Henrico County VA
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Henrico’s Top Teachers – Evelyn Thomas

Three Chopt E.S., second grade
Parents of second-graders in Evelyn Thomas’ class at Three Chopt Elementary School don’t have to motivate their students to do homework.

“My son runs in the door and asks, “Can I do my math homework now? I’m going to beat my number from yesterday!’” one wrote in a letter nominating Thomas as a top teacher.

Wrote another: “My son has shown an amazing effort with homework and spelling tests that he did not have in previous years. When I asked why, he responded, ‘I want to be a good student and Mrs. Thomas is so good to us, I would not want to make her sad.”

Thomas has earned high marks across the board from parents, who describe her as cheerful, caring and enthusiastic. Her ability to engage students and foster a love of learning has paid many dividends.

One of her most popular assignments is ‘Five-minute math,’ in which children make flashcards with a variety of math problems, then sit down with family members at home and do as many as they can within five minutes. Students predict how many they’ll get right, then monitor their progression and divide the piles into those they know and those they don’t.

“At the beginning of the school year, some kids only get through 13 or 14,” Thomas says. “But then they start to see progress. I’ve got students now doing 106 math facts in five minutes. They take ownership of what they’re doing.”

Parents have witnessed the excitement first-hand.

“My son is so incredibly eager to please her,” one wrote in a nomination letter. “He can’t wait to tell her when he breaks his “five minute math” record! He’s so eager to go to school each day because of Mrs. Thomas. As a mom, that means everything to me.”

Said another: “Mrs. Thomas has changed my son from a child who went to school because he had to, to a child who is truly excited to go to school and learn.”

Thomas, now in her 12th year as a Henrico teacher and 21st overall, is married to Hunter Thomas, who has taught for 23 years in the county and is currently at Godwin High School. She has taught every grade level in elementary school and served recently as a math coach, splitting time between Crestview and Three Chopt as part of a federal grant. But she missed having her own homeroom and was glad to return full-time to Three Chopt this year.

“I love second grade,” she says. “They’re so curious, and the group that I have, they’re happy – they give me smiles all day long. One of my priorities is to create a happy place for these children to come, and they make it easy for me.”

Thomas still recalls a moment that occurred early in her teaching career in the City of Richmond, when a first-grader asked her on a Friday afternoon, “What do you do here over the weekend?” When she told the child that she didn’t come to the classroom on the weekends, he said, “I wish I could come up here tomorrow, and I wish I could stay in our classroom.”

“Emotionally, he was invested in our class, and we were family to him,” Thomas says. “That just told me that I made an impact in his life. To know that he would want to spend more time in class, it kind of said that I was on the right path. That’s such a huge part of my job – making sure that when the children come to school that it’s a happy place.”
Community

Celebrating 106 years

Former Sandston resident Mildred Taylor celebrated her 106th birthday Aug. 9. Taylor, who now lives in Powhatan, is still a member of Sandston Baptist Church. She was visited the day after her birthday by several members of the church, who played for her a recording of the entire church membership singing happy birthday to her during worship. > Read more.

YMCA breaks ground for aquatic center

YMCA officials gathered last week to break ground on the new Tommy J. West Aquatic Center at the Shady Grove Family YMCA on Nuckols Road. The center, which will featured 7,600 square feet of competitive and recreational space, including water slides, play areas for children and warmer water for those with physical limitations, is the fourth phase of a $4 million expansion at the facility. West was president and CEO of Capital Interior Contractors and a founding member of the Central Virginia Region of the Virginia Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. > Read more.

Rotary donates to ‘Bright Beginnings’

The Sandston Rotary Club recently donated $1,000 to the Sandston YMCA for its Bright Beginnings program, which helps provide children in need with school supplies for the new school year. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Journey to mediocrity

‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ fails to capitalize on tasty concept
The Hundred-Foot Journey is a curious little Romeo and Juliet of a film. A family, forced out of their native India, begins a trek across Europe.

The family’s sole mode of transportation sputters and dies in a sleepy little French town, but the town’s food culture is high, and that’s a perfect place for a family of restaurateurs to settle down. There’s only one problem – the family’s rustic “Maison Mumbai” is right across the street (a hundred feet away, if the title didn’t clue you in) from a prestigious French bistro with a Michelin star, run with an iron fist by the dreaded Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren, pictured).

It’s here that a particular Romeo and Juliet story begins to develop, with Hassan (Manish Dayal) on the Indian side and Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) on the French side. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Enjoy the final days of summer with comedian Guy Torry, the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour or mystery writer Mary Miley Theobald at Twin Hickory Library. Another great way to welcome the beginning of fall is to check out the UR Spider Football season opener with man’s best friend. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Bottoms up

Short Pump brewery offers more than just beer
I am still (happily) thinking about my entire experience at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery last week. Knowing nothing about this new brewery out of Denver, I was leery of brew-pub in the heart of Short Pump Town Center – this is not what I’d usually think of as a perfect fit, and yet, it was.

The restaurant and craft brewery opened in early June and features 10 beers made by female brewmaster Becky Hammond (pictured). This is the restaurant’s second location in Virginia; the first is in Arlington. Behind glass walls, customers watched the beer brewing in massive steel barrels. For our up-and-coming beer region, it makes sense that Short Pump would jump on board.

As I walked up to the back of the mall near the comedy club, I was taken aback by what I saw: at the top of the stairs was an overflowing restaurant with outdoor seating, large umbrellas and dangling outdoor lights. > Read more.

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Henrico's Top Teachers