Top Teachers: Stephanie Tucker

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.”
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HCPS wins national honor for overhaul of Code of Student Conduct, supports


Henrico County Public Schools recently was recognized by the National School Boards Association for a sweeping overhaul of the school division’s approach to student supports. HCPS was one of five large U.S. school systems recognized with a first-place honor in the 2017 Magna Awards, presented Saturday in Denver at the organization’s annual conference. The awards recognize school divisions and leaders “for taking bold and innovative steps to improve the lives of students and their communities,” according to the group.

The award recognizes Henrico Schools’ efforts of the past several years, from re-examining its policies to implementing more support systems. After a two-year conversation with the community through public hearings and other feedback, HCPS adopted a revised Code of Student Conduct for the 2015-16 school year. > Read more.

Environmentalists say budget hurts efforts to protect bay

Environmental groups are outraged at the Trump administration’s proposed funding cuts for Chesapeake Bay cleanup programs.

President Donald Trump’s budget plan, released last week, reduces the budget for the federal Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent. That includes a $427 million in funding to address regional pollution, such as the Chesapeake Bay protection efforts. The proposed budget would eliminate funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which received $73 million from the federal government in 2016. > Read more.

Glen Allen ES principal receives REB Award


Melissa Halquist-Pruden, principal of Henrico County’s Glen Allen Elementary School, earned the 2016-17 REB Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership. The Community Foundation presents the award to four principals annually – one each from the school systems of Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties and one from the city of Richmond schools.

The award recognizes principals who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their jobs to create an exceptional educational environment. The award stresses management and communication skills, and the ability to inspire, encourage and advocate for the school. > Read more.

Grant to help Hermitage H.S. upgrade CTE program equipment


Governor Terry McAuliffe announced recently that Henrico County’s Hermitage H.S. will be among 16 high schools and technical centers statewide to receive a grant to upgrade equipment for career and technical education (CTE) programs.

The program gives priority to challenged schools, Governor's STEM Academies and Governor's Health Science Academies. Each school or center will receive $37,500 to purchase new equipment and make other necessary improvements. At Hermitage, the funds will be used for precision machining equipment. > Read more.

Virginia raises a toast to George Washington’s whiskey


George Washington is recognized as the father of our country, but with a bill signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Washington also will be recognized under another title – distiller of Virginia’s official liquor.

SB 1261, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin of Alexandria, adds a “state spirit” to the list of the commonwealth’s official emblems and designations and crowns George Washington’s rye whiskey with the title.

The bill, which McAuliffe signed last week, highlights George Washington’s contributions to the culture of Virginia as “a native son of Virginia born on February 22, 1732, in Pope’s Creek”; “the first American president, commander of the Continental Army, and president of the Constitutional Convention”; and “a model statesman ... universally acknowledged as the father of our nation.” > Read more.
Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


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.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


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.
Entertainment

Metro Diner to open second Henrico location


Metro Diner, a comfort food concept, will open its second Henrico location next month. The company is accepting job applications for its Libbie Place location at 5626 West Broad Street. The diner concept, known for its fried chicken and waffles, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits, will bring 100 new jobs to the region as it plans to open its doors in April.

The 3,500-square-foot diner located in the Libbie Place Shopping Center will seat more than 100 and serve classic comfort food staples with a twist, such as fried chicken and waffles topped with strawberry butter and a stuffed challah bread French toast with strawberry and blueberry compote. > Read more.

 

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Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves will perform at the University of Richmond’s Modlin Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. in Camp Concert Hall, Booker Hall of Music. Accompanying Reeves will be Peter Martin, piano; Romero Lubambo, guitar; Reginald Veal, bass; and Terreon Gully, drums. Tickets are $22 to $45. A free, pre-show Artistic Viewpoint Discussion with UR Professor David Esleck will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Gardner Lecture Room. For details, call 289-8980 or visit http://www.modlin.richmond.edu. Full text

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