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Henrico’s Top Teachers – Lauren Lorello

Henrico H.S. biology
It was an AP course in high school that convinced Lauren Lorello that she wanted to go into the field of biology. Her biology teacher taught with such passion, and was so giving of her free time when it came to helping her students, that she was drawn to the subject as well as the teacher.

Although in college she initially majored in biology with a concentration in pre-med, she gradually realized that the physician lifestyle was not a fit for her personality.

"I decided then that I would rather try to inspire and teach future doctors," said Lorello, "than actually become one myself."

Today, Lorello is inspiring young adults at Henrico High School and equipping them with skills that go well beyond knowledge of biology to those that will help them succeed in life.

"She is the most supportive teacher I know," said a former student who wrote to nominate her. "Mrs. Lorello is a teacher that hasn't gotten caught up with teaching to a standardized test. She wants each and every student to believe in themselves, and she will never give up on you as long as you never give up on yourself."  

The student noted that as someone who makes all ‘A’s and does not struggle with academics, she nevertheless needs help with school – especially with her tendency to be a perfectionist. "I hold myself to very high standards, and I get very, visibly upset when I don't meet these standards," wrote the student. "Mrs. Lorello noticed this very early on when I was in her class. In the years since, she has taught me to laugh, and more importantly to laugh at myself. I look up to her on so many levels."

Lorello is the first to acknowledge that there are countless other subjects besides biology on her students' minds as they stroll into her classroom and that motivating students is a daily, unrelenting task. "Trying to get them to focus and to spark their interest," she said, "has always been one of my toughest, yet favorite, challenges."

Among her favorite "teachable moments" was an impromptu lesson that occurred after her Biology I students were intrigued one day by a lab she had set up for the subsequent AP class. During extra time at the end of the period, Lorello used parts of the lab to set up a demonstration and surprise them.

"Different substances were placed in beakers and when a solvent was added, the solution would change colors. The students were in awe," she says. "They continued to ask questions for days about that lab. It was truly refreshing to see them understand something and be really interested in it."

Other rewarding moments include seeing a student achieve the AP exam's highest possible score the very first year she taught the class. Since AP is the equivalent of a first-year college course, Lorello says she struggled all year just to stay a step ahead of her pupils.

"I probably did more homework than most of my students," she admits, "but seeing all the effort [pay off] was a feeling that I don’t think I’ll ever forget."

Lorello also gets a thrill when former students go out of their way to take another class she teaches – or in one case, even arrange their schedule to regularly spend non-class time with her. It is that case, which involves a junior who spends every period of study hall in Lorello's classroom, that reminds Lorello of why she became a teacher.

“She is brilliant,” said Lorello of her former student, "but she is such a perfectionist that she sometimes lets classes get the best of her. When she needs someone to talk to, just about life or other classes, she comes to me.

"[That] makes me realize that I am making a difference," says Lorello. "I think this is a feeling that many teachers might strive for their entire career, and never actually realize."

It just so happens that Anna Canova, the nominator quoted above, is the student who means so much to her.

Canova said that she spends her study halls in the "warm and inviting environment" of Lorello's class because she can help grade papers or do other special jobs for Lorello – and because she has learned so many life skills from Lorello.

"She has taught me that making mistakes is okay, and I can't express how much that means to me," wrote Canova. "She has taken me on as personal project when no one else has ever bothered.

"I still can't say I love school; I still find it very stressful," admits Canova. "[But] Mrs. Lorello will take me under her wing no matter what; she has never failed to wipe my tears and tell me I'm worth it.

"Knowing there is someone who cares about me makes a world of difference."  
Community

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.

Rotary donates to ‘Bright Beginnings’

The Sandston Rotary Club recently donated $1,000 to the Sandston YMCA for its Bright Beginnings program, which helps provide children in need with school supplies for the new school year. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Enjoy the final days of summer with comedian Guy Torry, the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour or mystery writer Mary Miley Theobald at Twin Hickory Library. Another great way to welcome the beginning of fall is to check out the UR Spider Football season opener with man’s best friend. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Bottoms up

Short Pump brewery offers more than just beer
I am still (happily) thinking about my entire experience at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery last week. Knowing nothing about this new brewery out of Denver, I was leery of brew-pub in the heart of Short Pump Town Center – this is not what I’d usually think of as a perfect fit, and yet, it was.

The restaurant and craft brewery opened in early June and features 10 beers made by female brewmaster Becky Hammond (pictured). This is the restaurant’s second location in Virginia; the first is in Arlington. Behind glass walls, customers watched the beer brewing in massive steel barrels. For our up-and-coming beer region, it makes sense that Short Pump would jump on board.

As I walked up to the back of the mall near the comedy club, I was taken aback by what I saw: at the top of the stairs was an overflowing restaurant with outdoor seating, large umbrellas and dangling outdoor lights. > Read more.

Cultural Arts Center announces 2014 fall class schedule

The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen is now registering participants for its fall 2014 schedule of classes.

The center will offer more than 100 classes for children and adults, covering topicssuch as culinary arts, fiber arts, visual and performance arts and more. Instruction is structured to appeal to a wide range of abilities, from beginners to experts of all ages. Class sizes are kept small to ensure maximum benefit for participants with generally no more than 15 students. > Read more.

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The Henrico County Community Author Showcase, a new program that connects writers and readers in the community, will begin at 7 p.m. and continue on Thursdays at various libraries. Brenda… Full text

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Henrico's Top Teachers