Newsletter 2023 Issue 6
Gina G. Patterson
Executive Director
From the Executive Director
As we draw nearer to the start of a new academic year, it's essential to reflect on your crucial role as a member of the Virginia School Boards Association and consider how you can better prepare to face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

One of the key elements to discuss first is strategic planning, particularly focusing on the board's governance, policies, and actions. As board members, you are not only the stewards of your schools, but also architects of strategies that directly affect student outcomes. Your strategic plan, a roadmap for your policies and initiatives, can effectively shape the school year and beyond.

Consider your goals as a board. Are you aiming to increase graduation rates? Improve literacy levels? Enhance student wellbeing? Now, translate these ambitions into clear, actionable policies. This might mean investing more in facility maintenance, student support services or promoting teacher professional development. The key is to ensure that every policy you implement has a direct line of sight to your overall goals for student success.

Next, let's consider the importance of strengthening board-superintendent relations. This partnership thrives on open, respectful communication. You are partners in leadership, collaborating to make decisions and align your efforts for the benefit of students.

Finally, the role of community relations in schools' success can't be underestimated. Your school is an integral part of a wider community, and forging strong ties with this community is crucial. Encourage open communication, facilitate parent participation beyond just PTA meetings, and create spaces for community members to share their feedback. Celebrating the successes of your students, teachers, and community fosters a shared sense of pride and a stronger bond with the community.

As you stand on the precipice of a new academic year, keep these guiding principles at the forefront of your mind. This is your moment to act as leaders, change catalysts, and stewards of our students' futures. Seize this opportunity, aim for the stars, and craft a future that everyone involved in our education system can be proud of.

Your role is much more than governance; you're shaping the future of education. Here's to making the upcoming academic year the best one yet. Thanks for all that you do.    

VSBA School Board News Podcast - Episode 50
Listen to the latest episode of the VSBA School Board News podcast as guest Mike Rezac, Risk Control Consultant at VAcorp, joins Gina Patterson, VSBA Executive Director. VAcorp is the largest self-insurance risk pool for public sector entities in the Commonwealth, and they cover 132 school divisions statewide.
Tom Brewster
Director, Member Services
Excellence in the Classroom Begins with Excellence in the Boardroom
When training governance teams, we often like to begin with a quote: "Excellence in the classroom begins with excellence in the boardroom." The quote highlights the significant influence school boards have on a district's education quality and culture. Boards are responsible for setting policies, allocating resources, and providing the strategic vision of the school division. A functional school board fosters transparency, accountability, and collaboration among all stakeholders, which directly influences the overall culture within the schools, leading to improved academic outcomes, teacher satisfaction, and student success. This article explores the essential role of school boards in fostering excellence within classrooms and how their decisions impact students' overall educational experience.

Vision and Mission Setting

Through their strategic plan, school boards define a division's educational vision and mission, setting clear and ambitious goals for academic excellence. This unites teachers, administrators, and stakeholders towards a common purpose, inspiring better performance from educators and encouraging students to achieve more.

Resource Allocation

Allocating resources effectively and equitably is a crucial responsibility of school boards. A well-managed budget ensures schools have access to necessary tools, technology, and learning materials for high-quality education. Prioritizing excellence in resource allocation ensures funds are directed towards initiatives impacting student learning and success, such as hiring the best personnel, delivering individualized attention, creating workforce-ready programs, and providing enriching extracurricular activities.

Supporting Professional Development

School boards that prioritize excellence invest in high-quality professional development opportunities for employees. These opportunities keep educators updated on the latest teaching methodologies and best practices, ultimately benefitting students through improved learning experiences.

Accountability and Evaluation

School boards emphasizing excellence implement accountability measures and evaluation systems. Regular assessments of schools and educational programs identify areas for improvement, fostering a culture of continuous growth and higher teaching standards. By regularly reviewing their own strategic goals, evaluating the superintendent, and conducting a self-evaluation, boards hold themselves and others accountable for the overall success of the school division.

Community Engagement and Support

Excellence in the classroom involves the entire community, not just educators. School boards that prioritize excellence actively engage with parents, students, and local stakeholders to build support for education initiatives. Partnerships with community organizations, businesses, and local government create a supportive environment for students' academic success.
School boards play a central role in creating a culture of excellence in education. From setting a clear vision to allocating resources, supporting professional development, implementing accountability measures, and engaging with the community, their influence is vital. Empowering school boards to prioritize excellence ensures every student receives the best possible education, setting them on a path to a successful and fulfilling future.

