Henrico County VA
Education

RISC to host meeting to address reading ‘crisis’ in Eastern Henrico


More than 1,600 people are expected to gather May 2 in Eastern Henrico to call attention to an issue they say has reached "crisis" levels.

RISC (Richmonders Involved to Strengthen our Communities) will host a meeting at St. Paul's Baptist Church on Creighton Road, beginning at 7 p.m., to call for Henrico County Public Schools officials to address reading problems among area students. The organization is composed of faith community members, parents and students. Representatives from each population are expected to speak.

Concerned parents and students will speak on the issue, which the group has been raising for over a year.

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Amanda Loden

Stop into Amanda Loden’s third-grade class at Johnson Elementary School at the right time of day and you’ll find her leading students in a 10-minute yoga class.

“It gives us a break away from talking,” she said. “Especially for some of my kids, it gives them a chance to relax and calm down a little.”

Loden ought to know the value of some well-placed moments of decompression; she keeps a schedule that many would find overwhelming. After her school day is over, she heads to the West End to coach varsity girls’ field hockey in the fall and varsity girls’ soccer in the spring at the Steward School. She’s also a yoga instructor at Shockoe Slip Yoga in Richmond.

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Ellen Jewell

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in the case of Ellen Jewell, who followed in the footsteps of her father and became a social studies teacher.

“I pretty much always knew I wanted to teach,” said Jewell, who has been teaching at Hungary Creek Middle School since it opened 10 years ago. “I was fortunate to have really fabulous teachers as a kid who inspired me, and growing up I was around teaching. It instilled a passion of helping kids and helping other people. I fell in love with history and ever since then I have wanted to teach social studies.”

Henrico’s Top Teachers – James Milcarek

Looking back, James Milcarek will tell you that the seeds of his teaching career were planted when he was a fifth-grader in a suburban Pittsburgh, Pa. school – and his world seemed to be falling apart.

"My parents were divorcing. It was ugly. My grades were up and down," Milcarek recalled.

But two special teachers made school a haven for him.

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Gardner Mundy

Thanks to his father, who took him on weekend adventures exploring historic sites, Gardner Mundy acquired an early interest in history. An English history teacher and a cross country coach in high school also had considerable influence in his decision to become an educator.

After obtaining a degree in history from Virginia Military Institute and a masters in history from University of Richmond, Mundy taught and coached at Wyoming Seminary and Fork Union Military Academy. He also served as assistant to the superintendent at VMI before joining The Steward School faculty in the fall of 2004.

Henrico’s Top Teachers – John Jeter

John Jeter didn’t need any help finding his classroom on his first day as an exceptional education teacher at Tuckahoe Middle School six years ago – he’d attended class in it as a gifted and talented student at Tuckahoe years earlier.

“It is unusual coming back to your school,” he said, with a chuckle. “When I came back [as a teacher], there were four or five teachers here that I had had as a student, and one is still here.”

But the return has been a meaningful one for Jeter, who spent six years teaching exceptional education at Fairfield Middle School before moving to Tuckahoe.

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 – 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.

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