Ferek’s Big Dream Wins Big

Turner Ashby High School Teacher Cindy Ferek A Farmers Insurance Thank A Million Teachers Winner

Rockingham County Public Schools is excited to announce that Ms. Cindy Ferek, health and physical education teacher at Turner Ashby High School, has been awarded a $100,000 grant by Farmers Insurance Company. Ms. Ferek was one of 15 finalists in the Farmers Insurance Thank A Million Teachers Dream Big Teacher Challenge. Today, executives from Farmers Insurance, Virginia Department of Education, and Rockingham County Public Schools surprised Ms. Ferek by visiting her classroom and presenting her with the $100,000 grant check. The announcement was met by the wild applause of students in Ms. Ferek’s class.


Cindy Ferek accepts her $100,000 award check from Farmers Insurance. Pictured: Bill Tibbens, Steve Walk, Cindy Ferek, Billy Haun, Sal Romero, and Doug Alderfer

On September 17, 2014, Ms. Ferek was notified that her proposal was one of the 15 finalists for the $100,000 grant. Farmers Insurance promoted a voting contest to determine the winners of the grants. Voting for the grants took place through the Farmers Insurance website, October 1 through November 30, 2014. Today’s visit was the announcement that Ms. Ferek’s proposal was the Zone 5 winner.

The grant title is “Two Wheels Squared Driving Course Challenge”. The money will be used to create and implement a paved walking/riding path on the grounds of Turner Ashby High School. The course will help students train for future driving challenges by offering a multi-faceted bicycling course to challenge teenagers physically, emotionally, and cognitively. Overall, the course will help teens develop critical on-the-road problem-solving skills they will inevitably use when they earn a driver’s license. The course will also be used as a walking/riding trail for students with disabilities and the community at-large.

Dr. Carol S. Fenn, division superintendent of Rockingham County Public Schools, states that the extra effort for our students as exemplified by Turner Ashby teacher Cindy Ferek speaks highly to our care and enthusiasm for the students in Rockingham County schools.

Representatives in attendance at the presentation were:

Dr. Billy Haun, Chief Academic Officer, Virginia Department of Education
Mr. Sal Romero – State Board of Education
Mr. Steve Walk, Principal, Turner Ashby High School
Dr. Doug Alderfer, Assistant Superintendent, Rockingham County Public Schools Mr. Bill Tibbens, Manager of Government and Industry Affairs, Farmers Insurance


Bill Tibbens, Farmers Insurance Rep. Phone #804-306-7250
Email bill.tibbens@farmersinsurance.com

Steve Walk, Turner Ashby High School Principal 540-828-2008

Cindy Ferek, Turner Ashby High School Teacher 540-828-2008

Peak at the Bay Program


Spotswood Science teacher, Tara Harradine (left) and Spotswood senior, Claire Scheikl, work with Peak View Elementary students as a part of an ongoing environmental education effort.

“The Peak at the Bay” is a program designed to make students aware of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and how people in the Shenandoah Valley can affect the Chesapeake Bay.  Originated at Peak View Elementary for about thirty 5th graders for about 2 hours after school, the program has spread to Montevideo Middle School this fall and possibly Cub Run Elementary in the spring.

Activities have included hikes, learning about the geology of Massanutten Mountain and the Valley, water testing, Science on the Sphere at JMU, activites in the Geology Department at JMU, lab activities on the turbidity of water, exploring the grounds of their school to map water run-off, and looking a maps of Virginia to explore the watershed.

See pictures from various events.

JWES Awarded Again for Environmental Education Efforts

John Wayland Elementary School has been recognized as a “Virginia Naturally School.” This is the 15th consecutive year that the school has been recognized for its programs in environmental education by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. JWES is one of three schools in the Commonwealth to be recognized all fifteen years, and one of about fifty total schools.

“This is such an honor for the JWES community,” commented JWES principal David Burchfield. “An emphasis on environmental education and stewardship has become a part of our culture. It is now expected. Because of instructional programs like Virginia Naturally, science achievement at our school is very strong.”

In the late 1990’s, JWES formed a partnership with the Town of Bridgewater to help rebuild Wildwood Park after the devastating floods of 1996. In the year 2000, a “Quilt Garden,” designed by a student, was established at the front of the school to host native Virginia plants and wildflowers. At least a dozen other environmental education initiatives and programs have grown at JWES over the years and have become a part of children’s experience as they move through the grades. The goal is to develop citizens who will become stewards of the community and world in which they live.

The Virginia DGIF recently presented the school with a painting of a Jaguar, the school’s mascot, to celebrate its 15th year as a Virginia Naturally School.

VA Naturally

Suzie Gilley, Wildlife Education Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, stopped by John Wayland Elementary School on November 3, 2014 to present principal David Burchfield with a certificate, and print of a painting of a jaguar (the school’s mascot) to honor the school community for being recognized for the 15th consecutive year as a “Virginia Naturally” school for its environmental education programs.

Bully Prevention Month in RCPS

Rockingham County Public Schools recognized National Bullying Awareness and Prevention month in October. All schools across the division strengthened school climates by participating in a variety of activities focusing on bullying awareness and prevention. Students, teachers and staff showed support by wearing orange on Unity Day October 22, 2014.  Positive Environment is one of our Core Values and proves we believe in providing a safe, healthy, and supportive learning and working environment that recognizes the accomplishments and celebrates the successes of students and employees. We  know bullying prevention and treating others with respect is not a one time event. It is an important practice for every day!

See more pictures in a slideshow.


Pleasant Valley Elementary pledges to stop bullying.

Pictures and text submitted by Rebecca Hill-Shifflett


Your Day at School 2014

On November 4, Rockingham County Public Schools hosted “Your Day at School”.  This division-wide opportunity allowed 1,100 faculty and staff to participate in 158 conference style professional development sessions.  The format replicates a typical high school day and supports our division Vision, Mission and Core Values.

The YDAS concept started in 2007 and provides an innovative way for a variety of presenters including educators, CO leadership, business partners, community agencies, local colleges and universities and consultants to share expertise on a variety of topics.  It also gives faculty and staff choice in selecting sessions pertinent to their interests and content area expertise.  The event has proven to be effective, easily replicable, cost effective and sustainable.

This year the event was held at East Rockingham High School with sessions like Connecting Reading and STEM,  Historical Bus Tour of eastern Rockingham County, Meet and Greet with School Board and Superintendent, Creating a Community of Readers: Book Trailers Made Simple With iMovie App, Interactive Achievement, Virginia Naturally, Tech Tools for the Classroom, Reading in Math Class: Using Children’s Literature to Build Conceptual Understanding, Google, Tips and Tricks for your iMac, Discovery Education and many more.

For more information contact Kevin Perkins, Supervisor of Technology at (540) 564-3222 or Kperkins@rockingham.k12.va.us

See our slideshow highlighting the day’s events.


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