Henrico County VA

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Brian DelCorso

Lakeside E.S., third grade
Brian DelCorso's love of basketball helped lead him to two other great loves in his life – teaching and his students.

DelCorso served as a manager for the VCU basketball team while in college and parlayed some connections into an assistant coaching position with a Dutch professional team after grad school. The experience abroad didn't pay much but gave him an opportunity to live a dream and experience a new world.

As part of the job, he regularly assisted with basketball clinics in local schools to get children interested in the sport. Many of the students were fascinated by America and peppered him with questions. His own future began to crystallize.

"I would have never thought I'd have been working with kids before that experience," he said.

Energized by his time in Holland, DelCorso returned to the U.S. and earned his teacher's certification at the University of Richmond. When a third-grade teaching position opened at Lakeside Elementary School midway through the 2005-06 school year, he was hired. He's been in the same classroom ever since.

DelCorso, who was a finalist for an R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence in 2011, mixes classroom exuberance and a booming voice with patience and understanding. Mostly, though, he tries to be himself.

"I learned that a long time ago from my coaches," he said. "Even elementary school kids, they can spot a fake. They know when you're not being yourself. It's kind of the way I'm wired, to have fun, to be energetic."

DelCorso particularly enjoys teaching third-graders because they are impressionable and anxious to learn – even if it can be difficult at times for him to see the learning process taking form.

"Sometimes you'll teach something and come to the realization that you must be doing it wrong" because students don't seem to grasp the concept, he said. "But that presents the chance to have a magical moment when they do get it."

DelCorso regularly tells his students that he loves them, well aware that many at Lakeside lack prominent or consistent father figures in their lives. Sometimes, students aren't sure what to make of the pronouncement, he said, because they equate the word with feelings reserved for boyfriends and girlfriends or mothers and fathers.

But two years ago, one student suddenly understood.

"You love us like you love your mama," the boy blurted out.

"Parents have told me, 'You are my child's male role model,'" DelCorso said. "That's a heavy thing to have on your shoulders." But it's something that he readily accepts and embraces. He begins each day with a "family" meeting in his classroom, during which he discusses a life lesson with his class and engages students in a discussion.

Proof of its effectiveness comes sporadically, such as when a student returns from recess to tell DelCorso that he invited a lonely classmate to participate in a game with others.

The learning process continues after school hours, too. Each year on the first weekend of winter break, DelCorso takes his students to the Freedom House in Richmond to make and distribute meals for the homeless.

"They may not realize it right now, but one of the things that keeps me energized is that some of the life lessons that I teach them, they're going to remember for the rest of their lives," he said. "Hopefully these are lessons that they will keep with them long after they've forgotten a lot of the content I teach."
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


It’s Halloween! Ghosts and goblins are everywhere…especially at Dorey Park’s Monster Mash and the annual Pumpkin Festival at Gayton Crossing Shopping Center. But don’t let the fun stop on the 31st – the Latin Ballet of Virginia will present El Dia de los Muertos Family Festival on Nov. 1. And if you need a break from the candy, enjoy some classical music at the University of Richmond and the Weinstein JCC on Sunday. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Brews and bites done right

Urban Tavern’s big, bold themes impress

The Urban Tavern opened in August, replacing the former Shackelford’s space at 10498 Ridgefield Parkway in Short Pump. Because of local and longtime devotion to Shackleford’s, Urban Tavern has some big shoes to fill.

Without any background information, I headed to the restaurant for dinner on a Wednesday night, two months after its opening.

On a perfect fall evening, four out of eight outdoor tables were taken, giving the impression that the restaurant was busier than it was. On the inside, a couple tables were taken, and a few folks were seated at the bar. > Read more.

A terrible, horrible movie. . . that’s actually pretty good

‘Alexander’ provides uncomplicated family fun
It’s not surprising in the least that Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day doesn’t much resemble the book it’s based upon.

Judith Viorst’s 1972 picture book isn’t exactly overflowing with movie-worthy material. Boy has bad day. Boy is informed that everyone has bad days sometimes. Then, the back cover.

In the film, the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad-ness is blown up to more extreme size. Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) has a bum day every day, while the rest of his family (Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey) exist in a constant bubble of perfection and cheery optimism – to the point that the family is so wrapped up in their own success that Alexander’s being ignored.

So on the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander makes a wish: just once, he’d like his family to see things from his perspective; to experience the crushing disappointment of one of those no good, very bad days. Once he has blown out the candle on his pre-birthday ice cream sundae, his family’s fate is sealed: one full day of crippling disasters for all of them. > Read more.

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Henrico's Top Teachers