As the school year rapidly draws to a close I wanted to thank you for all of your support and encouragement as all of us tackled this new way of learning and teaching. All in all, I feel that we met the challenge and provided the best possible education to our students.
A few weeks ago I asked my students to share pictures of them learning at home and suggested that they send me two photos. One photo of them holding a sign of what they miss and the second holding a sign showing how they feel. Then I took those pictures and made a presentation to thank them for allowing me to be part of their life this year. These images of my students show the connection that we all have, it shows hope, it shows understanding, but most importantly it shows the amazing and miraculous humans that I am blessed to work with each day.
I would like to share it with you. [see above]
I hope you have a less stressful summer and hopefully in the fall we will be able to return to normal.
Suzanne M. Boss
Language Arts Teacher, Silver Sands Middle
Fox 35 News Highlights VCS Teacher during Teacher Appreciation Week
We would like to thank Fox 35 News for highlighting how hard all of our teachers have been working during this virtual learning world. For Teacher Appreciation Week, they did a story with one of our VCS veteran teachers, Joanne Miller. You might know her from her amazing Kindness Squad at Pride Elementary. Check out the Fox 35 article here: View Article. To keep connected to her students, Miller holds a large video call every day and then follows up with smaller video calls, and one-on-ones with any students that might need more assistance. She also has turned her car into a mobile library. She frequently drives to student’s homes to deliver books. Ms. Miller is just one of our many great teacher’s making a difference from a distance!
Teacher/Staff Appreciation at New Smyrna Beach High School
“Good Morning, I just wanted to share this with you. As you know this week is Teacher Appreciation Week. I woke up Sunday morning to find this sign in my front yard. Our amazing Administrators, Timothy Merrick, Jennifer Stach, Sue Hopkins and Julian Doster over the weekend took the time to deliver and place one of these signs at each employee’s residence (including SWC [School Way Café]) at NSBHS [New Smyrna Beach High School]. Words cannot describe how blessed we are to have such a great “A” Team. Mr. Krajewski would be proud! Mr. Merrick is doing an awesome and amazing job in his role as “Lead AP [Assistant Principal]” (Principal) and it is my privilege to be his secretary!”
Principal’s Secretary, New Smyrna Beach High School
The Amazing Shake Video (#4)
Today we share another video from Deltona Middle School's annual Amazing Shake competition. In this video, Taylan Santiago explains, “What does school mean to you?”
The Amazing Shake Video (#3)
Deltona Middle School's annual Amazing Shake competition was held despite social distancing guidelines. This year one of the tasks students were given was to create a video explaining, “What does school mean to you?”
Check out this video by Allyson Wilson where she explains how school has become more than just friendships and learning; it has changed her world view.
Volusia Students' Annual Art Contest is Now Virtual
The 48th Annual Volusia Students Create Exhibition is back, and virtual! Every spring, Volusia Students Create showcases artwork from students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. This year there are more than 120 pieces of artwork from 58 public schools throughout Volusia County.
Learn more and enjoy the full exhibition, virtually. Judging for this exhibition will take place virtually on May 15, with the winners being announced on May 18.
The Amazing Shake Video (#2)
Deltona Middle School's annual Amazing Shake competition was a huge hit! Despite social distancing guidelines, students found ways to create some creative videos answering the question, "What does school mean to you?"
Check out this winning video illustrated and narrated by Alyssa Gregory!
The Amazing Shake is a competition that places an emphasis on teaching students’ manners, discipline, respect, and professional conduct. Deltona Middle School holds this competition each year. For round 4, this year, students were asked to digitally answer the question "What does school mean to you?"
The following is a great video by Nayelie Lopez-Marrero on what school means to her.
I hope that you and your family are well. This tribute [Volusia County Schools did for front line Volusia County employees] was timely, beautifully presented and heartfelt. My sentiments are mutual and filled with immeasurable gratitude!
We are one body with many members striving to make a positive impact in the lives of our PreK-12th grade students and invested stakeholders.
