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

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

New Henrico biscuit shop thrives with grandmother’s recipe

Tim Laxton rises at 4:30 a.m. every day for a biscuit. But he’s not rushing out to any restaurant to get his favorite Southern comfort food; he’s baking his own from scratch and serving them up from his bakery on Lakeside Avenue.

Laxton opened Early Bird Biscuit Co. & Bakery in early July and since then biscuits have been flying out of there.

The self-taught baker draws hungry crowds in with a biscuit of the day like the Old Bay Cheddar, but the buttermilk biscuits are the staple.

“On a Saturday I generally make about 400 biscuits with my two hands,” Laxton said. “I’m constantly making biscuits all day long.” > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

CAT Theatre announces cast of Sherlock Holmes play

CAT Theatre’s 51st season will open with Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, which will run from Oct. 24-Nov. 8. Adapted by Steven Dietz, it is based on the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and was the winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play.

The plot follows what seems to be the end of the career of the world’s greatest detective as he is confronted with a case far too tempting to ignore. When the King of Bohemia faces blackmail by famed opera singer Irene Adler, Holmes and his faithful companion, Dr. Watson, find themselves falling into the trap of evil genius Professor Moriarty. As Holmes says, “The game is afoot Watson, and it is a dangerous one!” > Read more.

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The Modlin Center for the Arts at the University of Richmond will present Marc Broussard, with special guests Mingo Fishtrap and Andy Suzuki, at 7:30 p.m. at Alice Jepson Theatre.… Full text

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