Henrico’s Top Teachers – Katie Clark

Originally from Gainesville, Katie Clark moved to Henrico to be surrounded by all of the locally owned businesses, history and diversity that Henrico and the Richmond area have to offer.

She graduated from James Madison University and found her calling in early childhood special education. She’s spent her 12-year teaching career entirely in Henrico County.

Clark, or “Ms. Katie,” as students know her, is a preschool special education teacher at David A. Kaechele Elementary and helps children with special needs or learning disabilities learn essential skills before they advance to kindergarten.

“My favorite part about being a preschool special education teacher is seeing progress,” Clark said. “I've never had a student leave my program without making progress – I find it very satisfying.”

In Clark’s classroom, students focus on things like calendars and colors, as well as communication and social skills.

“It's very important for children with special needs to learn those communication and social skills as soon as possible, as it's harder for them,” Clark said. “We want to set them up for success when they leave and go to kindergarten.”

Clark and her co-teacher are always seeking new ways to teach their students. At times they bring in third- and fifth-grade student volunteers to be role models and help Clark's students learn valuable social skills.

“My students really benefit from it and so do the student volunteers,” Clark said. “I had a former student volunteer tell me it changed her life; she had never worked with someone with a disability before. Now she wants to graduate from Freeman High and go to college to be a special education teacher.”

Clark, a mother of two, said she would never do something that parents wouldn't want for their own child.

“I meet with the parents and set specific goals for their child. We break down what they want for their child,” Clark said. “I really take the time to see what makes the family tick. In order for the child to be successful, the parents have to be successful. I send home a daily communication sheet to tell the parents what the child did today in school, that way things can be reinforced at home. We want our students to take what they learned during class and use it.”

During her first year teaching, Clark co-founded a Special Olympics organization called the “Little Feet Meet.” She had a student at the time who was a twin, and the parents were concerned as one twin couldn't do little league sports like the other could.

“Special Olympics starts for kids at age eight, it teaches them the skills that come with sports,” Clark said. “Little Feet Meet is now at Freeman High School, and this year we had over 800 participants as well as people from all over the states and Canada who came to observe and bring it back to where they are from. The event and organization is changing lives – it's something I'm very passionate about.”

One of those who nominated “Ms. Katie,” said that her child is fortunate to have Clark as a teacher.

“My son is going into kindergarten and is so well prepared; he has made such great strides this year in her class,” a nominator wrote. “His speech, social skills and learning have exceeded our goals. We love Ms. Katie and will miss her next year, but we know the new kids coming in next year are in the best hands possible, as well as the parents. She has greatly impacted our family and helped our two sons tremendously. I am not sure where we would be without her.”
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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.

Smither named director of Henrico’s Department of Finance

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May 2017
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The 33rd annual Lebanese Food Festival, hosted by St. Anthony’s Maronite Catholic Church, will be held on the church grounds next to Innsbrook at 4611 Sadler Rd. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. May 19-20 and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 21. There will be food, desserts and beverages, as well as live Lebanese music and traditional Lebanese folk dances. Admission and parking are free. Shuttle and offsite parking available at Markel Inc., 4521 Highwoods Pkwy. No pets. Rain or shine. For details, visit http://www.StAnthonyMaroniteChurch.org. Full text

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