"RPS Direct" Emails from Supt. Kamras

  • RPS Direct Update - June 4, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, We're blessed again to have a reflection this evening from another member of the RPS team, Samara Booker, Elementary Math Instructional Specialist. Enormous gratitude to Ms. Booker for sharing this powerful essay. Before turning it over to her, I want to publicly thank Mayor Stoney and Council Member Jones for introducing an ordinance at City Council to remove the Richmond-controlled confederate statues on Monument Avenue; and Governor Northam for announcing that the Commonwealth will do the same with the Virginia-controlled statue of Lee. Eliminating these glorifications of injustice and inhumanity is a necessary – though certainly not sufficient – step towards creating a truly inclusive and equitable Richmond. Though I recognize not everyone will agree with my position on this, I urge those who do to make their voices heard.

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 3, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, We're blessed with another powerful reflection this evening – this one from Gueringe' Richardson, our Secondary English/Language Arts Instructional Specialist. Enormous gratitude to Ms. Richardson for sharing this deeply moving letter with the RPS Family. Quick reminder that Rodney Robinson, the 2019 National Teacher of the Year, will be my guest this evening on RPS Live! at 7 pm on our Facebook page. Hope you can join! With great appreciation, Jason

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 2, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, This evening, we are blessed with a powerful essay from Mr. Rodney Robinson, the 2019 National Teacher of the Year. On behalf of RPS, I want to publicly thank Mr. Robinson for carving out the time and head space to draft this, and for joining me on RPS Live! tomorrow evening at 7 pm on our Facebook page. Please make sure to tune in and please follow Mr. Robinson on Twitter @RodRobinsonRVA to stay abreast of his latest insights and reflections. Click the link above to continue reading Rodney Robinson on How Educators Can Turn Grief Into Action.

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 1, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, This evening, I find myself at a loss for words to adequately convey my anguish over the current state of our nation. And so I offer those of someone far more eloquent: Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Below is his column from this weekend's LA Times in its entirety. I urge you to read it. With great appreciation, Jason Click above to continue reading.

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  • RPS Direct Update - May 29, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, A number of you asked that I re-share the resources from the Center for Racial Justice in Education. Here they are. I also wanted to address the growing criticism of those who have registered their outrage about the injustice of Mr. Floyd's death through protest riots. Now, more than ever, the words of Dr. King – particularly the challenging ones – resonate. "In the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear?" That's the question we must all confront. Let's make sure that we continue to do so long after the camera crews leave Minneapolis – not only as a country, but also as a school division. What more can we all do to hear – and be responsive to – the voices of those in our community who are most in pain?

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  • RPS Direct Update - May 28, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Before diving into today's updates, I want to acknowledge the additional pain that is coursing through our community right now as a result of George Floyd's harrowing death at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer. The similarity to the Eric Garner case, down to both men's cries – "I can't breath" – is chilling, to say the very least. Nearly 35% of RPS students are African-American young men. The America that they will experience over the course of their lives is fraught with racist prejudices – held consciously or not – that dehumanize them and make deaths like Mr. Floyd's not just possible, but common. We must change that. Our responsibility as educators is so much more than just teaching reading and math. It's about preparing our young people with the knowledge, skills, and social capital they'll need to construct a better, more just world – and doing whatever we can as adults to pave the way for them. Towards that end, I'd like to make a request of my fellow white members of the RPS community: If you haven't already done so, please discuss Mr. Floyd's death – and the long history of racialized violence that precedes it – with your children. Yes, it may be difficult. But families of color don't have much choice when it comes to "the talk" – it's literally a matter of life and death for them. For the entire RPS Family, here's a set of resources for talking with young people about race, racism, and racialized violence from the Center for Racial Justice in Education. Finally, to everyone who is processing this tragedy with great pain, please know that your RPS family stands with you – and always will. With great appreciation, Jason

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  • RPS Direct Update - May 27, 2020 (PM)

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Please join me at 7 pm tonight for the latest episode of RPS Live! I'll be interviewing several of our 2020 Valedictorians. "See" you soon on our Facebook page! Today's Updates: Senior Spotlights – Over the next month, please join us as we celebrate the Class of 2020 on our social media platforms. Starting tomorrow at 7:50 am (the normal start time of the high school day) and 2:45 pm (the normal dismissal time), we'll post a Senior Spotlight highlighting one of the top 5 seniors from each of our high schools. Please join the celebration by liking and sharing the posts, and offering words of congratulations to these amazing seniors! Click above to read more!

