‘Far from a failing school division’

Published 4:25 pm Thursday, March 2, 2017

At a time when I feel Duke Pride throughout the community more than ever, I was surprised to read that someone referred to the public schools in Cumberland County as failing (“Don’t ask for a tax increase,” Friday, Feb. 24).

I urge people who may be thinking this to visit our division and school websites and social media accounts, or better yet, come visit our schools. Our students, faculty and staff, parents and community members who support us have cultivated a well-rounded educational experience for students that prepares them to be lifelong learners as well as good workers and citizens. From academics, to sports, to college and career readiness, our students and staff members are excelling.

According to the Virginia Department of Education, our three schools are accredited.  Cumberland High School is fully accredited while Cumberland Elementary School and Cumberland Middle School are partially accredited: reconstituted due to the significant gains made in reading and math scores. None of the three schools in Cumberland have been deemed failing by the Virginia Department of Education.

As far as examples of how our students are excelling, Cumberland High School has an on-time graduation rate of 91 percent with 54 percent of students graduating with an advanced studies diploma (above the state average) and 22 percent of students graduating with an associate’s degree from Southside Virginia Community College while still in high school.

Thirty-three percent of our students participate in dual enrollment courses that save families on college tuition rates. Cumberland High School has an 88 percent pass rate in reading and an 85 percent pass rate in math. 

Our students have the opportunities to attend Governor’s School (humanities and STEM), EMT classes, advanced manufacturing classes and welding at Southside Virginia Community College. 

At the high school, our students can choose career pathways in business, culinary arts, agriculture, building trades, energy and power, nursing and sustainability. Upon graduating, our students are going straight into the workforce, military and/or attending colleges and universities, such as Longwood, William and Mary, Brown, U.Va., Virginia Tech, Virginia State, JMU, Liberty, Purdue, VCU, Emory and Henry, Ferrum, Radford, Bridgewater and the list goes on and on.

In conjunction with academics, our students are excelling in forensics, band and serving the community in various aspects. In regards to athletics, our students have competed or will be competing at the state level in wrestling, golf, indoor track and girls basketball. Currently, seven alumni are competing in college-level sports.

As you can read, I am very proud of what we are achieving at Cumberland County Public Schools. We are far from a failing school division. We are small and have challenges, yet we are mighty, persistent, proud and successful!

Dr. Amy Griffin is the division superintendent of schools in Cumberland County. Her email address is agriffin@cucps.k12.va.us.