Top Teachers: Karla Ott

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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Varina meeting May 2 to address opioid crisis in Henrico


Varina District Supervisor Tyrone E. Nelson will hold a Community Conversations meeting Tuesday, May 2 to discuss the opioid epidemic in Henrico County.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Henrico Theatre, 305 E. Nine Mile Road. Nelson will be joined by County Manager John A. Vithoulkas and members of the Henrico Heroin Task Force for a discussion of heroin and opioid abuse and ways to prevent it. > Read more.

Baker ES to remain closed until fall


Baker Elementary School students will complete the 2016-17 school year at other locations and will return to a restored building in fall 2017, school leaders have decided.

The decision was made in order to provide ample time for repairs to be completed at the fire-damaged school and to avoid additional interruptions to instructional time. > Read more.

Henrico Police arrest 2 Georgia men in connection with January murder


Henrico Police have arrested and charged two Georgia men with first-degree murder in connection with the Jan. 18 murder of 36-year-old Lamont Cornelius Baldwin in the 1200 block of Dominion Townes Terrace.

Antonio Tyrone Johnson (above, left) and Santonio Rodrigus Brown (above, right), both 24 and both of Atlanta, were charged. Johnson also was charged with use of a firearm in commission of a felony and possession of a firearm by a felon. > Read more.

Man struck and killed in western Henrico hit-and-run

A 24-year-old man died after being struck by a hit-and-run driver in western Henrico April 23.

The victim, Emmanuel Isaiah DeJesus, was found lying on the side of the roadway at about 10:25 p.m., April 23 near Patterson Avenue and Palace Way. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. > Read more.

Henrico woman earns national pharmacy fellowship


Henrico County native Nilofar “Nellie” Jafari recently was named the American College of Clinical Pharmacy-American Society of Health-System Pharmacists-Virginia Commonwealth University Congressional Healthcare Policy Fellow for 2017-18.

Jafari is a 2007 graduate of J.R. Tucker High School.

Pharmacists selected for the fellowship have the opportunity to gain real-world insight into health care policy analysis and development via immersion in the congressional environment. > Read more.

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Lakeside Avenue will present the family-friendly bike festival Pedal & Gears from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lakeside Farmer’s Market. In addition to all things bikes, including an obstacle course, bike repair and demonstrations, there will also be live music, food, a Final Gravity beer garden, family activities, games, vendors and more. Admission is free. For details, visit Lakeside Avenue on Facebook. Full text

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