Board Accepting Applications for Interim School Board Member – Sleepy Hole Borough

April 11, 2014

The Suffolk City School Board is seeking applicants to fill a vacancy on the School Board as the current Sleepy Hole Borough representative in unable to complete the current term of office for that position.

An INTERIM SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER will be selected to serve through December 31, 2014.

A Special Election will be held to fill the unexpired term of the representative of the Sleepy Hole Borough (which expires December 31, 2016).

Persons interested in applying for consideration as INTERIM SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER for the Sleepy Hole Borough must submit this form, together with additional information/resume the applicant may wish to provide.   The application, and additional information, must be received by Cynthia B. Chavis, Clerk of the Suffolk City School Board, no later than 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 (located in the School Administrative Offices, 100 North Main Street, Suffolk Virginia).


Click here for APPLICATION.

Board Approves 4-Tier Schedule for 2014-15

April 11, 2014

At its April 10 meeting, the Suffolk School Board approved the following school hours for the 2014-15 school year.  Link here to view the full videotape of the 4-10-14 School Board meeting.


Proposal 1 – 4 Tier Bell Schedule

Middle School – 7:25-2:00     (7 am Bus Arrival)

High School - 8:25-3:00      (8 am Bus Arrival)

Elementary A – 9:20-3:35    (8:50 Arrival)

  • Driver, Florence Bowser, Hillpoint, Kilby Shores, Mack Benn, Northern Shores

Elementary B – 9:35-3:50    (9:05 Arrival)

  • Booker T. Washington, Creekside, Elephant’s Fork, Nansemond Parkway, Oakland, Pioneer



VIDEO to WATCH: State of the Schools & the 5 C’s

April 2, 2014

Check out this top-notch video which had its debut at the April 1st State of the Schools breakfast & Learning Fair.

Discover how Suffolk Public Schools’ classrooms are teaching the 5 C’s — Communication, Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Compassion.


Link here to You Tube.

Accepting Applications – Gifted Education, Early Start, Integrated Preschool

April 8, 2014


Suffolk Public Schools is now accepting student nominations for next year’s Gifted Education program for students in grades 3-8. Parents, teachers, administrators and community members can nominate a student for gifted services by Saturday, April 26. LINK HERE FOR A NOMINATION FORM. Forms should be submitted to the school’s gifted teacher or Carol Kennedy-Dickens, Supervisor of Advanced Instruction, via e-mail to With parent permission, nominated students will be evaluated in May.


Click here for the the Early Start Pre-Screening Form for 2014-15The Early Start Program is an “At-Risk” program for children who turn 4 years old by September 30, 2014 that need an extra year to prepare for success in kindergarten. Pre-screening applications are available on the Suffolk Public Schools website and in each elementary school.Screenings will occur for both child and parent June 17 through July 08 2014. This screening will allow school officials to select children according to their needs. Forquestions regarding this program, contact Keesha Hicks at 925-6760.


Suffolk Public Schools operates classrooms for children who are developmentally delayed, ages 3 to 5. Delays in cognitive, motor, communication or perceptual skills provide the basis for a preschool student’s placement in the program. The integrated program at Florence Bowser, Kilby Shores, Mack Benn, Jr. and Northern Shores Elementary Schools offers the opportunity for children without disabilities to join the preschool classroom daily to develop friendships and learn together through play. Suffolk Public Schools is currently looking for parents of children without delays who are interested in exploring the opportunities provided to all children in this classroom. Students must reside in the city of Suffolk to be considered for this program.  Students will follow the 2014-2015 elementary school schedules.  Children without disabilities must be 3 years old by September 2, 2014 to be considered. There will be no tuition charge required for the children selected and transportation will be provided for students who will attend their home zoned schools. There are a limited number of openings for each preschool site. Questions may be directed to Stephanie Potter, school psychologist for the Early Childhood Resource Center, at 925-6767. If you would like to apply, please use this link: to be directed to the online application.Applications must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. Friday, April 25, 2014 for children to be considered for the enrollment and interview process.

City-Wide Teachers of the Year Announced

April 8, 2014

Congratulations to Audrey Casazza, Suffolk Public Schools’ 2014 City-Wide Teacher of the Year, who teaches 6th-grade mathematics at King’s Fork Middle School.Audrey Casazza

Now in her 14th year of teaching, Casazza is known for setting high, but practical academic goals for her students … and also for helping students become self-directed learners.  She explained: “I expect students to be successful, to be engaged, and to be excited about learning.  Lessons are differentiated and structured to engage students.”  She uses kinesthetic activities, mnemonics, and cues to connect prior and new material.

