Tuesday, August 7, 2018


Welcome back to a great year of learning!

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher wrote: Nothing endures but change.  Nowhere is this truer than in the field of education and here at Woodbrook as we get ready to begin the 2018-19 academic year!

I hope your summer vacation has been relaxing and filled with laughter and learning while providing you with memories for years to come. Research shows that allowing ourselves to take a break increases our productivity and creativity because it refreshes the mind and replenishes our mental resources allowing us to become more relaxed, recharged and ready to start something new. It is with great excitement and anticipation that we begin our new school year with you. I am so delighted that you are part of our amazing learning community and welcome and value your positive energy and dedication to excellence in your child’s education. We are very much looking forward to working with you and your children in our newly designed learning spaces, using a multi-age pedagogical instructional approach that meets the individual needs of all learners.

The start of a new school year is always a moment of great anticipation, excitement, and at times fear.  Whether your family is new to Albemarle County Public schools, new to Woodbrook, or you are simply returning to your school after a fun-filled summer, this is going to be a very special moment for all. For everyone: students, families, and staff, there is that wonderful sense of a new beginning and a fresh start and this will only be further enhanced when we walk through the front doors of a whole new school on that first day!  It is natural for students to have a bit of anxiety and maybe even a few questions – who will my teacher be, what will my teacher be like, who will be in my class, etc. Nevertheless, the focus should always be on the new upcoming adventure of learning and growing. There is never a more exciting time to be in education or to attend school than when a child is in elementary school. A key responsibility of ours as parents is to help our children embrace this moment and prepare them to get the most out of this experience.

There are a number of things that you can do as parents to make this educational experience as positive, productive, and worthwhile as possible. As a parent, you can help create a climate of positive anticipation.  If possible, take time before school begins to visit us. We will be excited to share our new school with everyone starting on Tuesday-August 15th. Feel free to walk the grounds and take in the beautiful changes. We invite you to walk the hallways, explore all of the new learning spaces, and begin to make everything feel familiar for your child. This will be “their” school and we all want them to feel a sense of pride and passion in being there.  For your child, encourage that sense of “can’t wait to get to school” and together build joy and excitement for their learning.

Prepare for an adventure...This educational adventure is real and all about change, growth, and development.  There is so much that is happening in our schools today. The designing of learning spaces that are both collaborative and flexible, the creative use of technology and a focus on the development of “21st century learning” through Maker Infused and Project-based Learning. Collectively we are providing our students with a variety of pathways to learn in new and exciting ways.  Your child will learn to collaborate, communicate, think creatively and critically, and they will develop a strong sense of character. All of these traits come from our commitment to our values, beliefs and mission and can only occur when school and home are working closely together. School today looks and feels differently than it did when you and I went to school. This is that tremendous sense of momentum that is evident in good schools today as we prepare our children for a world that is also changing rapidly.  The skills that your child’s education will produce will have an impact on how they learn and will ultimately be the key to their future success.

Each school year brings new faces and ideas. We recognize and honor the many contributions made by those who have recently completed their service at Woodbrook, while welcoming the arrival of new staff who are sure to affect growth in our learners.  I cannot wait for you to meet and greet new and returning staff. When you visit, I hope that you will make a point to drop in the main office and introduce yourself to our new and amazing Assistant Principal, Ms. Jennifer Underwood. She is so excited to meet the students and their families. While in the office, you will also notice a couple of other new and important individuals. We welcome Ms. Yolanda Gonzalez and Ms. Lourdes Graves to our front office staff. Yolanda and Lourdes will be joining Ms. Anita Taylor. Our enthusiastic office team is registering new families, ordering needed materials, updating student files, finalizing class rosters and so many other things. Together these individuals will do all that they can to ensure that you and your child’s needs are met in ways that make coming to Woodbrook each day a positive experience. They are sure to be very busy as we work diligently to open our new office space to be prepared for our first day of school! Our hard working and conscientious custodians under the leadership of Mr. Joe Gains are working tirelessly to clean and move things as we unpack our school and prepare our new classrooms for our students.

Our amazingly talented and appreciated PTO is gearing up to welcome families, provide volunteer opportunities, and offer other exciting events and programs. We are indeed a joyous and caring community with the common goals of nurturing responsible, caring students and promoting high-level learning.  Under the incredible leadership of our co-presidents, Jen Smith and Dana Griffin, we ask that you become an active member of this important school organization. It will strengthen your understanding of your child’s school while providing you with a network of friends and supporters for years to come.
Our skilled and devoted staff has been planning and preparing for your child throughout the summer, while making sure that they too make time to relax and recharge.  Woodbrook teachers are committed to making a difference. They want to have a positive impact on your child and above all, they want to provide them with an engaging and joyful learning experience that supports them in becoming independent learners. To make this happen our teachers have been busy engaging in a variety of activities that enhance the work that they will do with your child throughout the school year. In June, we had nine of our returning teachers join nine of our new teachers in attending our school division’s Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction Institute to deepen their understanding of instructional strategies that lead to powerful learning experiences for our students. These teachers will serve as teacher leaders in this work so that all classrooms exhibit best practice when it comes to teaching and learning. We also had a team of 10 teachers; four of them new to our staff facilitate our 4-week summer school program. This opportunity engaged teachers in a co-teaching model and helped them to begin to build relationships with some of our newest redistricted students. Almost all of our new teachers engaged in a week-long Responsive Classroom professional development workshop that placed a focus on the importance of building relationships inside our classrooms and across our school. In July almost all of the staff joined me as we kicked off a yearlong learning journey around co-teaching. It’s not at all surprising that throughout the summer, every Woodbrook teacher opted into one or more professional development opportunities that aligned with their interest and our school division’s goals. This kind of commitment speaks to the high caliber of teachers we have at our school. They model life-long learning for our students and never settle for giving anything less than their best! Make time this year getting to know them and allow them to get to know you better. Appreciate the fact that they want to partner with you in helping to nurture and support your child.  Our teachers will be your child's biggest champion! Great schools always come back to the relationship between the child and the teacher.

Be sure and find ways to engage yourself in school life – your child will notice and respond. I want to say “thank you” to our incredible staff for their amazing professionalism and incredible energy as they prepare for the start of the school year. Their commitment to ensuring that Woodbrook remains a celebrated and successful school is awe-inspiring!

As the principal of this amazing school, I feel honored and privileged to have the opportunity to work with such outstanding students, staff, families and community members.  It is a gift to be able to share my passion for public education with such a dedicated, supportive and hardworking group. I am confident that we will have a productive and enriching year as we continue our mission of developing compassionate, innovative, collaborative learners prepared to access and contribute to the ever-changing world. Make the educational experience at Woodbrook “a way of life,” not just the place where you “send” your children.  Make it something special that you all share and benefit from together. Trust our staff and value all that they will be doing for your child and when you see something that needs attention drop by and talk with me. I am here to serve you and your children. Above all else, cherish these years with your child. Never lose sight of the fact that time moves quickly and the growth that you see on a daily basis will seem to flash by you in no time. Appreciate the fact that never in their lives has your child had so many adults looking out for their best interests.  Home and school together make a tremendous partnership and the beneficiary of all of that love and care, challenge and support, nurturing and mentoring, is ultimately your child. Helping our children get a strong and vibrant education is a gift – a priceless gift that will last a lifetime.

Thank you for allowing us to give this gift each day to your child!

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WHAT CAN WE BUILD TOGETHER? Welcome back to a great year of learning! Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher wrote: Nothing endures but c...