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Henrico names new deputy county manager for community affairs

Smith-Callahan has served as assistant superintendent of policy, equity, and communication for the Virginia Department of Education since April 2019. She brings more than 20 years of experience in community engagement, public and media relations and event management in the public, nonprofit and business sectors.

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Henrico County has appointed Monica Smith-Callahan as its deputy county manager for community affairs, a newly restructured position focusing on community outreach.

Smith-Callahan has served as assistant superintendent of policy, equity, and communication for the Virginia Department of Education since April 2019. She brings more than 20 years of experience in community engagement, public and media relations and event management in the public, nonprofit and business sectors.

As deputy county manager for community affairs, Smith-Callahan will promote relationships with nongovernmental entities and will serve as a liaison to Henrico County Public Schools and other governmental entities. She also will provide expertise on federal, state and local regulations, legislation and policies affecting the county and will oversee or serve as a primary contact for various departments, agencies, and functions, including the Henrico County Public Library, Health Department, Capital Region Workforce Partnership, Electoral Board, Extension Office, and legislative affairs.

She will be Henrico’s fifth deputy county manager, joining others focused on administration and community services, community development, community operations, and public safety. Her appointment is effective Tuesday, Feb. 18.

She also has served as director of workforce programs for ChamberRVA, director of outreach and development for Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond, community engagement director for Richmond 2015 Inc., chief of staff for U-Turn Sports Performance Academy and communications assistant to the vice president and public relations manager for Comcast Cable.

Smith-Callahan holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from George Mason University and a master’s degree in business administration from Strayer University.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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History

Op-ed proposes the removal of “forgotten” A.P. Hill monument at Laburnum and Hermitage

“With so many battles raging, it is curious that one Confederate general and the monument dedicated to him remain relatively forgotten on the sideline, standing at an intersection not far from Monument Avenue and its pantheon of controversial figures,” the op-ed says.

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From Style Weekly:

Linwood Holton Elementary School, at Hermitage Road and Laburnum Avenue, is named for one of our own 20th century civil rights heroes, who as governor of Virginia championed racial equality. The children who attend the school learn that they are a big part of Linwood Holton’s legacy.

Those same children who attend the school might very well wonder, though, “Who is that man whose statue is standing out there in the middle of the intersection?”

That would be A.P. Hill: the forgotten Confederate general and his monument.

Battles are being fought over Confederate monuments, here in Richmond on Monument Avenue of course, and at so many other sites around the country. Calls for memory and heritage clash with cries for truth and reconciliation. Words take on their own meaning and people take sides, with the monuments in the middle.

Continue reading here.

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Education

For two weeks, Douglas Freeman students can enter an immersive portal and meet people around the world

It’s long been the stuff of science fiction: step into a portal and be instantly transported to the other side of the globe. And while students at Douglas S. Freeman High School won’t technically be leaving their Three Chopt Road campus, a new student-driven project might give them the next best thing.

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It’s long been the stuff of science fiction: step into a portal and be instantly transported to the other side of the globe. And while students at Douglas S. Freeman High School won’t technically be leaving their Three Chopt Road campus, a new student-driven project might give them the next best thing. From Feb. 17 to March 1, students at the school will be able to step into an immersive, audio-visual chamber and interact with residents of Afghanistan, Uganda and other places far from Henrico County.

The Douglas Freeman portal is constructed from a repurposed steel shipping container, painted gold. It and similar portals are dimly lit and include a floor-to-ceiling screen, giving people at each location the illusion of being in the same room. The portal will sit at the front of campus, where the HCPS Technology and Facilities departments have run power and internet lines.

The portal, one of more than 60 worldwide, is the creation of Shared_Studios of Brooklyn, NY. Douglas Freeman students proposed bringing one of the portals to campus, and funding from the Henrico Education Foundation made it happen. The Foundation supports innovative teaching and learning in Henrico’s 72 schools and program centers.

“One of our roles as a school is to expose students to new ideas and different ways of thinking — to broaden their view of the world,” said John Marshall, Douglas Freeman principal. “The school’s diversity is a strength in this regard, and embracing that is one of our core values. The portal gives us the chance to do this at an even greater scope. It highlights the fact that we’re creating global citizens who learn much more than just facts and content during their time at DSF.”

Douglas Freeman is the first public school in Virginia to host a portal. Teachers plan to use the portal to add a new dimension to coursework. For example, Freeman students studying art, geometry and Spanish plan to talk with street artists using a portal in Mexico City, who use ratios in their designs. Photography students hope to learn from artists in a refugee camp in Lesvos, Greece, who use that medium to tell their stories.

