Henrico County VA

HCPS students add skills, lobby Congress for technical education

McKenna Slough
Brookland Middle School student McKenna Slough will put her research and presentation skills to the test when she explains her sports nutrition project to judges at the national conference of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. The conference is an annual meeting of the organization, a national nonprofit career and technical group for students enrolled in family and consumer sciences. The conference is being held in Washington, D.C., July 5-9.

Four students from Henrico County Public Schools are attending the national conference: Slough; Lauren Bishop and Emma-Grace Heinrich from Mills Godwin High School; and Josh Foster of Deep Run High School. Slough is the only Henrico County middle school student attending.

The students will take part in leadership training workshops; lobby their congressional representatives on behalf of career and technical education; and compete in such areas as public speaking, presentations and job interviews.

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.

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Cathy Brown

Catherine Brown has established a well-known presence and made an impact with students and faculty during her 14 years at Nuckols Farm Elementary School. Brown, a fifth-grade teacher, seeks to make every child feel special.

“In fifth grade, I started finding the math being taught too easy and slow,” wrote one student in a nomination letter. “She was so nice to spend extra time with me and teach me some sixth-grade math. She had helped me meet my goal in taking advanced math in sixth grade.”

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Pete Phillips

After three years at Clemson University, Pete Phillips still wasn’t sure what he should pursue in the way of a career.

He only knew that he wanted to be a “difference maker.”

With time, he arrived at his answer -- by recalling the influence of several stand-out teachers who he said not only knew their subjects, but “had fun at their jobs.”

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Judith Fitzpatrick

Judith Fitzpatrick is a 10-year, fourth-grade teaching veteran at Short Pump Elementary who has a unique teaching philosophy centered upon the individuality of each student. She works to have students discover what types of learners they are.

Fitzpatrick grew up in Washington state and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in sociology. Upon graduation she traveled with her military-based husband and taught in Washington, Berlin, Germany and Korea, but she stayed primarily focused on her family and raising her four sons.

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Winslow Goodier

Although Winslow Goodier spent years as a chef, and excelled at it, he seems to have found his true calling in his second career: sharing those culinary gifts with young chefs-to-be.

A former executive chef at The Tobacco Company in Richmond, he also served as a chef at Hermitage Country Club, Henrico Doctors’ Hospital and The Chamberlin Hotel in Hampton – in addition to being a team chef with NASCAR. Named among the top 10 chefs in Richmond in 1999, he won Chef of the Year awards from the Virginia Chefs Association in 1995 and 1999.

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Lyn Lunsford

Lyn Lunsford thinks of herself as a “one-trick pony” – someone for whom teaching was her only true career option. If that’s the case, she’s certainly made the most of it.

Lunsford, a longtime second-grade teacher at the Steward School, traces her interest in the profession to her mother, who taught high school history. That fostered a love of ancient history in her that shows itself even in her classroom with young students, when she introduces units about Mesopotamia and ancient Greece and Rome.

Lunsford attended St. Catherine’s School in Richmond for 12 years and has taught in public school systems in New Jersey and Virginia, in addition to Collegiate School. She found a home, however, at Steward because it allows her the opportunity to spend lots of individual time with each of her students.

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Vonita Giddings

Vonita Giddings has been teaching in one capacity or another since educating her dolls as a child. Her students these days are a bit more receptive to her instruction, however.

Giddings, a biology teacher at Henrico High School since 2006, also taught previously at Virginia State University for six years and at Fairfield Middle School for three years. Her love of biology has been a lifetime affair.

“I think it’s an innate interest,” she said. “I was the one who was trying to figure out how to save the little bird or bring little animals home. I see biology in everything, in everything. It can be there when I’m just hanging out with my kids, watching a cartoon – just about anything.”

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Alexandra Mendez-Zfass

While some might point to the challenging situations many Highland Springs E.S. students face at home as reasons why they may struggle to succeed academically, fourth-grade teacher Alex Mendez-Zfass seeks points of common ground in order to ensure that they do. And she calls upon her own at-times curious academic struggles as a reminder that there’s more to every student than meets the eye.

Though she achieved mostly high grades overall at the Collegiate School, they came with much difficulty, many test re-takes and despite poor writing grades that resulted in frequent meetings with teachers.

“My fourth-grade teacher was very instrumental in building up my confidence and making me realize that my brain was special the way it was wired. That gave me the confidence to work through it.”

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Henrico's Top Teachers