Teachers from Bowling Green Elementary joined an innovative initiative designed to change how science is taught across Virginia.

Rebecca Schieber and Qamiya Dubose began a year-long program with the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA), which kicked off with an intensive, four-week Elementary Science Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Funded by a $34m grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the program applies the principles of hands-on science, student-centered inquiry, the nature of science, and problem-based learning. The goal is to shift science instruction from the traditional teacher-led classroom to examining “real world” problems and thinking like scientists to find solutions.

VISTA aims to improve student learning by offering teachers free professional learning opportunities, free personalized coaching and mentoring, a $5,000 stipend, $1,000 for classroom supplies, a trip to the Virginia Association of Science Teachers Professional Development Institute, and a diverse community of practice to support them throughout the school year.

For more information about VISTA, click here. The initiative also offers free professional development for new middle and high school science teachers, and district science coordinators.

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The August Caroline County School Board Meeting will be held on Monday, August 4, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium at Caroline Middle School.

It’s time to make your shopping list because Virginia’s popular sales tax holiday for clothing, footwear, and school and office supplies begins Friday.

For the ninth straight year, many clothing items, shoes, and school and office supplies will be sales tax-free during the first full weekend in August, which is Friday, Aug. 1, through Sunday, Aug. 3 this year. It’s a great time to buy what you need while saving some money.

During the three-day event, most school and office supplies that cost $20 or less each, as well as clothing items and pairs of shoes priced at $100 or less each will be exempt from Virginia’s 5.3 percent state and local sales tax. You’ll save even more in most Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads localities where the sales tax is 6 percent. For example, if you spend $500 on qualifying items during the sales tax holiday, you’ll save $26.50 for tax exempt purchases. You’ll save $30 in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

The list of tax-exempt items is the same as last year. It includes pens, pencils, loose leaf ruled notebook paper, scissors, binders, backpacks, construction paper, sneakers, hats, shirts, dresses, jeans, bathing suits, diapers, T-shirts, and many more items. There is no requirement that the purchases be made for school purposes.

All retailers who sell the exempt items are required to participate.

The tax-exempt items are available to anyone shopping in the state and there is no limit on the number of products you can buy tax-free, as long as each one qualifies under the guidelines.

“This is an event that benefits both consumers and businesses in Virginia,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “Many families will be sending more than one child off to school soon and this gives them an opportunity to save money on purchases that are necessary to get them ready for class. It also carries a universal appeal because everyone who wants to buy some clothes or office supplies can benefit during the three days of the holiday. I urge all Virginians to go out and save some money, while supporting our retail community.”

If you can’t get out to the stores but still want to shop and save, online purchases of qualifying items are also tax-exempt during the sales tax holiday.

During the sales tax holiday, retailers may also choose to save taxpayers even more money by absorbing, or paying themselves, the sales tax on items that are not eligible for exemption. In past years, many stores have taken advantage of this opportunity and some have sold everything in their stores tax-free.

An all-inclusive list of school and office supplies, a list of exempt clothing and footwear items, guidelines for shoppers and retailers, and answers to frequently asked questions are available on the Department’s Sales Tax Holiday Information Center at www.tax.virginia.gov.

Virginia’s other two sales tax holidays are for hurricane preparedness in May, and for energy-efficient appliances and water-saving items in October.