Superintendent’s Memo #078-12

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

March 30, 2012

TO:  Division Superintendents

FROM:  Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT:  The 2012 Virginia Science Standards Institutes for K-3 Teachers

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), Office of Standards, Curriculum, and Instruction, is pleased to announce the 2012 Virginia Science Standards Institutes (VSSI). The Virginia Department of Education, in collaboration with the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH), the Science Museum of Virginia, and six other state agencies, will conduct two Institutes this summer.  These six-day summer learning experiences for kindergarten through third-grade teachers and administrators are designed to support the implementation of the Science Standards of Learning (SOL).

The two Institutes will model exemplary science instruction, especially focusing on kindergarten through third-grade science SOL content and processes using cross-curricular instruction, student teams, and inquiry-based, project-based, and place-based learning. Teachers participating in a VSSI will work with a vertical school/division team to design a school/division instructional unit framework during the week. They will then be able to use the vertical instructional unit framework in their school/division during the school year. In order to facilitate a vertical team format for the VSSI, school divisions/schools are asked to send a team of kindergarten through third-grade teachers and an administrator to the Institute. The schedule for the VSSI is as follows:

Hungry Mother State Park
July 8-13, 2012

Bear Creek Lake State Park
July 22-27, 2012

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) will assume the cost of registration, lodging, and meals for all participants of the Institutes. School divisions are encouraged to cover mileage expenses for division participants as this cost is not assumed by the VDOE; however, this is not a requirement of the program.

Enrollment for each Institute is limited to 25 teachers and administrators at each site (50 total) from across the state.  Participant selections will be based on several criteria. Applicants from schools accredited with warning in science will be given first priority for participation in the Institutes. Selection criteria also include the order in which applications are received, a balance of participant teams from the eight superintendents’ regions, and a balance of participant teams from school divisions. Team applications will be given preference over individual teacher applications.
Participants of the VSSI will receive a one-year membership to the Virginia Association of Science Teachers (VAST) for 2012-2013, and will be encouraged to attend the annual VAST State Professional Development Institute, Designing Your Way through Science, which will be held this year at the Williamsburg Marriott, Williamsburg, Virginia, on November 7-10, 2012.

The team application form is attached to this memorandum. Teacher/teacher team and administrator applications must be received at the Department of Education by 5 p.m. on May 11, 2012.  Notifications of acceptance will be provided to applicants and the applicants’ school principals by e-mail on or before May 18, 2012.

Please e-mail, mail, or fax completed applications to:

Barbara Young, Science Specialist
Virginia Department of Education
P.O. Box 2120
James Monroe Building, Floor 24
Richmond, VA 23218-2120
Fax: (804) 786-1703

If you need additional information about the 2012 Virginia Science Standards Institutes, please contact Barbara Young, science specialist, office of standards, curriculum, and instruction, by e-mail at, or by telephone at (804) 225-2676.



  1. 2012 Virginia Science Standards Institute (VSSI) Team Application (Word)