A responsibility I take seriously


What motivates me as a teacher? Definitely my students, taking them from one place to another no matter the subject or how small that progression might be. That motivates me each day. To take work home at night because I’m watching these children blossom and I feel like they need me – that’s what really keeps me going. Having that responsibility is so important to me and I take it seriously.


Parking Lot Divas


We’re the Parking Lot Divas. You have to know what you’re doing out here. It’s something different every day. You have to be ready and be spontaneous. It’s never a dull moment.

We have to have a spirit of fun. We try to put a smile on everybody’s face as we’re shepherding children into the school.

And my long underwear is my best friend in the winter. We’re like the Postal Service. Rain, sleet, snow – we’re out here.


Help people achieve their dreams


When I grow up I want to start my own publishing company and, with the income from that, I want to help families that don’t have a lot of money send their kids to college. A lot of people are smart and have a lot of potential, they just don’t have the finances to help them get there. I think it will help a lot of people achieve their dreams. I love reading and writing, so I thought I could help people get their books published and help them achieve their dreams. Then, with that income, I can help other people go to college to achieve their dreams.


Makes someone’s dreams come true


I’m going to study media, arts and design in college. Movies have always been a big part of my life. I’ve been writing stories and have had a wild imagination as long as I can remember. You can have a movie that takes someone’s wildest dreams and things that seem absolutely impossible and you can make that a reality. To be able to do that is just incredible to me. So, I want to make movies so I can make someone’s dreams come true.

I’m more partial to writing and directing than acting. I’m a behind-the-camera type of person. I enjoy screenwriting and editing. But I want to bring something to life – something that people remember.


After school rush


I’m married. I have three children: one in high school; one in middle school; one in elementary school. I’m a Girl Scout leader. I love teaching kindergarten. Not everybody likes their job but I love my job. I am very good with children and better with small children. When I go home I’m rushing kids to cheerleading and I’m rushing kids to chess and I’m rushing kids to dance. I play softball with my husband and I’m in a book club because I read constantly. That’s what drives me.


I love teamwork


I’ve been here at Corporate Landing for 16 years. I worked at Kempsville Junior High for 18 years. I worked for two years at Holland Elementary. They all add up.

I love what I do. I love teamwork – working with the custodial staff and teachers. I like to be around kids and help lead them in the right direction. It’s just nice to see kids come back and say, ‘I really appreciate what you told me over the years as far as what to do and what not to do.’ I love that. I really do.

When I’m not at work I like to jog, play basketball, help at my church and hang out with my grandkids. I have 13. I also have two great grands. My wife and I have been married for 35 years. We have three kids. They’re all grown and doing well. I really appreciate that.


Provide an opportunity


I just love Bettie F. kids. They are awesome! They want to learn. Sometimes our kids aren’t compliant all the time. Sometimes our parents aren’t able to be involved. Sometimes our kids haven’t been through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel or even to the beach. My kids don’t come with cello practice every afternoon and they don’t come from chess club. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t take this blank slate and paint a beautiful portrait with these kids. It doesn’t mean these kids are any less gifted than other students; they just haven’t had an opportunity. And we have to provide these kids with an opportunity. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I need kids who are energetic and charismatic like me. I love that! These kids and I have conversations that we would never have at other schools. When my mother came here to visit, she asked me, “What’s with all the hugging?” I said, “Ma, they hug all the time. They hug all the time.”


25th Year Together


This is our 25th year together! It’s Lisa’s 30th year and my 25th year, all here at Kempsville. She always says, “I’ve known Maxine longer than I’ve known my husband.” We’ve been here so long we’re now teaching children of former students. And some of our volunteers were volunteers as parents and now they volunteer as grandparents.

We’ve been teaching partners in the library since the beginning. We see each other as partners and that’s how we’ve been able to stay together so long. We have fun together and love what we do!


Blue Angels Flight


I can say [to my students], “I flew with him, on Blue Angel No. 7, I went on that plane.” I think about the relevance. We talk about this in class. Engineering, STEM design, the science and math behind everything we’re doing. And to be able to come here and touch it and see it and talk to people who do this every day, I can imagine the conversations when we get back to school about wanting to be pilots when they grow up.


