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Henrico’s Top Teachers – Krista Hodges

Rivers Edge E.S., first grade
After an accident in infancy left Krista Hodges with three partially missing fingers, she was self-conscious about raising her hands and doing finger plays in elementary school.

She never forgot the kindness of her teacher, who sensed her discomfort and always called on her to be a helper or perform some other job during finger play time.

Nor can she forget the middle school teacher who gave Hodges her own jacket to wear during class after she spilled milk all over her shirt and pants during lunch.

Neither incident in itself made Hodges want to be a teacher, but both reinforced what she intuitively knew all along.

“As long as I can remember . . . I always wanted to be a teacher,” says Hodges. “I have always loved working with children, from keeping the nursery at church, to being a ‘mom’s helper,’ to babysitting, to working in a child care center.”

And work with children she does – 25 first-graders, to be exact, whose math and language arts abilities range from kindergarten to sixth grade levels.

With such a variety of students, says Hodges, it takes some juggling to plan activities that will engage and challenge each individual learner and make each proud of his or her “personal best.”

One way Hodges sets the tone is to begin and end each day with hugs, telling the children that she loves them and that they are “terrific and magnificent.”

“From the first day of school,” she says, “I make sure [my students] know they have become a member of my family. . . and that I will be watching out for them and keeping track of them, even when I’m 100 years old.”

One of her most rewarding moments as a teacher, she says, is having former students come back as student interns, student teachers and even parents, and to remember that “Mrs. Hodges thinks they are terrific and magnificent!”

Hodges also strives to provide an environment that fosters mutual respect and celebrates each child’s uniqueness, and says she finds her reward in her students’ triumphs and the challenges they overcome.

“Some days it may be that ‘ah-ha’ moment when blending sounds to form words suddenly means ‘I’m reading!’,” she says. “Some days it may be a high five and big hugs for a little one who made it through the day using super behavior. And some days it may be spending a little one-on-one time with a little six-year-old that misses Mommy.”

Parents who wrote to nominate Hodges as a top teacher said that she has a “gift and a talent” for recognizing what a child needs, and for nurturing every child’s talent and “letting it shine.”

To the child who needed to read more chapter books, for instance, she provided an opportunity to read part of one out loud to the class. To the student who was anxious about starting the new school year, and to the student who had a sister undergoing surgery, she gave gentle, caring support.

One parent whose son came to Hodges after repeating kindergarten said he has done “a complete 180” under her guidance. “She is so positive with him,” she wrote, “and recognizes his strengths and what to do to help his deficiencies.”

“She has turned my son from a regular mis-behaver to one who listens and respects her,” wrote another parent.

“Her students are ready to give their 130 percent,” wrote another.

Parents also appreciate that Hodges stays in constant touch with both parents and children, sending messages even when she is sick or has a day off to let the children know she is thinking of them.

“As a middle school teacher, I would be hesitant to give students my telephone number,” wrote one parent, recalling that Hodges provided her cell phone number at the first conference, with instructions to call any time with questions or concerns.

“I knew then,” said the parent, “that her job didn’t end at 2:00. She is committed to my child and his success.”

And always, always, Hodges stays positive and upbeat. More than one parent said that she makes a tough job look effortless.

“Her enthusiasm for teaching is palpable,” wrote a parent. Rather than seeing school days as a chore, Hodges’ students view their lessons – even their homework, in some cases – with pleasure.

“She teaches them in such a fun way that they do not even realize that they are learning,” said another parent. “My son comes home from school every day and says, “Today in school I learned. . . “

Many parents wrote to praise the way Hodges instills confidence in her students, whether through personal notes full of loving and empowering messages, or emails over the weekend to let them know she is excited about the week ahead.

“She builds them up every single day,” said one parent. “Just last night, she sent an email for my daughter to read letting her know she’s sorry she got teased by another student and that she loves her.”

“My son,” said another parent, “came and told me one day that ‘I can do anything I like because I am magnificent.’”

Almost all of the parents who wrote to nominate Hodges mentioned that whenever their children are on break from school, they miss their teacher as they would miss a family member.

“I have heard time and time again,” said a parent, “that kids that have her for first grade are sad to go to second grade for one reason – and it’s because they will miss Mrs. Hodges.”
Community

Commonwealth Parenting, CMoR-Short Pump to present 6-part parenting forum series

As part of its 30th anniversary year and partnership with the Children's Museum of Richmond, Commonwealth Parenting will present a six-part RVA Parents Forum Series to address some of the toughest issues confronting parents.

Parenting experts and family educators will tackle topics ranging from bullying to alcohol, sex to divorce, and technology and stress. Parents will learn how to identify potential problems.

"We're excited about bringing this much-needed forum series to parents in central Virginia. Through our valuable partnership with Commonwealth Parenting, we can have a deeper impact in the community through parent and caregiver education," said Karen Coltrane, president and CEO of the Children's Museum of Richmond. > Read more.

Celebrating 106 years

Former Sandston resident Mildred Taylor celebrated her 106th birthday Aug. 9. Taylor, who now lives in Powhatan, is still a member of Sandston Baptist Church. She was visited the day after her birthday by several members of the church, who played for her a recording of the entire church membership singing happy birthday to her during worship. > Read more.

YMCA breaks ground for aquatic center

YMCA officials gathered last week to break ground on the new Tommy J. West Aquatic Center at the Shady Grove Family YMCA on Nuckols Road. The center, which will featured 7,600 square feet of competitive and recreational space, including water slides, play areas for children and warmer water for those with physical limitations, is the fourth phase of a $4 million expansion at the facility. West was president and CEO of Capital Interior Contractors and a founding member of the Central Virginia Region of the Virginia Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Check out these three B’s in Henrico this weekend: books, bluegrass and “Born Yesterday.” Other activities to participate in – and feel good about – are the 15th annual James River Regional Cleanup and the 5th annual Richmond Out of the Darkness Community Walk. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

When the cliche stands tall

Inspirational football movie tries too hard for its own good
When the Game Stands Tall is based on a true story – an unbelievable true story that takes the word “inspiring” about as far as it can go.

It’s a film about Bob Ladouceur, coach of the De La Salle High Spartans, a California high school football team with 12 consecutive undefeated seasons (a staggering 151 games won in a row).

Along the way, Ladouceur (played by Jim Caviezel) faced the kind of hardship most football coaches (thankfully) can only imagine – suffering a near-fatal heart attack, the death of a star player, and rebuilding the team after that 151-game streak came to a humiliating end. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Enjoy political comedy at its finest with The Capitol Steps at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. Methodist and Baptist churches unite for the fourth annual Mission Footprint 5K, taking place at Trinity UMC. Or in honor of Grandparent’s Day on Sunday, treat them to A Grand Family Affair or maybe a movie – the 1978 film “Superman” is at the Henrico Theatre. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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The Short Pump Ruritan Club is seeking crafters for its 24th annual craft show, which will be held Saturday, Oct. 25, at Short Pump Middle School, 4701 Pouncey Tract Road.… Full text

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Henrico's Top Teachers