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

MADD walk raises more than $26,000

The Central Virginia chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) hosted its annual Walk Like MADD fundraiser April 12 at Dorey Park in Varina. More than 20 teams of walkers raised money from individual donors by participating in the walk, and in total the event generated more than $26,000 in donations for the organization. > Read more.

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

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