The Virginia School Boards Association offers customized training that can address any of these important areas. For more information about our member services, such as board training, please email
2023 VSBA Advocate for Education Award
Deadline to Apply August 18, 2023
The importance of advocacy and grassroots engagement is a central component of the Virginia School Boards Association. It is imperative for board members to engage the stakeholders of their community including parents, business, community and higher education leaders, local community organizations, and policy makers in the work of building a successful public school system in each community across the Commonwealth.
VSBA invites your board to nominate a member for the annual VSBA Advocate for Education Award, to be presented at the VSBA Annual Convention in November. This award was created to recognize school board members who have demonstrated significant and outstanding leadership and commitment to public education and who have made contributions to public education that have impacted their region and the Commonwealth. The award recognizes board members who have actively participated in local, state, and federal advocacy on behalf of their division, VSBA, and public schools.

Each local school board may submit one name/nomination for consideration. The nomination must be approved by the school board, and the nominee must be a current school board member. Nominations are due no later than August 18, 2023. Please submit your nomination via email to J.T. Kessler, VSBA Director of Legislative Services, at Nominations will undergo a review by the selection committee which will determine the award winner. You can access the nomination form by clicking the button below.
Registration for the 2023 VSBA Annual Convention is OPEN!
Attendees can now contact their division clerk to register for the 2023 VSBA Annual Convention to be held November 15-17 at the Colonial Williamsburg Lodge. This year's Keynote speakers are Liz Huntley, attorney and author, Dr. David Jeck, author and retired superintendent, and Michael Thurmond, chief executive officer.

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Mikaela Coffey, Director of Meetings and Conferences, at
2023 Annual Convention General Speakers
Liz Huntley
Wednesday, November 15
Liz is a committed child advocate and passionate litigation attorney who practices law at Lightfoot, Franklin & White, LLC in Birmingham, Alabama. On a regular basis she serves as a motivational speaker throughout the country and shares her inspirational story of an Alabama woman who overcame nightmarish events and tremendous adversity during her childhood to become a successful attorney, motivational speaker, and member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees.
Thursday, November 16
Dr. Jeck served as the Fauquier County Public Schools Superintendent. He spent the previous five years as the superintendent of Greene County Public Schools. His career in education has included time as a coach, teacher, assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendent for instruction.

During his ten years as Fauquier’s superintendent, the school division achieved record-high graduation rates. Dr. Jeck has spent the past two years writing his book aimed at helping school leaders stand up for teachers. The book is called "Courageous School Leadership".
Dr. David Jeck
Sarita Maybin
Friday, November 17
Raised as a “military brat” moving from country to country, Sarita mastered how to make fast friends and finesse stressful situations. She quickly learned that it wasn’t just what you say, but how you say it that matters.

In her 20+ year career as a professional speaker, this former university dean has made it her mission to motivate others to embrace positivity, even amid the challenges of our ever-changing high-tech times. During her career Sarita has spoken in all 50 states. She wrote the book on how to answer the perplexing question: If You Can’t Say Something Nice, What DO You Say?
20th Annual VSBA 5k
Registration is open for the 5k at the VSBA Annual Convention! The race will take place on Thursday morning in front of the Williamsburg Lodge.

Individuals and teams are encouraged to dress up and participate, giving them the chance to earn the Team Spirit Award and/or Best Individual Spirit Award! Additionally, there are prizes for the fastest runner and walkers for all age categories.

The 5k is open to runners and walkers alike! Come celebrate the 20th anniversary of this great event.
As we prepare to celebrate the start of a new school year, we again encourage School Boards across the Commonwealth to join the Virginia School Boards Association in celebrating as students are welcomed back. We encourage you to post back-to-school messages and photos of your board or division welcoming students back to a new school year on your division’s social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), using the hashtag #BacktoSchoolVA.

Also, please email your photos to Office of Communications at to be featured on the VSBA Facebook page and Daily News.

2023 Conference on Education Recap
On July 13, 2023, VSBA held the 2023 Conference on Education at the Hilton Richmond Hotel & Spa at Short Pump. The conference offered attendees the opportunity to choose from various workshops highlighting topics including; Avoiding FOIA Pitfalls, Flying Unmanned Aircraft, Implementation of a Recovery Academy, Working for Your Future, and many more.

