Rezoning Timeline for New Schools Announced

October 18, 2017

Suffolk Public Schools will open two new schools in September 2018.  The new Florence Bowser Elementary School, located on Nansemond Parkway, will house 1,000 students.   The new Col. Fred Cherry Middle School, located on Burbage Drive, will house 800 students. Designed to be future-ready, both schools have open areas for flexible, project-based learning activities.


School administrators and staff are currently working through data to develop rezoning options.  The current student population of Driver Elementary School will most likely be moved to the new Florence Bowser Elementary School, as well as some students currently attending the overcrowded Creekside Elementary School.  Driver will close as an elementary school and transform into the Excel Academy at Driver, a personalized learning center designed to accelerate learning and achievement of students who have not met success in a traditional classroom.  Col. Fred Cherry Middle School is expected to alleviate overcrowding at John Yeates Middle School.


Timeline for rezoning decisions:

  • Thursday, November 9, 2017
    • 4:30 p.m. – Suffolk School Board Work Session: Rezoning Criteria presented to Board
    • 6:30 p.m. – Public Input Session #1
    • Both sessions will be held in City Council Chambers, located on the first floor of City Hall at 442 W. Washington St.

  • December 2017
    • Rezoning proposals made available to the public on the school division’s website

  • Thursday, January 11, 2018
    • 6:30 p.m. — Public Input Session #2
    • City Council Chambers, located on the first floor of City Hall at 442 W. Washington St.

  • Thursday, February 8, 2018
    • 7 p.m. — Formal presentation to School Board
    • City Council Chambers, located on the first floor of City Hall at 442 W. Washington St.

  • Thursday, March 8, 2018
    • 7 p.m. — School Board votes on final rezoning plan
    • City Council Chambers, located on the first floor of City Hall at 442 W. Washington St.


Col. Fred Cherry Middle School – architectural rendering











Florence Bowser Elementary School – architectural rending








Bullying Prevention Month – Unity Day is Oct. 25

October 16, 2017

October is Bullying Prevention Month


Childhood bullying is a significant problem nationwide. It can cause school absenteeism, mental and physical stress, poor school performance, poor self-esteem, and in some cases, school violence. Statistics show that 160,000 children in the United States miss school each day as a result of being bullied.   “More than one of every five school-aged children report being bullied,” said Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, which sponsors Unity Day and founded National Bullying Prevention Month in 2006. “It’s important these students know they are not alone and that they have the right to feel safe. By joining together and wearing ORANGE on Unity Day, we can send the unified message that we care about student’s physical and emotional health and that bullying will no longer be accepted in this society.”


Schools throughout SPS will participate in Unity Day by wearing orange on Wednesday, October 25.  The theme is “Together against Bullying: United for Kindness, Acceptance, and Inclusion.”  Wearing orange on Unity Day sends a powerful message of support, hope, and unity again bullying.


Teachers, school administrators, and parents play a critical role in creating a climate where bullying is not tolerated. It has been proven when adults and children stand together, bullying ends. Visit this link to view the Bullying Prevention Month Resource Guide, as well as VSBA President Bill Kidd’s public service announcement on Bullying Prevention Month:  For national resources, visit


The bullying prevention efforts in Suffolk Public Schools include school-level campaigns, classroom discussions led by guidance counselors, and an expanding school-wide programs which teach, model and provide incentives for positive behavior.  In addition, the division has an anonymous Bullying Tip Line — (757) 538-5438 – and an online Bullying Complaint form.   Information on what SPS considers to be bullying is highlighted at as well as in the Student Handbook and the Student Code of Conduct. Call Dr. Suzanne Rice, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, at 925-6750 for more information.


Ditching the Pencil — National Writing Day

October 18, 2017

Suffolk Public Schools Struts Its Digital Literacy for National Writing Day


Each year, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) designates October 20th as National Day on Writing to recognize writing’s critical role in literacy and its impact on culture. According to the organization’s website: “People tend to think of writing in terms of pencil-and-paper assignments, but no matter who you are, writing is part of your life.  It’s part of how you work, how you learn, how you remember, and how you communicate.  It gives voice to who you are and enables you to give voice to the things that matter to you.”


Suffolk Public Schools’ students and teachers recently shared their thoughts on the upcoming celebration while showing off their digital writing skills.  Skill-preparation for the 21st century, including digital literacy, is a major SPS initiative.


John Yeates Middle School English teacher Lauren Rubash echoes the district’s focus: “Technology has been an asset in my classroom, especially when it comes to writing. Using technology to complete various writing tasks helps prepare students with skills to succeed in the 21st century.”


Joshua Washington, an 8th-grader at John Yeates Middle School, wants everyone to know composing on a Google Chromebook “is hands-on and easy to do.”  Washington particularly likes the cut-and-paste features that allow him to quickly edit his writing.  “I also like to use the Google Documents program from my phone,” says 13-year-old Washington.  “I can use Google Docs from my phone, even at home if I want.  Revising writing is easy.  The program shows with red and blue underlines where I should edit my work.”



