Henrico’s Top Teachers – Sandra Fontes
Johnson E.S., ESL
In Sandra Fontes' classroom, every student is cherished as a unique individual with diverse talents to contribute in the classroom.
"I value and embrace diversity," said Fontes, "and I teach my students to respect and appreciate the fact that we are all different."
Although the tremendous diversity of her English as a Second Language (ESL) classes might seem daunting to observers or to other teachers, Fontes contends that providing a safe and caring learning environment and using instructional strategies that address students' different learning styles and needs are all that's required for every child to learn.
"I believe in a student-centered classroom where I am a mere facilitator in the learning process," Fontes said, "where the students are willing to take risks and make mistakes."
Technology is a valuable tool not only in helping to engage the children, she says, but in bringing the "real world" into the classroom and helping to build background knowledge and vocabulary among her ESL students.
In addition, she characterized her classroom as a strong learning community in which all – students and teacher – learn from each other and the passion for knowledge is contagious.
Enlisting the involvement of her students' families is crucial in creating this thirst for knowledge and passion to succeed, said Fontes, who noted that a big part of her job is keeping up regular communication with parents and "making sure they know the importance of their support and help in their child’s education."
Although many of her Johnson parents are limited in their English, they would be among the first to attest to the valuable role that Fontes has played in empowering their families.
As a colleague who wrote to nominate Fontes put it, she has made herself "an irreplaceable member of the Johnson community.
"She is available at the drop of a hat," the nominator wrote, "to help translate between our Hispanic families and the school community. She provides support for parents when they need help with outside resources. Mrs. Fontes does whatever possible to include all families in all school activities – even if it involves her going to their house and providing transportation.
"Often when the phone is answered at Johnson, all you may hear is a parent requesting 'Mrs. Fontes' because they know that she is their support system at school. She continually works past school hours to meet with families, often even on the weekend. She will occasionally convince her husband to meet with families on the weekends if she is unavailable."
Her colleague wrote that Fontes has been known to deliver food and clothes to families in need, and has taken students to dinner and to school functions they would otherwise be unable to attend.
"She helps families arrange medical appointments," added the nominator, "and will attend with the parents so that information will be clearly communicated."
All in a day's work, says Fontes, who hopes only that her passion for teaching and love of learning are passed on to her children each day.
"As a teacher," she said, "I have the opportunity to make a powerful impact on a child’s life. [Together with their parents], I can give them the confidence to embrace their dreams and to believe in themselves.
"I wish my students will remember me as a teacher who helped fill their bookbags with hopes and dreams."
St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.
Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.
Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.
Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
The Richmond Raceway Complex has two exciting, albeit very different, events taking place this weekend: the Richmond Antique Extravaganza Show and Sale and Discover the Dinosaurs Unleashed. If you’re searching for date night ideas, Wild Ponies will be performing at the Henrico Theatre tonight, CAT Theatre will present “Wishing Well” and The Modlin Center for the Arts at the University of Richmond will broadcast Bolshoi Ballet’s production of “The Sleeping Beauty.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarThe Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen will host a Happy Hour Art Class from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. First, enjoy wine tastings from Jacey Vineyards from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and then grab a brush and follow the leader to create a seasonal masterpiece to take home. Classes are held the second Saturday of each month and feature a different project led by artist Nancy Jacey. Cost is $45 and includes wine tasting, all project supplies, one complimentary beverage and light refreshments. To register, call 261-ARTS or visit http://www.artsglenallen.com. Full text