The conference featured general session speaker 2023 Teacher of the Year Ms. Fabiana Parker from Manassas City Public Schools. Following the General Session speaker, the 2023 Workforce Readiness awards sponsored by VAcorp were presented. During the Luncheon Program, both the 2023 Food for Thought awards and 2023 Student Essay speeches were presented.
2023 VSBA Excellence in Workforce Readiness Award Winners Recognized
VSBA Honors Recipients of the Excellence in Workforce Readiness Award
The Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) honored recipients of the 2023 Excellence in Workforce Readiness Awards. Winning divisions were recognized at the VSBA Conference on Education on July 13. The awards program was created in 2018 by the VSBA Task Force on Workforce Readiness to highlight exemplary programs in Virginia’s Public Schools focused on preparing the state’s future workforce. VSBA thanks VAcorp for being this year’s sponsor of the awards.  
The winning school divisions are as follows:
Student Population Below 5,000 Students
First Place- Fredericksburg City Public Schools, The Hop Into Vocational Experiences (HIVE) Program
Second Place- Petersburg City Public Schools, Education for Employment Program
Third Place- Alleghany Highlands Public Schools, Advanced Healthcare Pathways Program
Student Population Between 5,001 – 10,000 Students
First Place- Isle of Wight County Public Schools, IWCS Agriculture Land Lab: Cultivating the Next Generation of Farmers
Second Place- Danville City Public Schools, Institute for Advanced Learning and Research Program
Third Place- Prince George County Public Schools, Technology Field Day Initiative
Student Population Above 10,001 Students
First Place- Fairfax County Public Schools, Residential Construction Program
Second Place- Albemarle County Public Schools, Starr Hill Pathways
Third Place- Chesterfield County Public Schools, CCPS Work-Based Learning Initiative
2023 VSBA Student Essay Contest Winners Recognized
Two students received recognition for their submissions to the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) Third Annual Student Essay Contest. The two finalists were recognized at the VSBA Conference on Education on July 13, 2023. This was the third year the contest was held, and the theme of the essay was the "Meaning of Civility." This year, the recipients each received a scholarship of $500.

Isabella Meadows, a rising sophomore at Smithfield High School in Isle of Wight County Public Schools, and Alice Thompson, a rising sophomore at Monticello High School in Albemarle County Public Schools, were selected by a panel of judges who were presented with the written essay as well as a recorded speech.
2023 VSBA Food for Thought Competition Winners Recognized
Six school divisions received top honors in the 2023 Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) Food for Thought Competition and two school divisions received an honorary mention. These school divisions were recognized at the VSBA Conference on Education on July 13, 2023. The competition was created in 2012 to educate, engage, and empower school leaders to address childhood hunger and provide all students in Virginia with healthier, more nutritious school meals. This year marks the 11th Anniversary of the VSBA Food for Thought Awards, and the sponsor for the awards was ABM.

Healthy School Meals
Winner (Below 10,000 Student Population) – Dinwiddie County Public Schools
Winner (Above 10,001 Student Population) – Stafford County Public Schools

Meal Access to Fight Hunger
Winner (Below 10,000 Student Population) – Manassas Park City Public Schools
Winner (Above 10,001 Student Population) – Frederick County Public Schools
Honorary Mention – Rockbridge County Public Schools

Wellness and Physical Activity
Winner (Below 10,000 Student Population) – Northumberland County Public Schools
Winner (Above 10,001 Student Population) – Hampton City Public Schools
Honorary Mention – King and Queen County Public Schools
Governance Tips: Leadership in a Divided Community
Tiger Academy, funded through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, is an after school program offered at Central High School in King and Queen County. The grant enables the school to provide an enriching after hours experience in a safe and engaging environment at no cost to students and their families. The program offers a diverse range of activities, and is designed to empower students and help them thrive scholastically and personally.

One of the primary objectives of Tiger Academy is to support students academically, whether they are completing their homework, making up missed assignments, or receiving extra remediation for gaps in their learning. Dedicated teachers and paraprofessionals provide guidance, answer questions, and ensure that students stay on track with their academic responsibilities. With their support, many of these students overcome academic struggles and gain a sense of confidence and achievement.

In addition to academic support, Tiger Academy offers an array of exciting enrichment programs that cater to various interests and talents. Students can explore their culinary skills in the captivating Teen Cuisine class, discover the art of photography, delve into the realm of eSports, engage in strategic board gaming, unleash their creativity in crafting activities, take part in thrilling theater productions, and cultivate their green thumbs through gardening. These diverse enrichment programs not only expand students' horizons but also provide a nurturing environment for personal growth and development.

Tiger Academy students expand their learning through engaging educational field trips on Saturdays. These field trips have taken them to fascinating destinations such as Luray Caverns, where they marveled at the wonders of underground formations. They also had the privilege of witnessing the grace and artistry of the Richmond Ballet, exploring the prestigious University of Virginia, immersing themselves in the historical significance of Monticello, and delving into the rich heritage at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. These enriching experiences foster a deeper understanding of the world around them and inspire a lifelong love of learning.