Paulette McKibbins-Shed, M. Ed.
Support Facilitation and Consultation Teacher, University High
Good Morning Mr. Schwartz,
I hope this message finds you well. No one could have predicted how Covid19 would have changed our way of life, so I wanted to personally send a note to let you know how much I appreciate the hard work you and your staff have put into making the transition to online learning as smooth as possible.
I also wanted to acknowledge the TREMENDOUS work Ms. Buglisi is doing with her 1st graders! As we continue to become more comfortable with iReady and Canvas, she's been expanding her use of MS Teams to include more hands-on instruction time with her kids. This has done wonders for keeping Christopher engaged in the learning process and small group has now become the highlight of his week. I can only imagine the patience it takes to teach 6 yr olds on the use of audio and video 😳🤦🏾♀, so I was blown away when she introduced the whiteboard feature for today's math lesson. It's as close as we can get to being in the actual classroom and I can't thank her enough for the amazing work she's doing with, not only my child, but all of her students.
Her dedication to her students has always been apparent, but she continues to shine even during these difficult times.
There aren't enough flowers or gifts I can send to acknowledge how much she has blessed our family, but I hope sending this note to you, and our superintendent, will help me give her the recognition that she deserves.
Parent, Pathways Elementary
Good afternoon Superintendent Fritz.
We would like to personally thank you and the School Board for all of your time, dedication and efforts in bringing Volusia County Schools together during the pandemic. We know the decisions that had to be made over the last few months have been ones that no one in our lifetime have had to face. Knowing which direction to turn and how to accommodate all of the students during this change had to be difficult, but thankfully was done with as little interruption as possible in the children's education.
Before it was even official, the School Board came together and made a plan for Volusia County. It was a plan that we have proudly told family and friends about because we were impressed with the detail that came together in such a short amount of time and the significant amount of communication that came along with it to ensure everyone was on the same page. We have family and friends in other counties and in other states that are struggling with little to no direction for their kids and the completion of the school year, or worse, not completing the school year for them at all. We proudly have shared Volusia County's school plan with others in hope that other counties and/or states will follow our great example in the future.
Volusia County schools has been thorough and constant with communication in many forms, including but not limited to telephone calls, email and social media. We have been up to date on everything in a very timely manner and truly appreciate not having to wait for details to be shared with the students and with us.
This change could have been a complete disaster, but Volusia County Schools made sure that technology was available, printed copies were available and online resources were used in efficient ways, leaving no child without an opportunity to continue learning and growing.
Our daughter's teachers and school administration at Atlantic High School have also been fantastic. Communication between the schools and the parents, and even more so between teachers and students has been top notch. We can't thank Mr. Hinson, Mrs. Alves, Mr. Haughwout, Mr. Romeo, Ms. Whipple, Mr. Valle, Mrs. Holloway, Mr. Ebert and Mr. Bishop enough for what they have done over this last month, and will continue to do for the rest of this school year. We have seen the administration and the teachers step up for these students and show them that they matter. They have seen that even though they aren't meeting face-to-face, their education is important and will not diminish through this trial. Teachers have used the online resources available (Canvas, Microsoft teams, Edgenuity, email, etc.) to give these students the best education possible in the new environment. Although Atlantic High School has done a great job ensuring the students were very familiar with the online resources throughout the entire school year, our daughter was very concerned about this change. We definitely anticipated that she was going to struggle through this last 9 week period, but instead she smiles every day thankful for how this is turning out and thankful for what her teachers are doing for, and with her. Thank you AHS!! Fins have been way up for sure!
We know some of the younger children are struggling through these changes, and that some parents are frustrated that they are in a role they aren't familiar with, but if the schools are anything like what we have seen from Atlantic High School, we know that the resources are available to help everyone along and we hope the parents and teachers county wide are making full use of those resources.
We are certain you have heard a lot of negative through this pandemic on how things are working, but we, as parents, wanted to say thank you and to let you know that what you have put in place as our temporary alternative in Volusia County has been great and we thank you for this opportunity for our student.
