Henrico County VA
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Henrico’s Top Teachers – Louise Robertson

Steward School, English
By now, Louise Robertson is used to the puzzled looks and quizzical responses some people give her upon learning her profession.

"I've had people say, 'You teach middle school? God bless you. How do you do it?'" she said with a laugh.

But for Robertson, now in her 21st year at the Steward School and fourth year as academic dean for the middle school, it's a worthwhile challenge. As a seventh-grade English teacher, she strives to impart traditional standards and philosophies to students who have grown up in a technology-frenzied world. And though technology is a big part of her classroom, she finds that students sometimes gravitate toward old-fashioned favorites.

"The kids can do their reading on an e-reader or hard copy," she said. "But I find that most of the time, they'll sit down with a book."

During an era in which texting, tweeting and e-mailing seemingly have made proper sentence structure and spelling a thing of the past, Robertson makes sure that her students know they have higher expectations in class.

"We're strong on teaching grammar, because it makes for better writers or thinkers," she said. "It's a tool they can take with them. [Students' performances] just depend on how you structure an assignment, what you accept and don't accept. I try to teach them to be good writers."

Robertson has made a tremendous impact on the school during her time as an educator. She was named the recipient of the Paul R. Cramer “Best Faculty Award” last year, a tribute to her dedication in her various roles.

"In the classroom, this teacher challenges and cares, discovers and shapes, inspires and requires," said Ken Seward, headmaster of The Steward School. "While honoring Steward's past, this individual looks to the future and initiates and supports changes to ensure that the School continues to meet its mission in a changing world."

Though she embraces advancements in education, Robertson's underlying philosophies as a teacher have an old-school feel.

"My standards come from the '60s and '70s, but those core values shouldn't change," she said. "I don’t pride myself on being their friend. I pride myself on making sure they know I'm fair. It's important that students see someone they can respect. You can get their attention that way."

Recently, she recalled a former student who had expressed a particular fondness for a specific book when he was in her class. When she got an illustrated copy of it this past Christmas, she contacted him to let him know.

"He came down to my office within an hour, and we sat and talked about it," she said. "I hadn't had him in class in five or six years."

Helping students understand how their English skills can open doors for them or help them find their passions in life make each day a rewarding one for Robertson.

"What you look for, particularly with seventh-graders, is that teachable moment," she said. "You try to make that real world connection with them. It's the age that I love."
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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Henrico's Top Teachers