Henrico’s Top Teachers – Danny Nicholas

Danny Nicholas was about the same age as his current middle school students – and having a rough go of it – when he experienced first-hand the positive impact that a caring teacher can have on a troubled adolescent.

"My parents had just gotten divorced," Nicholas recalls, "and I had a lot of anger issues that resulted from so many new changes."

Although he was failing many of his classes, his English teacher reached out to him, helping him see that he was capable of doing the work. His grades improved that year, he says, largely because of Ms. Bryant. "She really made me believe that I could achieve anything, and that nothing was wrong with me but my confidence."

At the end of the year, the teacher gave him one of his favorite books from the Choose Your Own Adventure series. It was inscribed with the words, “To my little genius."

"That really affected me," Nicholas says.

Today, a big part of his job is encouraging students just as Ms. Bryant encouraged him. His biggest challenge in the classroom, he says, is getting students "to realize their own potential, and believe they can shape a world that at times seems so big."

A nominator wrote that Nicholas is passionate about his belief that every student can learn, and notes that his students' accomplishments are a testament to the fact that he goes "above and beyond" in his work.

Despite his many duties (in addition to teaching, he assists in bus administration, and has worked to streamline afternoon bus dismissal), Nicholas is never too busy for students, the nominator says. He always has time to help them with problems both personal and academic, and often gives students a hug or pat on the back for a job well done.

Nicholas calls becoming a teacher "one of the best decisions I have ever made concerning myself and my life" – even if, like most teachers, he is never truly away from the job.

"Teachers are teachers 100 percent of the time, not just from 8:00 to 3:30," he says. "They are constantly planning, thinking about the kids they teach, looking for new ideas to bring to the class, and worrying about the ones they feel they can’t reach."

Anyone going into the profession, Nicholas believes, should accept that it can be all-consuming – because "a true teacher touches every part of a young person’s life, not just the history or math part."

After 13 years at Wilder, Nicholas occasionally hears from students he has touched, and enjoys getting hugs, smiles and updates from WMS students who have gone on to college. Last year, he had an especially memorable encounter while at Kings Dominion with some eighth graders. He was hailed by a student he had taught and coached seven years ago, who told him that he'd thought about Nicholas and his class long after middle school – and that the experience inspired him to major in history.

"He loved how much fun we had learning new facts and concepts about the world, and decided he wanted to do the same.

"That," says Nicholas, "made me feel on top of the world."
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Henrico Schools to host College and Career Night Nov. 1

Students of all ages are invited to investigate options for life after high school at Henrico County Public Schools’ 2017 College and Career Night. The annual countywide event offers a chance to talk with representatives of more than 100 universities, colleges and professional programs, as well as about 50 representatives of career options such as businesses and branches of the military.

College and Career Night will take place Wednesday, Nov. 1 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Henrico High School, 302 Azalea Ave. > Read more.

Business in brief

Henrico-based nonprofit Commonwealth Autism recently received the Standards for Excellence Institute’s Seal of Excellence for successfully completing its accreditation program. Commonwealth Autism voluntarily opened itself to analysis by a peer review team during the last 18 months that examined the organization’s compliance with the “Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector.” These standards cover areas such as: mission, strategy and evaluation; leadership – board, staff and volunteers; legal compliance and ethics; finance and operations; resource development; and public awareness, engagement and advocacy. Commonwealth Autism was one of six organizations in the Richmond region to be recognized and the first in the region to achieve full accreditation. In addition to this accreditation, Commonwealth Autism is recognized as an Accredited Charity with the Richmond Better Business Bureau and holds accreditation from the Code of Ethics for Behavioral Organizations (COEBO). > Read more.

Purify Infrared Sauna opens at GreenGate

Purify Infrared Sauna recently opened its second Henrico location at GreenGate Shopping Center in Short Pump.

Owner Mary Woodbridge opened her first Purify location on Patterson Avenue in July 2015. The new store is located at 301 Maltby Boulevard, Suite C, west of Short Pump Town Center. > Read more.

Henrico Master Gardener training program accepting applications through Oct. 27

The Henrico County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension is accepting applications for its next volunteer Master Gardener training program, which provides instruction in all aspects of horticulture.

Applications for the 2018 training program will be accepted through Friday, Oct. 27. Classes will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 16 through March 22. > Read more.

Henrico Schools to host Oct. 30 job fair

Henrico Schools will host a job fair Oct. 30.

The event, to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairfield branch library, is designed to attract potential full-time and substitute registered nurses, instructional assistants, bus drivers and school nutrition workers. > Read more.

Henrico Business Bulletin Board

October 2017

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Gayton Crossing Shopping Center will host the 20th annual Pumpkin Festival from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Enjoy trick-or-treating with Gayton Crossing merchants, a special Henrico Police Halloween celebration, Henrico Fire truck interactive display, meet-and-greet with local mascots, food and more. Admission is free. For details, search “Gayton Crossing Pumpkin Festival” on Facebook. Full text

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Henrico's Top Teachers

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