Books: Food for the Brain

November 26, 2017 by

With the holiday season quickly approaching, we know parents are on the lookout for great educational gifts for their children.

To aid in your search for the perfect gift, MCPS has weighed in with their favorite book recommendations our children:

Elementary School

  1. Hero by Mike Lupica
  2. Skippyjon Jones Cirque de Ole by Judy Schachner
  3. The Babe & I by David A. Adler
  4. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
  5. Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg
  6. The Boxcar Children Bookshelf (The Boxcar Children Mysteries, Books 1-12) by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  7. The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush – by Tomie dePaola
  8. Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
  9. The City of Ember (Books of Ember) by Jeanne DuPrau
  10. All-Of-A-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
  11. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  12. First Day in Grapes (Pura Belpre Honor Book) by L. King Perez
  13. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
  14. Blueberries for Sal (Viking Kestrel picture books) by Robert McCloskey
  15. A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck
  16. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
  17. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  18. Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
  19. Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Middle School

  1. Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  2. The Maze of Bones (The 39 Clues, Book 1) by Rick Riordan
  3. Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume
  4. Comeback by Dave Dravecky
  5. Lisa, Bright and Dark: A Novel by John Neufield
  6. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
  7. I Am Regina by Sally M. Keehn
  8. The Beginning Place by Ursula K. Le Guin
  9. Hatchet: 20th Anniversary Edition by Gary Paulson
  10. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  11. Go Up For Glory by Bill Russell
  12. City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende
  13. They All Laughed…From Light Bulbs to Lasers: The Fascinating Stories Behind the Great Inventions That Have Changed Our Lives by Ira Flatow
  14. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: A Hercule Poirot Mystery by Agatha Christie
  15. Summerland by Michael Chabon
  16. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley
  17. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

High School

  1. The Baron In The Trees by Italo Calvino
  2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  3. The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science by Natalie Angier
  4. Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
  5. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
  6. The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxed Set by Suzanne Collins
  7. Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood by Fatima Mernissi
  8. Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
  9. Room: A Novel by Emma Donaghue
  10. 11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King
  11. Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard by Isak Dinesen
  12. Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
  13. One Third of a Nation: Lorena Hickok Reports on the Great Depression by Lorena Hickok, Richard Lowitt, and Maurine H. Beasley
  14. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
  15. Essays – First Series by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hoping your holiday season includes some great books!


FY19 Budget Feedback

October 30, 2017 by

Your feedback is vital to our budget development process. As we identify the needs and priorities that will characterize our spending plan next year, we want your opinions. Please click here to access the survey or follow the link below to enter your responses right here on this page:

Please take the time to share your thoughts and to identify programs that you would like to see enhanced, added or even eliminated. The survey is open to anyone (parents, teachers, staff, students, guardians, community members, citizens, residents, etc.).  We truly want everyone’s feedback, so don’t hesitate to share our survey with anyone that you know has an interest in our schools.

Why School?

October 9, 2017 by

The other day, I heard an elementary student interrogate her mother with the same question asked of me for the past 12 years:  why do I have to go to school?

School. That glorious mix of social and educational experiences that happens 180 days a year for thirteen straight years. Sure there are holiday and summer breaks, and even those occasional professional development days when teachers show up but students don’t, but just think about it, for the most part, our entire childhood is spent within the concrete walls of some sort of educational institution.

Well if you have to be there, (and guess what? The US Government says you do!), let’s focus on the positive and make the most out of it!

Here are some really great reasons to get up and go to school every single weekday.


Let’s face it; school just isn’t the same for you or your friends when someone is absent.  Friends are there to walk the halls with you, tell you when your shoe is untied, keep you up-to-date on the latest and greatest school gossip, and basically help you get through the day. True friends are your most loyal fan club members.  They are there to support you when you try out for area band or take the field for your first big game. They listen to you go on and on about the joys of biology and help you make campaign signs when you run for class president. And when you’re home sick with the flu, good friends take notes for you so you don’t fall behind.  Best friends forever!

Do we have spirit? Let’s hope we do!

There is nothing like a school bursting with school spirit. Not only should you think your school is the best place on Earth, but you should want others to agree with you. Think about it? Why wouldn’t they?  Pep rallies, spirit days, school events, socials, get into it! Being part of all that excitement and pride is more than enough reason to show up.

The Perfect Attendance Certificate

For those ultra-competitive students, scoring the highly-coveted perfect attendance award is a tremendous honor. Being at school every day means fighting through the days when you have the blahs (and hopefully you’re not contagious!), the days when you have tests but didn’t study (let’s not make that a habit), and even the days when it’s pouring down raining and no one in their right mind would step outside.  Being in class every day says a lot about your (and your parent’s) commitment to education and your belief that showing up matters. Two thumbs up!

Life Prep

It might not seem like school is preparing you for life but it totally is. I agree, you may never need to know the exact calculation of pi (by the way…it’s 3.14159265…) or the names of all the planets (what the latest on Pluto?), or even that there are eight parts of speech (we all know those:  verb, noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction and interjection), but school is teaching you to show up, work hard, and apply what you’ve learned. Those skills will serve you well no matter which path you choose after high school. Yep, those thirteen years of school are helping you evolve into an adult!

Fun, Fun & More Fun

I know you don’t want to, but go ahead and admit it, school can be fun:  learning new things, exploring fresh ideas, succeeding academically, excelling in extracurricular activities…fun, fun, fun and more fun. Face it, even eating school lunch with your friends is fun. We know that all schools are not created equal and for some, the buildings and equipment are less than stellar, but the quest for knowledge goes beyond what happens in the classroom. Students learn from their teachers, their classmates and the entire school staff. When it’s all said and done, you’ll graduate from high school with a lot of great memories of all the fun times you’ve had over the years.

