Henrico’s Top Teachers – Pat Rogers

Pat Rogers couldn’t help but develop an interest in reading at an early age. As a child, “learning was a continual thing” in her family, she recalls. “You never stopped learning.”

Whenever a family member would share a new piece of information, others would ask, ‘Where did you get that?” The answer always was, ‘Well, I read it in a book.’”

Rogers, now in her 41st – and final – year as a teacher in Henrico County Public Schools has parlayed that love of learning into a lifetime of teaching. For the past 24 years, she’s taught fourth grade at Glen Allen Elementary School and finds working with students of that age particularly enjoyable because she can help them learn to take responsibility for their actions and themselves.

And, of course, because she can help them find joy in reading.

“If there’s one thing you can do to increase a child’s reading ability, it’s reading. Reading makes a better reader,” she says. “That’s one thing that you have to make time for every day. If you provide time and they’re reading at home at night and during school and they finish a book, then they’re excited. Then they start to feel independent about why they chose certain books, and that independence – when they feel in control – helps them get really excited about it.”

It’s a process that many parents have witnessed in their own children as a result of Rogers’ influence.

“One of Pat’s greatest strengths as a teacher is to forge an interest in reading in fourth grade,” a parent wrote in her nomination letter for Rogers. “In the primary grades, students are eager to learn to read because they see it as a path to independence, but Pat empowers students in the upper grades with the gift and appreciation of reading as well. I know that my own son was a non-recreational reader before entering her class. She found a way to reach him and hold him accountable so that he became a pleasure reader for those 184 days and even beyond that year.”

Rogers, who is a product of Henrico schools herself (Brookland Middle School and Tucker High School), now counts former students among her colleagues in the county’s public school system.

Despite her belief in the basic hallmarks of education, Rogers has been quick to adapt along the way as new technology arrived. She was among the first three teachers at Glen Allen to receive an interactive Promothean board, and she finds that technology has helped bring lessons to life for youngsters in a variety of ways. But trying to fit more information into the same amount of time can be challenging, so Rogers is careful not to overwhelm her students.

“I love every bit of the technology,” she says, “but you have to have comprehension skills, too.”

Though much has changed since Rogers began her teaching career, some things have not.

“As far as children go, I think they’re still excited,” she says. “The world has changed. Parents are still interested, but busier now than they’ve ever been. People don’t have as much free time as they used to. I actually think it’s good sometimes when the electricity goes out and people just have to sit there and take a deep breath.”

After years in the profession, one of the greatest joys for Rogers will never get tiring.

“When you see students ‘get’ something that they didn’t get before, they’re just excited about learning and excited about having something new to share. That’s exciting for me.”
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The Latin Ballet of Virginia will perform “NuYoRican” at 12:30 p.m. at Tuckahoe Library and at 4:30 p.m. at Varina Library. The true stories of thousands of Puerto Ricans migrating to the United States after World War II are portrayed through dances like La Plena La Bomba, as well as Mambos, Salsas, Latin Jazz and Reggaeton. For details, visit http://www.henricolibrary.org. Full text

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