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26 Henrico teachers attain profession’s highest mark; HCPS recognized for supporting teachers’ efforts

Twenty-six Henrico County Public Schools teachers achieved certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in 2019, and three additional Henrico teachers renewed their certifications. Becoming certified is a rigorous process and is the profession’s highest mark of accomplishment.

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Twenty-six Henrico County Public Schools teachers achieved certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in 2019, and three additional Henrico teachers renewed their certifications. Becoming certified is a rigorous process and is the profession’s highest mark of accomplishment. The national board also included HCPS among 11 school divisions in the country it recognized for supporting teachers in their efforts to earn certification.

The teachers were honored in a pinning ceremony Thursday at VCU’s Vlahcevic Concert Hall, along with teachers from the city of Richmond and the counties of Chesterfield and Hanover.

Among central Virginia school divisions, Henrico Schools employs the most teachers certified by the professional organization: 153.

A statement from the National Board said that “Henrico County Public Schools has seen tremendous growth in the number of teachers pursuing and achieving National Board certification and led the state in 2019. They have created a program that empowers [certified teachers] to lead candidates through the National Board process as a cohort, helping teachers be more successful and making the process more meaningful.”

This year represents an uptick in HCPS teachers earning certification from the group. Eleven Henrico County teachers earned the designation in both 2018 and 2017.

To become certified by the National Board, teachers must submit detailed portfolios to be reviewed by their peers. The portfolios include videos of the candidates teaching, documented professional accomplishments, reflective essays and examples of student work. Teachers must also pass an exam relevant to his or her subject and level of instruction.

Peggy Brookins, the organization’s president and CEO, said that HCPS and the other school divisions chosen for recognition have taken “extraordinary steps” to improve student learning by supporting teachers striving for certification.

“Their commitment – through financial resources and dedication to creative programming is having an impact on teachers and students, and I’m proud to recognize that work.”

Henrico County teachers newly certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards are:

  • Meghan E. Atkins, Springfield Park Elementary School
  • Whitney Beaton, Douglas S. Freeman High School
  • Kelly Jones Becker, Glen Lea Elementary School
  • Jenny Brady, Shady Grove Elementary School
  • Jessica Capano, Maude Trevvett Elementary School
  • Kelly D. DuBose, Shady Grove Elementary School
  • Amy L. Earle, Deep Run High School
  • Brittany Fennell, Springfield Park Elementary School
  • Nikki Ficor, Pinchbeck Elementary School
  • Amber Fugate, Mehfoud Elementary School
  • Cathleen A. Goodan, Twin Hickory Elementary School
  • Andrew M. Hall, Glen Allen High School
  • Tatiana Hawthorne, Maybeury Elementary School
  • Stacy Hilton, Springfield Park Elementary School
  • Jennifer deGraw Hughes, Rivers Edge Elementary School
  • Melissa Jeffrey, Sandston Elementary School
  • Donna Letson, Twin Hickory Elementary School
  • Charlotte S. Mason, Holman Middle School
  • Joshua McKeon, Mills Godwin High School
  • Ashley Melnichak, An Achievable Dream Academy at Highland Springs Elementary School
  • Lindsey Pantele, Glen Allen High School
  • Amy Stills, The Academy at Virginia Randolph
  • Ellen S. Terry, Henrico High School
  • Bebhinn Thomas, J. R. Tucker High School
  • Alayna M. Tignor, Holman Middle School
  • Laura van Bylandt, Hungary Creek Middle School

Teachers must renew their certification every 10 years to remain certified by the National Board. Henrico teachers recognized for renewing their certification included:

  • Jackie Batkins, Seven Pines Elementary School
  • Melissa Davis, Nuckols Farm Elementary School
  • Jessica Walter, Holman Middle School

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RPS to close January 27th after more than 700 teachers request off to attend Fund Our Future rally

Richmond Public Schools may be closed today for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, but next week will also be a four day week for students and teachers after more than 700 faculty members requested off work to protest at the Fund Our Future rally at the State Capitol.

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Richmond Public Schools may be closed today for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, but next week will also be a four day week for students and teachers after more than 700 faculty members requested off work to protest at the Fund Our Future rally at the State Capitol.

The rally, to be held Monday, January 27th, will see educators from across the Commonwealth descend upon the Capitol to advocate for more state funding for schools.

RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras sent a note out on the school system’s website explaining that he was “proud” of the level of participation and that it would simply be impossible to find enough substitute teachers to cover for those attending the rally:

Dear RPS Family,

I’m reaching out to share an important change in our school calendar: RPS will be CLOSED on Monday, January 27. Please allow me to explain.

On that day, the Virginia Education Association (VEA) is hosting a “Fund Our Future” rally at the State Capitol to advocate for increased school funding. Based on data we collected last week, it appears that nearly 700 (about a third) of our teachers will be taking personal leave to participate in the VEA rally. We are proud that so many of our educators will be turning out to advocate for RPS and all of Virginia’s public schools.

Unfortunately, however, it is simply not possible to secure enough substitutes for this many classrooms. As a result, non-participating teachers would face unreasonable class sizes that would make meaningful instruction nearly impossible and potentially create significant safety concerns.

Given this – and after conferring with the School Board – I have decided to close RPS on Monday, January 27.

