RCPS Board Taps Shifflett as Director of Innovation and Learning

Rockingham County Public School Board Appoints Director of Innovation and Learning


Dr. Larry Shifflett

The Rockingham County Public School Board is excited to introduce Dr. Larry Shifflett as the new Director of Innovation and Learning for the school division.  Dr. Shifflett began his career with Rockingham County Public Schools in 1997 as a social studies teacher and coach at Wilbur S. Pence Middle School.  He served in this role for five years before becoming a school administrator in 2002.  After working for one year as an administrative intern at Peak View Elementary School, Dr. Shifflett served four years as assistant principal at Montevideo Middle School.  In July 2007, he was appointed as principal of South River Elementary School.  During his tenure, the school became one of the most decorated in the Commonwealth of Virginia. These recognitions include: National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award in 2012, Highly Distinguished Title I Award in 2013, Distinguished Title I Award in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2014, Governor’s Award of Educational Excellence in 2009, and the Board of Education’s Excellence Award in 2011.

Dr. Shifflett is a 1990 graduate of Spotswood High School.  He graduated from James Madison University in 1995 as a history major and later returned to JMU to earn his Master’s in Education, with a concentration in middle school, in 1999.  Recently, Dr. Shifflett completed his Doctorate of Education degree from The Curry School of Education at The University of Virginia.  While a student at UVA, he was honored with the William H. Seawell Memorial Award in 2012.

As Director of Innovation and Learning, Dr. Shifflett will provide visionary leadership to the instructional programs in Rockingham County Public Schools, helping to implement and enhance innovative ideas that will prepare students for life and careers in the 21st century.  In this role, Dr. Shifflett will join with other division leaders to implement the School Board initiative of “Digital Conversion”.  In this program, to be implemented over the next five years, the School Board is committed to providing a technology device, such as a laptop computer or tablet, to every teacher and student in grades 3-12.  Digital learning, along with progressive instructional practices, will transform the Rockingham County Schools and create learning environments that are even more connected, relevant, collaborative and personalized to meet the needs of students.

RCPS Board Initiates “Two For You” Campaign

The Rockingham County Public School Board is initiating a campaign to collect suggestions that could improve the efficiency of the school division in an attempt to maximize valuable resources.  In this process, the Board is seeking opportunities to realize cost savings and identify areas of efficiency to maintain and enhance the quality of the services provided by the division.  The School Board recognizes the significant financial commitment generously provided by the Board of Supervisors, through taxpayer dollars, to fund our highly successful public schools in Rockingham County.  It is the intention of the School Board to lead a focused effort to critically review all operations within the division with the intent of finding efficiencies that can be implemented with little negative impact on students, employees, or instruction.

24UThe School Board is introducing an Efficiency/Repurposing Initiative with the goal of identifying up to two million dollars in savings which could result from improved operating efficiencies.  These funds could then be repurposed within the division to address identified priority needs.  While efforts have been made over the past five years to curtail expenses and improve efficiencies, this is the first large scale, inclusive initiative of this type to engage the community at large to collect ideas for improvement in this area.

The initiative is consistent with the Rockingham County Public Schools Mission, Vision, and Core Values document that was approved by the Board in the fall of 2013.  This document identifies the organizational purpose and major priorities of the school division.  Specifically, this current initiative highlights the Core Value of Advocacy and Stewardship which calls for the division to “responsibly utilize resources to best meet the needs of students.”

Over the next several months, the Rockingham County School Board will be calling on all stakeholders, including employees, parents, students, and community members to submit suggestions on ways in which they believe the school division could operate more efficiently.  These recommendations will be compiled and reviewed by a team who will present a report at a future School Board meeting.

Employees, parents, students and community members are invited to submit suggestions by filling out a short form that can be accessed at the link below. This form will also be available on the first page of the RCPS Homepage.

Thanks for your suggestions and feedback.

arrow To submit your suggestion: http://bit.ly/TwoForYou





Eckenrode, Imbrescia Named PAEMST State Finalists

Congratulations to Eric Imbrescia and Susan Eckenrode on their selection as state-level finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching! They were two of only five finalists in the Commonwealth. Mr. Imbrescia, a teacher at Peak View Elementary School, was selected for K-6 mathematics teaching, and Ms. Eckenrode, a teacher at John Wayland Elementary School, was selected for K-6 science teaching.

The Presidential Awards are the nation’s highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science. The award recognizes those teachers who develop and implement a high-quality instructional program that is informed by content knowledge and enhances student learning.  Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.


Mr. Imbrescia uses math manipulatives to facilitate student understanding. Here, they use them to tackle a lesson involving comparison of fractions.

“Eric is an outstanding mathematics educator and mentor for his colleagues.  He asks his students rigorous questions and plans content-rich activities which allow students to explore, reason, explain, collaborate, and make connections among mathematical topics. He incorporates everything one would hope to see in a math classroom, and it shows in his students’ enthusiasm, engagement, and success with math.  He has shared his expertise through many presentations and inservices for teachers throughout Rockingham County and across the state.  JMU benefitted from his math-teaching prowess this past spring, as he taught a math methods course for future teachers.  His impact on math education has been felt throughout RCPS, and we are proud of his many accomplishments!” praised Jenny Gibson, Coordinator of Mathematics for RCPS.


Ms. Eckenrode works with students as they construct then guide vehicles down a track applying magnetic concepts.

