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

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

Highland Springs field to be dedicated in honor of longtime coach Spears

The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.

Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


There’s no excuse for kids and families to not get out of the house this weekend! The Armour House and Gardens has an “Egg-celent Egg-venture” planned and Reynolds Community College will host the Reynolds Family Palooza. If you’re looking to give back to your community, Dorey Park will host Walk Like MADD and coordinators2inc will present the annual Kids Walk for Kids. And a special event for children with special needs will be on Sunday – the Caring Bunny will be at Virginia Center Commons. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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Shady Grove United Methodist Church, located at the corner of Pouncey Tract and Shady Grove roads, will host a food truck court from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays… Full text

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Henrico's Top Teachers