Henrico’s Top Teachers – Connie Kelly
Seven Pines E.S., kindergarten
You might say that education is in Connie Kelly's blood. If she needed to talk to the principal of her elementary school in Illinois, she could do so over dinner each night – he was her father. Her mother also was a teacher.
So perhaps it was no surprise when, after having children, returned to finish her college education and begin her own teaching career in her mid-30s.
"I've been loving it ever since," she said. "I wouldn't do anything else."
Kelly started with five years as a teacher in Richmond and has spent the past nine years teaching kindergarten at Seven Pines Elementary in Sandston. Kindergartners, she said, are the perfect fit for her.
"I like their enthusiasm for school," she said. "They are bubbly when they come in, they're so excited to learn. They're like little sponges – I love to see the little lightbulbs come on. It's a wonderful age where they're exploring their environment, they're learning new things, learning how to get along with others."
Kelly's patience and thoroughness with her students stands out to parents.
"She is more than a teacher – she is amazing!" one nominator wrote. "She is everything you would want in a teacher or in any person you trust your most valuables to. Kindergarten isn't always an easy step for children but she made such a bond with my son that he was always so eager to go to school."
Much has changed in the expectations place on kindergartners in the decade-plus since Kelly began teaching.
"When I first started, if you taught letters and sounds, and how to put them together, you'd call it a good year," she said. "Now most of the children are reading by the end of kindergarten. They're adding and subtracting, things they used to do by end of first grade.
"When I give them a book and they actually read it, they look at me with a big smile on their face like, 'I'm reading this book!' I think that's the 'ah-ha' moment for me."
Kelly's class utilizes interactive Promethean boards and iPads and computers virtually every day, and she engages students through a number of creative exercises, too.
"They pick it up so easily, they really do," Kelly said of her students' technology acumen. "I think they pick it up easier than I did. We also do a lot of dancing, singing, playing games. You can learn in lots of different ways."
The diversity at Seven Pines across ethnic and socioeconomic groups is something Kelly appreciates and one reason she's enjoyed her time at the school so much. She's also grateful that she has the chance to watch her former students grow as they progress through school. Many stop in to say hello once they've advanced to higher grade levels.
"Mrs. Kelly is the first real teacher my son had, and the way she mentored him and cared for him gave him a path to what is to be expected from other teachers in the future," another nominator wrote. "Her continued contact with the parent really made me feel like my son and I really meant something to her."
For the third consecutive year, the Canterbury Recreation Association in Short Pump donated the most meals to the fourth-annual "Dunk Hunger" campaign, which raises money and food donations for FeedMore's Central Virginia Food Bank. Swim teams and community pools throughout the region combined to raise the equivalent of 77,404 meals this year, with the Canterbury group earning the Gold Medal, with 17,454 meals contributed.
CRA will earn a winners’ bash Aug. 24 from 3 to 5 p.m. at its pool on Pump Road.
“Our pool has adopted Dunk Hunger into its culture with fun ways to raise food and funds," said Canterbury’s Dunk Hunger chairman Jack McSorley, a Freeman High School junior. > Read more.
The last Rock ‘n’ Roll Summer outdoor concert at West Broad Village, scheduled Saturday, Aug. 22 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Short Pump, will feature a salute to the upcoming UCI Road World Cycling Championships, coming to the Richmond region next month. As an all-girl band entertains the public with an AC/DC and Foreigner tribute, representatives from West Broad Village will accept donations of children’s new and lightly used bicycles for redistribution to youngsters at the Virginia Homes for Boys and Girls. > Read more.
CAT Theatre is hosting the Red Eye 10s Coast-to-Coast Play Festival Sept. 18-19. Hosts of the festival across the country cast, rehearse and perform six, contest-winning ten-minute plays from MFA students at Hollins University in the same twenty-four hour period.
On Sept. 18, CAT will host a kick-off meeting at which the plays will be randomly cast and actors will meet with their directors and read the play for the first time. From 9 p.m. until 5 p.m. the following day, casts will rehearse in different venues in the region, convening at CAT in the late afternoon for technical rehearsals. > Read more.
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CalendarYoung Chefs Academy, located at 2230 John Rolfe Pkwy., will host an open house with Food Network Magazine on Saturday, Aug. 29 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Attendees will… Full text