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Henrico’s Top Teachers – Julie Richardson

Godwin H.S., social studies
Julie Richardson has a way with her students, said a colleague who nominated her, that draws them to her and makes them want to keep in touch well after they have graduated.

A teacher of social studies at both the honors and AP levels, she is known as one of the best teachers at Godwin – respected by both students and faculty.

"She holds the students to a very high standard," said her colleague. "She challenges them and they come away better writers, thinkers and people.

"The impact she has on her students is profound."

Among those who had a similar profound effect on Richardson were her history teachers at Huguenot High School, who helped instill in her the love of the subject that made her want to teach.

"I wanted to be able," Richardson said, "to share that love with students." She also cited a number of college professors who influenced her, including Harold Greer, Rosemary Gallaher, Kathy Fuller, and Hussein Mustafa at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Richardson had no hesitation in naming her most formidable challenge as the pressures imposed on her schedule – especially by standardized testing. Under the testing time frame, she said, it can be extremely challenging "to teach in a meaningful manner."

But she has clearly met the challenge successfully – as her former students tell her often.

"On a daily basis I get emails from former students thanking me for preparing them for college," she said. " I just got one last week, bragging about how much better she is doing in college because I required them to complete many writing assignments. "

A colleague noted that with one student in particular, Richardson did more than just prepare him for college; she had a life-altering effect on his reactionary attitudes.

"One of her students she had as a freshman was from an overtly racist family," wrote her fellow teacher. "Julie is black, and she may have been the first, if not one of the few, black people he had interacted with."

Now serving in the US Navy, the student gradually changed his views and came to respect and admire Richardson. "With her patience and personality, she was able to replace ignorance with appreciation and knowledge," wrote Richardson's co-worker. "She is one of the only teachers he comes back to visit when he is on leave.

"Julie was a major influence on shaping this young man not only academically," the teacher wrote, "but in overcoming a viewpoint that would have shaped his life in such a negative way."
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

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.

Lakeside microbrewery beginning to take shape

Original Gravity gets the green light to move forward with relocation, expansion into larger space

A Lakeside home-brewing shop has felt the gravitational pull toward the booming craft beer scene.

Original Gravity, a shop that sells beer and wine kits for homebrewers, has just been given the green light to start work on a microbrewery.

Owner Tony Ammendolia is expanding his 1,000-square-foot shop in Lakeside Town Center to 5,000-square-foot digs a few doors down to add a brewery and expand his supplies.

Ammendolia opened the home-brew supply store in November 2011 and since then he said business has taken off.

“I think I outgrew this place in the first year,” Ammendolia said. “We’ve seen steady growth and I’ve been looking for a place to expand to move the shop to get more square footage.” > Read more.

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The Short Pump Ruritan Club's 24th Annual Craft Show will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Short Pump Middle School, 4701 Pouncey Tract Rd., Glen Allen. More… Full text

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Henrico's Top Teachers