Tammy Stone, RCPS Coordinator of Science, described Ms. Eckenrode as “an exemplary science teacher and STEM leader in Rockingham County.  She does integrative STEM lessons on a weekly basis by weaving all of her subjects together to create a rich tapestry of learning in her classroom. John Wayland Elementary has been a Virginia Naturally school for the past 14 years largely due to Susan’s passion for environmental education  and problem-based learning.     Susan is always willing to share her skills and ideas with other teachers, often presenting at conferences and James Madison Content Teaching Academy.  Rockingham County Public Schools is lucky to have her passion for STEM and helping her students develop into successful, and passionate learners.”

As state-level finalists, Mr. Imbrescia and Ms. Eckenrode’s applications will be forwarded to the National Science Foundation’s national selection committee for consideration. The national selection committee chooses one state-level finalist in mathematics and one state-level finalist in science from each state to receive the Presidential Award. Teachers selected as Presidential Awardees will receive a gift of $10,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Washington, D.C., where they will be honored in a variety of ceremonies.

President Obama is expected to announce the 2014 winners next year.

We wish Mr. Imbrescia and Ms. Eckenrode the best of luck in the final stage of the PAEMST process and congratulate them for their passion for math and science education and their dedication to Rockingham County students!

TAHS’s Cook Documentary Recognized by High Speed Rail Organization

Submitted by Susan Fream, Massanutten Regional Governor’s School Director, regarding the work of Turner Ashby High School student, Hanson Cook. 

Last year for his research project, Hanson Cook studied Mag Lev transportation and based on his research felt that it was unfeasible for a country the size of the United States. However, he firmly believed that increased usage of rail transportation can positively impact this country in a number of ways. So, this year he changed the scope of his project to study high speed rail systems in Virginia.  He spent the year researching the benefits of high speed rail, interviewing a number of individuals, including Amtrak officials, members of the General Assembly and local Board of Supervisors, meeting individuals that work on the rail system, and traveling the state via the rail system. I believe he had over 65 hours of footage by the end of the year, which he used to create a documentary called on the High Speed Rail System. Unfortunately, due to the size of the documentary, I cannot email it to you.

As you can see in the email, he has been asked by the Executive Director of the Virginians for High Speed Rail to show his documentary at their annual meeting and answer questions. This is a tremendous honor for this young man.

Hanson’s documentary:   https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8ckbdKXyrumb3VZYWdqd3lhMU0/preview

From: Danny Plaugher
Date: Tue, Jun 3, 2014 at 10:07 AM
Subject: Fast Track Documentary & VHSR Annual Meeting
To: Hanson Cook


Your piece Fast Tracks is a fantastic documentary.   If you’re out of school and able to make it, I would like you to show it at our 20th Anniversary Annual Meeting on Friday, June 20th in Richmond at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. We can give you five minutes before showing the documentary to talk about the process of why you wanted to talk about this subject and 15 minutes after to answer any questions from the audience. More information on the Annual Meeting can be found here: www.vhsr.eventbrite.com and we are in the process of securing either the Governor of VA or someone from USDOT as our keynote speaker for the event.

Let me know if this is something that you would be interested in doing? Once again, great job!

Danny Plaugher Executive Director | Virginians for High Speed Rail | www.VHSR.com

Destination Imagination Teams Excel in Competition


Spotswood hosted the state tournament

RCPS had seven teams compete at the Destination Imagination State Tournament.  Spotswood High School was the host of the State Destination Imagination Tournament on Saturday, April 5, 2014. There were 170 teams competing with approximately 3,800 people in attendance.  Team members, parents, grandparents, educators, and administrators from throughout the state were in attendance.

RCPS had five teams advance to DI Global Finals at the University of Tennessee.   Global Finals 2014 is a culmination of a year of problem solving and creativity.  Teams from Peak View, Elkton Middle, Wilbur S. Pence, Turner Ashby, and Spotswood represented Rockingham County Public Schools at this international creative problem solving competition. There were over 1,400 teams representing 45 states and 20 countries. An estimated 19,000 people attended Global Finals, including over 8,000 student participants.

See pictures submitted by teams from both competitions.

Destination Imagination (DI) is a cause-driven, volunteer-led non-profit organization dedicated to teaching students the creative process through STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), the arts and service learning Challenges. For more than 30 years, DI has helped more than 1.5 million kids tap into their creativity and learn the skills they need to build successful careers. [source: DI Global Finals website]

Rockingham County Public Schools Destination Imagination State Tournament Teams
April 5, 2014

Challenge Team Name School Manager Place
D:Pandemonium! That Team 1:45678 Spotswood High Hall 3rd
A:Dig In D. I. Tectors Elkton Middle Unnerstall 1st
C:Laugh Art Loud Bubbles of the Underworld Peak View Elementary Lambert 1st
A:Dig In Peak View Retrievers Peak View Elementary Martin 6th
E:The Tension Builds Totally Bossome Flaming Velociraptorers Elkton Middle Wilt 7th
B:Going to Extremes Bazinga Squad Turner Ashby High Swortzel 2nd
E:The Tension Builds Drove Our Manager Crazy Wilbur Pence Middle Breeden 3rd

Information and pictures submitted by Louise Liddle, Gifted Resource Teacher
Montevideo Middle/Spotswood High School

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