Henrico County VA
Education

Local fifth-grader to perform at Carnegie Hall

Ten-year-old Margaret Parrino, a rising fifth-grade student at Richmond Montessori School, was selected as a winner in her age division of the 2015 American Protege International Vocal Competition. She will make her Carnegie Hall debut on Friday, July 3, at 7 p.m.

Talented young musicians from across the globe compete, and the winners perform their solo debut in the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, one of the most prestigious concert venues in the world.

Teachers, administrator win top HCPS honors


Kecia Studevant Howell, a French teacher at Hermitage High School, was named Henrico County Public Schools’ 2015 Gilman Teacher of the Year Wednesday at a ceremony at Glen Allen High School. 

Chris Kresge, a fifth-grade teacher at Echo Lake Elementary School, was named the division’s 2015 First-Year Teacher of the Year.



“I’m honored to have been selected as this year’s Gilman award recipient,” said Howell. “This is due in large part to the many great educators who have served as role models and inspired me. I’m grateful to Henrico Schools for providing us all with the support we need to excel with our students – both in and outside of the classroom.”

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Catherine Saydlowski

Catherine Saydlowski’s passion for music and theater began early in her childhood, but she abandoned her dreams of becoming a pop icon and turned to teaching when her mother told her she may need a fallback.

Today, Saydlowski has transformed her passion into a career that allows her to use her talents and bring excitement into her drama and French classes.

Saydlowski graduated from Longwood University with degrees in English and modern languages, with a double concentration in French and Spanish.

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Susan Anderson

Susan Anderson teaches eleventh-grade English at Deep Run High School, but it was a career she got into by accident.

“It actually wasn’t my plan,” she said. “I started as a music major and thought I would go that route, so education wasn’t really on my radar. When I didn’t think I could make a career out of music, I took an education class, really liked it, and continued to pursue it.”

After graduating from Hiram College in Ohio with a degree in music, she moved a handful of times with her husband’s job before settling in metro Richmond. Anderson taught at St. Gertrude’s before moving to Deep Run High School, where she has taught eleventh-grade English for the past nine years.

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Teresa Cole

Think you have a hectic schedule? Meet Teresa Cole.

Cole is in her third year teaching English to seventh-graders at Short Pump Middle School, where she also serves as an administrative aide and the yearbook sponsor. After school, she assists as a coach for the track team and also is the dance team sponsor.

And when she’s not performing any of those responsibilities, she’s busy working on a graduate degree at the University of Richmond, where she also anticipates earning an administration certificate while applying for Ph.D. programs in curriculum and instruction, with an endorsement in gifted education.

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Margaret Christensen

Margaret Christensen is known by her math students at Moody Middle School as the “light bulb illuminator,” as she brings math to life and is continually watching her kids understand the subject.

Although Christensen came from a long line of educators, teaching wasn’t a career path she had always considered.

During a Christmas break while she attended SUNY Portland, Christensen had a conversation with her aunt that pushed her to become a teacher.

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Marissa Vest

Marissa Vest has been teaching chemistry at Freeman High School for the past five years and has made an impact on her students by making the topic fun and bringing science to life.

Vest graduated from Penn State University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and then obtained her master’s in education from the University of Richmond. Vest always thought she would be a research scientist but stumbled into substitute teaching when she lived in North Carolina and has never looked back.

“I loved it!,” she said. “I really enjoy teaching problem-solving strategies and encouraging students to think critically on their own. I also love getting students really excited about chemistry, a traditionally unpopular subject.”

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Debbie Shepperson

Debbie Shepperson has taught fourth grade at Victory Christian Academy for the past 10 years. There, she can combine her passion in her faith, as well as her passion for teaching, to make an impact on students.

Shepperson always knew she would become a teacher.

“When I was in the third grade, I loved the way my third-grade teacher taught the class,” Shepperson said. “She made everyone feel special, everyone had something to contribute to the class, and every day I thought I wanted to do that.”

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Chelsea Bradford

Chelsea Bradford has a love for the Spanish language that is undeniable, and she brings the subject to life for her students at Glen Allen High School.

“She is absolutely without a doubt the sweetest, funniest and kindest teacher at GAHS,” wrote one student in a nomination letter. “Mrs. Bradford takes as much time as needed to ensure that her students are successful in their Spanish endeavors. There is nothing fake or improvised about her or her style of teaching. She truly cares about her students and wants nothing but the best for them.”

For Bradford, the Spanish language has been her passion since the first class she took.

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