Henrico’s Top Teachers – Kara Harrison
Dumabrton E.S., fifth grade
As a young child, Kara Beth Harrison was greatly influenced not only by the special teachers she had in the Salem City School system – "too many to name," she said – but also by her mother's passion for teaching.
"She loved her job," said Harrison of her mother. "She always had positive things to say about being a teacher."
As a teacher of special needs children who often have behavioral issues as well as a limited command of English, Harrison works with some of the most difficult children a teacher can have -- yet she easily relates to her mother.
In addition to enjoying her teacher-student relationships, and the challenges of motivating children to try their best, Harrison enjoys working with her colleagues.
"I am extremely lucky to have leadership in my school that supports its teachers 100 percent," said Harrison. "I come to school with a smile on my face knowing that my colleagues are there for me if I need help coming up with a new idea, a problem I can’t solve, or just for advice."
An observer who nominated Harrison praised her ability to get through to students that other teachers have difficulty handling. To help her students build self-confidence and acquire skills that may be lacking due to their family situations, Harrison spends extra time with them – often joining in their extracurricular activities such as running races. When some of her students lack the mental capability to move at the pace of the class, she helps them with studies during lunch or after school and "makes them feel as equals," says her admirer.
"Kara shows a constant awareness to the needs of these children and creates the discipline they lack in their home life," added her nominator, noting that she focuses on goals such as ensuring the children learn to listen and show respect for elders. "She sacrifices any free time during the day to put more time into the needs of her children. She always feels there is never enough time in the day in order to ensure the child is prepared for the future task that lie ahead."
Harrison finds her reward in striving to "make each day meaningful" for her students and in getting through to even the most recalcitrant students. One of her most memorable moments as a teacher, she says, occurred at the start of her first year teaching fifth grade,
"A young lady walked into my room [who] had a lot on her mind. She was very angry and frustrated, and had given up on school," Harrison recalled. "She would not speak to me, or even attempt her work for the first few weeks of school."
After many weeks of encouraging the student while puzzling over how to help her, Harrison was able to coax a few words out of her, and the girl began making attempts at her work. Before long, another breakthrough came in the way of a big smile; and by the end of the year, the formerly silent, sulky student had become an active participant in the classroom.
"I will never forget that brave girl," said Harrison. "That moment reminded my why I became a teacher in the first place. Making a difference and making a connection make it all worthwhile."
Harrison's nominator marveled that this teacher not only manages to succeed with hard-to-handle children, but that "she does this for pennies like any other teacher.
"Individuals such as Kara Beth Harrison are often overlooked in our society," summed up her nominator, "but without these individuals people like you or me may have not made it to where we are today."
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.
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.
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.
For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Urban Tavern’s big, bold themes impress
The Urban Tavern opened in August, replacing the former Shackelford’s space at 10498 Ridgefield Parkway in Short Pump. Because of local and longtime devotion to Shackleford’s, Urban Tavern has some big shoes to fill.
Without any background information, I headed to the restaurant for dinner on a Wednesday night, two months after its opening.
On a perfect fall evening, four out of eight outdoor tables were taken, giving the impression that the restaurant was busier than it was. On the inside, a couple tables were taken, and a few folks were seated at the bar. > Read more.
‘Alexander’ provides uncomplicated family fun
It’s not surprising in the least that Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day doesn’t much resemble the book it’s based upon.
Judith Viorst’s 1972 picture book isn’t exactly overflowing with movie-worthy material. Boy has bad day. Boy is informed that everyone has bad days sometimes. Then, the back cover.
In the film, the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad-ness is blown up to more extreme size. Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) has a bum day every day, while the rest of his family (Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey) exist in a constant bubble of perfection and cheery optimism – to the point that the family is so wrapped up in their own success that Alexander’s being ignored.
So on the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander makes a wish: just once, he’d like his family to see things from his perspective; to experience the crushing disappointment of one of those no good, very bad days. Once he has blown out the candle on his pre-birthday ice cream sundae, his family’s fate is sealed: one full day of crippling disasters for all of them. > Read more.
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CalendarVirginia Opera will present “The Empress and the Nightingale” at 3 p.m. at Weinstein JCC. This adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic of the same name is a children’s story… Full text