Henrico’s Top Teachers – Jeannine Chewning

Although her dreams of becoming a Major League Baseball player and a detective didn't quite pan out as she'd hoped, Jeannine Chewning seems more than content that another dream – to become a teacher – did.

Now in her 26th year in the classroom – and her 16th at Hermitage High School – Chewning has found her calling as a government teacher at the school's Center for the Humanities.

She enjoys changing the minds of the high school students who feel that government is a far-flung entity – and empowering them to get involved.

"They think it's very remote and abstract," she said, "but I tell them they'll care if [a company] is going to build a Walmart in someone's backyard, or if they're going to widen a road in front of your house – now they're interested."

Chewning approach in the classroom is to immerse students in government – often directly, as she has done for the past five years through a grant from the Richmond Justice League.

That grant provided money for a human trafficking curriculum, which Chewning spends about a month each year implementing in class.

Two years ago, her students played a role in lobbying the General Assembly to pass a stand-alone anti-human trafficking law – making Virginia the last state in the nation to do so. (Previously, sex traffickers were prosecuted under various other laws because one specifically addressing trafficking didn't exist. Virginia had received a grade of "F" for its child sex trafficking laws from an anti-trafficking organization several years prior.)

The experience was eye-opening even for Chewning.

"This is going to save people’s lives," she remembers thinking. "This is going to put bad guys behind bars."

As part of the curriculum each year, Chewning arranges visits from experts from near and far, including the Henrico Police Vice Unit, Henrico Commonwealth's Attorney officials, an FBI agent and others.

"The Constitution, exciting? The U.S. government, interesting? Engaging? Maybe most people would not use these words when referring to The United States Constitution or our government, but that is because most people did not have Jeannine Chewning as a teacher," a nominator wrote of Chewning. "Jeannine is able to make a document that at first glance seems dry and lifeless come to life. She is able to make teaching government relevant and exciting. When students enter her AP Government class, they step into a magical world full of stories, exciting activities, and a teacher who loves and respects her subject."

Chewning is quick to credit her coworkers and the students of Hermitage, who she said make it a joy to come to work each day.

"This place is amazing," she said.
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The “Move Over” law is a lifesaving law intended to protect public safety professionals and highway workers who help to maintain the safety of the Commonwealth’s roads. State Police are using the #MoveOver hashtag on social media to promote the law. > Read more.

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Last year the median sale prices for Henrico homes was $219,975, whereas this month it's up to $232,500, a 6 percent increase. Which means half of the homes in Henrico are priced above $232,500 and half are priced below. > Read more.

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Henrico Business Bulletin Board

May 2017

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The Retail Merchants Association, 5101 Monument Ave., will hold a Member Appreciation Picnic & VRF Auction from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Enjoy food, drinks and music. A silent auction will benefit the Virginia Retail Federation’s political action committee. The event is free. For details, visit http://www.retailmerchants.com. Full text

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Henrico's Top Teachers

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