Henrico’s Top Teachers – Ragan Collins

During her six years at Ratcliffe Elementary School, Ragan Collins has quickly become the school’s rock. Officially, Collins is a second grade teacher. Unofficially, she’s a friend, mentor, assistant and encyclopedia all rolled into one.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, Ms. Collins can give you helpful information on any of our 460 students that attend Ratcliffe,” a colleague wrote in a nomination letter. “Parents adore Ms. Collins, students are mesmerized by her and her colleagues use her for a resource at any given time of the day.”

Collins, who thought her love of children would lead to a career in pediatrics or child psychology, admits that she has a way with kids.

“I refer to myself as a child-magnet,” she says with a laugh. “Even when I’m out in public, strangers’ children will reach for me.

Her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia is in psychology. “So, I can gauge what students need from me,” she says. “Sometimes it’s a hug, sometimes it’s just me listening to them.

“Every child is waiting to get that positive experience from school [but] there are some who have just never had a positive experience that has made them buy into it. That’s the first thing that I’m going to do – try to get them to buy in.”

In the classroom, colleagues marvel at her ability to improve the reading skills of her students by one or two grade levels each year. The secret, she says, is not really a secret at all.

“It’s just giving them a comfortable space where they can have some meaningful practice. It’s not that they can’t read, it’s not that they don’t want to read – it’s just that they’re seven.”

To help give them extra practice, Collins constantly utilizes reading exercises across all topics, including social studies, math and other core subjects. And when a child who has struggled with reading finally breaks through?

“It is my favorite part of the job,” Collins says. “I’ll see them blossom. . . and it is just an absolutely beautiful experience.”

Collins has regularly had several special needs students in her classes with mainstream students, but her approach is the same with all students.

“There are 18 different personalities in my room at any one time,” she said. “It’s a constant balancing act to meet all of those needs.

“I’m in a place where I feel like I really matter to the kids, a place where I feel like I’ve been instrumental in some of their successes. Every year I get that affirmation that, you know what? This is a pretty rockin’ job.”
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Va. State Police release opioid/heroin awareness videos


Virginia State Police officials have released two opioid/heroin awareness videos.

One video – Broken Dreams, details the story of Sheriff Alleghany County Sheriff Kevin W. Hall’s son, Ryan, and his battle with addiction. The video describes Ryan Hall's struggle to overcome addiction and persevere.

The second video, No Second Chance, debuted recently on the Eastern Shore and follows the tragic consequences of a 20-year-old Accomack County woman who died from a heroin overdose in July 2016. > Read more.

Business in brief


To mark the changing of the name of Cadence at the Glen to Verena at the Glen, the independent living rental retirement community in Glen Allen is hosting an open-to-the-public celebration Nov. 16. The Showcase of Homes will feature cuisine from the culinary team, refreshments and live jazz, along with tours of the community. The public will also have the opportunity to meet residents and staff. Verena at the Glen is owned by an affiliate of Chicago-based Green Courte Partners, LLC. With the name change to Verena (Latin for true) the community is bringing an updated wellness philosophy, along with enhanced dining, fitness programs, services and activities. The Showcase of Homes at Verena at the Glen will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The community is located at 10286 Brook Road, Glen Allen. RSVP at http://VerenaAtTheGlen.com/RSVP. > Read more.

GRASP offers Spanish-speaking advisor for financial aid questions


GRASP, a nonprofit, charitable, college-access organization that assists students and families in obtaining funding for post-secondary education, now has a Spanish-speaking advisor available to assist students and families with the financial aid process.

The advisor, Conchy Martinez, is bilingual and is available to assist with outreach to the Latino community. > Read more.

Henrico Schools to host 7 meetings for budget feedback


Henrico Schools will host seven meetings prior to the release of Superintendent Pat Kinlaw's proposed Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget in January to solicit community input about the budget. A short presentation by HCPS budget staff members will be followed by opportunities to comment and ask questions. The school division will develop a budget proposal using feedback from stakeholders. > Read more.

Glen Allen dentist offering low-cost braces to qualified children


Glen Allen-based White Orthodontics will donate more than $300,000 in orthodontic care to children of families who cannot afford the full cost of braces. Dr. Paul White and his team will host an open house Saturday, Nov. 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at their office, 5237 Hickory Park Drive in Glen Allen, to meet with interested families.

The effort is part of the national Smiles Change Lives program, which counts some 800 orthodontists nationwide among its ranks. > Read more.

Henrico Business Bulletin Board

December 2017
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The Eastern Henrico Ruritan Club will hold a Turkey Shoot every Friday through Dec. 15 at Glen Echo Ball Field, 3812 Nine Mile Rd., from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Rounds cost $5 each per shooter. There are 16 shooters per round. Prizes will be awarded. Full text

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