Henrico County VA
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Henrico’s Top Teachers – Danette Brady

Jackson Davis E.S., third grade
Children have always been the focus of Danette Brady’s life.

During a 12-year career in the mental health profession, she worked extensively with children and families. After she had her own children and spent several years at home with them, she was ready to get back into the working world, but this time with a different focus.

Now in her sixth year as an elementary school teacher (four at Sandston Elementary and the past two at Jackson Davis), Brady believes she’s right where she should be.

“I like the opportunities I have to work with a diverse group of children who all bring their own special talents and unique abilities to the classroom – to be able to bring those as strengths,” Brady says.

Parents of her third-graders say Brady has reached them in ways other teachers can’t.

“My son was actually hoping to get a different teacher because he knew her and was comfortable with her,” one parent wrote. “However, we met with Mrs. Brady and my son instantly liked her. He has really struggled over the years with school due to ADHD, OCD, and tic disorder. Mrs. Brady is always very patient and understanding and genuinely cares about the success of her students. [This year], he is thriving. We attribute it to the special attention Mrs. Brady gives to her students.”

Wrote another parent: “She has made my daughter, who has never been a lover of school, turn over a new leaf this year. She is now excited to go to school and learn new things.”

Brady makes a point to engage her students through real-world examples and build their confidence through cross-curricular reinforcement.

“You have to take any lesson you’re doing and bring it alive to them in ways that they can connect to,” she says. “I try to make sure that they’re actively engaged, exploring concepts, and not just memorizing things.”

Brady uses a personal blog and her classroom Promethean board to connect with students and works consistently to give each one the confidence needed to succeed. Sometimes that requires her to be more than a classroom instructor.

“As a teacher, you wear a lot of different hats – cheerleader, coach, mom, teacher,” Brady says. “I feel like a child that’s engaged is a child that’s learning. If you cannot motivate that child and make a connection with that child, you’re at a huge disadvantage. If you can get them to believe in themselves, the possibilities are going to be limitless.”

Brady makes a point to identify each student’s strengths, then works to enhance them in class.

“[In education], we’re real good at diagnosing all the problems,” she says, “and we don’t ever look at ‘What are the things he or she can do. I try to base my whole classroom on that. How can I put students in leadership positions, where they can feel good every day?’ When you can do that, you don’t have nearly as many behavioral problems as they’ve had in other classrooms.”

Though increasing curriculum demands and daily schedules that are more crowded than ever can be stressful, Brady finds that the positives far outweigh any occasional negatives.

“There are days when I’m feeling like ‘I just don’t want to go to work today,’ but I go in and have 28 smiling faces and all these reasons pulling at my heart. They make you want to be here.”


Community

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

Highland Springs field to be dedicated in honor of longtime coach Spears

The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.

Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

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Richmond-based Balinese percussion ensemble Gamelan Raga Kusuma will perform at 3 p.m. at the Earth Day Global Sounds Concert at the University of Richmond. This free, family-friendly concert features Japanese,… Full text

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Henrico's Top Teachers