Henrico County VA
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Education

Whither the Book Bowl?

Parents petition to reinstate popular fifth-grade event
Parents are frustrated, an online petition has garnered almost 500 signatures, School Board members have voiced their concerns, and now there are plans to hold a public meeting the week after spring break to discuss a contentious issue.

The Henrico County Book Bowl has many in the community up in arms – specifically, the recent plan to discontinue the program after 24 years.

So what exactly is the Book Bowl?

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Elizabeth Clark

Elizabeth Clark decided she wanted to become a science teacher in seventh grade. She traces her motivation to the influence of some excellent teachers she had as a youngster – and also to some who were less than stellar.

“I had some absolutely wonderful teachers that I really looked up to and still keep in touch with today,” she said, “and some terrible teachers who made me want to go into the field too, thinking, ‘Boy, I’ve got to be able to do it better than you can and make science fun.’”

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Linda Henderson-Wagstaff

Linda Henderson-Wagstaff never intended to become a teacher, but she's always sought to help children however she could. The latter made the former inevitable.

Henderson-Wagstaff was content as a secretary at the New Bridge Middle School in Eastern Henrico when it opened in 2002 – her latest in a line of office jobs, following a college degree in office management. But the students at New Bridge – who were there because of their problems in traditional school settings – made a quick impact on her.

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Cheryl Waite

Cheryl Waite starts every day by hugging a group of bright-eyed and eager kindergarten students at Glen Allen Elementary – something she never would have expected.

“I would have never dreamed I would be a teacher,” Waite said with a laugh. “I was always the kid that was fine with flying beneath the radar and did fine in school, I was kind of content with going by with ease. Teaching kind of found me.”

After graduating from James Madison University with a degree in health sciences, Waite wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her career.

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Kathryn Costley

Kathryn Costley turned a career as a social worker into one as a teacher who works with special needs students.

Costley, who is in her first year as a Henrico teacher, works with exceptional education students at Highland Springs High School who have mild to moderate physical or intellectual disabilities. She previously taught special education in Charles City County for more than a decade, following a career switch that occurred unexpectedly.

“I was in a master’s/doctoral program to get my degree in social work and started substitute teaching, fell in love and was offered an emergency teaching certificate,” she said. Fourteen years later, she knows she made the right choice.

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Angela Brittingham

Angela Brittingham is a 16-year teaching veteran of fourth-grade at Pemberton Elementary, who has established a well-known presence and made an impact with students, teachers and faculty as she fulfills her goal of being the best teacher she can be.

“Growing up I never really had a favorite teacher,” said Brittingham.”I wanted to teach because I feel like I could be better than what I had and do things differently. I have two children, and I try to be the teacher I would want them to have. That’s my driving force to keep my attitude right and how I treat my students.”

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Anne Lundberg

Anne Lundberg’s goal every day as a Latin teacher at Glen Allen High School is to push students to realize the real world context that the language she loves can offer.

While attending Catholic School in Illinois, Lundberg enrolled in a Latin class that was taught by the principal of the school. Although she was nervous about the course, he taught the language in a way that sparked a desire for her to learn more.

Lundberg attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and continued taking more Latin courses. When an advisor suggested she teach Latin, she agreed.

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Nancy Staples

When students who speak limited English – or none at all – arrive in Henrico County with their families, many facets of life are new and challenging. Nancy Staples works to ease that transition for children and their parents alike.

Staples plays critical roles in the way Henrico’s public school system screens, places and educates its 3,000 English as a Second Language students and their families.

All ESL students are screened at the county’s ESL Welcome Center at Tucker High School to determine their level of English proficiency and proper placement. They receive ratings from 1 (not at all proficient) to 5 (highly proficient).

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Robert Meister

If it weren't for a brief fling with meteorology in college, Robert Meister might never have figured out that he wanted to teach literature.

After a freshman year spent majoring in computer science, he switched to the study of weather for a semester. Part way through that semester, he had what he calls a strange thought: "I don’t have a mathematical relationship with the weather, I have a literary relationship with the weather."

From then on, he majored in English. "I really loved literature and its connections to art, theatre, dance, and music," he says. "I thought that maybe I could help students make those same connections and appreciate the world in a new and exciting way."

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