Central High School is proud to provide this range of opportunities to our students as part of the Tiger Academy program. Through these enriching activities, students can develop new skills, explore their passions, and build friendships with fellow students who share similar interests. 
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 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.
Stay Connected with VSBA!
VSBA has active Facebook and X (formally Twitter) pages designed to keep followers up to date on current events in education and VSBA activities. On these pages you will find photos from past VSBA events, announcements for upcoming activities at the state and national level, and articles of interest regarding education around the country. Each Friday, a Virginia school division is featured for our Good News Friday post. Check back each week to see if your school division’s program is highlighted!
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 2023 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.
Benefit Plan Administrators, Inc.
Third Party Administrator that specializes in the administration of partially self insured group health plans that are integrated with robust wellness, disease management, and cost containment programs.

Morris Masinter 540-345-2721 x321
Roof Consulting Services, Inc.
Our mission is to provide state of the art technology. We provide roof moisture surveys, visual roof inspections, quality control roof inspection, roof repair, replacement design services, construction administrative services

William Sanders 804-515-0885
Sonny Merryman
Sonny Merryman is Virginia’s largest and most experienced bus dealership. The company is the exclusive Virginia dealer for leading school bus manufacturer, Thomas Built Buses.

Whitney Kopanko 434-821-1000

September 21, 2023 - Legislative Advocacy Conference
School board member voices need to be heard, the stakes for public education have never been higher and school board members must be prepared to advocate effectively for public schools.

Join VSBA at our 2023 Legislative Advocacy Conference where attendees will gain valuable insight into the issues that promise to have lasting impacts on the Commonwealth. This conference will inform and educate school board members as leaders to discuss implementing the Virginia Literacy Act, a glimpse into how current events will influence the direction of the 2024 General Assembly, and much more. This conference also includes a session designed to meet the requirement that each school board member receive COIA training.

Register today for this exciting and informative conference! This is a hybrid event so you can attend in person or virtually.

Location: Chesterfield Career & Technical Center
Cost: $220 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

September 26, 2023 - Title IX Workshop
With claims of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct hitting newsstands everywhere, Title IX coordinators and other senior staff need to be confident in their knowledge and enforcement of their divisions’ policies. Prevention and thorough investigations are the best ways to manage risk and foster a safe and healthy school environment.

For the first half of the workshop, participants will learn the basics of Title IX, best practices regarding Title IX policies, and recent case law relating to sexual harassment of students, gender discrimination, and employee training requirements. In addition, participants will walk away equipped with tools to help administrators spot, prevent, and investigate claims of unlawful discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

For the second half of this workshop Sands Anderson will provide the required training for Investigators and Decision-Makers as well as provide board members with an understanding of those roles. The new federal Title IX Regulations effective in August 2020 require basic levels of training for school division employees. The Regulations also require so-called “Level II” training for professionals who will serve as school divisions’ Investigators and Decision-Makers as those terms are defined in the Regulations. This training will review the basic level training, but will also focus on the areas of training required for this sub-set of professionals, including topics such as proper investigation, impartiality, relevancy, the use of technology in hearings (if conducted), and the scope of divisions’ educational programs. This second half of the workshop is designed to address the requirements for Level II training.

Hosted by the VSBA and presented by Bradford King and Nicole Cheuk, attorneys with Sands Anderson PC, this timely and important workshop is a must. The workshop will take place from 10:00 AM—12:30 PM.

Location: VSBA Offices 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

This workshop is designed to provide small group support to superintendents and board members responsible for assessing and updating their evaluation model. Participants will have the opportunity to review the guidelines in detail and then use them as they draft their own models. Individual consultation and support will be available throughout the session as participants work on their revisions.

Location: VSBA Offices 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

October 24, 2023 - Budget Training Workshop
The Basics of Budgeting for Students Needs is a two-hour session designed to provide school board members and division superintendents with a general understanding of the essential elements of budgeting and allocating division resources in a strategically-focused manner that aligns with and supports the individual needs, goals and aspirations of students. Specifically, this session will provide a general overview of student-centered resource allocation models that are intended to promote hitting every students needs. In addition, attendees will look at a number of resource allocation/distribution models that are being utilized in school districts around the country to support the individual needs of students and schools based on multiple objective and measurable student characteristics. Finally, this session will provide attendees with a comparative view of a traditional budgeting model with that of a student-centered resource allocation system.

Location: VSBA Offices or Virtual
Cost: $185 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

November 15-17, 2023 - VSBA Annual Convention
Don’t miss out on VSBA’s Annual Convention, the celebratory end-of-year gathering! This event is the largest meeting of the year, which brings together over one thousand school board members, superintendents, and school division staff from across the state of Virginia. Over the three day convention, attendees will hear from three different general session speakers, choose from over forty-five hot topic break-out sessions pertinent to public education issues, have the opportunity to meet with businesses dedicated to serving schools, and much more. We look forward to commemorating with you in November!

Location: Williamsburg Lodge
Cost: $390 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
200 Hansen Road, Charlottesville, VA 22911
Tel: 434-295-8722 Fax: 434-295-8785