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Glen Allen High School teacher named HCPS Teacher of the Year for 2020

Henrico County Public Schools employs more than 4,000 teachers, but only one is honored each year with the division’s Teacher of the Year Award. Lindsey Pantele, an English teacher at Glen Allen High School, was named this year’s winner. Because of HCPS’ closure for the coronavirus pandemic, the school division’s usual announcement ceremony had to be canceled. Instead, Pantele found out she was the 2020 winner when an HCPS school bus pulled up at her house Tuesday for a surprise announcement from Amy Cashwell, HCPS superintendent and Kristi Kinsella, the School Board’s Brookland District representative.

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Henrico County Public Schools employs more than 4,000 teachers, but only one is honored each year with the division’s Teacher of the Year Award. Lindsey Pantele, an English teacher at Glen Allen High School, was named this year’s winner. Because of HCPS’ closure for the coronavirus pandemic, the school division’s usual announcement ceremony had to be canceled. Instead, Pantele found out she was the 2020 winner when an HCPS school bus pulled up at her house Tuesday for a surprise announcement from Amy Cashwell, HCPS superintendent and Kristi Kinsella, the School Board’s Brookland District representative.

Other finalists for the Teacher of the Year Award were Melinda Pastuszak from Chamberlayne Elementary School, Twin Hickory Elementary School’s Candace Wilcox, Tedra Buckler from Quioccasin Middle School and Jamie Roberts from John Rolfe Middle School. One finalist is selected from each of Henrico’s five magisterial districts.

As part of her award, Pantele received $1,000, courtesy of Henrico Federal Credit Union. The finalists were awarded $500.

Winning is “humbling and rewarding and shocking,” Pantele said from her porch, to a small, socially distanced crowd of well-wishers gathered in her yard. “We don’t enter this profession as teachers to win awards, and I think considering the type of year we all have had, what an honor this is.

“As a product of Henrico County, it has been a privilege getting to work in the county that shaped who I’ve become as a teacher. We have worked so hard for 10 years [since Glen Allen opened] to build a sense of community. I think winning this award is another way for the school and the staff to be proud. I would not be the teacher I am today if not for all of them.”

Pantele graduated from Mills Godwin High School after attending Gayton Elementary School and Harry Byrd (now Quioccasin) and Pocahontas middle schools. She is an alumna of Christopher Newport University, where she earned undergraduate and master’s degrees.

Earlier Tuesday, Jessica Orzechowski, a world history and government teacher at Varina High School, was named HCPS’ First-Year Teacher of the Year. She was surprised with an announcement during an online Varina staff meeting.

Orzechowski grew up in Philadelphia. She earned her undergraduate degree from Delaware Valley University. Orzechowskidecided to pursue a career in education after a stint managing horse farms and working in small animal veterinary clinics. She has a master’s degree in secondary education from Gwynedd Mercy University.

“This award means everything to me and my family,” said Orzechowski. “From the moment I stepped onto Varina’s campus, it felt like home — the school’s dedication to professional growth and academic excellence has challenged me in ways I have never been challenged before. The students at Varina are exceptional and I really owe my success to them. They immediately appealed to my Philadelphia roots with their passion and love for their community. They are strong in the face of adversity and will move mountains for you. It is an honor to refer to them as ‘my kids.’ This is as much their award as it is mine and I am so proud to share it with them and my colleagues. Go Blue Devils!”

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Library of Virginia reopens to researchers by advance appointment beginning today

During the initial reopening phase, researchers will be able to use the collections by appointment Tuesday–Friday, 10:00 am–4:00 pm.

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The Library of Virginia has announced that its reading rooms will reopen to researchers by advance appointment beginning at 10:00 am on Tuesday, July 7, 2020.

During the initial reopening phase, researchers will be able to use the collections by appointment Tuesday–Friday, 10:00 am–4:00 pm. To make an appointment, please call 804.692.3800.

COVID-19, which prompted the Library’s closing to the public in mid-March, continues to pose a serious public health risk. The Library’s reopening plan includes new health and safety protocols based on the latest guidance from the Governor’s Office, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What to expect when returning to the Library:

  • Appointments required to use the reading rooms in order to ensure space availability on a researcher’s preferred date
  • Signage describing coronavirus symptoms – Please do not enter the building if you feel unwell or have a fever
  • Face coverings required in the building at all times
  • Physical distancing of six feet required in all public spaces
  • Face masks and hand sanitizer available for the public
  • Frequent cleaning of restrooms and surfaces in public areas throughout the day
  • Returned books quarantined for three days before being available for use again
  • The Exhibition Gallery, the Virginia Shop, our conference rooms, and the reading room at the State Records Center will remain closed

For additional information about what to expect on your visit, take a look at the COVID-19 Update: Guidelines for Researchers, page, which will be updated regularly.

