Portsmouth Public Schools (PPS) is an historic and proud urban school division that traces its origin back to the late 1840’s. A number of accomplished individuals are alumni of our schools. From college presidents, to accomplished musicians, to world famous designers, to Olympic champion athletes, Portsmouth Public Schools has well taught and well trained its community's young people in the past, and will continue that tradition into the future.
In recent years, our schools have earned a number of recognitions and honors; as Title I Schools of Distinction, as Governor's Schools of Excellence, and by achieving division-wide Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for four consecutive years. Mr. Thomas Shenk, a physical education teacher at John Tyler Elementary School, is the current Teacher of the Year for the Tidewater Region. Recently, the Portsmouth City School Board was recognized as a "School Board of Distinction" by the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA). It was also recognized with the Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) with the Annual Award of School Board Excellence.
PPS developed and implemented a dedicated STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program for elementary students well before the acronym STEM existed. Today we have dedicated hands-on STEM experiences that begin in fourth grade and continue into our local community college. Over the past six years we have revitalized our Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program under the “banner” of A/C-13 (“academics and careers for the thirteenth year”). Through A/C-13, our students are encouraged to attend specialized CTE programs i.e. hotel management, culinary arts, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), horticulture and child care which are located among our three high schools.
A signature program in Portsmouth is our First College program. First College is a dual enrollment total emersion college experience available to our second semester seniors. First College is a cooperative effort among PPS, Tidewater Community College (TCC), and the Frederick W. Beazley Foundation. Hundreds of Portsmouth students have taken advantage of this valuable collegiate experience over the past six years.
In September, the new “green” Simonsdale Elementary School was opened to a population of over seven hundred students. This LEADS certified, environmentally friendly, school replaces two smaller and older elementary schools in the western section of Portsmouth. Within the past several years new gymnasium facilities have been added to Victory, James Hurst, Churchland Primary and Intermediate Elementary Schools. A gymnasium is currently under construction at Churchland Elementary School. When completed, every school in Portsmouth will have an indoor facility for physical education and recreation.
Portsmouth Public Schools is an historic and proud school division; but it is very much a modern and progressive school division meeting its students’ needs and propelling them successfully into the twenty-first century.
David C. Stuckwisch, Ph.D