Dan & Nichol Cox
ICP files were easy to download. 😊 Quick and easy! Appreciate the tab STUDENT VIEW. Clear to follow expectations.
Teacher, Port Orange Elementary
I wanted to share [my son's] grades so far with you. They have improved tremendously while being able to distance learn. We have had more communication with his teachers now then we ever had for 3 quarters.
He has failed every digital media project since day one. And now he's has received 100% with me taking the time to teach him the program to use.
He still struggling in his virtual math but his teacher has weekly tutoring session with him. This is the 1st quarter he did not have all F's!!!!
So when people complain the ICP isn't working for them, that's on them. You all and the schools have done great with helping children struggling like my son!!
Thank you-Happy Monday!!!
I love how the work is set up now… It's sooooo much easier to navigate. Reminds me of how they have it set up for online classes at DSC.
A Benefit of Florida's ICP: From one working mom who is just as frustrated as you are -- please remember the benefits on getting the 4th quarter of schooling in. Come 1st quarter next year, our children will not be so far behind. Schooling will not have been just dropped off or cancelled. My sister-in-law lives in Tennessee with 2 children. They stopped schooling all together. They have no ICP. Today they announced they may not be opening schools and they have over 2 & 1/2 months to go. Not only are her children home doing nothing, but teachers are not getting paid and getting laid off. It's scary out there. Once again, this on-line has it's ups and downs. The communication has not been the greatest. However, since this pandemic was not planned, I am willing to cut VCS a break. I'm glad our children are still learning and our teachers are still teaching. I'm pleased education isn't still important and safety has been considered. Thank you for allowing us a voice. Please continue to support the teachers. We look forward to getting back to our "normal" soon. Teachers, please have patience with us parents.
VCS Teacher of the Year, Josie Stumpf, reminds us that we are all human in a moving speech that prompts us all to reflect & show compassion during this unique time.
Check out our latest Volusia Way article detailing Teacher Assistant Mr. Potato Head: https://www.vcsedu.org/volusia-way/teaching-assistant-mr-potato-head
“As I read posts and news stories about teachers around the nation who are suddenly trying to teach online during this crazy time, I find myself appreciating my school and my district more and more. I don't know that most people in Volusia realize how forward thinking our district has been related to technology. There are districts that don't even provide teachers with laptops, let alone invest in the infrastructure that is making on-line learning possible. Some districts are floundering trying to figure out how to connect with their students at all. That is not what is happening in Volusia. Is it hard? Sure! Were some teachers and schools more prepared than others? Absolutely! Have there been bumps, mistakes, and misunderstandings? Of course! But every teacher in this district was better prepared than many teachers throughout the U.S. who are struggling on their own with no district technology support. I am thankful for the leadership in Volusia that pushed single sign-on for students, developed VPortal to have a single place for students to access all educational apps, developed teacher console on VPortal for teachers to control what their students can access, pushed the use of Canvas as an online learning management system for years, pushed Microsoft Teams for collaboration and communication for years, pushed to only adopt textbooks that had digital access, pushed to pay for digital resources like Edgenuity and iReady, pushed for a strong tech help desk, invested in digital learning teacher leaders on every campus and PLLs at the district and trained them, sent teachers and district staff to tech related professional development, and worked hard to ensure we had enough student devices in our district that we had no issues meeting students needs. Thank you to everyone who has had a hand in instructional technology for the past several years. Your leadership has proven to be invaluable! We will come out of this experience as even better teachers. ❤️”
Teacher, Spruce Creek High School
…I'd like [to] say THANK YOU for all the work you and your staff put into making our online transition easier. I know I appreciate it!!
Geometry Teacher, Mainland High
Good Morning Superintendent Fritz! I am sitting here this morning browsing through all of the educational resources that have been provided! I am in awe of the hard work and dedication that has gone into helping our Volusia County Educators continue helping our students with their academic success! A big thank you to you, and to all who have spent many long hours preparing all of the necessary materials for Phase Two!...
