Henrico’s Top Teachers – Rita Yarema

Rita Yarema seemed likely to become a teacher anyway – her father, aunt, grandmother and cousin all were or are – but when her young sister suffered a massive stroke that paralyzed her, the decision solidified itself in her mind.

Yarema saw how her sister's special education teachers worked with her diligently to help her re-learn how to do almost everything she'd been able to do previously. The experience convinced her that she, too, wanted to work with special needs students as a teacher.

Her teaching career began in New York, where she spent 13 years working in early intervention, primarily with autistic students. When she and her husband moved to the Richmond area in 2015, a job at the Virginia Randolph Education Center caught her attention, though she was initially somewhat hesitant.

“But I called my aunt, who is a retired special education teacher, and my cousin, who is a special education teacher in New York, and they said ‘Give it a year – you’re going to love it and never want to go back to anything else,’” Yarema recalled.“Virginia Randolph is definitely that change I was looking for.”

Many of the eight first-grade students Yarema works with have been unsuccessful in their home schools because of behavioral problems. So she works to implement routine-driven schedules for them and practice rules with them.

“The goal is for these kids to get in, to learn the coping skills and strategies they need, and then to get back to their home schools,” Yarema said.

“Rita balances and attends to the varying needs of each student in their level of transition," a colleague wrote of Yarema. "She is restorative in communication with students, taking the time to process behavioral challenges with students and reinforcing positive behaviors. Rita is open and collaborative with families, talking to parents weekly and sometimes daily to ensure that home and school are speaking the same language and brainstorming how to handle issues that may arise."

Working with families is key to Yarema’s approach.

“All the families I work with, they genuinely want to help their children but they don't know how,” she said.

Yarema is willing to go above and beyond her teaching responsibilities to help students and their families however possible. When she learned one family might soon lose its housing, she took action.

“Rita did not stop at what could be provided by the county or the school; she pulled upon personal connections to help this child and the family in order to provide assistance when needed,” the nominator wrote.

Wrote another colleague of Yarema’s style: “She is firm, but gentle in her approach with students. She does an incredible job of balancing the immense emotional, social, and educational needs of our students. She makes learning fun and accessible and is a true asset to our campus family."
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Challenger Day will get students with disabilities onto the field

Students from 22 Henrico County elementary schools will take to the baseball field Oct. 18 and learn how to field, hit and run the bases. The students will take part in Challenger Day, an annual event at the Tuckahoe Park Baseball Complex that introduces students with significant disabilities to the fundamentals of baseball. The students will also enjoy games, an art project, roaming mascots and a picnic lunch. > Read more.

Business in brief

Eisenman & Associates, Inc. employee Tracie Grady recently was named the 2017 Virginia Business Meeting Planner of the Year. Grady was chosen by a committee of industry leaders among 19 nominees. The award is a partnership between Virginia Business magazine and the Virginia Society of Association Executives. Its goal is to recognize the unsung hero of the association, non-profit, and business world, the professional meeting planner. Grady works with clients in a number of areas, including membership management, publication design, membership directories and convention/tradeshow programs. She has worked in the association industry, primarily focused on meeting planning, for more than 20 years. She is a graduate of VCU. Eisenman & Associates, Inc. is an association management and meetings consulting company. > Read more.

Lakewood to break ground on $64M expansion

A senior community in Henrico's Far West End is planning a massive expansion project.

Lakewood, located on Lauderdale Drive, will break ground on the project Oct. 19 during a celebration that also will commemorate the community's 40th anniversary. > Read more.

Henrico to hold Oct. 19 workshop on Route 5 Corridor/Marion Hill Study

The Henrico County Planning Department will hold a workshop Thursday, Oct. 19 for residents and other members of the public to provide additional input for a study of the Route 5 corridor and Marion Hill areas.

The workshop will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at John Rolfe Middle School, 6901 Messer Road. The meeting will include an overview of community input received so far and an explanation of how it is reflected in the study’s draft goals and objectives. > Read more.

Nominations open for REB awards for principals

Nominations are open for the 2017-18 REB Awards for Distinguished Educational Leadership, The Community Foundation’s yearly awards that identify, recognize and support leadership excellence in the Richmond area.

Honorees receive an unrestricted $7,500 cash grant, and $7,500 to be used for school initiatives. Nominees can be principals from public schools in Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties and the city of Richmond who have served in their current positions for at least three years. > Read more.

Henrico Business Bulletin Board

October 2017

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The Varina Library, located at 1875 New Market Rd., will hold a book sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be a wide variety of books, DVDs and CDs available, all at discount prices. All proceeds benefit Friends of the Varina Area Library. For details, call 501-1980 or visit http://www.henricolibrary.org. Full text

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Henrico's Top Teachers

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