School.  Get there, be there and stay there!

MCPS Teachers Attend STEM Workshop

September 28, 2017 by

On Saturday, September 23rd, MCPS teachers attended a STEM workshop in Westmoreland County.  Teachers from MES, SCW, and MHS have been participating in summer and weekend workshops to gain knowledge and training in  techniques in using problem-based learning in a Makerspace setting.  The program, called STEMLabs and Design Briefs for Building STEM Knowledge, is funded through the University of Mary Washington by the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia through Title II Part 1 NCLB. Middlesex County teachers are participating along with teachers from Colonial Beach, Rappahanock County and Westmoreland County.

Faculty from the UMW Colleges of Education and Arts and Sciences and educators from the Friends of the Rappahannock have partnered with approximately one hundred teachers and administrators from Superintendent’s Region III to develop a program of intense, high quality educational experiences that utilize a problem-based learning context, the Design Brief, to deliver middle and high school mathematics and science concepts aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning.  As part of the program, MCPS received materials for their STEM labs and Makerspace areas that include 3D printers, Hummingbird Board Duo kits, and Vernier sensors to use with student projects.   

(See MCPS teachers in action in the video below!)

Below,  you can see a group of MCPS teachers working on a project they created to design a system to remove trash from our storm water system. They built and programmed a model of a storm drain and created a device to remove trash from the drain. The teachers used Hummingbird Boards and Visual Programmer Language to create this project. For more information about the program, you can visit

Hands On Learning at SCW

September 26, 2017 by

SCW has partnered with Friends of the Rappahannock to offer real world experiences in the area of science. On Monday, sixth grade students had their first field trip to learn more about and practice water quality testing in Urbanna.

Practicing the 5 C’s

September 15, 2017 by

These students may look like they’re doing a puzzle, but they’re actually engaged in critical skills building to prepare for work in tomorrow’s global economy. As Virginia moves to a more holistic accountability profile in public education that includes workforce development and skills, MCPS is embracing the challenge to incorporate creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, citizenship and communication into every instructional experience.

Here, the Teachers for Tomorrow students are solving a problem (the puzzle) without the ability to speak or touch each other’s puzzle pieces. This requires exercising a new set of communication skills – ones that are often overlooked in the classroom – and collaboration to solve a problem.

Look for more opportunities for students to practice these skills so essential to the workplace as we move through the school year!

September is Attendance Awareness Month

August 31, 2017 by

School attendance is essential to academic success, but too often parents, students and sometimes teachers do not realize how quickly absences, excused as well as unexcused, can add up to academic trouble.  At the same time principals, division leaders, and community members often do not know if chronic absence is a significant problem in local schools.

Research shows that missing as little as two days every month, or ten percent of the school year is considered chronic absenteeism.  Missing school can translate into third-graders unable to master reading, sixth-graders failing courses and ultimately, teens dropping out of high school.

This September will mark the fifth annual Attendance Awareness Month campaign, an opportunity to rally our community, advocates, policymakers, volunteers, funders, and supporters around the importance of attendance and its role in academic achievement.  The campaign is spearheaded by Attendance Works, a national and state initiative that promotes better policy and practice around school attendance.

Check back with the MCPS Blog all this month for additional information about how attendance is linked with academic success.

Let’s get 2017-2018 off to a great start!

Calling All Charger Football Players!

August 23, 2017 by

Middlesex Community,

We need your help promoting this year’s Junior Varsity Football program. We are danger of not being able to field a team due to uncharacteristically low turnout thus far. Given the teams we play, it would be irresponsible for us to move forward with only a handful of student athletes – especially when many are younger. Without back-up support and younger athletes, our competition against seasoned, older players would result in possible injury.

We are hopeful that with your support, we will find more student athletes who want to learn and grow together in this wonderful sport!

If you or your child have any questions, please contact Athletic Director, Matt Stamm, or MHS Principal, Susan Fleet at (804)758-2132.

We hope to see you!



MCPS Schools Once Again Fully Accredited

August 16, 2017 by

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) released official results of state testing today, and Middlesex County Public Schools (MCPS) continues to shine.  Virginia public schools administer 29 state assessments each year, tests that are based on the the Commonwealth’s Standards of Learning (SOL).  The results of these assessments, along with graduation rates, provide the framework for Virginia’s school accountability system and the VDOE’s School Quality Profiles.

Once again, all MCPS schools have met the state’s benchmarks and achieved full accreditation.

“We are extremely proud of this accomplishment,” noted superintendent Dr. Peter Gretz, “but the state tests are singular measures of proficiency. We want our students’ learning to move far beyond those minimum standards.”

The division has embodied a philosophy that by focusing on what’s ultimately best for students and pursuing an engaging, relevant instructional model, student performance on the SOL tests will continue to excel.

“Our students need to be practicing 21st century disposition skills such as creativity, communication, and collaboration,” Gretz continued. “We will be seeking more opportunities for students to engage in project-based experiences that require these essential skills. We’re confident that by focusing on deeper learning and skill building, SOL achievement will come as a byproduct of that great instruction.”

A comprehensive report of student achievement data including a deep analysis of specific student subgroup performance will be presented during a school board meeting this fall.

Parent Information from 3Rivers Health District

June 11, 2017 by

Parents and community members,

Please find important information from the Three Rivers Health District office. Click the picture below for helpful information as we all head into the summer, and head outdoors!

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 3.42.07 PM

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