Henrico County VA
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Henrico’s Top Teachers – Danette Brady

Jackson Davis E.S., third grade
Children have always been the focus of Danette Brady’s life.

During a 12-year career in the mental health profession, she worked extensively with children and families. After she had her own children and spent several years at home with them, she was ready to get back into the working world, but this time with a different focus.

Now in her sixth year as an elementary school teacher (four at Sandston Elementary and the past two at Jackson Davis), Brady believes she’s right where she should be.

“I like the opportunities I have to work with a diverse group of children who all bring their own special talents and unique abilities to the classroom – to be able to bring those as strengths,” Brady says.

Parents of her third-graders say Brady has reached them in ways other teachers can’t.

“My son was actually hoping to get a different teacher because he knew her and was comfortable with her,” one parent wrote. “However, we met with Mrs. Brady and my son instantly liked her. He has really struggled over the years with school due to ADHD, OCD, and tic disorder. Mrs. Brady is always very patient and understanding and genuinely cares about the success of her students. [This year], he is thriving. We attribute it to the special attention Mrs. Brady gives to her students.”

Wrote another parent: “She has made my daughter, who has never been a lover of school, turn over a new leaf this year. She is now excited to go to school and learn new things.”

Brady makes a point to engage her students through real-world examples and build their confidence through cross-curricular reinforcement.

“You have to take any lesson you’re doing and bring it alive to them in ways that they can connect to,” she says. “I try to make sure that they’re actively engaged, exploring concepts, and not just memorizing things.”

Brady uses a personal blog and her classroom Promethean board to connect with students and works consistently to give each one the confidence needed to succeed. Sometimes that requires her to be more than a classroom instructor.

“As a teacher, you wear a lot of different hats – cheerleader, coach, mom, teacher,” Brady says. “I feel like a child that’s engaged is a child that’s learning. If you cannot motivate that child and make a connection with that child, you’re at a huge disadvantage. If you can get them to believe in themselves, the possibilities are going to be limitless.”

Brady makes a point to identify each student’s strengths, then works to enhance them in class.

“[In education], we’re real good at diagnosing all the problems,” she says, “and we don’t ever look at ‘What are the things he or she can do. I try to base my whole classroom on that. How can I put students in leadership positions, where they can feel good every day?’ When you can do that, you don’t have nearly as many behavioral problems as they’ve had in other classrooms.”

Though increasing curriculum demands and daily schedules that are more crowded than ever can be stressful, Brady finds that the positives far outweigh any occasional negatives.

“There are days when I’m feeling like ‘I just don’t want to go to work today,’ but I go in and have 28 smiling faces and all these reasons pulling at my heart. They make you want to be here.”
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

The Boathouse to open at Short Pump Town Center

The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.

“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”

The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.

Getting a ‘mouf’-ful

Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.

Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?

Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.

Lakeside microbrewery beginning to take shape

Original Gravity gets the green light to move forward with relocation, expansion into larger space

A Lakeside home-brewing shop has felt the gravitational pull toward the booming craft beer scene.

Original Gravity, a shop that sells beer and wine kits for homebrewers, has just been given the green light to start work on a microbrewery.

Owner Tony Ammendolia is expanding his 1,000-square-foot shop in Lakeside Town Center to 5,000-square-foot digs a few doors down to add a brewery and expand his supplies.

Ammendolia opened the home-brew supply store in November 2011 and since then he said business has taken off.

“I think I outgrew this place in the first year,” Ammendolia said. “We’ve seen steady growth and I’ve been looking for a place to expand to move the shop to get more square footage.” > Read more.

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Henrico's Top Teachers