Henrico County VA
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Henrico’s Top Teachers – Allison Bartholomay

Johnson E.S., third grade


Allison Bartholomay always knew that she wanted to perform in front of an audience. She just didn’t realize that it might be composed of third-graders instead of theater-goers.

Bartholomay brings a wealth of experiences to her Johnson Elementary School classroom each day. She grew up in France and England, majored in theater and Spanish in college and does her best to incorporate some of her own life into the lives of her third-graders on a daily basis.

During her decade as a teacher (which also included time at Dumbarton and Skipwith elementaries), Bartholomay has worked with a number of students with special needs, behavioral issues and those for whom English is a second language. The key to reaching every student, she says, is building the community of the classroom and convincing students that they’re all smart in their own ways.

“That’s tough because some students may not feel that way at first,” she says. “But once that happens and they believe in themselves, they realize that anything is possible.”

It’s her constant motivation to find ways to reach each student in her class that sets Bartholomay apart.

“Ms. Bartholomay makes her students get excited about every topic, even if it would not necessarily excite them to begin with,” a colleague wrote in a nomination letter. “She teaches 21st-century skills with ease, infusing creativity and technology, breathing excitement into the Henrico curriculum.”

In addition to her full-time job, Bartholomay also teaches a course at VCU about integrating the arts into elementary curriculum. She’s familiar with the topic because she lives it every day.

“Being a theater major has helped me reach all levels of students,” she says. “If a child doesn’t understand something on paper, we’re going to act it out. If that doesn’t work, we’re going to sing it out. We’ll go out on the playground and act it out, or we’ll go somewhere on my Promothean board.”

She uses song and dance to engage students, such as having them sing “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in Spanish and performing a song about the regions of Virginia with choreography.

To challenge students, she gives them a new word to learn each day.

“I choose the hardest words I can find for third grade,” she says. “Convivial. Sagacious. And they use them, and know what they mean. It’s a thrill for me to be able to teach them something and watch them take it on to someone else.”

Her students also write weekly goals for themselves, which they keep in mini folders on their desks and use to motivate themselves and to evaluate their accomplishments.

Bartholomay credits the environment in Henrico schools with allowing her to feel comfortable and confident trying new approaches in the classroom.

“Henrico County allows you to think outside the box,” she says. “They trust that you’re an expert in your field and you can take [students] where they need to be and more.

“I feel like I walk in every day, I want to have fun, and [the students] make my day fun. So I try to teach them so that they’ll be engaged. If I’m not having fun, then I don’t feel like I’m doing my job. I’m here to teach them content, but I also want to be that voice in their head – when they’re 12 and they don’t believe in themselves, or when they’re 15 and someone is trying to lead them down the wrong path – that gives them the confidence to do the right thing.”


Community

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

Highland Springs field to be dedicated in honor of longtime coach Spears

The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.

Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


There’s no excuse for kids and families to not get out of the house this weekend! The Armour House and Gardens has an “Egg-celent Egg-venture” planned and Reynolds Community College will host the Reynolds Family Palooza. If you’re looking to give back to your community, Dorey Park will host Walk Like MADD and coordinators2inc will present the annual Kids Walk for Kids. And a special event for children with special needs will be on Sunday – the Caring Bunny will be at Virginia Center Commons. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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Henrico's Top Teachers