Henrico’s Top Teachers – Laila Marshall
Shady Grove E.S., exceptional education
Laila Marshall always has enjoyed the special satisfaction that comes from helping children with special needs. As a high school student, she worked with a group of them in a day care center adjacent to her school, furthering interaction with youngsters that began with babysitting experiences at age 11.
"I guess I've always enjoyed working with them and helping and watching them grow," she said.
So when she entered the teaching profession in 1997 in Florida, it was hardly a shock that she would end up in exceptional education. She moved to Central Virginia in 2004, taught for two years at Highland Springs High School, took a year off, and then moved to Shady Grove Elementary. There, she has served as the lead exceptional education teacher for the past five years.
In her role, she works with students in all grades except fourth in individualized and small group settings to hone social skills and core skills alike, so that they eventually can return to mainstream classes when possible.
"I work with students who have very high intelligence but need help communicating," she said. The key to reaching a child? Building a relationship with each one.
"With every behavior, there's a reason behind it," Marshall said. "If you can figure out the reason, you can change the behavior."
One of her students often panicked when he was greeted or asked a question by someone while walking in the hallway. He found himself uncomfortable and unable to communicate. So Marshall created a set of flashcards printed with several common phrases that he could carry with him and show when the situation occurred in the future.
The solution eased the student's fears and alleviated a major issue in his daily routine.
"They're individuals with personalities, also," she said of her students. "Sometimes people tend to not give them enough credit for what they can do. They're very capable – they're just like every other kid. They're kids first."
Marshall's efforts have paid significant dividends for many children.
"Mrs. Marshall has really fostered my son's self-esteem," one nominator wrote. "He has Aspergers and can be a perfectionist at times – so much so that it used to be if he thought he couldn't do something perfectly, he would not even attempt it. She got him to try things even if he couldn't do them perfectly. He learned that it's okay and that he doesn't have to feel bad about himself if something isn't perfect from the start.
Assisting children with special needs is a team effort, Marshall said, describing how the school's exceptional education teachers work collaboratively to address each situation.
"Maybe I'm observing from outside a situation and I can see things that someone inside can't," she said. "I ask the same thing of other teachers, too."
Watching, or hearing about, one of her students or former students succeed "makes any frustration worth it," Marshall said. "I just had a parent come talk to me about how successful her child is in middle school. Those are the types of things that make you keep going."
St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.
Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.
Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.
Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarCongregation Brith Achim, 314 W. South Blvd. in Petersburg, will commemorate the Jewish Festival of Lights with a Dreidels and Dinner Chanukah Celebration. Admission is free. For details, call 732-3968. Full text