Henrico’s Top Teachers – Rita Roberson
Ratcliffe E.S., fifth grade
Students at Ratcliffe Elementary School in Eastern Henrico – and even those who have moved on to middle school and beyond – know that they'll always have a friend and mentor in Rita Roberson.
Roberson, a fifth-grade teacher who has spent her entire 20-year teaching career at Ratcliffe, takes pride in both roles.
"I may be their teacher for just a short time, but I'm always going to be there for them," Roberson said.
Though Ratcliffe sits squarely in the middle of one of Henrico's most at-risk regions (near Laburnum Avenue and Mechanicsville Turnpike) and some of its students live in poverty or single-parent households, Roberson is not fazed.
"Every student is a challenge, whether they are from single-family household or not," she said. "But every one can and will learn."
Students know Roberson as an active teacher who incorporates a variety of hands-on materials, movements and even songs and dances to connect with students. She believes that empowering students to teach various lessons to each other helps them learn more than they might otherwise, and she utilizes a number of progressive ideas championed by nationally known educator Ron Clark. Roberson was among a handful of Henrico teachers who attended Clark's academy in her hometown of Atlanta last year to learn more about his innovative style of educating students.
Some parents tell Roberson that because they struggled with math in school themselves, they don't feel qualified to help their students with it. But there are no excuses for Roberson, who is weeks away from completing a master's degree as a math specialist at VCU and who believes math skills are just as important to a student's growth as reading skills.
"You would never come back [as a parent] and say, 'I just never got reading,'" she said. So she makes it her mission to provide students – and parents – the support they need to master the math skills that will serve them later in life. It works.
"Many of Mrs. Roberson's students come back to visit and discuss how they learned so much in her math class," a nominator wrote. "You often hear, "I wish you could always teach me math."
Roberson was among the first group of teachers in Henrico to work with interactive Promethean boards when the school system began a pilot program years ago. Now she uses hers every day.
"I can't see myself teaching without my board," she said. In addition to making lessons more interactive, the board can help her identify which individual students need extra help by providing real-time quiz results by student.
Technology also has provided her students – many of whom haven't traveled outside this region – with a window to the world. Her class Skypes with students in Colorado and Minnesota, watches and discusses world news on cable television and researches national and international news and events.
Of Roberson, a nominator wrote that "she manages to maintain the interest of majority of her students and inspires them to set higher goals and reach them."
Roberson has taught first, second and fifth grades at Ratcliffe, which she describes as a place "like no other" because of its family environment and supportive faculty, staff and parents.
She particularly enjoys fifth-grade students because they are just coming into their own as individuals.
"They have a sense of purpose," she said. "They're trying to understand who they are and their place in the world. You actually see them changing from that little person who needed your help."
Particularly gratifying for Roberson are the success stories shared by former students who return to visit her classroom. One graduated from William & Mary. Another earned a full scholarship to the University of Richmond and took a job with Teach for America, which has sent her to far-flung corners of the world.
"It's like, alright, I did make a difference," Roberson said.
Henrico County Recreation and Parks will present “Red, White, and Lights” at Meadow Farm Museum/Crump Park July 4.
Henrico County has hosted a Fourth of July celebration annually since 1981, but this year’s event will offer a later start time and expanded hours and be highlighted by new entertainment.
The free event will begin at 4:30 p.m. and will feature the Richmond Symphony, a laser-light show, patriotic performances, and family activities. > Read more.
The Tuckahoe Family YMCA and ReEstablish Richmond will host the third-annual Refugee Community Resource Fair Saturday, June 18, from 10 a.m. to noon at the YMCA, 9211 Patterson Avenue in Henrico. The event is designed to provide refugees in the region information about jobs, local businesses, housing, health care, education and more.
As part of its strategic plan, the YMCA of Greater Richmond works to identify, address and eliminate economic, geographic and cultural barriers. > Read more.
Muse Paintbar, which combines painting instruction with a wine bar and restaurant, opened June 23 at The Shops at Willow Lawn in Henrico. The location is the company's 17th nationwide.
Guests can learn from local artists while sampling a wide selection of wine, beer and tapas. The facility held a soft-launch last weekend, allowing patrons a sneak peek at the studio’s artistic offerings.
Muse anticipates expansion across the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area this summer. Other locations are spread throughout the Northeast. > Read more.
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Jun. 16, 2016Click here to read the print edition.
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CalendarThe Goochland Chapter of Virginia Oath Keepers, serving Henrico, Hanover, Louisa, Goochland and Powhatan, will hold its monthly meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5 at the Goochland Public… Full text