upcoming Clerk Appreciation Week during the third week of February. The invaluable contributions of our clerks often go unnoticed, but their dedication is the backbone of our local divisions. Their efficiency and support enable board members to function seamlessly, and we all owe them a debt of gratitude for their hard work and commitment.

As we reflect on the achievements of the past and look forward to the opportunities of the future, let me express my deepest thanks for all that you do. Your passion for education, your tireless advocacy on behalf of students, and your collaborative spirit are the driving forces behind the positive impact we continue to make in our community.

Together, let's celebrate the achievements of our members, old and new, and honor the significance of School Board Appreciation Month and Clerk Appreciation Week. Your contributions are instrumental, and I am confident that, with your continued support, we will achieve even greater heights in the months and years to come.
Thank you for your dedication, and here's to a year filled with shared successes and collective achievements.

Thanks for all that you do. 

2024 Session of the Virginia General Assembly
The 2024 session of the Virginia General Assembly convened at noon on Wednesday, January 10, 2024. The VSBA Government Relations team is excited to be back in Richmond advocating on behalf of school board members. We will send 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.

In order to keep school board members abreast of legislative happenings, the VSBA Government Relations team will again host the Fridays from Richmond update each week during the legislative session at 3:00 p.m. To register for these updates, see the links below:

March 1, 2024:
March 15, 2024:

Please be sure to check out the VSBA Legislative Update Blog as well as the VSBA Facebook and X handles daily for real time information from the General Assembly. If you have questions regarding VSBA’s work at the General Assembly, you may contact VSBA Director of Legislative Services, JT Kessler, at [email protected]
VSBA President's Roadshow
VSBA President Dr. Cardell Patillo is hitting the road this year, touring every region of the Commonwealth on the 2024 VSBA President's Roadshow. The VSBA President's Roadshow is designed to extract insights into cutting-edge innovations and best practices in Virginia's public schools while addressing the challenges confronted by Virginia's school boards. The Roadshow provides a unique opportunity for school board members and superintendents to connect directly with VSBA's leadership.

During a Roadshow visit, your division will have the opportunity to meet President Dr. Patillo and share your opinions on education issues, ask questions of VSBA, and much more.

On December 14, 2023, VSBA President Dr. Cardell Patillo kicked off the VSBA President's Roadshow with a visit to Staunton City Schools in Staunton, VA. During his visit, Dr. Patillo explored the innovative childcare initiative and preschool program implemented by Staunton City Schools. In attendance were members of the Virginia School Boards Association Board of Directors, VSBA staff, and representatives from the offices of Senator Tim Kaine, State Senator Creigh Deeds and Delegate Tony Wilt.

A noteworthy portion of the visit involved hearing from educators within the school division who utilize the childcare program for their own children. This initiative, tailored to support the work-life balance of educators, provides a secure and enriching environment for their children while they concentrate on their professional obligations.

Below is the President's Roadshow Schedule with additional dates being added as they are confirmed. If your school division would like to be considered for a Roadshow stop, please email Samantha Bosserman, VSBA Deputy Executive Director, at [email protected].

December 14, 2023 - Staunton City Click here for the Press Release and Photos
February 1, 2024 - Charlottesville City
February 13, 2024 - Powhatan County
May 13, 2024 - Campbell County
May 14, 2024 - Buckingham County
February is School Board Appreciation Month!
Join us in saluting the service of over 800 school board members in Virginia in February 2024 during School Board Appreciation Month. The theme — The Heart of Education: Our School Boards — acknowledges that the school board is at the heart of the education system, guiding it with kindness and care. 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 12-16!
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.

Recognizing local school board clerks for a job well done takes a concentrated effort on the part of all those they serve: school board members, superintendents, administrators, school staff, students, and the community. It is especially important this year to take a moment to thank our school board clerks who have remained attentive and ready to help throughout the barrage of changes. Even though showing appreciation should be a year-round process, taking advantage of the designated VSBA School Board Clerk Appreciation Week assures that these vital employees receive some of the thanks they deserve.
2024 VSBA Business Honor Roll
Local businesses have the power to shape community attitudes about public schools, and the VSBA Business Honor Roll is a way for local school divisions to recognize local businesses for their support, especially as schools face increasing budget uncertainty. The Business Honor Roll helps divisions say “thank you” to these businesses for their vital contributions.

