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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

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.

Henricus Historical Park to host Publick Day Sept. 20

Henricus Historical Park will commemorate its anniversary during Publick Day, a signature annual event that celebrates the establishment of the second successful English settlement in the New World. In September 1611, Sir Thomas Dale, along with soldiers, tradesmen and farmers, ventured from Jamestown to create the Citie of Henricus. Leaders of Henricus developed the first English hospital, chartered the first college in North America, established tobacco as the first cash crop in Virginia, and created a place where Pocahontas lived and met John Rolfe.

Publick Day will take place Saturday, Sept. 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and parking is $5 per vehicle. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Extras sought for AMC’s ‘TURN’

Paid extras are being sought to appear in the AMC television series TURN: Washington's Spies, which will begin filming its second season in the Richmond area at the end of September and continue through February.

No experience is required, but producers say that extras must have flexible availability, reliable transportation and a positive attitude.

Arvold Casting is holding an open call on Sunday, Sept. 21 and is seeking men, women and children who are Caucasian, African American and Native American, with thin to average builds and who can realistically portray people living in Revolutionary War times. Long hair is a plus but not a must. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


TGIF! Celebrate the weekend at Oak Hall Baptist Church’s Community Block Party on Saturday. Learn more about ballroom dancing, art and Colonial times. Or take the kids to Generation Z Games for water play or Southern Season to cook up a Disney-theme meal. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Check out these three B’s in Henrico this weekend: books, bluegrass and “Born Yesterday.” Other activities to participate in – and feel good about – are the 15th annual James River Regional Cleanup and the 5th annual Richmond Out of the Darkness Community Walk. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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Henrico's Top Teachers