Henrico’s Top Teachers – Ellen Jewell

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in the case of Ellen Jewell, who followed in the footsteps of her father and became a social studies teacher.

“I pretty much always knew I wanted to teach,” said Jewell, who has been teaching at Hungary Creek Middle School since it opened 10 years ago. “I was fortunate to have really fabulous teachers as a kid who inspired me, and growing up I was around teaching. It instilled a passion of helping kids and helping other people. I fell in love with history and ever since then I have wanted to teach social studies.”

After graduating from William and Mary with a B.S. in mathematics and elementary education, Jewell taught at Brookland Middle and Grace Miller Middle before moving to Hungary Creek.

“There is nothing that I don’t love about teaching middle school,” said Jewell. “Every day is different, the students are so transitional, and I get to see them come in as kids and then they start to become adults. It’s great to be there for that maturity and the transition from being dependent on someone, to being independent. I love social studies because I study the past, and it's fascinating how life has changes and stays the same.”

Jewell believes that every year holds a special moment. Seeing kids who have struggled in class or disliked social studies grow and then fall in love with the subject has made a lifelong impact on her as a teacher. One of her favorite parts of teaching is making a lasting impression and memory that is sustained throughout a student's entire life.

“There are numerous examples that I could cite where Mrs. Jewell’s teaching positively impacted her students,” wrote a faculty member at Hungary Creek. “Her impact is so meaningful and it is evidenced by adult previous students who have reached out to their sixth-grade teacher [Jewell] when they experience personal struggle. This lasting connection was established through Mrs. Jewell’s consistent top-notch teaching.”

Jewell tries to incorporate computer-oriented learning into every classroom and uses a lot of art and group projects to spark students’ interest. Her impeccable knowledge of history, combined with her ability to make her lessons personal and rigorous, instill a sense of empowerment in her students.

“I know my students [aside from them] being kids that are in my class," she said. "I like to find out if they have siblings, their interests and what they’re good at, because even if they struggle academically there is something they are good at. If I can connect that to the classroom, it’s beneficial for everyone.”

During a unit on the first five presidents, for example, Jewell not only taught her students about the presidents but had them apply their critical thinking and creative skills to create 3-D monuments to honor one. She incorporated real-world connections by also having the students work with Timothy Nosal, the director of the National Battlefield Monument Commission.

Jewell said that her ability to shine as an educator has been made possible because of the faculty and staff that surround her at Hungary Creek.

“Hands down, the people make my job possible and the camaraderie we have here is priceless,” said Jewell. “It’s a family – you can’t replicate that. It's something that just happens. The people support one another and love one another and truly care about you as a person. When you have a staff like this, it makes the job easier and everyone else able to be a better teacher because everyone around you is just as passionate.”

That passion is something that at least one coworker believes starts with Jewell herself.

“She treats her teachers with the same kindness and generosity which, when combined with her impeccable knowledge of history, empowers her social studies teachers to be the best teachers that they can be,” a fellow teacher wrote. “As a result, Mrs. Jewell is a master teacher who not only ensures that her students excel in social studies, she has an enigmatic ability to help her students believe in their abilities as a human being while cultivating a life-long thirst for knowledge.”
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State Police urge motorists to #MoveOver during Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day signifies the official start of summer, and Virginia State Police officials are urging motorists to "do what’s right when they see lights" and move over.

The “Move Over” law is a lifesaving law intended to protect public safety professionals and highway workers who help to maintain the safety of the Commonwealth’s roads. State Police are using the #MoveOver hashtag on social media to promote the law. > Read more.

Henrico to hold June 8 open house on Route 5 Corridor/Marion Hill study

The Henrico County Planning Department will hold an open house Thursday, June 8 for residents and other members of the public to provide input for a study of the Route 5 Corridor/Marion Hill areas.

The open house will be held from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Varina Area Library, 1875 New Market Road. The meeting’s informal structure will allow the public to attend at their convenience and to ask questions and discuss the study one on one with Planning staff. > Read more.

Henrico real estate staying strong despite low inventory

The Henrico real estate market has been relatively strong for the past month, despite a lower amount of inventory, according to data from Long and Foster Real Estate.

In the past month, 408 homes have been sold in Henrico, which is 2 percent less than were sold in the same timeframe in 2016.

Last year the median sale prices for Henrico homes was $219,975, whereas this month it's up to $232,500, a 6 percent increase. Which means half of the homes in Henrico are priced above $232,500 and half are priced below. > Read more.

Smither named director of Henrico’s Department of Finance

Henrico County Manager John A. Vithoulkas has appointed Edward N. “Ned” Smither Jr. to serve as director of the Department of Finance, effective July 1.

Smither has served Henrico since 2013 as director of the Accounting Division in Finance. He will succeed Eugene H. Walter, who has delayed his retirement until June 30 to ensure an orderly transition within the department.
> Read more.

State honors EMS officials this week

There were nearly 1.5 million emergency medical services calls and 4,063 incidents per day in Virginia just last year.

This week, May 21-27, declared as National EMS week by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, recognizes the more than 34,000 EMS personnel and 631 agencies in the state and commends their efforts and commitment to Commonwealth citizens.
> Read more.

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Great Strides, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s largest national fundraising event, will start at 10 a.m. in Innsbrook’s North Shore Commons. This family-friendly event features a healthy 5k walk, children’s activities, food and other festivities. The funds raised from Great Strides helps provide people with CF the opportunity to lead full, productive lives by funding research and drug development, promoting individualized treatment and ensuring access to high-quality, specialized care. For details, visit http://tinyurl.com/GreatStridesRichmond. Full text

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