September 2022-Employee Newsletter

Staff Newsletter
September 30, 2022

School. Family. Community

Hello Team Amherst!

We have now completed six weeks of school and we are starting to settle into our routines.  Overall, it has been a great start to the school year and I am extremely grateful for everything you have done to get the school year off to such a great start.

I have completed my first round of classroom and school observations and I have been pleased with the results.  I have had the pleasure of participating in the classes, working with the students, and observing quality, engaging instruction.  I am looking forward to my next round of observations in November.

We conducted our first staff tailgate on September 23 and it was a success.  We had over 100 staff and family members attend.  Participants were able to enjoy hotdogs and hamburgers, prepared by yours truly, with sides of baked beans and potato salad. A special thank you to Sam Addison and the Culinary Arts program for prepping the lettuce, tomatoes, and onions as well as making the brownies we had for dessert.  I also want to thank Joey Crawford, Robert Curd and the high school staff as well as Brittany McNerney, Gary Roakes, and Tim Hoden for their assistance with the preparation and breakdown of the tailgate.  Those who stayed for the game were able to see the Lancers defeat Jefferson Forest.  As a result of the victory, Coach Christmas recorded his 300th win as a head coach.  Congratulations to Coach Christmas on this achievement.  Our next tailgate is scheduled for October 7 when we will welcome our elementary staff and their families as the Lancers take on the EC Glass Hilltoppers. 

Students from AMS and MMS participated in an environmental education study on the James River at River Edge Park as part of the NOAA B-WET grant in cooperation with the James River Association.  The students participated in Biotic and Abiotic water quality sampling, learned about the James River and Chesapeake Bay watershed, and participated in food web activities that focused on the organisms that live in the upper James River watershed. On Monday September 26, students from AMS were able to see the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources conduct electrofishing research while on their JRA field trip at River Edge Park.  The students were able to see several species of fish that were shocked in the river to include two large flat head catfish.

Show Up Day, as part of our #ShowUpAmherst initiative, was today and all of the schools in the division had activities for their students.  This was a great way to recognize our students and staff for Showing Up today.  It also provided opportunities for our community to Show Up for our students and for our schools to recognize members of our community.  I want to thank our ATSS teams at the division and school levels for all the work they put into organizing the Show Up Day events.

In our desire to re-engage with our community, I spoke at the September Amherst Chamber of Commerce meeting, Madison Heights Baptist Church and Clifford Baptist Church over the past weeks.  The primary points of emphasis were the desire to reconnect with our community, requesting members of our community to get involved in our schools to support our teachers and students, and to volunteer at our schools and events.  We want our community and families to know that we are open and welcome their support.  I am in discussion with other churches and organizations to arrange opportunities for me to speak to let them know about the great work you are doing in ACPS and encourage them to be involved in our schools.

As part of our #ShowUpAmherst initiative, we have several opportunities to participate or volunteer in our community in October. The Sorghum Festival will be held this Saturday, October 1 at the Clifford Ruritan Club, the Garlic Festival will be held on October 8 and 9 at Rebec Vineyards; the Apple Harvest Festival will be held on October 15 and 16 at Amherst County High School; and the Amherst County Fair will be held October 20 – 23 at the county fairgrounds.  Show Up for your community and make an attempt to be present at some of these events.

With the added pressures associated with instructing our students, it is important that you take care of yourselves both physically and emotionally.  Your wellness is vital to your ability to perform your required tasks whether they are teaching, providing transportation, preparing meals or any of the other myriad of jobs that go along with providing quality educational opportunities to our students.  I encourage you to focus on your wellness by find healthy ways to reduce your stress levels and take care of yourself.  All ACPS employees are vital members of Team Amherst and we cannot operate the school division without you.  We hope to give you a break from the routine and an opportunity to regroup by providing a fall break on October 10 and 11 and a teacher workday on October 24.

Thank you for all you do for the students, ACPS, our families, and the community.  We have had a great start to the school year but we need to maintain our momentum.  We need to keep moving forward even through challenging times.  From what I have observed in the past six weeks of school, I have all of the confidence in the world that we can overcome any challenge that is posed if we stay focused and work together.  Thanks again for all you do and have a great weekend.

Amherst County Public Schools is going ELECTRIC!

Amherst County Public Schools began running two electric buses earlier this month! We would like to thank the Amherst County School Board, the Amherst County Board of Supervisors, and the staff at American Electric Power for the funding to make this possible. We appreciate the staff at Sonny Merryman for their partnership in providing these buses. We would also like to thank Dr. Wells, Dr. Hoden, Gary Roakes, and Rhonda Campbell and her staff, Pam Cash, Bea Campbell, Shari Hammett, and Bill Cox for their hard work to make this endeavor possible. We have been awarded an additional grant from AEP that will allow us to purchase a third electric bus, which is being built at this time. These buses provide zero emissions and noise pollution and a greater savings on maintenance and fuel costs. The addition of electric buses is exciting and will be a window to the future of student transportation!

Bullying Prevention

Click Here
Report Bullying

October is bullying prevention month. ACPS takes bullying very seriously and recently passed a new policy related to bullying. Concerns about bullying in our schools can be reported to the building principal or through the portal on our website. 

Unity Day is October 19th. All staff and students are encouraged to wear orange on that day to show their support for a bullying-free learning environment. 

Click Here
Bullying Policy

Upcoming Events

October 7: Elementary (and non-school based staff) Tailgate (5-7 pm)
October 10-11: Fall Break (School Closed for All Staff and Students)
October 21: End of Grading Period
October 21: ACHS/AEC (and non-school based staff) Tailgate (5-7 pm)
October 24: Teacher Planning Day (No School for Students)
October 28: Report Cards go Home

Staff Appreciation Tailgates!

Our first staff appreciation tailgate was a success! We had a great turnout from our staff and their families. Thank you to everyone who attended the event, it was great to enjoy some time for fellowship together. Remember, we have another tailgate for the elementary schools on October 7 and Amherst County High School and Amherst Education Center on October 21.

Click HERE to RSVP!

Show Up Day!


Today, September 30, is Show Up Day! All of our schools have been working hard behind the scenes on exciting plans to celebrate. What happened when you showed up today??? Use #ShowUpAmherst on social media to share what happened at your school!

Employee Flu Shots

ACPS has been hosting Flu Shot Clinics for all staff over the past few weeks. If you may have missed the flu shot clinic, there are two more clinics scheduled that you can attend:

October 6
ACHS  7:30 am-11:30 am
October 7
SAO HR Office 11:00 am-1:00 pm 

Please bring your insurance card

School Board Updates

Dr. Wells will provide an update to all staff via email following school board meetings.
You can access the recorded live streams below.

August 11, 2022 School Board Meeting Recording
September 8, 2022 School Board Meeting Recording

Superintendent's Advisory Council

The purpose of the Superintendent's Advisory council is to provide an opportunity for school representatives to discuss the needs and priorities of their respective schools with leadership, as well as keep the lines of communication open throughout the school year. Please reach out to your representative to share any thoughts or concerns you may have. The council will have their first meeting on October 6.