Henrico’s Top Teachers – Julz Suder

The revelation came to her as she was lying on her back, beneath a table in her Catholic elementary school art classroom in Pittsburgh. It was there that a young Julz Suder first glimpsed into her future.
“Our teacher wanted us to draw frescoes like Michelangelo did in the Sistine Chapel,” Suder recalled.
And just like that, she was hooked.
“It was the first time I knew that I wanted to have a career in the arts,” she said.
A difficult period in middle school and high school briefly cost Suder some long-term focus, but art teachers and guidance counselors helped her get back on the track she belonged. She ended up at VCU’s School of the Arts and shifted her focus from studio art to art education.
“I had a wonderful experience,” she said.       
Fast forward to Suder’s art classroom at Carver Elementary School, where she is completing her first year and where color abounds, as projects in various states of completion sit scattered throughout the room. Creativity is alive and well inside these walls.
Last year, Suder was named the top elementary school art teacher in Virginia, honored for demonstrating “advocacy, leadership and contributions to the field of art education” and cited in a nomination letter for her work ethic and her individualized approach to teaching.
Suder spent five years at Laburnum Elementary, where she helped unite the student body and parents alike through a variety of art projects. Among them: a learning garden, which students and community members decorated with bottle cap murals.
“Art brings people together who might not normally mix to do things they might not normally do,” Suder said, describing how the project led to an organized effort one evening during which students, parents and others from the community gathered to build and create murals.
“It was a great recycling effort, a ‘go-green’ effort. It was super-empowering,” she said.
The garden itself allowed children who didn’t often get nutritious meals – or who didn’t regularly eat vegetables – the chance to take ownership of planting, caring for, harvesting and eating their own.
For some, “it was their reason for coming to school,” she said.
Suder enjoys collaborating with other teachers to incorporate art into different subjects to help students academically. And though she would rather do everything by hand, she’s found that technology can help her reach students in a new way. During a recent weaving project with fourth-graders, she realized one day that some students were using a technique that she hadn’t yet taught them.
“They were going home, looking on YouTube and researching them,” she said. “I was so shocked – I hadn’t even thought to do that.”
Suder is particularly grateful for the principals she has had at her three Henrico stops (a year at the New Bridge School preceded her time at Laburnum) and her job in Chesterfield County before that.
“I’ve had principals who I have come to with ideas – crazy ideas, like ‘I’m going to give all the kids a power drill and we’re going to make a mural’ – and they could have told me no, but none of them have ever told me no yet.”
She takes great joy in watching her students find their passions – either in art, or in part through art.
“Art gives them a chance to learn how to express themselves,” she said. “It helps them to realize their gifts and see that we all have different gifts. There are so many different opportunities in the art classroom to realize that there isn’t any one right answer.
“And it’s so much fun!”
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New GRASP scholarships to aide winners with college debt and costs

Fifteen Henrico County Public Schools students recently received a “2+2” scholarship from the non-profit organization GRASP (GReat Aspirations Scholarship Program, Inc.). In total, the newly created scholarships will help 71 students receive their baccalaureate degrees from a Virginia college or university with lower costs and less student debt.

The scholarship awards each winner $1,000 for his or her first year at a community college to cover the costs not covered by financial aid, such as books and computers. > Read more.

Long & Foster’s Innsbrook, Short Pump offices participate in community service day event

Thousands of real estate agents and employees with Long & Foster Real Estate, including those at the Innsbrook and Short Pump offices in Glen Allen, Virginia, took part in the company’s 20th annual Community Service Day June 7.

The Innsbrook and Short Pump offices chose to volunteer with Housing Families First on June 7. The organization’s mission provides families experiencing homelessness with what they need to move to a stable housing situation. > Read more.

Network of Enterprising Women to award scholarships to local HS grads

Three recent Henrico County high school graduates are among the 10 local students who will receive scholarships from the Network of Enterprising Women during the organization's monthly luncheon July 6. > Read more.

Crime Stoppers’ Crime of the Week – June 26, 2017

Richmond detectives need the public’s help to identify the vehicle and suspects in the shooting incident of a 7-year-old boy and an adult male. Can you help Crime Stoppers solve this latest shooting?

The shooting occurred in the 1500 block of North 22nd Street in the Fairmount neighborhood of the city. Officers arrived and found the two victims near a bus stop. > Read more.

Richmond Montessori School earns VAIS reaccreditation

Richmond Montessori School, an independent Montessori school for children ages 2 to 14, recently earned reaccreditation from the Virginia Association of Independent Schools. The VAIS accreditation program is one of only a few recognized at the national level through the National Association of Independent School's Commission on Accreditation and is also recognized and approved by the Virginia Board of Education through the Virginia Council for Private Education. > Read more.

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June 2017

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The Roots, Rhythm, & Soul Tour – featuring Roosevelt Dime, Harry Jay & The Bling, and Jenna Lotti – will perform at 8 p.m. at The Tin Pan, 8982 Quioccasin Rd. Roosevelt Dime combines the feel-good groove of classic Rhythm & Blues with acoustic Americana instrumentation. Harry Jay & The Bling are a contemporary R&B/funk group located in Boston, Mass. Jenna Lotti is a pop soul singer-songwriter from Boston. In 2013, she created a successful Kickstarter campaign which led to the creation of her debut album “Tunnel Vision.” Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Doors open at 6 p.m. For details, call 447-8189 or visit http://www.tinpanrva.com. Full text

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Henrico's Top Teachers

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