Henrico County VA

Top Teachers: Karla Ott

Rivers Edge E.S., fourth grade
Inspiration can come from almost anywhere. Karla Ott found it as a college student in the far reaches of Slovakia, working with children on a church mission with whom she had no way to communicate other than expression.

“We had absolutely no language connection with them,” she said. “It was simply about loving the children.”

Still in college at the time with aspirations of becoming a veterinarian, something clicked for Ott on the trip.

“I had never seen teaching and education as a field that I would be good in,” she said. “But I realized that it was not as much about teaching as much as developing connections with kids and loving them.”

Ott is now in her fourth year of teaching fourth-graders at Rivers Edge – a group she calls the perfect age for her.

“These kids, they haven’t developed the need to just get away from adults and away from having so much structure,” she said. “They still really crave the structure that elementary education gives them.

“And they still kind of think you’re pretty cool.”

Ott herself is a product of Henrico County Public Schools – a Tucker graduate who attended Shady Grove Elementary and Short Pump Middle and has lived in the River’s Edge zone nearly her entire life – since before the school itself ever existed.

She teaches a fitness class at the nearby Shady Grove YMCA before school in the mornings and for the past three years has also coached girls’ lacrosse at Deep Run High School in the afternoons. She’s given that up this year but has a new afterschool program that excites her just as much – a running club that she and two other teachers created.

“We were expecting 10 or 15 kids might be interested,” she said, “but our numbers are in the low 90s now. It has just exploded. The kids are so excited.”

The ‘River Runners’ club brings fitness experts and yoga instructors, among others, to educate second- through fifth-graders about different activities they can enjoy outdoors. Club members spend an hour each day running.

Ott credits her own love of running – which she developed after college at the behest of a friend – with changing her life by making her a more fit, confident person. (She’s since run several marathons and half-marathons.) She believed it could do something similar for her students, who will compete in the kids’ run at this year’s Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k.

“I just picture all of our kids in their River Runner shirts coming to the finish line,” Ott said, smiling at the thought.
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HandsOn Day set for Oct. 17

HandsOn Day 2015, which will feature 1200 volunteers serving more than 65 nonprofits in Greater Richmond, will take place Oct. 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Among the projects in Henrico or surrounding communities that need volunteers are: installing GardenFest lights Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, distribution center assistance at Feedmore, pumpkin carving with residents at SupportOne, work and play at Housing Families First, paint for independence at Heart Havens, spruce up the shelter and clean sweep at Harbor House at Safe Harbor, pinwheel project at REAP and Kidney Walk prep at National Kidney Foundation Serving VA. > Read more.

Online tool helps identify best native plants for pollinators

Virginians who want to plant beneficial plants for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds have a new resource at their fingertips. The online Virginia Native Plant Finder now lets users search for native plant species that benefit pollinators. The tool, which is managed by the Virginia Natural Heritage Program, is free and easy to use; searches can be completed on desktops, tablets or smartphones.

Native plants are those that grow where they evolved; they have traits that enable them to adapt to local conditions. The Virginia Native Plant Finder lets users create their own custom native plant lists by selecting from dropdown menus. > Read more.

The Volunteers of the United States Army Field Band to perform Oct. 15

Henrico County Recreation and Parks is hosting a concert by The Volunteers of the United States Army Field Band on Thursday, Oct. 15 at Henrico Theatre, 305 East Nine Mile Road in Highland Springs. This free concert will be held at 7 p.m. and will feature Soldier-Musicians from the U.S. Army Field Band.

Since its inception in 1981, The Volunteers has been telling the Army story through rock, pop, country, and patriotic music. Its members have performed for millions of listeners in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Kuwait, and Iraq. This group tours more than 100 days each year, bringing a powerful message of patriotism and support to communities large and small. > Read more.


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Senior citizens group Elderberries will meet at 11:30 a.m. at the American Legion Post #244, located at 2522 Indale Rd. in Glen Allen. The program will be singer Vickie Bruce.… Full text

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Henrico's Top Teachers

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