Henrico’s Top Teachers – Vonita Giddings

Vonita Giddings has been teaching in one capacity or another since educating her dolls as a child. Her students these days are a bit more receptive to her instruction, however.

Giddings, a biology teacher at Henrico High School since 2006, also taught previously at Virginia State University for six years and at Fairfield Middle School for three years. Her love of biology has been a lifetime affair.

“I think it’s an innate interest,” she said. “I was the one who was trying to figure out how to save the little bird or bring little animals home. I see biology in everything, in everything. It can be there when I’m just hanging out with my kids, watching a cartoon – just about anything.”

By showing her students that same view of biology – one that encompasses all aspects of life – she is able to engage them in the topic.

“Because I’m excited when I teach, I think it makes them excited,” she said. “I want [biology] to be something that’s applicable to their lives.”

Giddings considers her classroom to be one without walls, and she encourages students to attend events and activities in the community that involve science.

“If you only see biology as a class, then it’s pretty boring,” she said. “But if you see it as life, and you see it all around you and can see it in everything that you do, then it becomes a lot more exciting.”

Several of her students have taken that to heart, competing (and winning first- and second-place honors) in the Metro Richmond science fair and the Richmond Joint Engineering Council’s annual competition recently.

Giddings concedes that science and STEM disciplines in general face an uphill battle for students’ interest, but she isn’t fazed.

“Students being able to go out and see what is going on helps them to want to be a part of STEM.”

Parents and students have taken note of Giddings’ message.

“They do experiments in the classroom and have meaningful assignments,” a parent wrote in nominating Giddings. “Not only this, but my daughter understands why she is doing the assignments. Ms. Giddings also seems to have a terrific manner with the students. She’s clear and firm in her expectations and also easy-going and approachable.”
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Thornton also has invited candidates who will be seeking election to local offices on Tuesday, Nov. 7 to introduce themselves. > Read more.

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Create a spooky black wreath for your door or wall while listening to Halloween tunes at Fairfield Library from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. For adults. Registration is required. For details, call 501-1930 or visit http://www.henricolibrary.org. Full text

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