Chesterfield County Public Schools – Chesterfield County, Virginia

November 30, 2023

Chesterfield County Public Schools

Nurturing Excellence and Innovation


Redefining education with a focus on teacher development, Chesterfield County Public Schools sets students on the right educational path.

All means all in Chesterfield County Public Schools, a student-centered and award-winning school system where all students have meaningful opportunities to succeed. The largest school district in central Virginia, Chesterfield County Public Schools is growing because families want their children educated in supportive, innovative schools. From its commitment to academic innovation to the strong community partnerships that make its vision succeed, Chesterfield County Public Schools is a pivotal force within the region.

Dedication to Educational Excellence

Superintendent Mervin B. Daugherty says, “Our philosophy is that every child coming into our school system, no matter the ZIP code, the financial situation, receives the best education, every day.” He underscores the district’s commitment to fostering a nurturing and supportive environment for students and for staff across all 67 schools, with an emphasis on recognizing the uniqueness of each student as they step into the learning environment.

“Every child is extremely important when they walk in our doors every day. We make sure that the entire staff of Chesterfield County Public Schools — over 8,000 full-time employees — feels that we are walking the talk of demonstrating that support. We care about every child who is in our school system,” Dr. Daugherty says.

Dr. Daugherty

This dedication to student success begins early, and the district has opened a center dedicated to 3- and 4-year-olds, preparing them to thrive when they reach kindergarten. “Our success with this program has far exceeded what we had anticipated,” Dr. Daugherty says.

Currently, this prekindergarten initiative encompasses 14 schools, serving about 400 students. “Our students can read when they go into kindergarten. With the support that we’ve seen from the community about our center, our goal is in the next several years to open up another center in another part of our school division,” he adds.

Moving into the elementary grades, Dr. Daugherty stresses the district’s commitment to career and technical education programming. Students are exposed not only to various career opportunities but also to STEAM programs.

A partnership with LEGO Education has been instrumental in some of these hands-on opportunities. “We have partnered with LEGO to make sure that we have educational kits in all of our schools K-12. We are also involved in the First LEGO League robotics competitions. It’s helped us a great deal in promoting different opportunities for students as they become more creative within that program, as well as having them look at different career opportunities that they see adults around them involved with,” Dr. Daugherty says.

Empowering Students with Career and Technical Education

Dr. Daugherty stresses the importance of students being able to consider college or career options from an early age and being aware of their options. “The career field is very exciting right now with the opportunities that are out there,” he says. “When you think about the CTE programming that we do in our schools, with technology, with computers, cybersecurity, programming, the interest is just growing rapidly for students. As businesses around the community are seeing our students well prepared, they are even getting offered jobs before they graduate from our programs.”

He expands on the district’s career and technical education options, noting that Chesterfield County Public Schools offers 17 pathways for students and a robust work-based learning program that enables secondary students to gain hands-on experience in various businesses across the community.

“We have over 500 businesses right now that partner with us. This past year, we had over 9,000 state certificates earned by our students in CTE, and we had over 23,000 work-based learning experiences for our high school students,” Dr. Daugherty says.

The arrival of a LEGO facility in the county speaks volumes about Chesterfield County Public Schools focus on equipping students with the skills and knowledge that meet the demands of top-tier industries.

“They spoke to our CTE people about being sure that we’d have the right workforce for them,” Dr. Daugherty says. Chesterfield County Public Schools also collaborates with industries such as CarMax, Shamin Hotels and Dominion Energy, which hire students based on the skills they are acquiring in high school.

“We hold a career fair in April for students who aren’t sure what they want to do,” he says. “We usually have over 100 businesses show up to offer jobs on the spot for students who are looking for career advancement in programs that interest them.”

Outside-of-the-Box Approach to Staffing Challenges

In addressing the teacher shortages being experienced throughout the country, the district recognized the need to think beyond conventional recruitment methods and adopted a more business-oriented strategy. By using platforms like Indeed and Handshake, they effectively showcased the district as an appealing place to work.

“Over the past three years, we have done a great deal with salaries and incentives to entice people to stay in the school district,” Dr. Daugherty notes. “But we also were thinking outside the box.” This thinking sets Chesterfield County Public Schools apart and has brought forward some unconventional pathways for talent acquisition. This year, the district hired 30 teachers from other countries through Participate Learning, diversified its workforce through a career switcher program and enlisted over 200 individuals looking to transition into education careers.

“We have over 99% fill rate in our teaching areas. And even our bus driver shortage has calmed down quite a bit just because of the incentives that we’ve offered. We’ve been very fortunate to staff our buildings this year, so we’re excited about that,” he says.

Innovative Communication Strategies and Valuable Partnerships

Chief of Communications and Community Engagement Shawn Smith explains the district’s approach to communication: “For our school division, we try to over-communicate with our families. We want to ensure that they have all the information that they need, both proactive and reactive.”

At the central level, the district adopts a structured communication strategy: On Mondays, the superintendent communicates updates and information to all employees via a digital newsletter. On Wednesdays, the district communicates with community-based partners, fostering collaboration and keeping external organizations and stakeholders in the loop. Fridays are reserved for a digital newsletter distributed to all families and staff members.

In 2021, the district launched CCPS On the Go, a printed newsletter mailed three times a year to all county residences. This initiative not only keeps residents — including those without children currently enrolled in the district — informed but also encourages their engagement in the educational initiatives. Additional communication outlets are revamped school websites and social media.

Partnerships with key entities such as LEGO, Bon Secours Health System and TowneBank are noteworthy for the district. Smith says that the Chesterfield Education Foundation plays a pivotal role in fostering community partnerships: “We work with all of our schools, to ensure they have several partners that they work with. We encourage them to have a business partner and a community partner, and we also have a lot of the faith leaders who are engaged.”

Dr. Daugherty embraces essential partnerships that significantly impact students. Conexus, for instance, provides free eye exams and glasses to students, addressing a critical health need. “Since we’ve been working with them, they’ve handed out 7,000 pairs of glasses for free to our children,” he says.

A collaboration with Audio Enhancement, aimed at improving classroom acoustics and communication, is something Dr. Daugherty believes will also benefit students and enhance learning outcomes. The district’s relationships with higher education institutions like Grand Canyon University and Brightpoint Community College are also key, providing teacher training and dual enrollment opportunities for students.

Another valued partner of Chesterfield County Public Schools is Communities In Schools. Dr. Daugherty says, “They help us greatly, not only with our students but as a strong outreach to our families and the families that need assistance. If the families feel like they’re supported in our schools, we have a greater opportunity for our children to be successful because they’re getting more encouragement from home about going to school.”

Looking ahead, Dr. Daugherty outlines two areas of focus for Chesterfield County Public Schools. The first is embracing the science of reading to ensure that all students achieve proficiency in reading. Equally vital is providing professional development opportunities for teachers.

“We will spend a great deal of time over the next two to three years making sure that our teachers have the most up-to-date best practices, that they have the support and the materials that they need,” he says. “We have great teachers in our school division, who love our kids, and we want to make sure that they feel supported, and that they also have the techniques that they need to deal with an ever-changing population that’s coming into their classroom.”

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Chesterfield County Public Schools

What: A forward-thinking school district with a student’s-first focus

Where: Chesterfield County, Virginia



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November 2023

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