Goochland County’s school division is aiming for five Cs this year — and they’ve just been awarded $50,000 to help get them there.

Earlier this month, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that Goochland was among 13 school divisions across the state that will receive funding to develop or implement programs that promote Virginia’s 5 C’s — critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship — while preparing students for careers and postsecondary education.

Eight school divisions, including Goochland’s, received initial planning grants, while five divisions were awarded funding to support implementation this fall of previously planned innovative programs.

The grants are for the 2019-2020 school year.

“Modernizing instructional approaches in our schools helps to improve educational outcomes and adapt to the needs of a 21st-century economy,” said Governor Northam. “These grants will allow our teachers to design innovative programs that pair classroom learning with the professional skills and experiences required for success after high school, regardless of whether Virginia students are college bound or plan to enter the workforce.”

Funding in Goochland County will be used to develop a project-based, interdisciplinary program at Goochland High offering students an individualized approach to learning through career and technical education academies. The programs will focus on health and public safety, communications, agricultural and natural resources, STEM, business and marketing, and manufacturing and construction. Planned innovations include competency-based assessment of student progress, virtualization of student learning, and senior capstone projects.

Stephen Geyer, assistant superintendent for instruction for Goochland County Public Schools, was a key member of the team that secured the grant, and said last week that the funding will offer a chance to experiment with new ways of reaching students.

“There are aspects of teaching and learning that are timeless, but we always need to pursue new ways to engage students, provide a spark for learning, and prepare them for a lifetime of success after high school,” Geyer said. “The grant we wrote aims to do all three by breaking down some walls that typically separate core disciplines like math, English, science, and history and other high school departments like career and technical education, world languages, and fine arts.  I am so proud of our team for continuing to push the boundaries of a traditional school experience with a focus on what’s best for kids.”

The 2018 General Assembly authorized up to $500,000 in competitive grants in 2019 for school divisions to plan high school program innovations approved by the Virginia Department of Education, or to implement previously approved plans. The legislature defined the essential elements of high school program innovation as including the following: student centered learning, with progress based on proficiency; “real-world” connections aligned with local workforce needs and emphasizing transitions to college or career or both; and varying models for educator supports and staffing.

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