Henrico’s Top Teachers – Kenyatta Smither
Rolfe M.S., Instructional Assistant
Kenyatta Smither does not consider his position as an educator to be a job.
“It is my mission,” he says. “It’s my mission to help give [students] the spark to learn and develop the tools that will make them successful in life.”
As a special education instructional assistant at Rolfe Middle School, Smither sees “a great disconnect” in the lives of many children, who often lack motivation to achieve because of the limited expectations others have for them. “They face obstacles daily,” Smither says of his students, “and education may not be their primary motivation.”
Noting that he became an educator because he wanted to be a positive influence, Smither counters those limited expectations with his own. He strives to inspire his students by posting special “power” messages on the classroom door and blackboard.
“Respect, responsibility, and reward is my personal motto that I live by in the classroom,” he says, “[and] the expectation I have for every student I encounter.”
One of his most rewarding moments as an educator, says Smither, was seeing the “magnificent job” his students did on a science project last year about the solar system and George Washington Carver.
Working on their projects for weeks, the students designed elaborate displays of the planets, built space shuttles, and created shadow boxes featuring Carver’s inventions. In addition to a display, each student completed an oral presentation describing his or her project.
The results, according to Smither, were “awesome.”
“Teachers and administrators come to our class just to view the students’ accomplishments. The students were very proud of their work [and] eager to share with people how hard they worked on their projects.”
“Some people couldn’t believe the students were capable of doing the projects,” he recalls. “Others stated they had never seen the students so motivated.”
None of this comes as a surprise to Smither’s admirers, one of whom writes, “He will always go above and beyond to encourage and support his special needs students. He will always challenge them to their fullest, but understands that every child learns differently – [and] given the chance will soar.”
Smither never misses an opportunity to instill the “Knowledge is Power” message in his students, says a nominator, adding, “Kenyatta Smither is Rolfe’s hidden treasure. His encouragement, his teaching, his mentoring, his ideas, his energy and his tough love should be modeled throughout the HCPS school system.”
The Children's Clothing Closet at Highland Springs United Methodist Church will be open Saturday, Aug. 27 and Tuesday, Aug. 30 to provide free new or nearly new children's clothing for families in need, prior to the start of the school year. The Clothing Closet will be open from 10 a.m. to noon both days. The church is located at 22 North Holly Avenue. > Read more.
Citizen Staff Reports 07/18/2016
Good Vibrations choral group is looking for all voices with some musical experience to sing with the volunteer choir. The season runs from August to November. Genre includes patriotic and inspirational. > Read more.
It’s a great weekend to get outside! The Pocahontas Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society is offering two events this weekend. Accompany the group to find and document native plants present and blooming in Echo Lake Park on Saturday or take a “Sunday Stroll” at Dorey Park to observe the seasonal changes taking place. Other outdoor events this weekend include the final summer concert at West Broad Village and “Fridays on the Patio” at James River Cellars Winery in Glen Allen. If you’re going to be outside, don’t forget the insect repellent! To learn more about avoiding those pesky mosquitos, check out Henrico County’s “Fight-the-Bite TODAY” event tomorrow. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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