Businesses large and small, corporate-owned or family-run, play a key role in supporting our communities and local schools. They contribute to our school divisions in many ways, including helping schools with in-kind or financial contributions, donating to scholarship programs, supporting extracurricular activities, offering internship opportunities, volunteering in the schools, and sponsoring field trips. This type of support is invaluable.

If you are working with a local business or organization that deserves recognition, your division can nominate up to three businesses to the VSBA Business Honor Roll by passing a resolution (linked in the guide below) and submitting the online form to us by March 31, 2024. Please see the guide linked below for complete information, including submission guidelines. A signed resolution from the entire school board must be submitted.

Later this year, VSBA will publish the Business Honor Roll in the Association’s newsletter and recognize the businesses or organizations on the VSBA website. We also will mail personalized recognition letters of congratulations for each business and send the division contact a copy of the letter and electronic certificate(s) in time for boards to present to the businesses or organizations at a May school board meeting.

Please contact [email protected] or 434-295-8722 if you have any questions.
Samantha Bosserman
Deputy Executive Director
A New Year, a Chance to Reconnect
Believe it or not, 2024 is here and we are almost done with January! The beginning of the year is a great time to reconnect as a board and to check in to make sure everyone is on the same page and headed toward the same mutually agreed-upon goals. VSBA sends out a sample Code of Conduct in January and July. If you do not recall receiving it this year, please let us know. Set some time aside with your board to review this Code of Conduct, make it your own, and commit to the work. If you have established board norms and protocols, review those at this time as well, especially if you have new board members. These board norms and protocols will help your new board members learn the process of requesting items to be added to the agenda, understand who to call for questions, and what to do if the media contacts them for information. Even if you do not have new board members, check in on your board norms and protocols to see how the governance team is following these and if any need to be adjusted. The beginning of the year is also a great time to check in on your board goals. Have certain goals been accomplished? Does the timeline for a goal need to be adjusted? Keep your goals fluid and relevant; you did not create those goals to just have them sit on a shelf all year.

Now is also a great time to reset, take a deep breath, and look ahead to the next year. There may have been a topic in the past that caused a split among board members, or you may have had to make some tough decisions as a board. Learn from that process and those outcomes and move ahead. You have another year to make decisions and work on behalf of all students in your division, so get it started on the right foot. Make that phone call that you have been meaning to make to another board member, meet for coffee with your city councilperson or board of supervisors, set goals and priorities for yourself.

Take a second to complete this exercise to reframe your work. Why did you choose to serve on the school board? Whether you were appointed by a city council or elected by your community, why did you accept the position as a school board member? Is your focus on student achievement? If not, what are you focused on, and how can you refocus to keep all students at the forefront of your work on the board?

2024 is here and it is time to regroup with your governance team, reset your personal priorities, and do what is in the best interest of all children. Thank you for choosing to serve on your local school board and have a great year.
December 2023 VSBA Board of Directors Meeting Recap
The VSBA Board of Directors met in Charlottesville on Friday, December 15, 2023, and took the following actions:

  1. Approved the 2024 Executive Committee
  2. Approved the 2024 Delegates and Alternates to COSSBA
  3. Approved the VSBA Audit Committee
  4. Approved the VSBA Code of Conduct for the 2024 Board of Directors
  5. Approved the VSBA School Board Clerk Appreciation Week Proclamation
The Board also heard the following reports:

  1. Update from Dr. Lisa Coons, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction
  2. Update from Dr. Billy Haun, Executive Director of the Virginia High School League 
Conducting a Local Board Orientation Guide
We are excited to share with you a valuable new resource that has been developed to facilitate the onboarding process for new school board members. At the VSBA, our commitment to supporting effective governance in education extends beyond advocacy and training. We are pleased to introduce our latest publication: "Conducting a Local Board Orientation for New School Board Members."
This guide was crafted to assist you in acclimating new board members to their roles, responsibilities, and the local educational landscape. We believe that a well-structured orientation program is essential for the success of your school board, and this publication is designed to serve as a practical, step-by-step manual to ensure a smooth transition for new members. For any questions or further assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to the VSBA. Our team is here to support you every step of the way.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us at [email protected] or call 800-446-8722.
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 2024, and these successful programs will be showcased on the VSBA website for the entire year.