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  • RPS Direct Update - May 27, 2020 (AM)

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, We recently learned that an RPS employee who was present at multiple events at Mary Munford Elementary School over the last two weeks has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee was asymptomatic at the time and is currently in isolation at home, per CDC guidelines. For health privacy reasons, we cannot release the name of the staff member, but please keep this individual and their family in your thoughts and prayers.

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  • RPS Direct Update - May 26, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I hope you all had a peaceful Memorial Day Weekend. I was blessed to spend some quality time with my family, including bike rides, impromptu backyard "tennis" matches (I've yet to win), and a couple of movie nights! Today's Updates: Computer Distribution – This coming Thursday and Friday are the distribution days for preschool students. See below for all the details. RPSLive! – Several of our 2020 Valedictorians will be joining me tomorrow. Make sure to check it out at 7 pm on our Facebook page!

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  • RPS Direct Update - May 22, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, As Memorial Day approaches, let's take a moment to remember those who gave their lives to defend our country – over 2.8 million since our founding. We are eternally in their debt. Let us honor their memory by striving every day to create a more perfect union, one that ensures true freedom – political, economic, and social – for all. Click above to read more.

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  • RPS Direct Update - May 21, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Thank you to everyone who tuned in last night for our third episode of RPS Live! Our featured guests were Carmen Brown, a 5th grade teacher at Henry L. Marsh III Elementary, and Dr. Tracy Epp, our Chief Academic Officer. We had a great discussion about teaching and learning, with a focus on the two curricula up for adoption, Eureka Math and EL Education. Check it out!

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  • RPS Direct Update - May 20, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I'm thrilled to officially introduce our 2020 Valedictorians and Salutatorians! Please join me in congratulating these 16 extraordinary RPS students. To our Valedictorians and Salutatorians: We're so proud of you and so inspired by your dedication and perseverance. We know this wasn't the senior year you had hoped for, but please don't let the pandemic diminish your sense of accomplishment. It certainly hasn't lessened the joy we feel from celebrating you. We love you and will always be here for you. Now go change the world! Click above to read more.

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  • RPS Direct Update - May 19, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, On behalf of RPS, I want to thank the School Board for adopting the budget last night, with a special note of gratitude to our Board Leadership, Chair Linda Owen and Vice-Chair Cheryl Burke. This process is never easy, as there's always less money than our students and teachers deserve. And this year was particularly challenging, as the revenue picture changed suddenly due to the coronavirus. Though RPS isn't receiving as much of an increase as we had originally hoped for, we're still up – in no small part due to the leadership of Governor Northam and Mayor Stoney. Very few school districts around the country are in such a position. We're extremely blessed to able to provide a raise, hire more staff, and launch new programming next year. Specifically, as of last night, the following enhancements are official!

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  • RPS Direct Update - May 18, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Lots to go over today so let's dive in! Today's Updates: This Evening's School Board Meeting – You can watch the meeting live – starting at 6 pm – from our Facebook page. Click above to read more.

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  • RPS Direct Update - May 15, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Happy Friday! As we head into the weekend, I want to share a quick update on the RPS Direct schedule. I've been telling everyone around me to take some time to rest and recharge in order to stay fresh for the challenges ahead. Our deeply empathetic School Board Leadership, Ms. Owen and Ms. Burke, told me to do the same :). So I'm going to pause on sending weekend RPS Direct messages for now, which should free up a couple of hours to spend with my family. Thank you for your understanding! Today's Updates: Computer and Hotspot Distribution for Elementary Students – Computer distribution will continue next Tuesday, May 19, for our final three elementary schools: Greene, J.L. Francis, and Miles Jones. Thereafter, we'll begin distribution for our preschool students. We'll also provide additional distribution days for any student who missed their original time slot. I'll share all of the details next week. Thanks for your patience!

