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.”
Henrico's Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is one of only 20 gardens in North America nominated for USA Today’s “10Best Reader’s Choice” contest for Best Public Garden.
The 20 public gardens nominated are:
• Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, Wash.
• Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, New York
• Buthcart Gardens, Victoria, B.C.
• Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Ga. > Read more.
Photo by Patty Kruszewski/Henrico Citizen 02/24/2014
The Fifth Annual Henrico Police Athletic League (PAL) Award Banquet, held Feb. 6 at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, honored HPAL’s top volunteers and employees, including Morgan Lewis, Youth of the Year; Dale Alexander, Volunteer of the Year; Lowell Thomas, Employee of the Year, and Victor Williams, Board Member of the Year. Also honored for their support were Jim and Christi Dowd of Richmond BMW and Josh Davis of Henrico County Public Schools Pupil Transportation.
Keynote speaker for the banquet was Tim Hightower, a University of Richmond alumnus and former NFL running back. Hightower was introduced by Billy McMullen, former NFL player and a Henrico PAL board member. > Read more.
The Pocahontas Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists, based in western Henrico, last year donated more than $1.3 million worth of manufacturers coupons to U.S. military personnel overseas. Throughout 2013, members and friends of the chapter clipped 952,349 manufacturers’ coupons valued at $1,350,630, which Program Chairman Carole Featherston shipped to U.S. military bases abroad. Military personnel can use the coupons when shopping in base stores.
The National Society Daughters of American Colonists is a women’s genealogical and patriotic society whose members are descended from a man or woman who rendered civil or military service in any of the American colonies prior to July 4, 1776. > Read more.
If you’re looking for a date night with someone special, Henrico is the place to be! Check out a classic 90s movie, “My Girl,” at Henrico Theatre; Circa, an innovative circus from Australia, will dazzle at the University of Richmond; and celebrate TGIF at Keagan’s Restaurant where the PJ Bottoms Band is performing. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Abstract paintings of Inge Strack (pictured) are on display through March 9 at the Gumenick Family Gallery at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. Strack, a Chestefield painter of German origin, often paints in bold colors with a deep sense of emotion, focusing on brushstrokes, texture and form to find a balance. Strack’s painting is routed in the European tradition of expressionism but has found its own, unique language in following the American dream.
“I am not attempting to abstract the physical world," she said. "I draw my subject matter from inside of myself hoping to create a constant conversation between the viewer and the painting, especially since abstracts do not seem to answer but ask.” > Read more.
Do you play pickleball? Learn more about this oddly-named but fun-to-play sport tomorrow! Though it’s still pretty chilly outside, you can get a jump start on spring at the Richmond Home and Garden Show or at a workshop on raised bed gardening at Lavender Fields Herb Farm. For all our top picks this weekend in Henrico, click here! > Read more.
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