Principal’s Message

Happy New Year Short Pump students and families! 

We are very excited to welcome our students and families back for the 2023-2024 school year in August. We don’t want to rush the last few weeks of summer but we thought it would be helpful to provide a mid-summer edition of the Puma Blast to fill you in on updates and upcoming events! 

In addition to being excited about welcoming our students and families back for a great year, I am beyond thrilled to begin my second year as your principal.  For families that are new to SPMS, I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself! I am a very proud product of Henrico County Public Schools, having attended Glen Allen Elementary, Brookland Middle, and the Humanities Specialty Center at Hermitage High School.  Following my education in Henrico, I earned my bachelor’s in Education from Longwood University, and both my master’s in Educational Leadership and my doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Virginia Tech, where my research focused on exceptional education leadership.

Here at Short Pump, we have a strong, clear vision: We connect. We learn. We grow.  After my first year serving our community and with the start of year two, I continue to focus on instilling a sense of belonging for all members of our community. We know that by creating the best possible middle school experience for all of our young people with the support and active engagement of faculty, staff, families, and community members, we will foster and grow our young people’s strengths and unique qualities. I am excited to continue our work together to facilitate an experience where all of our students know they have a place; they belong.  

As we strive to improve the student and community experience, we are excited to share the evolution of our House system to a new and engaging opportunity for our students to connect, learn, and grow at SPMS! This year we will begin the Battle of the Grade Levels. This new system is based on valuable insights from our students, staff, and community. After carefully considering the feedback we collected with end-of-year surveys, we believe that organizing students into grade-level teams, rather than Houses, will foster a deeper sense of camaraderie, bolster friendly competition, and elicit an even stronger sense of community within the school. Our core values of “bring your best”, “embrace community”, “never stop learning”, and “students first,” will remain our consistent foundation and will continue to be represented on our Puma Shield. With a focus on our core values, the Battle of the Grade Levels yearlong competition will allow our Pumas to work together with their grade level classes to represent all four of our core values each and every day.    

Just as we’ve done in the past, each grade level will be assigned one of our school colors for their grade level team:

6th Grade: White Team 7th Grade: Red Team 8th Grade: Black Team

Our leadership team has organized teachers and staff based on the students they teach or support most often, to ensure they are evenly distributed among the grade-level teams.

Families will have the opportunity to purchase grade-level spiritwear t-shirts at Puma Camp, Open House, and throughout the school year. But, don’t worry house system enthusiasts, students will still have the opportunity to wear our shield colors on Fridays when their grade level attends the activity associated with that core value color to earn Battle points! We will be sharing more about our Battle of the Grade Levels competition as we get closer to the start of the school year, so stay tuned for more information!

I, along with our teachers, faculty, and staff, will continue to uphold a high standard for our students.  We will seek excellence in everything we do, keep student engagement at the forefront, and instill an expectation of inclusivity and authenticity for all members of the greater Short Pump community.  I look forward to learning together and celebrating our students’ successes along the way.  

Please mark your calendars for our 6th grade in-person Puma Camp 2023.  We will be hosting our incoming 6th graders on August 17th from 9 am-12 pm and we can’t wait! Check out the event poster included on the Blast for more details. You will also learn how you can be a part of Puma Camp. 

For our families of students in 7th and 8th grades, please mark your calendars for the afternoon of August 17th from 3:30-6:30 pm for Puma Open House! At Puma Open House students will receive their draft schedules, families may pay fees, join the PTSA, learn about athletics and other ways to get involved, and purchase Puma swag! We are excited to see everyone there! 

In addition to Puma Camp and Open House, I very much look forward to meeting all of our new families in person with the start of the school year. I am also planning to host more opportunities for families to connect throughout the school year. Stay tuned for more information.  We hope you all have a great rest of your summer and we are looking forward to seeing our Pumas very soon! 

Dr. Jessica Seal

Principal, Short Pump Middle School 

We connect. We learn. We grow.