I’m an artist


I just like working with my hands. I’ve been building things since I was little. I just want to weld and have a successful life and provide for my mom. My uncle is a welder. He kind of looks at me as his son. I feel like I want to do that for him. And I’m a good welder. I’m the best. It’s all in the hand-eye coordination. It’s all about art really. I’m an artist. After all, ‘art’ is in my last name – Artis.


Comfort Zone

Landstown HS Comfort Zone Aug 2016

I’m not zoned for Landstown; I’m in the academy here. So coming here, you have to step out of your comfort zone and get involved and do things you usually don’t do. I think that’s my biggest advice to freshmen because some of them are scared. I’ve gained so many new friends and learned a lot through teachers and lessons here, but I think the biggest thing that I’ve gained is that when you step out of your comfort zone good things can happen to you.


My hope

New Castle Lesa Johnson

As I get ready for the first day of school, my heart is full of hopes and dreams for the new school year. My hope is to get to know each student and bring out the best in them. My hope is that this class will form a close knit team that celebrates each other’s uniqueness and gifts. My hope is that my students are risk takers and are not worried about making mistakes. My hope is that my classroom is a place of joy.  My hope and dream is that each student walks away from this year with a love of learning.


Work behind the scenes

Distribution Services Gary Waddell

We work behind the scenes. Everyone looks at teachers and staff, and that’s what you want the public to focus on. Behind the scenes, people may not say, “Hey, you did a good job,” but you know that even though it’s toilet paper or a drum set or whatever, some kid needs that stuff every day – stuff they may take for granted. It just doesn’t magically appear in a school. Somebody has to deal with it. Granted, it’s just me, but I feel like every day I make a difference, even though nobody sees me.


40th Year

Plaza MS Joe Burnsworth retiring

This is my 40th year in education. I’ve told people I’m retiring after this year. I’ve told my staff. People ask me if I’m excited, but I still have the whole year ahead of me. It’s still my school. They’re still my kids. I can’t say, I’m just going to put in this year. I want to leave it prepared for whoever comes and sits in that office so they don’t have three months to build an entire plane — the plane’s built and they can take off with it.

When I retire I still want to give back. I’d like to work with student teachers so that I’m still giving to kids and I’m still in schools but shaping them a different way. It’s no big surprise to anyone that we have to be always changing. These are not the same students I taught when I started teaching in 1977. They have all the information and all the exposure that my high school kids had. What they don’t have are the skills to deal with it. As teachers, as partners with parents, that’s our biggest job right now is helping them with this onslaught of information and the exposure to a world they don’t know how to deal with. I think our job has shifted as dispensers of information to coaches and helping them survive the world they will be facing.


Working in medical field

Tech Center Nursing Ocean Lakes junior

I’ve always been interested in the medical field. I’ve watched a lot of medical shows. It just intrigues me to see everything going on. I’m hoping to go to Duke for four years and get my RN. Then, maybe I’ll go back after a few more years and become a nurse practitioner and continue in that field. Most of my family has been in the medical field; it’s played a big role in my life. And I’ve gotten hurt a lot as a kid. I spent a lot of time in the hospital – lots of broken bones. I broke my growth plate in this wrist twice, and once in this one. I completely broke my arm when I went on a ski trip. The doctor popped it back into place by squeezing it. I’ve cracked my head open three times – once on a trailer when I was two and twice on a trampoline on the back of the head.

Are you a gymnast?

No, just being a kid.

And, I slit my knee open when I was little. I still have a scar.


Making People Happy

Williams custodian Jimmy Scurry 08-29-16

I like that the staff is very, very friendly. It’s all about keeping teachers happy. Whatever they need, it just makes me feel good inside to get a smile from them, especially the new teachers. We want to welcome them home. We go out of our way sometimes just to help them. I like surprising them. For instance, the new art teacher wanted a cabinet. I told her I would do my best to find one. It took three days to find a cabinet for her. It gave us such joy to see her reaction. She was so happy. It’s all about making people happy.

What makes you happy?

