Henrico’s Top Teachers – Taylor Snow
Moody M.S., social studies
Asked to imagine a place where they can escape from the stresses of daily life, few people would suggest a middle school classroom.
Count Taylor Snow as one of those few.
His toughest challenges as a middle school teacher, says Snow, are only rarely student-related. “In fact, the time I spend with my students is a real sanctuary,” he says, “from the sometimes overwhelming central office paperwork and data collection required of us.” And when it comes to his students – many of whom face difficult issues in their home lives -- Snow hopes that the classroom is a refuge as well.
“The reason I teach,” says Snow, “is that I believe that the classroom should be a sanctuary from [the challenges of daily life].
“The students are the ones that make my classes what they are with their varied abilities and talents,” adds Snow. “All I do is try to provide them a forum where they can grow and use those abilities and talents.”
A student who wrote to nominate Snow noted that the teacher cultivates the atmosphere of an open forum in the classroom by telling his students at the outset of the school year that he will teach not only world history, but also arts, literature, the sciences, and most importantly, current events.
“Instead of lectures and static Powerpoints, Mr. Snow encourages class conversations and extracurricular activities,” said the student. “He always lets us state our beliefs, and we can truly be who we are in his class.”
The student added that in addition to supporting a Model UN program for Moody students – and signing them up for competition with high school delegates “because he firmly believes we are just as good” – Snow has formed an international studies course that is primarily student-directed. The international studies group, which includes members of every social group at school, explores current events and requires students to present both sides of every argument. As a result, many formerly-reserved students have become more confident about sharing their ideas.
“To have an adult treat us like equals, and teach us to always do the impossible, has inspired the whole class,” wrote the student. “I want to become a UN ambassador because of [Snow].”
The son of a high school English teacher who taught for more than 30 years in Pulaski County, Snow credits both his mother’s example and his reading of Jonathan Kozol’s book Savage Inequalities (about inequality in public education) for inspiring him to teach.
He also treasures his second-grade memories of being allowed to visit the classroom “Reading Barrel” when he finished his work early, and credits those visits with kindling the love of reading for pleasure that he tries to share with his students daily.
Snow says that his most rewarding moments are those in which he sees students becoming empowered as learners – moments “when they learn not for the sake of passing a test or improving a grade, but simply by becoming someone who loves to learn for learning’s sake.”
With so much time and effort focused on test results, data and the achievement of certain benchmarks, says Snow, “we forget that what matters the most is helping foster a love of knowledge that helps create a lifelong learner.”
A recent email from a former student illustrated the kind of impact that Snow enjoys having on students. In his thank-you note, the student recalled that Snow would occasionally play music in class, and the student would go home and look up the artist, then listen on his own. “This led me to my transformed music taste,” said the student, “which is surprisingly how I met most of my current friends: through discussing music!”
The student also thanked Snow for sparking lifelong interests in history and in running. When a classroom announcement was made urging rising ninth graders to look into cross country at Hermitage H.S., he reminded his teacher, “Guess who told me I should go check it out? You! And now, eight running seasons later, I’m still doing it.”
But Snow insists he gets just as much from working with his “creative, enthusiastic, and funny” students as they do from him.
“I never dread going to work in the morning or returning to school after long breaks,” he says, “because I can say with all honesty that I really do love what I do.”
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.
For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Urban Tavern’s big, bold themes impress
The Urban Tavern opened in August, replacing the former Shackelford’s space at 10498 Ridgefield Parkway in Short Pump. Because of local and longtime devotion to Shackleford’s, Urban Tavern has some big shoes to fill.
Without any background information, I headed to the restaurant for dinner on a Wednesday night, two months after its opening.
On a perfect fall evening, four out of eight outdoor tables were taken, giving the impression that the restaurant was busier than it was. On the inside, a couple tables were taken, and a few folks were seated at the bar. > Read more.
‘Alexander’ provides uncomplicated family fun
It’s not surprising in the least that Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day doesn’t much resemble the book it’s based upon.
Judith Viorst’s 1972 picture book isn’t exactly overflowing with movie-worthy material. Boy has bad day. Boy is informed that everyone has bad days sometimes. Then, the back cover.
In the film, the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad-ness is blown up to more extreme size. Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) has a bum day every day, while the rest of his family (Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey) exist in a constant bubble of perfection and cheery optimism – to the point that the family is so wrapped up in their own success that Alexander’s being ignored.
So on the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander makes a wish: just once, he’d like his family to see things from his perspective; to experience the crushing disappointment of one of those no good, very bad days. Once he has blown out the candle on his pre-birthday ice cream sundae, his family’s fate is sealed: one full day of crippling disasters for all of them. > Read more.
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CalendarScience Pub RVA, an event that connects curious minds and creative scientists over a sip of some sort, will meet on Wednesday, Nov. 5 at 6:15 p.m. at Brookside Grille… Full text