Top Teachers: Debbie Waldenmaier

As a sixth-grader in Brentwood, N.Y., Debbie Waldenmaier struggled with reading and had difficulty grasping some concepts that didn’t involve visual or audible elements. But her teacher spent extra time with her and helped create new ways for her to learn that eventually allowed her to thrive.

As a third-grade teacher at Colonial Trail Elementary School, Waldenmaier prides herself upon her ability to do the same for her students.

Because so many students learn in different ways, she has spent extra effort developing unique lessons for individual students, taking their strengths and weaknesses into account as she does so.

“Her classroom is a hands on, challenging learning environment,” one nominator wrote of Waldenmaier. “Her enthusiasm and love of what she does is clear.”

To Waldenmaier, her teaching style is a natural extension of who she is.

“I think it comes naturally because of the way that I learn,” she said. “I was a very eclectic learner – I needed to touch, see, hear it.”

To help her students understand the larger world around them, she has arranged for pen pal partnerships with students in Italy and Niger, Africa – students with whom her own class communicates in writing and through video conferencing.

“We sent candy canes to them for Christmas, we’ve exchanged DVDs. The experience is so real for them,” Waldenmaier said of her students.

Moments of recognition and clarity excite Waldenmaier, who feels at home with third-graders and relishes her role assisting in their transition from students who are learning how to read to students who are reading to learn.

“It’s just a wonderful transformation over the course of the year,” she said. “They become much more independent.”

Last year, Waldenmaier – a 16-year teaching veteran who has spent the past four years at Colonial Trail – earned teacher of the year honors at her school. In November, she was one of several recipients of the REB Award, which is given annually to a select few teachers in Metro Richmond. The $10,000 award will help fund a trip to Greece and Italy this summer, during which she plans to document her visits to the historical sites her students can’t quite fathom.

“It’s really difficult for them to make the connection that a building was built 2,000 years ago and still exists,” she said.

Her trip, she hopes, will make the connection a real one for students in the future. Her classroom message is not unlike her favorite quote from Mother Theresa: “Speak kind words, and you will hear kind echoes.”

“We teach them to be good citizens and about the differences between people and accepting people for who they are,” she said.
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Crime Stoppers’ Crime of the Week – June 26, 2017


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Richmond Montessori School earns VAIS reaccreditation


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The Henrico County Division of Fire and Henrico Area Mental Health & Developmental Services (MH/DS) will present a free class on how to administer naloxone to potentially save the life of someone who has overdosed on opioids. The Revive! Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education for Virginia class will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the MH/DS offices at 4825 S. Laburnum Ave. The class is open to the public and will provide hands-on instruction on how to administer the drug in its nasal spray form. Participation will be limited to the first 50 registrants. To sign up, go to http://surveymonkey.com/r/9Q35Q6T or call (804) 727-8574. Callers will be asked to leave an email address where they can receive a link to register for the class. Full text

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