For more on how to use the collections, click here.

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U of R professor mails science-themed kits to incoming STEM students

When biology professor Shannon Jones realized the global pandemic would prevent her from bringing students to campus this summer for the University of Richmond’s signature URISE program experience, she figured out a way to send science to them.

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When biology professor Shannon Jones realized the global pandemic would prevent her from bringing students to campus this summer for the University of Richmond’s signature URISE program experience, she figured out a way to send science to them.

From beakers and pipettes to summer reading material, Jones, longtime coordinator of the URISE program, put together 24 kits containing everything a young scientist might need to begin exploring their fields of study.

URISE, which stands for the University of Richmond Integrated Science Experience and is a part of UR’s Integrated Inclusive Science Program, is a pre-first-year program that focuses on skill development, provides authentic research experiences, and builds a community of support for selected students ahead of starting classes in the fall.

The program received the 2018 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine and has been modeled after at other institutions of higher learning.

“These students are from all around the world and many represent backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented in STEM fields,” said Jones. “Our summer program is so important in beginning to introduce them to our science programs, the lab, each other, and their faculty, and we wanted to figure out a way to still have an enriching experience.”

Jones and additional science faculty are also hosting virtual sessions with the incoming first-year students out of their labs, and their efforts have paid off.

URISE student Daisy Brooks said, “The program has been an amazing opportunity with lots of great people. Even though there are some obvious barriers, such as not being able to collaborate in person, I think completing the sessions virtually has been a great way to get to know new people — building connections with other students and faculty before arriving on campus and making it less daunting.”

Incoming student Christopher Torres echoed those sentiments. “At the beginning when we were introduced to the tools in the kit I thought that it was a great idea because I could participate in the activities from home, and they were also very informative and a way to tie the lesson together at the end of the day,” said Torres. “It was also a great way to conduct experiments at home similar to the ones we learned in the sessions.”

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Check out these summer reading tips, part of HCPS’ ‘Summer Reading Kick-Off’

“During these unprecedented times, it’s more important than ever to stay connected,” said Shannon Hyman, HCPS library services specialist. “This summer, Virginia authors, illustrators, and community partners are joining with our school librarians to challenge our students to stay connected through reading. All activities are optional, engaging, and designed to encourage learners to read widely all summer long.”

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Henrico County Public Schools’ “Summer Reading Kick-Off” aims to build students’ reading skills – and encourage fun – all summer long. At three interactive webpages for HCPS elementary, middle, and high school students, you’ll find reading resources, activities, and tips for keeping your students engaged this summer.

The colorful interactive summer reading pages are available by going to www.henricoschools.us and looking under “Hot Topics” or at https://sites.google.com/henrico.k12.va.us/mockupedflix/summer-reading. The page also features a video welcome to HCPS’ summer program, featuring 15 Virginia authors and illustrators, as well as HCPS community partners.

Students can click and explore as they navigate the reading resources and activities appropriate for their school level. The tropical “Elementary Island” page features an explorable beach resort, the middle school page resembles a comfortable hangout for tweens, and the high school site, based on a day at the park, enables students to select useful reading apps on a virtual cell phone. Each page features a video tour by an HCPS librarian.

The sites include student “launch boards” with activities such as reading a cookbook and making a recipe (elementary), making a stop-motion video based on a book (middle school), and drafting a resume (high school). Students can explore ways to find great reads, take part in virtual book clubs, hear audiobook talks, and more.

“During these unprecedented times, it’s more important than ever to stay connected,” said Shannon Hyman, HCPS library services specialist. “This summer, Virginia authors, illustrators, and community partners are joining with our school librarians to challenge our students to stay connected through reading. All activities are optional, engaging, and designed to encourage learners to read widely all summer long.”

How can you encourage your student to read? These tips from HCPS librarians and Library Services Department staff members can help:

  • Read aloud together with your student every day, at every age.
  • Borrow audiobooks and listen as a family.
  • Opt outside. Bring your book, read on your device, or download an audiobook and enjoy on a walk.
  • Pick up some great magazines to enjoy in the car, at the pool or under a tree! Magazines are gateways to other reading materials and foster visual literacy.
  • Explore Henrico County Public Libraries’ great programs and activities. Your school librarian will be working with our public libraries to share summer reading activities, lists, and opportunities with all students. Be sure to check out Henrico County Public Library’s summer reading program, at henricolibrary.org/summerreading.
  • Remember, if you want your student to read, give them ample opportunities to see YOU reading, too!

For more summer reading tips, go to https://sites.google.com/henrico.k12.va.us/mockupedflix/summer-reading and click on “Printable Summer Reading Overview Page.”

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