Henrico’s Top Teachers – Shamiya Bell

Shamiya Bell fell in love with the idea of teaching when she was in third grade in Tennessee. Her teacher, Mrs. Casey, pushed her to do her best and encouraged her. She was strict, but fun.

“I just never forgot that grade – or her,” Bell recalled recently. “I always wanted to teach third grade.

So when Bell graduated from VCU as an education major with a master’s degree in the field as well, there was little doubt about which grade she would teach.

Kindergarten.

What?

Bell laughs at the fact that through her teaching practicums and student teaching assignment in elementary schools around the region, she never ended up in a third-grade classroom. And when she was hired at Ridge Elementary in 2011, it was as a fifth-grade teacher. But she was switched to kindergarten before school started and has been there ever since.

She’s not complaining.

“I like the age group because they’re so sweet, and they’re eager and they want to please,” she said. “They’re just little sponges at this stage.”

Ridge is one of the most demographically diverse schools in Henrico County, with several dozen languages spoken by students whose families are from Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East, among other places. That creates the opportunity for a classroom melting pot but also can provide challenges for teachers. Some students enter kindergarten not knowing how to speak English, while others are already reading.

Bell keeps her expectations high for each student, promotes visual-based learning and groups students so that the more advanced children work with those who are farther behind.

“When I’m mixing their groups, it kind of helps the advanced kids when they’re actually teaching or helping the little kids,” Bell said. “They like doing that.”

The efforts have paid off, according to one parent who nominated Bell as a top teacher.

“She threads the needle of success by balancing the needs of remedial and advanced students which is ever important in a world where students risk not maximizing their potential because of distraction and incorrect prioritization of resources,” he wrote. “My family witnessed the growth of my son at the beginning of kindergarten as a non-reader to a third-grade reading level by the end of his time with Mrs. Bell. His joy and success for reading and learning were unmatched.”
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Richmond Montessori School earns VAIS reaccreditation


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CAT Theatre, 319 N. Wilkinson Rd., will launch its new kids’ camp, “KIT’NS: Kids In Theatre ‘N Stagecraft,” from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 26-30. Campers will learn theatre games and the rudiments of stage combat, explore several dramatic styles, learn costume and stage design and will perform for family and friends in the evening of the final day of camp. Additional camps will be held July 10-14 and July 31 to Aug. 4. While the structure and activities will be the same, each camp is unique. For ages 8-14. Cost is $250 per camper per week; siblings are $225. Discounts available for signing up for multiple weeks. To register, call 262-9760 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Full text

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