Henrico County VA

Top Teachers: Stephen Worfolk

Jackson Davis E.S., third grade
Stephen Worfolk happened upon his career calling on a basketball court, while coaching a team at St. Mary’s Church.

“Even though we lost a lot of games my first year, I truly enjoyed teaching the kids how to play,” he said. “It was then I realized I would like to try my hand at teaching.”

Although he now “coaches” a classroom full of third-graders at Jackson Davis E.S., the challenges are similar in some respects.

“A large group of students come to you each year on different levels academically, emotionally and physically,” he said.  “Trying to meet each student’s needs and creating a classroom environment where each can grow can be very challenging.”

Sometimes the students, like his basketball players, need physical help and encouragement. In September, for instance, when training begins for the mile or half-mile running test in P.E., many can barely run a lap around the track. But Worfolk makes sure that the students exercise each day and run a mile at least three times a week.

Worfolk notes that one of his favorite days of the school year is the spring running test, when students who ran with difficulty in September find they can now go the distance without stopping. “It’s incredibly rewarding,” said Worfolk. “It is so neat to see students get excited about conquering a challenge they might have hated in the beginning of the year.”

A parent who observed this transformation comments, “Some kids never have – and may never again have – the opportunity or the encouragement that he provides. The physical progress for many of the kids is very inspirational.”

Parents also admire Worfolk’s “relentless” energy and concern for his students, and note that while strict, “he has a huge heart.”

To his students’ delight, he makes a point of attending their extracurricular activities and sports throughout the year. And to the delight of parents, he compiles an end-of-year show featuring photos from extracurricular events as well as from in-school activities.

Worfolk’s interest in the children as individuals, say parents, has a tremendous effect on students’ motivation and enthusiasm when it comes to school.

When it comes to enthusiasm for his students and for his colleagues, it’s hard to match Worfolk, as well.

One of his more rewarding teaching experiences involved a student who came into his class reading far below grade level.

Worfolk said the student was “incredibly hard-working,” but required help from many teachers beside himself due to being so far behind.

“I was proud to be a part,” he said, “of this amazing group of teachers . . . who helped this student with her reading to the point where she could read proudly to the rest of the class.” 
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Brews and bites done right

Urban Tavern’s big, bold themes impress

The Urban Tavern opened in August, replacing the former Shackelford’s space at 10498 Ridgefield Parkway in Short Pump. Because of local and longtime devotion to Shackleford’s, Urban Tavern has some big shoes to fill.

Without any background information, I headed to the restaurant for dinner on a Wednesday night, two months after its opening.

On a perfect fall evening, four out of eight outdoor tables were taken, giving the impression that the restaurant was busier than it was. On the inside, a couple tables were taken, and a few folks were seated at the bar. > Read more.

A terrible, horrible movie. . . that’s actually pretty good

‘Alexander’ provides uncomplicated family fun
It’s not surprising in the least that Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day doesn’t much resemble the book it’s based upon.

Judith Viorst’s 1972 picture book isn’t exactly overflowing with movie-worthy material. Boy has bad day. Boy is informed that everyone has bad days sometimes. Then, the back cover.

In the film, the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad-ness is blown up to more extreme size. Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) has a bum day every day, while the rest of his family (Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey) exist in a constant bubble of perfection and cheery optimism – to the point that the family is so wrapped up in their own success that Alexander’s being ignored.

So on the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander makes a wish: just once, he’d like his family to see things from his perspective; to experience the crushing disappointment of one of those no good, very bad days. Once he has blown out the candle on his pre-birthday ice cream sundae, his family’s fate is sealed: one full day of crippling disasters for all of them. > Read more.

Deep Run HS plans fall musical

Tickets for Deep Run High School’s fall musical production – Aida – will go on sale Nov. 3. The Elton John-Tim Rice pop opera, inspired by Verdi’s classic opera, tells the story of enslaved Nubian princess Aida, who falls for captain of the guard Radames, who is betrothed to the Egyptian princess.

Performances will be held Nov. 13-15 at 7 p.m. each day. > Read more.

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