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Academies of Hampton announces Partner of Excellence recipients

The Hampton City Schools Academies of Hampton (AoH) presented Partner of Excellence Awards at their annual partners dinner. Recipients were BJ Whittingham of the city of Hampton Public Works, Sue Thrash of the Hampton Roads Educator Credit Union (HRECU), Queen Crittendon and Rossie Carroll of Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and Damien Douglas, founder and CEO of Inspire IT.

The Partner of Excellence Award was given to one business or community organization from each high school. One recipient was also recognized as a division partner. The recipients are selected by nominations from advisory board members, AoH staff, faculty, or students. They were recognized for their extraordinary collaboration and dedication promoting a college and career ready future, and delivering engaging experiences for every student to achieve the Portrait of a Hampton Graduate. It is important that we showcase the support and engagement of our community partners as they are instrumental to the continued growth and structure of the Academies of Hampton.

The Bethel High School Partner of Excellence award and the Division Partner of Excellence award was presented to BJ Whittingham, a representative of the city of Hampton public works department.

Public Works has participated in all of the AoH events, provided opportunities for our students and their families, treated our teachers to a robust tour of the facilities, and worked with us this summer to provide opportunities for our rising ninth graders.

Whittingham and her team are always ready to help no matter how short the turnaround time is and they steadily work with the Academies of Hampton to create connections with other entities in the city. This partnership has expanded from one academy to all academies, such as the Academy of Digital Video Production, to ensure our students are exposed to all facets of public works. In total, over 600 students have been exposed to the opportunities that public works has to offer.

The Hampton High School award was presented to Sue Thrash, a representative of the Hampton Roads Educator Credit Union (HRECU).

HRECU has dedicated 13 years of time and commitment to serving our community and our schools. An example of an exemplary attribute is Karen Orie and her staff dedicating time to participate in “My Future, My Journey,” every year since its inception, where students are introduced to several different careers and colleges. They were also involved in the Ford Next Generation commencement event that took place in 2017 highlighting the partnership between Ford NGL and Hampton City Schools. These are two extremely important events that took both time and commitment from Orie and her staff.

The Kecoughtan High School excellence award went to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and representatives Queen Crittendon and Rossie Carroll.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has been instrumental in providing support for multiple projects across AoH. They always bring a team and they are driven to ensure they support all of the endeavors. VDOT has provided guest speakers, unique field trip opportunities, and professional development for teachers. VDOT contributed to the design and development of the academies. The number of students impacted by this partnership reaches well over 200 and is growing each year. Over 50 teachers have been positively impacted by this partnership and we look forward to more over the years.

Phoebus High School honored Inspire IT and representative Damien Douglas.

The mission of Inspire IT is to develop workforce and life skills training, mentorship and career opportunities to youth and young adults from communities in Hampton Roads and beyond. Douglas currently serves on two academy advisory boards since the beginning of the wall-to-wall academies. Prior to the pandemic, he talked about how he had a desire to work with high school students to teach them how to code so that they could possess that skill and be ready to step into the work world having a leg up on others. 

The AoH annual partner's dinner, held on August 16, 2022, hosted over 85 people. Attendees included city officials such as Vice Mayor Jimmy Gray, City Manager Mary Bunting, Councilman Chris Bowman, School Board Chair Dr. Richard Mason, and fellow school board members, members of the Hampton City Schools division leadership team, AoH steering committee members, executive principals from the four high schools, academy principals representing all four high schools, middle school leadership, school counseling coordinators, and curriculum and instruction team members. Also in attendance were community partners representing various industries; student ambassadors; Dr. Porter Brannon, president of Virginia Peninsula Community College and named partner for Phoebus High School; and Joe Frommelt, named partner from Virginia Ship Repair Association for Hampton High School. 

At the AoH Annual Retreat on August 17, 2022, between 60 to 70 participants joined Dr. Jeffery Smith, superintendent of Hampton City Schools, to learn about the many accomplishments that have occurred during the 2021-2022 year. Mayor Donnie Tuck welcomed the attendees and shared his continued support for ensuring that young people have workplace certifications and experiences that lead to a pipeline of employment in the community. Ford Next Generation learning coach, Paula Barkley, facilitated challenge-based questions with the groups, and students led the discussion regarding ways to improve student voice and ownership of their development as well as what are some creative ways that students can practice professional skills in the buildings using business partners and available resources.