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Henrico’s Top Teachers – Shahidah Jackson

Wilder M.S., physical education
Shahidah Jackson’s smile has been brightening Wilder Middle School since the school opened its doors for the first time in 1998.

Jackson is a physical education teacher at the school, but her influence extends well beyond gymnasium walls and playing fields, according to those who know her.

“She is always willing to help every student and teacher with any problems or needs that may arise,” a colleague wrote in a nomination letter. “Any time you walk by this teacher, she finds a way to put a smile on your face.”

Jackson fills her days with school-related activities that extend well beyond class hours.

As a cheerleading coach during nearly her entire tenure at Wilder, she has worked with students after school and has helped provide an outlet for some who might have chosen the wrong path otherwise.

“During tryouts, she makes a point to have someone on her team that some would consider ‘troublesome’ in school, and to keep this student on the right path throughout the school year,” a nominator wrote. “I feel that is tremendous dedication to the students, for many teachers try to avoid these students in our school. But Mrs. Jackson always finds the good in all of the students at Wilder.

“She tries to provide her cheerleaders with as many opportunities as possible by going out of her way to take these students to competitions and to provide team bonding times, even if it means opening the doors to her home.”

Jackson co-founded the school’s C.L.A.S.S.Y. organization (Creating Ladylike Attitudes for Sophistication and Success) for teenage girls. The club provides mentoring and life skills for its participants and is designed to develop strong citizens in and out of the classroom, while showing participants how they can have a positive impact on the community.

"At this level with students, all they need is someone that will show them attention and keep them motivated, grounded and give them encouragement to stay focused," Jackson says. "So each year, I challenge myself to help out as many students as possible. I feel rewarded each day when I enter the building and I am greeted with hugs and smiles. [It feels great] to know that the students feel that I genuinely care and love each one of them, and I get the same in return."

Jackson also is a frequent volunteer at other school events and serves as a sponsor for other clubs at Wilder as well.

In addition to her broad range of involvement at the school, colleagues also describe Jackson as an active volunteer away from school in the Eastern Henrico community.

“Everyone knows this teacher for her generosity, caring and relentless unselfish attitude,” one wrote. “Any time a student, teacher, or administration needs something, she never fails and is always there wherever needed.”


Community

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.

Highland Springs field to be dedicated in honor of longtime coach Spears

The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.

Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.

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Entertainment

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.

Weekend Top 10


There’s no excuse for kids and families to not get out of the house this weekend! The Armour House and Gardens has an “Egg-celent Egg-venture” planned and Reynolds Community College will host the Reynolds Family Palooza. If you’re looking to give back to your community, Dorey Park will host Walk Like MADD and coordinators2inc will present the annual Kids Walk for Kids. And a special event for children with special needs will be on Sunday – the Caring Bunny will be at Virginia Center Commons. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

A new meaning for fried chicken

Is it heresy to say – in this bastion-of-tradition capital of the Old South – that it's time for Southern fried chicken to take a step back and make way for a new fried chicken king?

Count me among the new believers bowing to Bonchon Chicken's delectable double-fried bliss. Hand-brushed with signature garlic soy or hot sauce, flash-fried once and then again, the decadent drums and wings take "crisp" to a new level. If you're eating with a crowd and everyone bites in at once, be warned: you might need ear plugs to handle the din. > Read more.

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