Henrico CTE Wins 11 of 13 NACo Awards For Henrico County Public Schools

Henrico Career & Technical Education has been recognized for 11 of the 13 2020 National Association of Counties Achievement Awards given to Henrico County Schools. NACo’s website describes themselves as:

The National Association of Counties (NACo) strengthens America’s countiesserving nearly 40,000 county elected officials and 3.6 million county employees.  Founded in 1935, NACo unites county officials to:

  • Advocate county priorities in federal policymaking
  • Promote exemplary county policies and practices
  • Nurture leadership skills and expand knowledge networks
  • Optimize county and taxpayer resources and cost savings, and
  • Enrich the public’s understanding of county government.

NACo gave out 54 awards in Virginia this year with 25 going to Henrico County, 13 going to Henrico schools, and 11 of the 13 for Henrico CTE.

  • #LifeReady Expo.
  • Building the Future, Brick by Brick.
  • Cosmetology Advisory Council Leads Way to Mentorship Program.
  • “CTE NOW”: Podcast Explores, Promotes Career and Technical Education.
  • CTE Open House: Leading and Mentoring the Future.
  • Queens UNITED.
  • A No-Cost Camp Expands Access to Robotics, Engineering and Coding.
  • Pooling Resources: Swimming Partnership Makes a Community Safer.
  • VARP Helps Students See Careers from the Top Down.
  • Who Kept the Dogs In?
  • What’s Christmas Without Toys?
  • Creating a Culture of Life-Ready Learners.
  • Making Professional Development Meaningful for Assistant Principals.


Descriptions of the 13 winning programs can be found below.


One program – the Queens UNITED mentoring program based at the Academy at Virginia Randolph – was a dual winner, garnering recognition from the Virginia Association of Counties as well. The school was also a dual winner in 2019.


Across all departments and agencies, Henrico County earned 25 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties. Henrico’s 25 awards are the most of any county in Virginia for the 15th consecutive year and were the seventh most nationally. The counties finishing ahead of Henrico, such as Los Angeles County, Calif. and Miami-Dade County, Fla., all have much larger populations. Those counties all contain between 1 million and 10 million residents, while Henrico County has about 330,000 residents.


Descriptions of the winning HCPS programs:


#LifeReady Expo (Career and Technical Education). HCPS’ first-ever LifeReady Expo in October 2019 enabled employers and students to build relationships. Students showed off their “soft skills,” met with employers, learned about career pathways, and interviewed with employers. One hundred and fifty-three employers attended, along with 3,000 to 4,000 students, parents, and guardians.


Building the Future, Brick by Brick (Career and Technical Education, Advanced Career Education Center at Highland Springs). A partnership with construction firm James River Exteriors gave masonry students the opportunity to learn from experts in the field while working on an actual house project. Students were able to ask questions, and learn about varied approaches to bricklaying, tricks of the trade and investigate careers in masonry.


Cosmetology Advisory Council Leads Way to Mentorship Program (Career and Technical Education, Advanced Career Education Center at Highland Springs). This cosmetology mentorship program helps students build character and professional ethics while developing business and cosmetology skills. Students who complete the program are often more well-rounded citizens, more comfortable in a salon setting, and often find employment with mentors.


“CTE NOW”: Podcast Explores, Promotes Career and Technical Education (Career and Technical Education). The “CTE NOW” podcast was created as a way to promote and elevate HCPS’ Career and Technical Education program as another educational option for students. A rarity (the creators couldn’t find another podcast focusing on career and technical education), the podcast has so far focused on a range of topics in its 45 episodes and has added subscribers and listeners from across the U.S. and other countries.


CTE Open House: Leading and Mentoring the Future (Career and Technical Education, Academy at Virginia Randolph). Students are often not exposed to Career and Technical Education programs until the eighth grade. The HCPS CTE Open House showed fifth-graders at Greenwood Elementary School a host of available options, while enlisting high school students from the Academy at Virginia Randolph to organize, lead and showcase their skills and career goals.


Queens UNITED (Academy at Virginia Randolph Career, Career and Technical Education). The Queens UNITED program (the acronym stands for Unity, Nobility, Integrity, Trustworthiness, Education and Destiny), based at the Academy at Virginia Randolph, has expanded to three 20-girl groups at multiple schools. The program includes girls of all ethnicities and backgrounds and works to cultivate self-awareness, goal-setting and leadership through community service activities, team-building exercises, college visits and more. Most students who complete the program have gone on to college.


A No-Cost Camp Expands Access to Robotics, Engineering and Coding (Career and Technical Education). The Summer Robotics, Engineering and Coding Camp provides up to 40 rising HCPS seventh-graders the chance to explore computer science at no cost. The program provides learning experiences for students who are part of underrepresented and often underrecognized demographics in computer science fields. Offering transportation and a no-cost alternative for the two-week program eliminates roadblocks experienced by many students, keeping the focus on engaged learning.


Pooling Resources: Swimming Partnership Makes a Community Safer (Career and Technical Education). HCPS’ sports medicine program acted to support the school division’s cornerstone of student safety and wellness by creating a partnership with nonprofit SwimRVA. The collaboration helped students who couldn’t swim develop skills and become more comfortable in the water. Participating students have also become certified as lifeguards, giving them more opportunities and improving water safety in the region.


VARP Helps Students See Careers from the Top Down (Career and Technical Education). HCPS’ partnership with the Virginia Association of Roofing Professionals helps students learn more about growing opportunities in the roofing industry. VARP gave students at HCPS’ Advanced Career Education centers hands-on demonstrations and the chance to talk with industry professionals. After students expressed a desire for a realistic video depicting what it was like to be a roofer, they helped film a recruiting video to portray roofing work accurately.


Who Kept the Dogs In? (Career and Technical Education). HCPS was approached by the K-9 unit of the Henrico Police Division to collaborate on a project to build an 8-foot fence to keep police dogs contained during training exercises. The dogs had been required to train at a City of Richmond facility because Henrico County had no similar facility. ACE Center at Highland Springs students were able to help complete the project and build lasting relationships with the officers of the Henrico K-9 unit.


What’s Christmas Without Toys? (Career and Technical Education). Students from Deep Run, Douglas Freeman, Glen Allen, Hermitage and Highland Springs high schools took on a 2019 mass-production project, creating toys for donation to the Henrico Christmas Mother program. Teachers taught students about safety and how the manufacturing process works. The project combined skills taught in the classroom and gave students a chance to use their skills to benefit the community.


Creating a Culture of Life-Ready Learners (HCPS Department of Teaching, Learning and Innovation). Because students must compete in a global, diverse, knowledge-based, innovation-centered economy, HCPS developed the Henrico Learner Profile to synthesize seemingly different frameworks into a common vision for all students. The profile addresses the question: what should Henrico students learn and how should they learn it? The resulting model has become HCPS’ guiding academic blueprint.


Making Professional Development Meaningful for Assistant Principals (Department of Professional Learning and Leadership). Professional development for assistant principals is associated with better classroom instruction, teacher retention and positive climate in schools, but is often not included in division-level efforts. An HPCS program created in partnership with six Virginia universities involved monthly cohort meetings with all 163 assistant principals, as well as research and individualized expert coaching throughout the year. Participants increased their ability to solve school problems, their comfort in using research and data to guide decisions, and their opportunities to collaborate.

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