Henrico County VA

Students get a head start on art

Nuckols Farm third-graders raise money for VCU's Institute for Contemporary Art

When the Institute for Contemporary Art opens its doors on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus in 2016, there will no doubt be fanfare and a crowd of excited supporters on hand.

But perhaps no one will be more excited than a couple of Henrico County nine-year-olds who recently broke onto the ICA’s supporter list as the youngest of its founding donors.

Their donation grew out of a brainstorming session in which the two Nuckols Farm Elementary third-graders, Tess Freiman and Aly Betz, were casting about for ideas for their latest money-making project.

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.

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.

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Henrico's Top Teachers