The public is invited to use the portal on two successive weekends to interact with people in other nations:

  • Feb. 22 (9-11 a.m. with Herat, Afghanistan; 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. with Mexico City)
  • Feb. 23 (Noon-2 p.m. with an Erbil, Iraq camp for displaced persons)
  • Feb. 29 (10-11:30 a.m. with Lagos, Nigeria; Noon-2 p.m. with El Progreso, Honduras)
  • March 1 (Noon-2 p.m. with Kigali, Rwanda)

Find out more about the Douglas Freeman portal at freemanportal.org. A short video produced by Shared_Studios explains more about the project below.

The portal project is an example of the concepts laid out in the Henrico Learner Profile, the school division’s framework for the skills students need and how they can best attain them. It uses many concepts included in the Henrico Learner Profile, including global citizenship and the idea that learning should be student-owned, authentic, connected and take place anytime and anywhere.

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Downtown

Bill advances to grant undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses

Legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to possess a driver’s license advanced in the this past week.

Capital News Service

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By Ada Romano

Legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to possess a driver’s license advanced in the Senate this past week.

Senate Bill 34, introduced by Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, would allow immigrants to obtain a driver’s license regardless of legal status. The applicant must prove they don’t have a social security or individual taxpayer identification number and submit a certified statement that their information is true. The bill had several amendments this legislative session.

House Bill 1211 introduced by Del. Kathy Tran, D-Fairfax, is an identical bill that also extends these rights to undocumented immigrants. Tran introduced a similar bill that died in subcommittee last year. If approved, the bills will go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.

Nayeli Montes said she came to the United States illegally from Mexico in 2005 for a chance at a better life. She worked 12-hour shifts at a restaurant back home earning the equivalent of $6.50 a day. Today, Montes is involved with the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights, which lobbies lawmakers for immigrant rights.

Driver’s licenses can be required to obtain certain resources such as credit cards and car insurance. Currently, 13 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico provide driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. VACIR believes providing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants will make roads safer because drivers will be educated, trained and tested. The three states that adopted these measures the earliest experienced a 30% decrease in traffic fatalities, compared to a nationwide 20 percent drop, according to The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, which studies issues affecting low-income residents.

The coalition said the bill will increase state revenue through vehicle registration, license plate fees, and title fees. According to The Commonwealth Institute, allowing undocumented immigrants to drive would produce between $11 million and $18 million in revenue from car registration fees, title fees, and license plate fees. The institute estimated that between 124,500 and 160,800 drivers would seek Virginia licenses within the first two years if immigration status was not a factor.

Humberto Rodriguez, the owner of a painting company and an immigrant from Mexico, said he came to the U.S. for better opportunities for him and his family. He said his son is the only person in his household who can legally drive and he would like for this privilege to be extended to all immigrants. His son is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient. DACA allows undocumented children who entered the U.S. before they turned 16 to work, attend college or university and obtain a driver’s license.

“I just want to make it clear that we came here to make a living for ourselves,” Rodriguez said. “Undocumented immigrants will go out and work no matter the weather conditions and we do our work with dignity.”

The House bill has received more support this year than last year, but one representative worries it may misrepresent an immigrant’s legal status.

Del. Terry L. Austin, R-Botetourt, said he voted against the House bill because the driver’s license that would be issued to an undocumented immigrant is identical to a citizen’s driver’s license and could misrepresent the legal status of an immigrant.

“I think we need to be very careful with this,” Austin said. “This could misrepresent an individual’s identity and could compromise safety in the United States.”

Undocumented immigrants also have concerns. They worry the DMV could potentially release their information to the federal government and that they could get arrested or deported. However, both bills state that an individual’s name won’t be released unless ordered by a court. Additionally, no photograph would be released to law enforcement or federal authorities unless a name or sufficient evidence was presented; the commissioner could still decline to release the photograph.

Tran also sponsored HB 1700 which limits the release of information such as proof documents, photographs of an individual and signatures from the DMV to government agencies. Additionally, the bill would prohibit a federal immigration law enforcement agency from accessing information stored by the DMV without a court order or warrant. A subcommittee shelved that bill Tuesday.

The fate of HB 1211 hasn’t been determined. The bill has been shuffled among House panels, with two recommendations, and is currently in an Appropriations subcommittee that meets next week.

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