Henrico’s Top Teachers – Wendy Gilmartin

As a third-grade teacher, Wendy Gilmartin focuses on community and wants her students to leave each day wanting to come back the next.

Gilmartin, a local native and Virginia Tech alumna, has been teaching in the region for a total of 28 years – 17 in Hanover and the most recent 11 in Henrico.

Her favorite thing about teaching third-graders is their continued interest in learning new things.

“The kids at this age are still excited about learning, they still have that love for coming to school and they love their teachers,” Gilmartin said. “The kids are still like sponges, which is great; they love to learn and go to school.”

Gilmartin said she always knew she wanted to be a teacher when she was younger.

“When I was in elementary school I loved school so much I would line up my stuffed animals on my bed and teach them stuff,” Gilmartin said. “One teacher I had in particular inspired me; I was out of school for two weeks due to an illness and when I came back she had everything ready for me and had been concerned about me. I just thought, Wow, I want to be a caring teacher just like her.”

Gilmartin, along with one of her fellow teachers, leads Echo Lake’s “Green Team,” which is a group of students who promote recycling on school grounds.

“We have a school garden that we work on where kids are planting different vegetables and getting the chance to see how they grow,” Gilmartin said. “The students that are chosen for ‘Green Team’ are students that might not always be chosen for other things or have leadership roles. So, we hope that the ‘Green Team’ will make them feel really important and special that they have this role. We work on recycling things in our cafeteria and all of our classrooms have recycling bins that our “Green Team” members are responsible for and they make sure that they are put in the hallway to be collected.”

Gilmartin makes it a priority and goes the extra mile to start each school year with creating a sense of community in her classroom.

“Every summer my family goes to Maine and we stay near Pebble Beach. I always gather huge rocks and it takes me about a week to carry four to five rocks from the beach because they are pretty big. I bring them back to my set of 25 students and each of us will paint a positive message on a rock for the hope garden that we have at our school. Just little things like that; and we start the year off by talking about how we are a team,. We work together and we want each other to do really well.”

Those who nominated Gilmartin said she is her students’ biggest advocate and makes sure to give each student what they need to be successful.

“Wendy Gilmartin has impacted so many students throughout her career,” a nominator wrote. “The guidance and mentorship she offers to her kids throughout the day, in addition to her students in her 'Green Team' after school program each month, is admirable.”
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CharacterWorks, an after-school youth theater program, will present “James and the Giant Peach Jr.” May 25-28 at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. Based on one of Roald Dahl’s most fantastic stories, “James and the Giant Peach Jr.” is a brand-new take on this “masterpeach” of a tale. When James is sent by his conniving aunts to chop down their old fruit tree, he discovers a magic potion that grows a tremendous peach which promptly rolls into the ocean and launches him on a journey of enormous proportions. Tickets are $10 to $15. For a performance schedule and to purchase advance tickets, visit http://www.cworkstheater.org. Full text

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