Henrico County VA
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Top Teachers: Philip Riddle

Brookland M.S., sixth grade
As a child, Philip Riddle noticed that many of the adults he knew spoke of work as if it were a burden.

At the same time, he noticed that many of his teachers relished their jobs – radiating joy in the way that they interacted with students, presented subject matter and provided extra help to those who needed it.

“I just could not imagine waking up every day to go to a job that I did not find joy in,” Riddle recalled. “I knew that if I was going to devote a career to something, it had to be something I was passionate about.

“And I learned very early on that it was easy to be passionate about teaching.”

Today, parents at Brookland Middle School have noticed that Riddle radiates that same joy with his sixth-graders. They cited his contagious, “extremely happy, pleasant-to-have-around” nature, the “can-do” spirit he encourages in his students and the fairness and integrity he models in the classroom.

One student was so taken by Riddle’s fresh, open style that he came home from his first day of school and announced his plans to become a history professor.

But parents add that career choices are not all that Riddle has inspired. He challenges students to become lifelong learners and to make a difference in the world through leadership and service to the community.

Knowing that most of his students will not go on to careers in social studies, Riddle works hard to present the curriculum in a way that engages every student – whether by having the students read together and pose questions, or by sharing stories and interactive sites that will intrigue them.

“A certain percentage of students just love social studies and would look forward to my class even if I just stood up and lectured every day,” Riddle acknowledged.

“But all students deserve a better experience than that. Lessons that are engaging challenge students to think critically . . . [and help them] draw connections between what has happened in the past and what is taking place in their world.”

As rewarding as classroom teaching may be, however, Riddle said that the most meaningful parts of his day are moments in which he can talk to students one on one. Not only, he said, do these times allow for individualized feedback and instruction, but they also give students a chance to talk about concerns outside of the classroom.

“Students need to know that your priority is them,” said Riddle. “And I cannot confine that concern only to what happens in the classroom.”

Unfortunately, busy school-day schedules make it difficult to provide enough valuable one-on-one time, and even the best, most passionate teachers can’t do it all themselves. A supportive community is crucial to a good school system, believes Riddle, who noted that citizens who volunteer their time and resources are always welcome.

After all, he said, “A world class education for all students provides benefits for everyone – not just the children who attend our schools.”
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Film industry training program planned for this weekend

The Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA), in partnership with the Virginia Film Office, will offer "Get Your Start in the Film Industry," a two-day seminar designed to prepare workers for film, television and commercial projects in Virginia. The course will be held Oct. 4-5 at the Workforce Development and Conference Center, 1651 Parham Road in Henrico, on the campus of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.

The training will be taught by Gary Romolo Fiorelli, an accomplished assistant director for film and television projects, which include the television series Sons of Anarchy and ABC’s current drama Mistresses. > Read more.

The Boathouse to open at Short Pump Town Center

The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.

“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”

The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.

Getting a ‘mouf’-ful

Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.

Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?

Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.

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The University of Richmond Department of Theatre and Dance will present “Clybourne Park” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2-4 and at 2 p.m. Oct. 5 in Cousins Studio Theatre. A spin-off… Full text

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