Just working every day. Not too many people can say they have a job. And working for the school board has been good to me. Next year is going to be 15 years here, and I did eight years in another division. This year is going to be a good year. The Newtown third graders are going to be coming here to the fourth grade, and I’ve heard they are good students. That’s something to look forward to. Just having the staff and students back is nice.


Welcome Back Staff

OLHS welcome back staff Aug 2016

Our SCA likes to create a welcome back song and dance for all of our staff members here at Ocean Lakes. We do it because we feel it’s important to show our appreciation for them and all of the hard work they put in, and to set the tone for welcoming them back. It’s all about appreciation for us, so any way, large or small, that we can show appreciation to our staff – whether that be through our welcome back teacher breakfast or through different events throughout the year – we like to appreciate our staff. Especially the teachers, just because I know they work so hard to make Ocean Lakes the best place that it is and the place that we have all grown to love and will continue to love.


Clothing line

Kempsville HS EBA 9th grader clothing line Aug 2016

My ultimate goal is to start a line of clothing for girls and for guys that just inspires them to be themselves. I know I have friends who struggle with anxiety and depression and that just eats away at their self-confidence. So, my goal is to create clothing and accessories that let them wear what they want. I want to listen to people now and ask, “What do you need? What you do want? What’s going to help you?” If you listen, you find out their stories and you find out what people are in need of and desire.


My happy place

Creeds Casey Conger Aug 2016

This whole year, I said every single day, “You can never have too much happy.” I really feel like Creeds is my happy place. I don’t have to pretend. Creeds, this place, we’re on fire because it’s a happy place. People want to be here. Kids want to be here. That starts from showing that you can have fun at work. You can have fun in your job. Kids sense that and they want to be a part of it, and teachers sense that and they want to be a part of it. You can never have too much happy. I feel like our school is doing well because people want to try new things there’s no complacency. Our kids score well, but what else can we do? Let’s continue to strive and continue to reach.


Our busiest time of year

Distribution Services Scott Spurgeon

We’ll have people come through here and say, “Oh, since school’s not in session, this is your quiet time.” No, it’s our busy time. I would say our busiest time is really from the last few weeks of school with graduation – because we’re involved with that, taking everything to the convention center, like metal detectors and stanchions – through even a couple of weeks after school gets started. For this time of year, everybody wants to be first on the list to get their deliveries. That’s probably the hardest part of the job. I wish we could, but it doesn’t work that way. I like that it’s busy and time goes by fast. At the same time, that’s what I dislike. What happened to summer? It’s over.


Always learning

Corrin Lundquist

I haven’t stopped learning from VBSchools. When I was a student I learned things that would help me get to college. Now, through my internship here, I’ve learned things that will help me get a job in the real world. I may not even go into public relations at all, but, with what I know now, it will help me with life.

I like producing things. Seeing my words in public on something or a graphic I created is just such a cool feeling. It’s a tangible thing. I can say, “I did this.” I want to be a writer, like a science writer, working with scientists as a technical writer to produce something for the public. I have a science background, so I want to use it. It’s unique because I’m good at writing but I also get science. I like science a lot. I majored in it my first two years in college. I was a chemistry major. I just didn’t like it enough to want to keep doing it. So, me knowing chemistry and knowing how to write, it’s hard to find people like that, I think.

What I really, really enjoy is copy editing, but there are not too many places you can just do copy editing. Also, if you copy edited all day you would drive yourself nuts.


Busy summer

Busy summer Brickell 7th grader

I was pretty busy this summer. A couple of days after school ended, we went to New Hampshire to visit my grandparents. Then in mid-July we went on a caravan tour around the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park and Lake Powell. My favorite part was going to Zion National Park. One night we were standing outside and they have this huge tree there and around it were 20 deer. And we saw a ring-tailed cat. It’s kind of like a raccoon, but not exactly. We did that for a week and that was a lot of fun because I’ve never been on a plane before. And then we went to Florida to visit my cousins, and we watched the beginning of the Olympics with them.

Was that your second time on a plane?

No, we drove. It takes 12 hours. We also drove to New Hampshire. We drive there for Christmas and for summer every year and that’s like 14 hours.