Henrico’s Top Teachers – Amanda Loden

Stop into Amanda Loden’s third-grade class at Johnson Elementary School at the right time of day and you’ll find her leading students in a 10-minute yoga class.

“It gives us a break away from talking,” she said. “Especially for some of my kids, it gives them a chance to relax and calm down a little.”

Loden ought to know the value of some well-placed moments of decompression; she keeps a schedule that many would find overwhelming. After her school day is over, she heads to the West End to coach varsity girls’ field hockey in the fall and varsity girls’ soccer in the spring at the Steward School. She’s also a yoga instructor at Shockoe Slip Yoga in Richmond.

“I’m very dedicated to helping others,” she said. “Whatever project or thing that I’m in, I like to give it 100 percent and put my whole self into it.”

That philosophy has helped make Loden a standout teacher in her sixth full year and seventh overall (all at Johnson). She devotes a particular focus to developing relationships with her students, in order to help teach them more effectively.

“I believe that if a teacher can develop a strong relationship with a child and know them as a kid, know who they are, that it allows you to better the relationship with learning.”

It’s working. The mother of one former student recalled the way Loden helped her daughter overcome her separation anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder during a particular rough stretch earlier this year. The girl had been a student of Loden’s the previous two years.

“Mrs. Loden heard about the struggles my daughter was having and wanted to help,” the mother wrote. “She visits with my daughter, sharing personal stories, encouraging her, and helping her to set daily goals to help her cope.”

Loden recently gave the girl a weeklong goal: Be happy, come to school with a happy heart and no tears and stay engaged in class.

“To my surprise, my daughter had an amazing response,” the mother wrote. “Not one morning was filled with tears, but only kisses goodbye and I love you's. She was engaged in her classroom each day, and I didn't get my normal call at work each day.”

Loden took the girl for frozen yogurt to celebrate her achievement.

“Mrs. Loden has sparked that sense of ‘I can do it’ in my daughter again,” the mother wrote.

For Loden, it was simply another opportunity to connect with a student and help.

“It ended up being a time to talk to each other about our problems,” she recalled. “Sometimes, with girls especially, it’s nice to be able to support their growth as they reach middle-school age. It’s important to teach them how to have good relationships.”

Johnson serves a diverse population of students, including some whose home lives are very modest. Loden uses an honest approach to reach those who may lament their own realities.

“We’re retraining our kids to think more positively about ourselves, not to put ourselves down. A lot of kids may have negative mindsets just because they come from homes where things are just different, not as easy as other families.

“It’s important that we teach them that they can do it.”
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Henrico Business Bulletin Board

September 2017

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Henrico's Top Teachers

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