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

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

Film industry training program planned for this weekend

The Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA), in partnership with the Virginia Film Office, will offer "Get Your Start in the Film Industry," a two-day seminar designed to prepare workers for film, television and commercial projects in Virginia. The course will be held Oct. 4-5 at the Workforce Development and Conference Center, 1651 Parham Road in Henrico, on the campus of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.

The training will be taught by Gary Romolo Fiorelli, an accomplished assistant director for film and television projects, which include the television series Sons of Anarchy and ABC’s current drama Mistresses. > Read more.

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.

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Henrico's Top Teachers