Teacher, Woodward Avenue Elementary
It truly is amazing how we all are collaborating, stepping out of our comfort zones, exploring, trying new things. I have made so many connections with my peers, my students, [&] parents. This is the ultimate Professional Development…and Growth. I ❤ my Volusia County Pre K Team.
ESE Teacher, Pride Elementary
I like the resources that are being used, they match what my students need. I also like the assignments in the quiz format that follow the lessons.
Teacher, Ortona Elementary
Grateful that this [Instructional Continuity Plan] vetting team is made up of members from all elementary departments, with equal grade level representation including ESE.
ESE Teacher, Citrus Grove Elementary
I have given my students a menu of projects to work during this quarantine. This includes everything from building their own 3D escape rooms to Digital Genius Hour. My students are working hard and with student choice- facilitating amazing projects! So far we have had Genius Hour projects on Badminton and even how to use Redstone in Minecraft to create digital projects! Students have been excited to share their work. During our class meeting this week, we will have the genius hour project about Badminton presented to the class so they can give peer feedback.
Teacher, Forest Lake Elementary
Thank you so much for taking the initiative on the PHASE 2 roll out. I went on today and it looks great. Very user friendly and manageable for even people who are not tech savvy. It seems very easy to implement so hopefully everything will go well…
Michael P. Buchanan
Teacher, Sunrise Elementary
I just finished doing a little snap shot of curriculum for Algebra 1B and I must say you nailed it.
Teacher, Atlantic High
I really liked Phase 1 because the students were able to have hands on experience! It was real for each lesson!! Kids and parents both enjoyed this!!
Teacher, Pathways Elementary
Good afternoon, I am finishing up my last PLC of the day and EVERY team has shared how well things are going and parents love it! Thank you for all you have done to make this happen. Kudos to you!
Principal, Coronado Beach Elementary
I have heard from 4th and 1st [grade students and parents] so far and everyone is loving the organization of this platform and we think it will be much easier for students and parents. Thank you very much!
Teacher, Academic Intervention, Osteen Elementary
I like the new Canvas module for phase 2! It's going to make it a lot simpler for students and parents to have nearly everything in one location. And despite some complaints that may come, it makes things easier for teachers, too.
Teacher, Blue Lake Elementary
I personally think this last phase is perfect! The changes were made to simplify things and I think it's a much easier platform to follow! Please let everyone know how much their hard work is appreciated!…
Academic Coach, Deltona Lakes Elementary
Hello again Dr. Fritz. I had the opportunity to look through the modules tonight and I'm super excited to share them with our teachers tomorrow. I think they will be very happy with how easy it is to navigate now. As we move forward into phase 2, I have so much to be thankful for…
- Thank you for listening to past concerns and making changes to better meet the needs of our students, families, and teachers.
- It was good seeing you today at Citrus Grove and even better seeing the smiles on our students' faces as they received their baskets. Thank you and Sheriff Chitwood for making that happen!…
Assistant Principal, Citrus Grove Elementary
We have been able to contact all 179 English Language Learners at Spirit Elementary. This successful communication has allowed for connecting these families with community resources and we have been able to provide them with technology to participate of the Instructional Continuity Plan. Most of our students are in the digital platforms and making adequate progress. Our families have expressed deep appreciation for all the help.
Nitza Morales Torres
ESOL Teacher, Spirit Elementary
Thank you for what you are doing to support the teachers and students. I appreciate you.
Teacher, Horizon Elementary
Thank you for all your hard work, and dedication. I can't imagine the difficulty, and frustration to meet everyone's needs. #VCSSTRONG!
Teacher, Volusia Pines Elementary
[I am] really happy we listened to feedback from teachers about the difficulty with uploading [in Canvas] and thankful that the quizzes are already available on Canvas.