Principal Jennifer Presson said: “No question is too small or too big, no skill practiced in isolation, no student need left unattended.  Her understanding of how to unlock the mystery of mathematics for middle school students is remarkable.  Her enthusiasm for math is contagious … Even the most reluctant students develop confidence in math.”

Seventh-grader Jacob Greening credits Mrs. Casazza with providing the foundation for his success in pre-algebra this year.  “She puts every single bit of her effort into doing her job and teaching her students in a variety of ways,” he said.

Improving parent involvement in their children’s education is part of her mission.  She asked: “How do we convince parents that education is not just important, but essential to their child’s future success?”  In her letter to parents at the start of a new school year, Casazza writes: “I truly believe in your child’s potential.  I want your child to believe in themselves.  Most of all, I want your child to have a good year and together, we can make this happen.”

Outside of the classroom, Casazza has been active in the Suffolk Special Olympics, Relay for Life, scouting, and tutoring.  She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Dowling College in New York.


Congratulations to Suzanna Hodges, an 11th-grade English teacher at Nansemond River School, who has been named the 2014 City-Wide Rookie Teacher of the Year.  Graduating valedictorian from Nansemond River High just four years ago, Hodges already has school spirit and a deep appreciation for the teaching staff.

Suzanna Hodges

Even with the challenge of switching from student to colleague, Hodges recognizes her youth benefits the strength of her connections with students just a few years younger than her.  For example, she recently challenged students to summarize a novel in “Twitter speech.”  Instead of summarizing in the traditional paragraph form, students had to limit each section of the summary to 140 characters or less and include appropriate hashtags and lingo.

Hodges said: “The process of a teacher, much like the writing process, is never complete. There is always a way to improve a lesson, and always a different method through which to reach all of the students. I can honestly say, these past five months have been the most tiresome, exhausting, stressful, rewarding months of my life and I will work hard each day to ensure my students receive my very best each and every day, year after year.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University.


Mallorie Jones, a special education teacher at Northern Shores Elementary School, has been named the 2014 Elementary School Teacher of the Year.Mallorie Jones

In the classroom for five years, Jones developed a passion for children with special needs because her brother was born with cerebral palsy. For that reason, she believes building positive relationships with students and families is vital.

She wrote: “Children in special education often feel success less frequently than their general education peers, and their parents are constantly barraged with reminders that their child is failing to meet standards that the kids next door are gracefully leaping over.  This sets an air of discouragement for all involved.  It is my job as the special education teacher to create opportunities for my students to feel success again and for parents to see just how much their child can accomplish.”

Jones demonstrates her devotion to teaching by painting her face to read A Bad Case of Stripes or donning a pink tutu and cat ears to portray the character in Chester.  She also coaches the Odyssey of the Mind team at John Yeates Middle School, supporting former Northern Shores’ students who wanted to continue in this creative competition.

Jones earned her bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University.


Jo Ann Murray has been named the 2014 High School Teacher of the Year. A 22-year classroom veteran, she teaches 9th-grade English at Nansemond River High School.Jo Ann Murray

Focusing on freshmen means Murray provides the foundation for students’ success in English their next three years of high school and beyond.  While grammar lessons and Shakespeare studies can be dull, Murray’s students say they are successful in their communication skills because she made the subject engaging and interactive.

Murray said providing an equitable education for all students is important to her.  She wrote: “I have no control over the economic situation of the area in which I choose to teach, but I can control the equity in my own classroom.”  She recognizes that not all students have families who can help them at home or resources available at home such as Internet access, printers, project supplies, or even a public library card.

Beyond the classroom, she spearheads the school’s connections with the Suffolk Education Foundation and the March of Dimes.  She helps with the Beta Club, National Honor Society, Anime Club, and Writing Club.

Murray earned her bachelor’s degree from The College of William & Mary, and her master’s degree from Old Dominion University.


The city-wide winners will be celebrated … along with the school-level Teachers of the Year … at a banquet on May 1.

Each received a Chromebook tablet from Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney, who surprised them with the announcement in their classrooms on Thursday, March 20.