Each division can submit up to 3 programs/initiatives using the form linked here.

Friday, March 8, 2024, by 4:00 p.m.

[email protected] or 434-295-8722
Movement enhances learning! Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is a rural school division that has been implementing an innovative program that focuses on just that. Rappahannock County Public Schools in Washington, VA, has a designated Action Based Learning Lab that currently services nearly 150 students in kindergarten through 2nd grades. Dubbed the BrainSTAR (Strengthening Through Action Repetition) Lab, primary classes strengthen neural connections during fun physical activities such as crossing the midline through scarf juggling, bilateral movements during an alligator crawl, and more! Spearheaded by the division’s grant-funded wellness team, Commit to Be Fit (C2BF), students visit the lab weekly as a part of their regular exploratory schedule.
In this circuit-style format, each student is at a different station for up to three minutes. During this time, the young participants each perform a specific movement skill (rolling, skipping, jumping, balance walking, etc.) while fun, upbeat music plays in the bright, colorful classroom. Once the time is up, the music stops, prompting the students to walk to the next station and wait until the music starts, cueing the students to begin the next activity. During the 50-minute block, each student rotates to ten different movement stations. New stations are introduced every three weeks to keep students engaged and to add more challenging activities. While the students greatly enjoy being physically active, each activity is purposefully designed to enhance movement patterns that have been identified as fundamental to brain development.
From an early age, infants and toddlers learn about the world around them through movement. This continues through a child’s early years. From rolling to crawling, each movement creates and strengthens neural connections in the brain, which are later used for more advanced learning in the classroom. The Action Based Learning lab concept, rooted in brain research, originated from KidsFit, a South Carolina based company. Since the lab’s debut in January 2018, the C2BF team has further enhanced the concept by integrating grade-level specific curriculum and movement, to further anchor learning. When the lab is not in use by an exploratory class, the team offers movement-based remediation services for students who have been identified as needing additional review. Students visit the lab in small groups to review material while engaging in movement. Also, the team offers classroom push-ins and provides teachers with an extensive database of brain breaks and games that includes the different movement foundations.
Recently, the C2BF team along with the division’s superintendent, Dr. Shannon Grimsley, has been conducting research on the relationship between movement skills and classroom performance. The early data is promising and indicates a positive relationship between the activities and test scores. While the United States Department of Health and Human Services reports that active students perform better academically, the team is researching the direct link between specific movement activities and literacy. Ultimately, they hope to add to the growing body of research to assist other schools throughout the state in implementing similar programs.

While the lab has been incorporating reading and math concepts for the past several years, this semester brings a more extensive focus on literacy. By creating a partnership with the elementary school reading specialist, this movement literacy lab design will pair fundamental movement patterns with reading stations.

Dr. Grimsley is excited for this new partnership. “The ABL has proven to be an invaluable resource and tool to enhance literacy and learning growth, but also to very simply provide additional opportunities for students to move,” said the superintendent. She continued, “Kinesthetic learning has never been more important to engage the brain and body in meaningful ways in connection with deep learning. It is making a difference in recouping unfinished learning and closing gaps, and now, will be even more laser-focused on science of reading and literacy growth and development. We are so proud of our BrainSTARs and thankful for our Commit to Be Fit Team!”

To learn more about this program, visit or email Holly Jenkins at [email protected]. Commit to Be Fit is funded by the generosity of the PATH Foundation.