Teacher, Citrus Grove Elementary
…Edgenuity Course now has guided notes for more sections. The guided notes are REALLY helpful; you fill them in as you watch the lesson. Many have sample problems worked out and definitions.
Teacher, New Smyrna Beach High
Shawna Young is tremendously dedicated to her students! I have now witnessed how difficult it is to produce effective guided notes, but I will get better! THANK YOU Shawna Young for sharing your notes. Rest assured you have made the life of teachers, parents, and students across Volusia County a lot easier with your guided notes.
Teacher, David C. Hinson Sr. Middle
I noticed that all questions [in Instructional Continuity Plan Phase II] are read to them which is super nice for the parents. I also love that they can look back easily in the book for the answers. The book is also in COLOR!!!
Second Grade Teacher, Cypress Creek Elementary
I am pleased with the fact that students no longer have to upload any files but that it's all embedded into Canvas. I also like that students are now doing grade level work in both ELA and Math. I think this format is going to be easier for both students and parents to navigate and make it easier for younger students in particular to work more independently which will be of great help to parents who are still working.
Teacher, Forest Lake Elementary
I have been able to communicate more frequently with our ESOL families during the implementation of the Instructional Continuity Plan. They have been very interested in the progress and acceleration of their children. This speaks to how much our parents value their student's education. Non-English-speaking parents are extremely appreciative of the support.
ESOL Paraprofessional, Forest Lake Elementary
At the beginning of Online Learning, I was not hearing back from many students. On April 6th, I decided to hold a competition between students in answering the daily riddle. The response has been amazing. Also, I create a daily sentence using as many letters as the first letter of the day. I challenge them to beat me, and guess what, they are creating the most imaginative sentences.
Teacher, Campbell Middle
Thanks for the info. I want to let you know the difference between the current paper packets and the packets for the first two weeks is absolutely amazing. They are so much easier to read; especially having a real math workbook. Instructions are easier, too. I know the first two weeks were put together in a short period of time. Congratulations to the folks who developed the lessons through the rest of the school year.
Grandparent, Osceola Elementary
I don't normally reply to emails sent from you or any other superintendent that I have had the privilege to work under, but I felt I needed to express my gratitude for your strong leadership during this unprecedented time. I appreciate your positive words of encouragement and your drive to do what is best for the students. We will get through this, and we will be stronger because of it.
Teacher, Citrus Grove Elementary
This morning I joined most of his (my grandson's) teachers on a conference call for his IEP meeting.
Together we set out goals for his success, noted his accomplishments and worked out objectives for his next year heading into 7th grade. What made this meeting so special was each educator took a moment from this chaotic chapter and was present to focus on the one. My grandson. And I realized this single meeting would be carried out many more times with many more families. During this most challenging harried time in history these remarkable educators gave us a gift of their time and focus to make sure as a family our needs were being met.
My appreciation and gratitude run deep.
We are human, during this time we must give ourselves and each other grace. NO ONE is an expert in this situation. We are ALL going to take missteps and realign, we need to give each other the space to do this. We ourselves are going to feel uncomfortable and unsure, this as a new place for everyone. This is okay, take in what you can and know you are doing your best. Spread love, spread joy, spread gratitude.
Today, I am grateful for a district that is open to feedback and teacher input. I am so proud of the many focus groups I have sat in and the changes that are happening. I am in awe of the ability to burden such negativity and resiliency to realign and continue to try by so many in positions I would never want to endure. I am honored to represent such amazing educators that will go to all lengths to stand up for and support their students…
As frustrated as I have been all this week, the introduction of Phase 2 actually seems like a light at the end of the tunnel. With everything in one place, as it seems to be, with the exception of iReady, this is going to be way easier for students. No uploading, downloading, figuring out how to share. And teachers won't have to look for assignments posted on Teams, in portfolios on Dojo, in emails or on Dojo parent messages. It's been like an Easter egg hunt for three weeks to figure out who submitted what and where it ended up. I think this Phase will put an end to that! At least I hope it will!…
Fifth Grade Teacher
…We may have a few missteps along the way but at the end of the day your [Principal Jennifer Williams] support, your leadership, your compassion for us and for our families, for students and their families is always present as we navigate this bump in the road.
