Henrico’s Top Teachers – Kenyatta Smither

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.”
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Therapeutic healing


In a room labeled the garden room, a bright space with lavender-colored walls and pebble-gray chairs, art therapist Becky Jacobson might ask her patients to imagine a safe place, but she doesn’t ask them to describe it to her — she wants them to draw it.

The patients are free to draw whatever they envision, expressing themselves through their colored markers, a form of healing through art therapy.

“Some people might not feel safe anywhere because they have had hard things happening to them, and I have the background to help that person reground and feel safe in the group,” Jacobson said. > Read more.

Eight’s enough? Crowded race for 56th District develops


Following the retirement of Delegate Peter Farrell [R-56th District], a number of candidates have thrown their hats into the ring to vie for the open seat in the Virginia General Assembly district, which contains a portion of Henrico’s Far West End.

Democratic challengers include Lizzie Basch and Melissa Dart, while Republican contenders include George Goodwin, Matt Pinsker, Graven Craig, Surya Dhakar, Jay Prendergrast and John McGuire. In addition to a section of Henrico, the district also includes portions of Goochland and Spotsylvania County, as well as all of Louisa County. > Read more.

On the trail to Awareness


Twenty-five teams, composed of some 350 participants, gathered at Dorey Park in Varina April 8 for the Walk Like MADD 5k, to benefit Mothers Against Drunk Driving Virginia. The event raised more than $35,000, with more funds expected to come in through May 7. > Read more.

Leadership Metro Richmond honors St. Joseph’s Villa CEO


Leadership Metro Richmond honored St. Joseph's Villa CEO Kathleen Burke Barrett, a 2003 graduate of LMR, with its 2017 Ukrop Community Vision Award during its annual spring luncheon April 6.

The award honors a LMR member who demonstrates a purposeful vision, a sense of what needs to be done, clear articulation with concern and respect for others with demonstrated action and risk-taking. > Read more.

Glen Allen H.S. takes second in statewide economics competition

Glen Allen H.S. was among six top schools in the state to place in the 2017 Governor’s Challenge in Economics and Personal Finance.

Taught by Patricia Adams, the Glen Allen H.S. team was runner-up in the Economics division, in which teams faced off in a Quiz Bowl. > Read more.

Henrico Business Bulletin Board

April 2017
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The Children’s Clothing Closet at Highland Springs United Methodist Church, 22 N. Holly Ave., will be open from 10 a.m. to noon every Tuesday and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. every second and fourth Thursday of the month. Clothing is available in sizes infant through teen and is free. Clothes are located on the second floor and no elevator is available. Full text

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