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  • RPS Direct Update - May 14, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Happy Friday Jr.! Today's Updates: FY21 Budget – We have another budget meeting this evening, which you can watch live on our Facebook page starting at 6 pm. We also have a regular School Board meeting on Monday, May 18, when we hope to adopt a final budget. As always, you can share public comment by emailing speakers@rvaschools.net. RPS Live! – If you missed last night's episode featuring my interview with 2020 RPS Teacher of the Year, Ms. Rahmah Johnson, don't worry; it's right here! Computer and Hotspot Distribution for Elementary Students – I apologize to any families from Ginter Park or Munford who were unable to get computers this morning. In short, the number of people who showed up exceeded the number who registered for devices. We apologize for the inconvenience and will make sure to add another distribution date for those two schools early next week.

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  • RPS Direct Update - May 13, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, What a beautiful day! Here's to more warmth coming our way this week! Today's Updates: RPS Live! – Don't miss our new weekly (virtual) community meeting, every Wednesday at 7 pm, on our Facebook page. My special guest tonight is our 2020 RPS Teacher of the Year, Rahmah Johnson. "See" you shortly! Computer and Hotspot Distribution for Elementary Students – Tomorrow we have distribution at Ginter Park, Overby-Sheppard, Mary Munford, and Southampton. I'll share the schedule for next week in my Friday RPS Direct. Request of High School Teachers – I'm thrilled to share that our high school students have collectively enrolled in thousands of Edgenuity courses via RPS@Home. At the same time, we still have some students who have not yet enrolled, or who haven't enrolled for their full course load. Given this, I'm asking all high school teachers – to the extent you have the ability and time given the pandemic – to reach out to your students to check in on them and encourage them to enroll in the relevant Edgenuity courses. And please let them know about this document on our website that lays out all the requirements for high school students during the closure. Thank you in advance for your assistance! With great appreciation, Jason

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  • RPS Direct Update - May 12, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, It occurred to me this afternoon that tomorrow, May 13, marks two months since we closed our doors. In that time, the Richmond area has tragically experienced over 2,500 infections and more than 150 deaths. During that same period, we've also seen a surge in the number of people needing mental health support. Though the data on this is harder to come by, I think we can all agree that the situation is dire for many in our community. Given this, I want to share once again the mental health supports available to the RPS Family. If I'm an RPS emplpyee, where can I get mental health support? This support is provided through our Cigna Employee Assistance Program. To access it, call 877-622-4327 or visit www.mycigna.com. “RPS” (without the quotes) is our Employer ID. Cigna is providing 10 free counseling sessions for any concerns related to the coronavirus. Where can I get mental help support for someone not covered by our plan? The Richmond Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA) provides support to anyone in Richmond. Please call 804-819-4000 for assistance. What should I do if I know someone who is thinking about harming themselves? Please immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Click above to read more.

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  • RPS Direct Update - May 11, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day! Once again, thank you to all mothers and all those who provide motherly love across RPS. We appreciate you! Today's Updates: Computer and Hot Spot Distribution for Elementary Students – Please note the schedule change in orange below: Tuesday, May 12: Barack Obama, Linwood Holton, Patrick Henry, Swansboro, Woodville Wednesday, May 13*: Bellevue, GH Reid Thursday, May 14: Ginter Park, Overby-Sheppard, Mary Munford, Southampton Amelia Street students may go to a designated school on any date. *SCHEDULE CHANGE: JL Francis, Miles Jones, and ESH Greene have been moved to next week because of a shipping delay. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience.

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  • RPS Direct Update - May 10, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Happy Mother's Day! Our shout-outs this evening honor the mothers and all those who provide motherly love in RPS. Please join me in thanking them for their encouragement, support, and, of course, love. I'd like to send a special shout-out to my mom, Linda, my mother-in-law, Meg, and my wife, Miwa. Here's a picture from Miwa's first Mother's Day. She's been the most amazing partner to me and mom to our boys – somehow always making sure they've got a book in their hands :). I can't believe it, but that little guy is now 10! With great appreciation, Jason

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