You are very much appreciated. My thanks to our administration, leadership team and my colleagues — I couldn't do this without you. Thank you for listening and caring and being there when the frustration builds, but still responding with grace. I will endeavor to follow your lead and remember compassion and grace. Thank you.
Teacher, Citrus Grove Elementary
Hi everyone, Just wanted to say thank you to everyone on the other end of the phone in Tech Services. You've reimaged more laptops for our school, provided me a replacement laptop when mine wouldn't cooperate, provided clear tech advice for our families and staff, and the 20000 [Customer Support] team has answered our calls, even if I called at 3:55 [p.m.] with an ePortal question. Amazing team work going on in the background to help us all… Stay safe and well.
Principal, Galaxy Middle
"…Moving into Phase II, I was worried that things would change, and my students would get frustrated. I am so thankful the district chose to stick with the same platforms for our kids. As I have previewed the content from Canvas Commons, I used my own kiddo as 'guinea pig,' to see if it was student-friendly, and she's happy to report it is easy to use and loves the option to have stuff read aloud to her if she chooses. She was thankful for the reduction in i-Ready time, because although she enjoys the program, she was ready for some different types of lessons. As a mom and teacher it was evident how much thought and work has gone into making distance learning a positive learning experience for Volusia County Parents and Students. I know there are always bumps along the way, but whenever an issue has come up, help and friendly people have been a phone call away. Thanks for all you do."
Personalized Learning Leader, Fifth Grade Teacher at Blue Lake Elementary
"I just wanted to say thank you. As a mom and a teacher, this second phase is very reasonable. I am very grateful that we are being gentle with our students and families at this time. Please pass along my thanks to all involved in the process. Stay healthy!"
"I love to cook and in the past it's always been a tug of war to get her [my daughter] in the kitchen with me, but with you [Marcey Downey – Culinary Arts teacher at Creekside Middle] inspiring her she's so excited to be in the kitchen."
Parent, Creekside Middle
Thank you Dr. Fritz. As a teacher of 23 years at DeLand High and a mother of 4… this phase is very accommodating and realistic. Thank you!"
Teacher, DeLand High
I am thankful for the work our district put into phase I of the ICP. The delivery of packets and availability of online automated learning platforms allowed our teachers time. Teachers were able to focus on contacting families, troubleshooting technology challenges, creating flexible contact times for families and organizing Teams groups that would keep them connected to their students. instead of planning their own lessons and trying to upload them. Our school team was able to track students who were using technology and ensure they were making progress and assist families in overcoming barriers to packet and technology facilitate learning. They made the best out of an unprecedented situation and recognized the challenge teachers would be facing, eliminating the curriculum challenge from their plates!
Carrie Ann Devaney
Principal, Spirit Elementary
"It [Canvas] appears to be well-organized and user friendly. I think my students are going to be happier with regular live meetings; they will be seeing their teachers and classmates each day, and they will be able to have discussions and ask questions whole group regarding the lessons. Parents and teachers will be thrilled to not have to search or look in different places for assignments or ways to turn in assignments."
Teacher, Pine Trail Elementary
"Hi Dr. Carr, I just wanted to say thank you for your leadership, compassion, and support. I appreciate your caring response and supportive communication. I owe you a big hug when this all over."
Andrea L. Finkle
Teacher, DeLand High
I wanted to express my appreciation to you and your team for listening to parents and streamlining the Science/Social studies on Canvas this week. I know it is still a work in progress but my 5th grader has been navigating it like a pro this week. It is much more user friendly and he has been completing assignments in record time. He has even finished a book he was reading because he has had time to read for pleasure this week. His teachers have conducted meetings and offered riddles for students to answer as daily check ins This week has been a great improvement, so thank you for all you do!
Teacher, Spruce Creek High