I recognize doing so will create an unexpected childcare burden for our working families. On behalf of RPS, I sincerely apologize for this. I also want to acknowledge that some of our families face food insecurity and depend on school meals for their children. In light of this, our nutrition team will be preparing “to-go” bags for students to take home on Friday afternoon.

Please note that our school calendar includes extra time to account for inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances. As a result, at this time, no additional days will need to be added to the calendar.

Thank you in advance for your understanding of this decision. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at jkamras@rvaschools.net.

With great appreciation,

Jason Kamras

Superintendent

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St. Gertrude School moving to Benedictine campus in Goochland, two to remain independent

The schools were once 400 feet apart in the Museum District and will soon be a mere 600 feet apart when St. Gertrude’s moves to Benedictine’s 50-acre campus in Goochland in 2021.

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St. Gertrude High School in the Museum District, an all-girls Catholic school, will soon join their male counterpart, Benedictine, in Goochland County.

The two schools made the joint announcement on Friday. While the two will remain single-sex and independent, the combined entity will be known as The Benedictine Schools of Richmond.

Full release from the two schools follows:

The future of Richmond Catholic secondary school education just became a lot brighter. Today, after many months of collaborative strategic planning, we are proud to announce:

The Benedictine Schools of Richmond

This newly-formed entity will unify these two pillars of Richmond’s Catholic community — Saint Gertrude High School and Benedictine College Preparatory — on the same campus. Both schools will retain their names and operate distinct, single-sex educational programs. Of equal importance, this formalization places both schools in strong positions for growth and program development.

Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, just in time for its Centennial Celebration, Saint Gertrude will begin relocating to the 50-acre property in Goochland County currently home to Benedictine Prep. The boys’ school will remain in its current facility. For the girls, a new, state-of-the-art academic building is being planned. Together, the schools will share a peaceful, modern, and sprawling campus including the campus’s new, world-class athletic facilities.

Our schools have long been united in our distinct missions and spirit, in our belief in the unique benefit of single-sex education, and in our educational philosophies rooted in the Rule of Saint Benedict. For the better part of a century, our schools even shared a city block. Where the schools were once located 400 feet apart in the Museum District, they’ll soon be just 600 feet apart in Goochland County.

Indeed, this announcement is about much more than a new home for Saint Gertrude. It is about strengthening the foundation of Catholic education for our young men and women, now and well into the future.

As the Sisters and the Monks began to discuss the possibilities of a new, formal partnership and co-location, we considered diligently this opportunity through the lens of our respective values, missions, and visions. Our Orders feel wholeheartedly that such a partnership meets that high bar.

As Benedictine has experienced since its move from downtown (and as Saint Gertrude will experience in the coming years), the Goochland location is ideal not only for reflection and peace, but also for growth and innovation in education. And while single-sex education will always be a cornerstone of our schools, such a partnership will foster an even closer and nurturing community through which we strengthen each other. Proximity will allow the schools to share in their long-standing traditions while maintaining each school’s distinctiveness.

We understand you may have questions about what this exciting announcement means for you and your family. We encourage you to join our Heads of School Sister Cecilia Dwyer, OSB (Saint Gertrude) and Mr. Jesse Grapes (Benedictine) as they welcome our communities for a series of Town Hall meetings.

Current Parents:
Tuesday, January 21, 5:30 p.m. at BCP
Wednesday, January 22, 7:30 a.m. at SGHS

Alumni/Friends:
Wednesday, January 22, 5:30 p.m. at SGHS
Thursday, January 23, 7:30 a.m. at BCP

Prospective Parents:
Thursday, January 23, 5:30 p.m. at SGHS
Friday, January 24, 7:30 a.m. at BCP

Members of either school community may attend whichever meeting best suits their schedule.

On behalf of the Monks and Sisters of our Benedictine Orders, we look forward to beginning this journey with you and with your beloved children.

Sr. Joanna Burley, OSB
Prioress
Benedictine Sisters of Virginia

Fr. Jonathan Licari, OSB
Canonical Administrator
Mother Mary of the Church Abbey

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Moody Middle School seventh-grader captures Henrico Schools’ divisionwide spelling title

Ananya Nanduru topped competitors from across Henrico County Tuesday night to become Henrico Schools’ 2020 Division-wide Spelling Bee champion.

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Ananya Nanduru topped competitors from across Henrico County Tuesday night to become Henrico Schools’ 2020 Division-wide Spelling Bee champion. The Moody Middle School seventh-grader won in Round 8 by correctly spelling “breviary,” a book of daily prayers, hymns, and psalms.

The contest features spelling champions from 46 HCPS elementary schools and 12 middle schools, and determines who will represent Henrico County Public Schools at the regional competition. Pocahontas Middle School sixth-grader Weston Kasberger was runner-up.

Among the words Nanduru spelled to win the title were “schadenfreude,” “tritium” and “kielbasa.”

With Nanduru’s win, Moody retains the spelling title and Henrico Schools’ spelling trophy. Last year’s champion, Vishnoy Vadakkancheri, was also a Moody student. The trophy, topped with a whimsical bee, was made possible by a donation from four-time Henrico spelling champion Tejas Muthusamy. Muthusamy, now a student at Maggie Walker Governor’s School, donated money for the trophy to the Henrico Education Foundation, which had the trophy made.

Nanduru will compete next in the Richmond Times-Dispatch Regional Spelling Bee March 21 at the Library of Virginia. The regional winner will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is held in late May and televised by ESPN.

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