The writer serves as the RCPS Public Relations and Digital Communications Officer and is a founding member of the Commit to Be Fit Team
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.
Legally Mandated Training for School Board Members
Virginia law requires three types of training for school board members.
COIA Training
EVERY school board member is required to complete a training session for local officials on the State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act (COIA) provided by the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council (the Ethics Council) within two months of assuming office and at least once every two years thereafter. The Ethics Council provides online training which can be accessed on their website here.
FOIA Training
Every ELECTED school board member is required to complete a training session on the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provided by the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council or the Board’s attorney within two months of assuming office and at least once every two calendar years thereafter. The FOIA Council provides both in-person training opportunities and on-line training which can be accessed here. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to get to the information about training for local elected officials such as school board members.
Record Keeping for FOIA and COIA training
School board clerks are responsible for keeping track of when each board member completes the required FOIA and COIA training, so be sure to let your clerk know when you complete the required training.
Professional Development Required by the Standards of Quality
Va. Code § 22.1-253.13:5 (aka Standard 5) establishes that every school board must require its members to participate annually in high-quality professional development activities at the state, local, or national levels on governance. That training may include, but isn’t limited to, personnel policies and practices; the evaluation of personnel, curriculum, and instruction; use of data in planning and decision making; and current issues in education. Virginia law does not specify how much training school boards members must get each year or what counts as the required professional development; each school board must make those decisions for itself. Local school boards follow a wide variety of processes for deciding what counts as the required professional development. Some have board members submit requests before a program is attended. Others approve the professional development when they vote to approve the expenditure for the fee for the program. What process to follow is a local decision. The important thing is that every board decides which trainings satisfy the legal requirement and that every member receives the required training.
Vendor Solicitations
We are aware that some members are receiving email solicitations from vendors. While we are grateful to our corporate sponsors and vendors who generously support many of our events, VSBA does not share the contact information of our members.  
School board member contact information is publicly available on most school boards' websites. If you are receiving unwanted solicitations, please contact the companies directly to opt out.
Thank you to the 2024 VSBA Business Affiliates
In each issue of the VSBA Newsletter, we will feature three VSBA Affiliate Members.
Thank you for your support of the VSBA and Virginia's public education system.
Cognia is the largest education improvement organization in the world. Working with us, you get a view that links improvement, assessment, and school quality to student and school performance. We help you identify your current reality and set priorities to make meaningful change.

Myra Sawyers | 423-534-1406
VMDO Architects is an award winning firm made up of educational design specialists. We are dedicated to helping institutions and communities envision engaging, pivotal projects that translate into meaningful buildings of lasting value.

Maggie Thacker | 434-296-5684
RRMM Architects, P.C.
Professional/Architecture Planning Interiors.

Duane Harver | 757-622-2828

February 27, 2024 - Title IX Workshop
During the initial part of the workshop, participants will delve into the fundamentals of Title IX, adopt best practices related to Title IX policies, and explore recent case law pertaining to sexual harassment of students, gender discrimination, and employee training requirements. Attendees will leave armed with tools to identify, prevent, and investigate claims of unlawful discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

In the latter half of the workshop, Sands Anderson will deliver the mandated training for Investigators and Decision-Makers, offering board members insight into these crucial roles. The federal Title IX Regulations, effective since August 2020, necessitate basic training for school division employees. Moreover, “Level II” training is mandated for professionals assuming the roles of Investigators and Decision-Makers as per the Regulations. This segment of the workshop will not only cover the foundational training but will also concentrate on specific areas required for this subset of professionals. Topics include proper investigation techniques, maintaining impartiality, relevance considerations, the integration of technology in hearings (if conducted), and understanding the scope of divisions’ educational programs. This second half is tailored to fulfill the Level II training requirements.

Location: VSBA Office or Virtual
Cost: $180 per registration. Please reach out to your school division clerk to register for this event. For affiliate members, please reach out to Mikaela Coffey for registration at [email protected].

March 14, 2024 - The Right to Read Screening
VSBA is thrilled to invite our members to an extraordinary event—an exclusive screening of "The Right to Read," a compelling documentary that explores the pivotal role of literacy and the challenges faced by students in accessing this fundamental human right.

In collaboration with the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) and the Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Lisa Coons, we are proud to offer this screening entirely free of charge to express our gratitude for your continuous support.

Location: VSBA Office
Cost: Free

Saturday, March 23, 2024 - Hot Topic Conference
Join VSBA for an Extraordinary Saturday Hot Topic Conference at the Williamsburg Lodge! We’ve listened to the needs of our valued membership and are thrilled to invite you to wake up with VSBA on a Saturday for an unforgettable day of growth and connection. This conference introduces you to “The Trust Edge Experience,” a trusted methodology employed by name-brand companies worldwide. Discover how it empowers organizations to cultivate high-performing teams while establishing a common language that enhances connection, clarifies objectives, and boosts productivity.

Location: Williamsburg Lodge
Cost: $190 per registration. Please reach out to your school division clerk to register for this event. For affiliate members, please reach out to Mikaela Coffey for registration at [email protected].
200 Hansen Road, Charlottesville, VA 22911
Tel: 434-295-8722 Fax: 434-295-8785