Henrico County VA

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Connie Kelly

Seven Pines E.S., kindergarten
You might say that education is in Connie Kelly's blood. If she needed to talk to the principal of her elementary school in Illinois, she could do so over dinner each night – he was her father. Her mother also was a teacher.

So perhaps it was no surprise when, after having children, returned to finish her college education and begin her own teaching career in her mid-30s.

"I've been loving it ever since," she said. "I wouldn't do anything else."

Kelly started with five years as a teacher in Richmond and has spent the past nine years teaching kindergarten at Seven Pines Elementary in Sandston. Kindergartners, she said, are the perfect fit for her.

"I like their enthusiasm for school," she said. "They are bubbly when they come in, they're so excited to learn. They're like little sponges – I love to see the little lightbulbs come on. It's a wonderful age where they're exploring their environment, they're learning new things, learning how to get along with others."

Kelly's patience and thoroughness with her students stands out to parents.

"She is more than a teacher – she is amazing!" one nominator wrote. "She is everything you would want in a teacher or in any person you trust your most valuables to. Kindergarten isn't always an easy step for children but she made such a bond with my son that he was always so eager to go to school."

Much has changed in the expectations place on kindergartners in the decade-plus since Kelly began teaching.

"When I first started, if you taught letters and sounds, and how to put them together, you'd call it a good year," she said. "Now most of the children are reading by the end of kindergarten. They're adding and subtracting, things they used to do by end of first grade.

"When I give them a book and they actually read it, they look at me with a big smile on their face like, 'I'm reading this book!' I think that's the 'ah-ha' moment for me."

Kelly's class utilizes interactive Promethean boards and iPads and computers virtually every day, and she engages students through a number of creative exercises, too.

"They pick it up so easily, they really do," Kelly said of her students' technology acumen. "I think they pick it up easier than I did. We also do a lot of dancing, singing, playing games. You can learn in lots of different ways."

The diversity at Seven Pines across ethnic and socioeconomic groups is something Kelly appreciates and one reason she's enjoyed her time at the school so much. She's also grateful that she has the chance to watch her former students grow as they progress through school. Many stop in to say hello once they've advanced to higher grade levels.

"Mrs. Kelly is the first real teacher my son had, and the way she mentored him and cared for him gave him a path to what is to be expected from other teachers in the future," another nominator wrote. "Her continued contact with the parent really made me feel like my son and I really meant something to her."
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Community

Tournament supports adoption efforts

Among participants at the Seventh Annual Coordinators2Inc Golf Tournament and awards luncheon Oct. 3 were (from left) Rebecca Ricardo, C2 Inc executive director; Kevin Derr, member of the winning foursome; Sharon Richardson, C2 Inc founder; and Frank Ridgway and Jon King, members of the winning foursome.

Held at The Crossings Golf Club, the tournament will benefit placement of children from Virginia's foster care system into permanent families through Coordinators2. > Read more.

A.C. Moore to host winter craft day for kids

Event will help kick of Marine Corps' 'Toys for Tots' campaign
All 140 A.C. Moore locations will serve as drop-off centers this year for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, and all toys collected will stay in the local communities served by the stores in which they are donated.

On Saturday, Nov. 15, the Willow Lawn location will kick off the month-long program by hosting a "Make & Take" craft event for kids. Children ages six and older will be able to make a craft and take it home with them. Representatives from the Marines will be in-store to teach customers about the Toys for Tots program. A.C. Moore team members will be on site to help with the crafts. > Read more.

CCC seeks donations for food pantry

Commonwealth Catholic Charities is in desperate need of food donations for its community food pantry that serves the region’s low-income families, according to officials with the Henrico-based nonprofit.

After moving into its new location this past summer, the agency has dedicated a larger space for the pantry but the shelves are practically empty.

“As we head into the holidays and the weather turns colder, the need for food becomes even more critical, but unfortunately our cupboards are nearly bare,” said Jay Brown, the agency’s director for the division of housing services. “Donations of food will allow us help provide.” > Read more.

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Entertainment

‘Sizing Up!’ opens at Cultural Arts Center

The Cultural Arts Center unveils a new exhibit – "Sizing Up!" – Nov. 20-Jan. 18 in the Gumenick Family Gallery.

Artist Chuck Larivey has spent the past three years "sizing up" – creating large-scale oil paintings that are designed to engage their viewers in a monumental way by using size to captivate them and make them a part of the artistic experience.

The exhibit is appropriate for all ages and is free and open to the public at the center, located at 2880 Mountain Road in Glen Allen. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.

A ‘Life’ well lived

Animated ‘Book of Life’ overcomes average storyline with extraordinary presentation, details
“Beauty is only skin deep” applies all too well to The Book of Life. An animated feature from first-time director Jorge R. Gutierrez, The Book of Life spins a classic love triangle – two childhood friends, Manolo (Diego Luna) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum) both in love with Maria (Zoe Saldana).

Maria, in all honesty, is a little more interested in Manolo’s musical charms, but her father wants her to marry the boastful and militaristic Joaquin. And when two gods, La Muerte and Xibalba (Kate de Castillo and Ron Perlman, respectively), turn this little love triangle into a wager (as gods often do), Manolo’s quest for true love will take him through life, death, immortality and the underworlds of Mexican folklore.

Now, back to the “beauty” part – because as far as the visuals go, The Book of Life is the most extraordinary animated film to hit theaters this year. > Read more.

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All Fired Up in Short Pump will present a preschool pottery class for parents and children from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Participants will paint pottery inspired by favorite children’s… Full text

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Henrico's Top Teachers