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Henrico’s Top Teachers – Nancy Niedermayer

Glen Lea E.S., kindergarten
As a student at VCU, Nancy Niedermayer was assigned to Glen Lea as a student teacher. A decade later, it’s still home. Though she taught second and third grade during her first few years at the school, Niedermayer has been firmly entrenched as a kindergarten teacher in recent years and says she loves it.

“It’s a lifestyle and very different from anything else,” she says. “It’s fast-paced. I find it completely entertaining. You can be having the worst day, and at some point in the day, they’re going to make you laugh or challenge you. It’s very hard to be in a bad mood in kindergarten.”

Glen Lea sits in the shadows of Richmond International Raceway and serves one of the most economically challenged regions of the county. But, one colleague wrote in a nomination letter, “Ms. Niedermayer never uses this as an excuse; instead, it motivates her even more.”

Niedermayer feels a strong connection with her students – even after they’ve left her classroom.

“I’m not just interested in them in kindergarten,” she says. “I’m interested in the all the way through. I just feel like when I go to school every day it makes a difference. I feel like there’s lots that I can offer, and the kids offer just as much back. I need them as much as they need me.”

Many students don’t have the type of basic resources at home that might be taken for granted elsewhere, so Niedermayer takes it upon herself to help out.

She has organized an “angel tree” program through her church (Christ the King Lutheran Church) for several years during the winter holidays, during which church members purchase gifts for students who otherwise might not receive any. She’s also partnered with her church to help provide food to students who might otherwise go without.

“Just this past week, I observed her sending one of her kindergarteners home with a bag of food because she knew he was not getting enough to eat,” a nominator wrote.

To Niedermayer, it’s all just part of the responsibility that comes with being a teacher.

“In one day’s time you can go from being teacher, to mom, to nurse,” she says. “You’re not only an educator – a lot of times the love, the stability that you can provide is just as important.”

Niedermayer created a program at Glen Lea called Character Cinema, which rewards students who consistently display good character with an afternoon trip to the movies as a group.

“It creates excitement, it shows that their good character doesn’t go unnoticed,” she says. “Sometimes we’re in an environment where we pay more attention to the bad behavior than the good.”

Niedermayer also has served as the school’s computer contact, assisting other teachers with technology issues on a daily basis, and as the head of the school’s social committee, helping to celebrate the successes of others. And she organized and compiled a staff cookbook to sell at school events, using the money to buy treats for students during SOL testing.

But despite all she does at the school, Niedermayer’s favorite moments are those that need no explanation: Watching students’ reactions at the moment when a lesson suddenly makes sense. Then, she can’t always hold back her enthusiasm.

“Sometimes I’ll do a little dance and they’ll look at me like I’m crazy, and I say, ‘You’ll get it one day.’”
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

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.

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Entertainment

The Boathouse to open at Short Pump Town Center

The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.

“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”

The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.

Getting a ‘mouf’-ful

Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.

Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?

Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.

Lakeside microbrewery beginning to take shape

Original Gravity gets the green light to move forward with relocation, expansion into larger space

A Lakeside home-brewing shop has felt the gravitational pull toward the booming craft beer scene.

Original Gravity, a shop that sells beer and wine kits for homebrewers, has just been given the green light to start work on a microbrewery.

Owner Tony Ammendolia is expanding his 1,000-square-foot shop in Lakeside Town Center to 5,000-square-foot digs a few doors down to add a brewery and expand his supplies.

Ammendolia opened the home-brew supply store in November 2011 and since then he said business has taken off.

“I think I outgrew this place in the first year,” Ammendolia said. “We’ve seen steady growth and I’ve been looking for a place to expand to move the shop to get more square footage.” > Read more.

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Henrico's Top Teachers