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.


Important to keep positive

Landstown HS positive swimmer Aug 2016

I think it’s important to always keep positive for whichever situation you’re in because it’s in that moment, if you try and think positive, that something can happen.  So, including sports, it happens a lot. I’m a swimmer and it’s always during that last moment I can always go a little bit faster. I think, “Let’s do this.”

 Have you been watching the Olympics?

Yes! 23 gold medals for Michael Phelps. It’s amazing.


Working with a team

Tech Center senior - masonry Option 2

I learned that working with a team is sometimes the best way to go because we couldn’t really get all this done by ourselves. We learned how to work together and being precise because, at the end of the day, someone has to live here. So, you learn care along with the brick work. It’s not just masonry.

I want to be a merchant seaman, but after that I plan on maybe starting my own company for masonry. It’s a good trade. The best part about it is that it’s your own artwork. It’s very hands on. You lay those bricks. You strike it up. You do everything. It’s not like a machine is doing this; it’s you. And it’s going to be here almost for forever.


Summer studies abroad

Summer Studies in Israel VBMS teacher

Last summer I was in Israel studying about engaging in the Middle East. I was accepted into a fellowship program to study for four weeks about the conflict, learn about the land and go see everything in person. I was asked if I would be interested in going back to Israel this summer. It came full circle. This time I will be leading a group of 25 college kids, and then I’m going to Italy, England and France.

Right now I’m focused on making it my summer mission for myself to learn more, bring it back and let it fill in the blanks for my teaching. This year I was a social studies teacher so it helped me out a lot. It was great and the kids loved hearing the stories and seeing the pictures. They thought it was so cool because most people don’t go [to the Middle East]. It helped me connect with middle schoolers more.


I want to be an airline pilot

Airline Pilot 8thGrader CLMS

I want to be an airline pilot. We have a lot of friends who fly because it’s a military area. Ever since I was really young I’ve been interested in airplanes and I watch them. I was just so fascinated with them, and I love traveling. For the past few years, we’ve been going to Mexico. We’re going to Hatteras this year. I kind of want to go across the United States just because I haven’t done that yet. I really want to go to California because of the beaches.


Growing Up Moving On

Tech Center Early Childhood OLHS senior

I’m passionate about playing softball. I’ve been playing since I was so little. I’m going to Virginia Wesleyan to play with Coach Elliott. They were No. 1 in the country for Division III. I’ll be close to home, so my family will be able to come watch me play along with all my coaches and teachers.

I want to be a child life specialist – just taking care of children. I love seeing kids smile, giggle and laugh. It puts a smile on my face. I could walk in and have the worst mood ever. Then I come here and they tell me jokes and try to make me laugh. I’ve really connected with some of the kids over the past two years. I’ve seen them progress from the beginning of last year all the way to the end of this year. They’re going to kindergarten next year and I’m going to college. We’re both growing up. We’re both moving on to a new school. Bigger and better things.


This is my passion


This is my passion. This is my life’s work. I love what I do. I really love kids. I had the awesome opportunity of working as a gifted resource teacher at Luxford Elementary when I first came to Virginia Beach about seven years ago. There are students I have kept in touch with to see how they are doing. I just met three former students from my second grade gifted cluster class at Panera for breakfast. I thought they were just going to want to talk to me for about an hour. We stayed until 11:48 a.m. They’re all doing well. They are all going to the IB program at Princess Anne High School. They had a lot to tell me and we had a lot to catch up on. I needed that. It’s a great reminder of why we do what we do, especially when you leave the classroom. You never know what kind of impact you’re going to have.


Girls on the Run

Girls on the Run BettieFWilliams teachers

Girls on the Run promotes positive body image, self-esteem and healthy habits like exercising and eating right. It gives our girls something to do after school besides just going home.

We both love to run and we get to share it with them which is nice.

It’s about two days a week for three months, and they work toward a 5K at the end which is a huge accomplishment. At the end of the 5K they are so proud of themselves. We took pictures this year. It was fun to see their faces as they crossed the finish line because, for a lot of them, it’s their first race. It’s a big deal.

It’s important for the girls because, in today’s world, body image is a big thing and getting them ready to go to middle school with a positive self-image is important.


I love high school

I Love High School - Tallwood Freshman

I love high school. I had the best freshman year. It was so much fun! Getting involved is one of the first things I wanted to make sure I did. So I applied for the Spanish Honor Society because my mom is from Spain and that culture is very important to me. I really want to get immersed in that. Just getting inducted was so important to me. I am so happy I went to the first SCA general assembly meeting and that I went to City-wide SCA. It’s started my path. I know what I want to do these four years.

What do you want to do?


Reading Reenergizing

Renergizing and Reading Parkway ES Krista B Arnold

What I love about summer is the opportunity to catch up on my reading and to reenergize. And what I love about being a principal is there is a beginning, a middle and an end. Then there is this opportunity to review my thoughts, reenergize and start planning to get that enthusiasm back up again. We’re in the middle of that right now. We’re all talking about doing schoolwide classroom meetings in the morning, so right now I’m reading everything I can about classroom meetings and responsive classrooms. I read a book a week. I have a stack on my nightstand. I usually try to read my book talk book, a book I want to read and then a professional book at one time.

Seize opportunities

Tech Center TV Program Landstown senior Option2

I always loved television and movies so much, but I never knew there was a class that offered this in Virginia Beach. It was my mom that got me into the Tech Center program. I wasn’t 100 percent sure how this was going to turn out for me, but she was right. She’s always been right.

My plans for the future are to go to Hampton University and major in journalism and communications. After that, I would love to work in the television and film industry. I have a passion for both.

My advice to students is: if you have a dream, work hard to achieve it every day. You only have so many days to live so why not go big every single day while you have it? Don’t take anything for granted. Seize every opportunity you can. I wish I would have known that when I was younger, but I know it now. So just be involved and do as much as you can because you never know who you are going to be standing in front of.