By Tim Ryan

The Rotary Club of Newport News recently hosted a talk by Mr. Douglas Brown, Director of Innovation and Strategy at Newport News Public Schools (NNPS), highlighting the impressive accomplishments of NNPS and the role community partners play in fostering student success.

NNPS has achieved remarkable success in recent years, with the district’s graduation rate hitting 94.6% in 2023 – one of the highest in the region. Additionally, 76% of students graduated with advanced diplomas. This success is attributed to the district’s various initiatives, such as early college high schools, expansion of career technical education programs, and STEM programs. These efforts led to NNPS being recognized as a Model Partnership District by the Virginia Department of Education.

Community partnerships play an essential role in NNPS’s achievements. Partners support students in various ways, from organizing summer programs and mentorship opportunities to providing take-home meal programs and beautifying school campuses. These services offer both direct and indirect support, enhancing students’ lives and their learning environments.

Direct support involves direct engagement with students, such as classroom reading, tutoring, or mentoring. On the other hand, indirect support encompasses sharing school information, attending school events, and supporting education-related initiatives. Both forms of support significantly contribute to NNPS’s success.

Mr. Brown encouraged Rotary Club members to consider supporting students and educators. Offering LSAT prep sessions to college-bound students, helping with financial aid applications, or sharing professional expertise with students are ways to make a lasting impact. He also emphasized the importance of supporting teachers by hosting events to recognize their efforts, starting educator support groups, and speaking positively about their contributions to counteract the unwarranted blame often placed on public education.

NNPS welcomes community engagement and support from organizations like the Rotary Club of Newport News. Those interested in supporting NNPS can contact the Family and Community Engagement team to explore various opportunities for involvement.

The Rotary Club of Newport News is grateful for Mr. Brown’s insightful presentation and looks forward to continuing its support for the students, educators, and community of Newport News.