Newport News Education Foundation

What is the Newport News Education Foundation?

NNEF is a diverse group of citizens who support Newport News Public Schools efforts to prepare students for their future. Members bring to the Foundation their expertise in business, education and industry, as well as skills in community and military leadership.

The Newport News Education Foundation seeks to:

  • Facilitate more open active and fluid connections and relationships for partners and prospective partners

  • Advocate on behalf of Newport News Public Schools

  • Communicate in all directions – to the community, public and throughout the school system

  • Educate in all directions – to the public about the outstanding opportunities available to students through the school division, and to the Superintendent and staff on perceptions and areas in need of reward/repair

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Since it was formed in 1992, NNEF has hosted a number of forums with community leaders to discuss important education issues and has held annual events honoring outstanding high school students.

How does it work?

Underlying the Foundation's commitment is the belief that a strong public education system is essential to a healthy and economically viable community. Students rely on the skills and knowledge they obtain in school to compete successfully in their chosen educational, career and life endeavors.

How well students learn the lessons of school and citizenship will have an impact on them, their families, their employers and their community. To support the school division in offering the children of Newport News the best education possible, the Foundation:

  • provides opportunities for members of the school, business, professional and military communities to exchange ideas;
  • supports innovation in the classroom to broaden and improve opportunities for all students;
  • reviews educational standards and identifies needs;
  • supports applications for grants and other awards;
  • supports efforts to obtain necessary resources from state and federal government;
  • assists in promoting legislative initiatives that will improve education; and recognizes and celebrates our children as the future of Newport News, the Virginia Peninsula, and beyond.

How can businesses and school work together?

Partnerships between educators and business have given rise to programs such as Academic Tech, which integrates academic and technical education from ninth grade through two years of post-secondary education, and An Achievable Dream, a unique public/private effort that helps third- through eighth-graders succeed in school.

Although programs may focus on different age groups or academic areas, all strive either to help students achieve in school, to introduce them to career and work options, or to ease the transition to college or additional training.

Other examples of community and school collaborations are programs that provide mentors and role models for students from business and industry; research facilities that introduce young people to high-tech work settings; professional organizations that provide internships, scholarships and programs for students; and policies by businesses that encourage employees to tutor young people and participate in school activities.

How can I help give young people an insight into the business world?

As a parent, neighbor, friend or business owner, you can help students make the transition to the world or work easier by sharing information about your business or career.

  • Discuss with young people the experiences and education that led to your career choice.
  • Give specific examples of how the skills students learn in school--math, writing, or others--are used in your job.
  • Bring an interested young person to your work site for a tour.
  • Let students know the importance of managing time wisely and how that skill will help them in the work world.
  • Ask young people what their interests are and what they are doing to pursue them.
  • Talk about how setting personal and career goals will help them make better choices about further education or training.
  • Consider offering internship or apprentice opportunities at your business.
  • Suggest to your professional organization that it offer a student scholarship or stipend.

NNEF Programs

Wayne D. Lett Scholarship
The Wayne D. Lett Scholar Program is a merit-based award of $10,000 given over four years to a Newport News public school senior who plans to become a public school teacher. The program is administered by the Newport News Education Foundation as a tribute to Wayne D. Lett, Ed.D., a former superintendent of Newport News Public Schools. Financial support is provided by generous donations from Foundation members and Drs. Wayne & Rebecca Lett. The recipient must commit to teach in Newport News for three consecutive years after graduation. The recipient will also have the option to complete a student teaching assignment in the school division. View the 2019 Lett Scholarship Recipient (pdf).

Salute to Success Student Recognition Banquet
The Salute to Success Student Recognition Dinner honors students who have made extraordinary accomplishments towards the goals of becoming college- and career-ready. The event spotlights top high school students including seniors who have earned four or more Industry Certifications, have been recognized by the National Merit Program, are class valedictorians, salutatorians, or have the highest grade point average in grades 9 through 11. More information

Teacher Innovation Mini Grants
The Newport News Education Foundation in partnership with the National Council of Jewish Women, offer classroom mini grants of $50 to $500 for NNPS teachers. Mini grants provide "seed money" for innovative classroom initiatives that enrich the educational experience for students. Mini Grant Information

Career Pathways
Career Pathways was recently added to help create more career-related experiences for students – which is especially relevant as the state moves to a more career-focused curriculum through the new "Profile of a Graduate" initiative.

NNEF Board of Directors and Membership


Mr. John Shifflett, Winning Organizations

Dr. Robin Nelhuebel, Riverside Health System

Jayne Di Vincenzo, Lions Bridge Financial
Vice President

Melissa Burroughs, Business Finance Group

Sylvia Weinstein Craft, The Oyster Pointer


Dr. Gamaliel “Dan” Cherry
NASA Langley Research Center

Dr. Cheryl L. Sharp, DNP, WHNP, CNM
Bon Secours-Mary Immaculate Hospital


Randall "Randy" Gilliland

Patrick Finneran

Emily Dugan


Hugh J. Barlow
Brown, Edwards & Company, LLP

Alonzo Bell
Randolph Real Estate Services Company

Rhonda Bell
Jefferson Lab

Taylor Bigley
Awnings by Bigley and Hogshire

Rick Brandt
RE/MAX Peninsula

Rhonda Bunn
Canon Virginia, Inc.

Sharon Conti
Virginia Educators Credit Union

Robert Criner
Criner Remodeling

Jayne Di Vincenzo
Lions Bridge Financial

Dr. Susan English
Thomas Nelson Community College

Dr. Nicole Guajardo
Christopher Newport University

Phil Harris
Newport News Council of PTAs

Thaddeus B. Holloman, Sr.
Old Point National Bank

Gary B. Hunter
School Board Chairman

Sabrina Jones
The Mariners Museum

Mike Kuhns

Dave Lawson
POMOCO Newport News

Dr. Guy, G. Levy
Levy Dental Group

Dr. Kellie Mason
Principal, Warwick High School

Bob McKenna
Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

John W. McMillan, Jr.

Barry Nachman
Century 21 Nachman Realty

Dr. Robin M. Nelhuebel
Riverside Health System

Dr. George Parker, III
Superintendent, Newport News Public Schools

Christine Pilger
Principal, Discovery STEM Academy

Sam Rose

Darlene G. Stephenson
Bon Secours - Mary Immaculate Hospital

Dr. Lee Vreeland
An Achievable Dream, Inc.

Macon Whitson
Newport News Economic Development Authority

Dr. Deborah George Wright
Winsight Workforce Coalitions