Brook Hill Farm

One of the greatest challenges for children who are abused, neglected and at-risk is finding a path to help them recover and become healthy, happy and productive. In a way, that's also what Jo Anne Miller at Brook Hill Farm Horse Rescue has been doing for abandoned and abused horses. Miller, a certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, runs a program called United Neigh where at-risk youth age 12-18 work with the horses that, in turn, help the children.

Noting a remarkable turnaround since he spoke to them last year, Governor McAuliffe has told the General Assembly’s money committees that the Commonwealth's financial situation is great-and how he would like to move forward.  During his remarks to lawmakers Thursday, he emphasized his focus on economic development and acquiring military contracts, but much of his speech was devoted to investing in education.

VA's Preschool Initiative

Aug 25, 2015
File Photo/ AP/Ted S. Warren

A special joint subcommittee of state lawmakers has been carefully examining Virginia’s preschool initiative to determine how such programs can be improved.  

The Delegates and Senators heard testimony indicating that high-quality preschool instruction can close the cognitive gap between rich and poor children by 40 percent long-term.  

From birth, the brain forms 42,000 new connections per minute—which build its architecture. Very early experiences establish either a sturdy or fragile foundation for all cumulative development and learning.

As kids head back to school, parents, teachers and administrators are gearing up for a fight in Richmond – hoping to win greater state support for public education.  They say it’s time to restore cuts made during the recession  and to raise pay for new teachers as  thousands prepare to retire.  

As president of the Virginia Education Association, Meg Gruber is sounding the alarm.

“Thirty-eight percent of our teachers are 50 years and older, and if you have enough years of service in at 50, you can retire.”

Virginia leaders are applauding this year’s gains in student Standards of Learning tests, especially since the Department of Education made the assessments more rigorous. But, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction would still like to see improvement—particularly for English language-learners.