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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.”


Community

MADD walk raises more than $26,000

The Central Virginia chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) hosted its annual Walk Like MADD fundraiser April 12 at Dorey Park in Varina. More than 20 teams of walkers raised money from individual donors by participating in the walk, and in total the event generated more than $26,000 in donations for the organization. > Read more.

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.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

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.

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River City Band will perform at 7 p.m. at Henrico Theatre, 305 E. Nine Mile Rd. Admission is free. Reservations are required. For details, call 328-4491 or visit http://www.henricorecandparks.com Full text

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Henrico's Top Teachers