Henrico County VA
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Top Teachers: Stephanie Tucker

Crestview E.S., preschool
Years spent working in the mortgage industry left Stephanie Tucker with a vacant feeling. During a drive past a Henrico school one day, she saw a sign inviting applications for an instructional assistant position. She interviewed and soon had a job at Crestview Elementary working in one of the school’s Head Start preschool classes (now known as Federal Programs Preschool).

“It was like a light bulb went on,” Tucker said.

Six years later, she realizes every day that she made the right decision.

“As a kid, I always wanted to be a teacher. When I came back to that, I just knew this is where I needed to be.”

From her perch on the front line of preschool education, Tucker has seen the difference it can make for students.

“Preschool is such a critical age,” Tucker said. “You can turn on or turn off a child’s love of learning. If you’ve got a nurturing, safe environment, then you’re giving them one of the tools that they need to be successful.

“It’s really wonderful that the public is really embracing preschool as more than daycare.”

Though the program at Crestview, and those at other Henrico elementaries, pull students from different attendance zones, some of Tucker’s students have continued at Crestview. Several of her first students are now fifth-graders at the school whose continued development she has enjoyed watching.

“Mrs. Tucker rolls up her sleeves and brings joy and determination to the classroom,” one nominator wrote. “Her students are higher needs [students] but she does not see them as such. Her zest for engaging them is limitless.”

For Tucker, it’s a simple concept.

“Kids are kids, and their basic needs are that they want to be safe and happy, and they want to learn,” she said. “If you can provide that, then they’re successful.”

For the youngsters in her class, there is amazement in some of life’s simplest lessons, such as watching caterpillar larvae turn into butterflies or taking a nature walk.

“So many kids, depending on their background, that’s not happened in their life,” she said. “That’s a great experience. One of the neatest things about it is that kids that age are just ‘eyes wide open,’ unbiased about everything around them. Everything is exciting. I get so much from them by watching all those ‘ah-ha’ moments.

“One thing I think is important is that children absolutely deserve respect. They need to feel that they’re valued. Every child deserves that. Most times when you give a child respect, then you get that back from them.”


Community

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

Highland Springs field to be dedicated in honor of longtime coach Spears

The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.

Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.

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Entertainment

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


There’s no excuse for kids and families to not get out of the house this weekend! The Armour House and Gardens has an “Egg-celent Egg-venture” planned and Reynolds Community College will host the Reynolds Family Palooza. If you’re looking to give back to your community, Dorey Park will host Walk Like MADD and coordinators2inc will present the annual Kids Walk for Kids. And a special event for children with special needs will be on Sunday – the Caring Bunny will be at Virginia Center Commons. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

A new meaning for fried chicken

Is it heresy to say – in this bastion-of-tradition capital of the Old South – that it's time for Southern fried chicken to take a step back and make way for a new fried chicken king?

Count me among the new believers bowing to Bonchon Chicken's delectable double-fried bliss. Hand-brushed with signature garlic soy or hot sauce, flash-fried once and then again, the decadent drums and wings take "crisp" to a new level. If you're eating with a crowd and everyone bites in at once, be warned: you might need ear plugs to handle the din. > Read more.

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