Good news for the new school year

Published 7:43 pm Saturday, September 2, 2017

By Dr. Deran Whitney

Greetings to all of Suffolk Public Schools’ stakeholders.

As we welcome more than 14,000 students through our school doors on Tuesday, it is an honor to share recent accomplishments, summer projects, goals for the new year, and how you can support our schools.

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Based on preliminary Standards of Learning data, we have increased the number of schools that will be fully accredited and have moved one school to partially-accredited status. While more than 70 percent of our schools will be fully accredited, we are committed to reaching 100 percent.

Our continued focus on engaging all students is consistent with offering our specialty programs at each high school: International Baccalaureate at King’s Fork High; Project Lead the Way: Pathways to Engineering at Nansemond River High; and Project Lead the Way: Biomedical Sciences at Lakeland High. In addition, the new College and Career Academy at Pruden will offer two new programs: network administration with cyber-security infusion and computer systems technology with cyber-security infusion.

The College & Career Academy at Pruden now offers 15 industry recognized credentialing programs for interested high school juniors and seniors.

The new Florence Bowser Elementary and Col. Fred Cherry Middle schools are on schedule to open fall 2018, and both are more than 50-percent complete.

Several schools received building improvements during the summer — major painting, new carpet, gym floor refinishing, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades, to name a few.

Our goals for this year will continue to be improve student achievement, provide a safe and nurturing environment, provide strong leadership, provide meaningful professional development and strengthen collaboration with all stakeholders.

As we prepare for our students, we solicit all stakeholders’ assistance.

Parents are asked to become actively involved in their child’s education by asking about homework, meeting and communicating with your child’s teacher, and by attending school events. Parental involvement is key to student success.

Business and community members can assist our schools by offering students opportunities to volunteer. We now have a 50-hour community-service graduation requirement. Last year’s seniors met this expectation and we are certain our students can earn this even earlier with the community’s support.

In addition, we encourage businesses and community members to volunteer and mentor a student in our schools by registering through Volunteer Connect on our website,

Suffolk Public Schools is a community of professionals committed to do whatever it takes ensure students are provided the opportunity to reach their full potential.

We truly believe … Every Child a Star … Together We Help Them Shine!

Dr. Deran R. Whitney is the superintendent of Suffolk Public Schools. Email him at