Henrico’s Top Teachers – Lynne Norris

Years spent in the corporate world convinced Lynne Norris that what she really wanted to do wasn’t crunching numbers or clawing her way through middle management.

“I had said for a number of years that if I could do anything and money wasn’t an object, I would go teach high school,” she recalls.

Eventually, though, she dropped the financial condition.

“I quit my job, went to get my teacher certification and haven’t looked back,” she says.

The decision was an easy one for Norris, who is in her third year as department chair of Deep Run High School’s Center for Information Technology, which draws students from throughout the county. As a parent of two teenage sons herself – and as someone who found motivation from her high school teachers – there was little question where Norris wanted to be.

Deep Run’s program engages students in cutting-edge technology, helping to prepare them for college and careers in the field or as engineers, among other paths. The program counts 100 students among its ranks, and Norris says each one demonstrates skills and knowledge that impress her each day.

“I tell my students that in many ways they’re much smarter than I am, because they grew up with this [technology] and I didn’t. It’s part of who they are – they just take off and run with it.”

Norris requires each of her tenth-graders to become the class’s “consultant of the week” once, a role that asks them to become an expert on a new technology topic, then teach the class about it.

“Some of the topics they come up with are just amazing,” she says.

She also created a senior “Capstone” course that exposes students to four topics (information technology management, database design, network security or game design), during its first nine weeks, then allows them to choose one, study it in depth and write a research paper about the topic.

Norris fully involves herself not only in the center and her classes, but the students and the school community as a whole.

“Students enter her classroom eager to learn in a professional atmosphere where they are given up-to-date opportunities to discover, research and learn about the latest advancements in technology,” a colleague wrote in a nomination letter. “She serves on several committees, always volunteers for tickets sales, attends school events, speaks before community groups about the center and mentors new teachers in the center. She is also the advisor to the Computer Club and mentors girls in information technology. She must have a cape somewhere in her wardrobe.”

To Norris, her students make the job enjoyable and rewarding. They also keep her honest. “Being real with the students is really important, because they know when you’re not,” she says. “Putting it out there when I make a mistake, or if I don’t know an answer, I think they respect that. And because of those things they trust me.

“I love these kids and I tell them that regularly. I don’t have to care about these kids, but I really do. I care how they’re doing in all of their other classes and activities. They’re really willing to open up and do lots of things when they realize that people really do care.”
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HCPS wins national honor for overhaul of Code of Student Conduct, supports


Henrico County Public Schools recently was recognized by the National School Boards Association for a sweeping overhaul of the school division’s approach to student supports. HCPS was one of five large U.S. school systems recognized with a first-place honor in the 2017 Magna Awards, presented Saturday in Denver at the organization’s annual conference. The awards recognize school divisions and leaders “for taking bold and innovative steps to improve the lives of students and their communities,” according to the group.

The award recognizes Henrico Schools’ efforts of the past several years, from re-examining its policies to implementing more support systems. After a two-year conversation with the community through public hearings and other feedback, HCPS adopted a revised Code of Student Conduct for the 2015-16 school year. > Read more.

Environmentalists say budget hurts efforts to protect bay

Environmental groups are outraged at the Trump administration’s proposed funding cuts for Chesapeake Bay cleanup programs.

President Donald Trump’s budget plan, released last week, reduces the budget for the federal Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent. That includes a $427 million in funding to address regional pollution, such as the Chesapeake Bay protection efforts. The proposed budget would eliminate funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which received $73 million from the federal government in 2016. > Read more.

Glen Allen ES principal receives REB Award


Melissa Halquist-Pruden, principal of Henrico County’s Glen Allen Elementary School, earned the 2016-17 REB Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership. The Community Foundation presents the award to four principals annually – one each from the school systems of Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties and one from the city of Richmond schools.

The award recognizes principals who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their jobs to create an exceptional educational environment. The award stresses management and communication skills, and the ability to inspire, encourage and advocate for the school. > Read more.

Grant to help Hermitage H.S. upgrade CTE program equipment


Governor Terry McAuliffe announced recently that Henrico County’s Hermitage H.S. will be among 16 high schools and technical centers statewide to receive a grant to upgrade equipment for career and technical education (CTE) programs.

The program gives priority to challenged schools, Governor's STEM Academies and Governor's Health Science Academies. Each school or center will receive $37,500 to purchase new equipment and make other necessary improvements. At Hermitage, the funds will be used for precision machining equipment. > Read more.

Virginia raises a toast to George Washington’s whiskey


George Washington is recognized as the father of our country, but with a bill signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Washington also will be recognized under another title – distiller of Virginia’s official liquor.

SB 1261, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin of Alexandria, adds a “state spirit” to the list of the commonwealth’s official emblems and designations and crowns George Washington’s rye whiskey with the title.

The bill, which McAuliffe signed last week, highlights George Washington’s contributions to the culture of Virginia as “a native son of Virginia born on February 22, 1732, in Pope’s Creek”; “the first American president, commander of the Continental Army, and president of the Constitutional Convention”; and “a model statesman ... universally acknowledged as the father of our nation.” > Read more.
Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


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.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


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.
Entertainment

Metro Diner to open second Henrico location


Metro Diner, a comfort food concept, will open its second Henrico location next month. The company is accepting job applications for its Libbie Place location at 5626 West Broad Street. The diner concept, known for its fried chicken and waffles, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits, will bring 100 new jobs to the region as it plans to open its doors in April.

The 3,500-square-foot diner located in the Libbie Place Shopping Center will seat more than 100 and serve classic comfort food staples with a twist, such as fried chicken and waffles topped with strawberry butter and a stuffed challah bread French toast with strawberry and blueberry compote. > Read more.

 

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