Henrico County VA
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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

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

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.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


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.

Henricus Historical Park to host Publick Day Sept. 20

Henricus Historical Park will commemorate its anniversary during Publick Day, a signature annual event that celebrates the establishment of the second successful English settlement in the New World. In September 1611, Sir Thomas Dale, along with soldiers, tradesmen and farmers, ventured from Jamestown to create the Citie of Henricus. Leaders of Henricus developed the first English hospital, chartered the first college in North America, established tobacco as the first cash crop in Virginia, and created a place where Pocahontas lived and met John Rolfe.

Publick Day will take place Saturday, Sept. 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and parking is $5 per vehicle. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Extras sought for AMC’s ‘TURN’

Paid extras are being sought to appear in the AMC television series TURN: Washington's Spies, which will begin filming its second season in the Richmond area at the end of September and continue through February.

No experience is required, but producers say that extras must have flexible availability, reliable transportation and a positive attitude.

Arvold Casting is holding an open call on Sunday, Sept. 21 and is seeking men, women and children who are Caucasian, African American and Native American, with thin to average builds and who can realistically portray people living in Revolutionary War times. Long hair is a plus but not a must. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


TGIF! Celebrate the weekend at Oak Hall Baptist Church’s Community Block Party on Saturday. Learn more about ballroom dancing, art and Colonial times. Or take the kids to Generation Z Games for water play or Southern Season to cook up a Disney-theme meal. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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.

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Oak Hall Baptist Church, 1877 Old Hanover Rd. in Sandston, will host a free community block party from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. There will be children’s activities, a bounce… Full text

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Henrico's Top Teachers