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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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CalendarThe Shepherd’s Center will begin its Open University four-week fall lecture series “Lunch and Life” at 12:30 p.m. at St. Mary Catholic Church, 9505 Gayton Rd. Bill Lohmann, columnist for… Full text