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.
St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.
Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.
Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.
Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
If the snow last weekend had you stuck at home, then you will appreciate free admission all weekend long at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden! Other free options this weekend include a Classic Family Film series at Varina Library, “Crafternoon” at Libbie Mill Library and the tenth annual Richmond Jewish Food Festival taking place Sunday and Monday at the Weinstein JCC. Concert options include the 8th annual Djangoary Music Soiree at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen and Flight Risk, performing at The Tin Pan. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarPianist Jeremy Denk will perform at 7:30 p.m. in Camp Concert Hall, Booker Hall of Music at the University of Richmond’s Modlin Center for the Arts. He is the winner of a 2013 MacArthur “Genius Grant,” the 2014 Avery Fisher Prize, and Musical America’s 2014 Instrumentalist of the Year award. Tickets are $20 to $40. On Jan. 22, gain insight into the process behind a musician’s training when students from the UR Department of Music piano studio refine their repertoire and technique with guidance from pianist Jeremy Denk. This workshop, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Perkinson Recital Hall. For details, call 289-8980 or visit http://www.modlin.richmond.edu. Full text