Classmate Collin McDonald added that he’s learned to be a better writer, using the digital option, and that it’s “faster than on paper.”  Using a digital peer editing checklist, McDonald and Washington digitally conference over their written introductions in Sabrina Hayes’ English class.  Hayes’ students use a checklist to evaluate one another’s writing and a discussion board for writing conferences with the teacher and each other.


“Our students use a discussion board to ask questions and work through writing problems,” explained Hayes.  “I can feel my device vibrating in my hand, so I know they are active on the discussion board.”   The collaboration and problem-solving skills are evident as Hayes’ 25 students are fully engaged in the writing process.  “As an English teacher, I make it a priority to help students find their voice in writing,” she said.
“Too often, I have students coming to me expressing their angst for writing, not realizing the power that writing gives them in life.”


English and geography teacher Karen Pierce discussed the importance of teaching writing before assigning writing:  “Once students understand how to write, they can compose wonderful pieces on a variety of topics.”  Pierce engages JYMS students with a digital tool to help exhibit qualities of good writing.  Students like Isabella Brown and India Davis use Pearson Perspective (pictured right) to analyze essays written by former students on an SOL Writing test. “This interactive program lets students discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the writings using the universal language taught in class,” Pierce added.


To commemorate National Writing Day’s 7th anniversary, NCTE invites everyone to visit and participate via Twitter using the #WhyIWrite hashtag.


For additional information on the writing program throughout Suffolk Public Schools, please contact Megan Britt, English Instructional Specialist, via email at








2018-19 Budget Process Underway

September 25, 2017

Click on the image for a downloadable PDF to print.

Budget Process Chart_2017

Residential Governor’s Schools Accepting Applications for Summer 2018

October 18, 2017

Summer Residential Governor’s Schools provide gifted high school juniors and seniors with intensive educational experiences in foreign language, visual and performing arts; humanities; mathematics, science, and technology; or through mentorships in marine science, medicine and health sciences, or engineering.

Each Summer Residential Governor’s School focuses on one special area of interest. Students live on a college or university campus for up to four weeks each summer. During this time, students are involved in classroom and laboratory work, field studies, research, individual and group projects and performances, and seminars with noted scholars, visiting artists, and other professionals. In the three mentorships, students are selected to work side-by-side with research scientists, physicians, and a variety of other professionals. A director and a student-life staff provide supervision of students 24 hours a day, throughout the program. For more information, please contact Dr. Maria Lawson-Davenport, Supervisor of Advanced Instruction K-12 at or 757-925-6760.


State of the Schools Breakfast – Nov. 14

October 16, 2017

The 2017 State of the Schools Breakfast and Learning Fair will begin at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, November 14 at the Hilton Garden Inn.

  • Hear from Superintendent Dr. Deran R. Whitney about the challenges and successes of Suffolk Public Schools, while enjoying a light breakfast.
  • Following a video presentation, visit hands-on, student-led demonstrations at the popular Learning Fair.  Similar to a science fair, the Learning Fair will have “demonstration areas” where students explain their activity, and offer guests a chance to try it for themselves. In past years, highlighted projects included drone technology, Lego robotics, forensic crime scene investigations, and computer coding by elementary students. The cost is $10 a person or $100 per table.
  • Kindly respond by Tuesday, Oct. 31st by calling 925-6752 or emailing



2-Minute Drill for 9/21/17

September 26, 2017

Check out our latest 2-Minute Drill, featuring Dr. Deran R. Whitney. Let’s make it a great year!

Watch the latest 2-Minute Drill here.


Register for College & Career Readiness Fair

October 3, 2017

WHAT:        College & Career Readiness Fair

WHO:          Students in Grades 7-12, and Parents

WHEN:        Saturday, November 18
WHERE:      King’s Fork Middle School


Link here to REGISTER NOW.

Reservations encouraged.  Walk-In participation allowed.

  • 7:30 a.m. – Registration Opens
  • 8 a.m. – Opening Remarks in Auditorium
  • 8:30 a.m. – Workshop Session 1
  • 9:30 a.m. – Workshop Session 2
  • 10:30 a.m. – Workshop Session 3
  • 11:30 a.m. – Workshop Session 4
  • 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – College Info Tables and Other Exhibitors

Workshop sessions on a variety of topics within the areas of Planning for High School, Preparing for College, and Transitioning to the Workforce.  Colleges, schools, and employers will also be available at information tables throughout this event.


Does Your Organization have Community Service Opportunities for High School Students?

August 9, 2017

Community Service Required for Graduation

If you are a community organization with Volunteer Opportunities available to high school students, click here to share your information. 


The community service requirement is designed to promote civic responsibility through active participation in service experiences, to enhance the students’ ability and desire to impact the community, to foster a sense of caring for others, and to develop a habit of volunteer service to those in need as a part of the College and Career Readiness initiative.  Students must earn 50 hours of community service before graduation.

The information contained herein is distributed by Suffolk Public Schools as a public service. The community service opportunities listed here from organizations outside of Suffolk Public Schools are not sponsored, endorsed, or in any way connected to Suffolk Public Schools or the Suffolk City School Board.