|Byrd Elementary School, Goochland
Our School is SOOOOO Special Because (WE) as in parents, teachers, and community volunteers pulled together and created the most beautiful inviting Outdoor Learning Lab! We once had a courtyard filled with weeds, broken benches, and dead birds. (yes, dead birds) but now we have a gorgeous fish pond with a water fountain. Birds are now live in present. You can find them sitting on a tree branch in our Outdoor Learning Lab or you can find them taking a sip of water in the bird bath that has been provided for them. Our Outdoor Learning Lab also has vegetable gardens, flower gardens, a mini stage for children performances, a green house, decorative art work created by the children, rain gauges, weather clock, and benches. This is the MOST INSPIRING place for our students to learn! This was all possible because the community pulled together to make this happen! It is so exciting to see children enjoying a beautiful atmosphere while learning! They are all so proud of this unique feature of their school. After many many hours of volunteers dedicating their time and skills, this learning sanctuary was created. That is why we are so SPECIAL! We are a school that works together, creates, together, and imagines together to give our students a very unique place to learn.
Millwood School, Midlothian
Millwood School is special for many reasons but the most important to our family is the school’s dedicated focus on character and community service. Just today, it was announced that they won Trex’s Plastic Bag Challenge. They collected the most plastic bags (per student) among the participating schools in our area. This school of less than 200 students collected a total of 49,852 bags, which averages to 249 bags per student! The school is building on this green activity and will be focusing heavily in the coming year on how to be good to the earth with many new recycling initiatives. Millwood children meet weekly to learn and discuss the importance of striving for excellence in scholarship, leadership, and sportsmanship and to demonstrate healthful, and positive behaviors. Whenever they go on field trips, the school always receives feedback that Millwood students are among the most respectful, polite and well behaved children. This is a school with a warm student AND parent community with dedicated, thoughtful teachers all working together to be good citizens and leaders in Midlothian. We are joyous over our decision to send our child to Millwood and grateful Millwood exists to serve the Richmond community.
Pinchbeck Elementary School 1275 Gaskins Road Henrico, VA 23238
The Rays Reaching Out Club was formed last year to give students an active role in the Rays Reaching Out. 65 students in grades 3 to 5 meet after school on a monthly basis to prepare for the upcoming service projects. Club members write their own morning announcements, create and distribute posters adverting the projects, and tally donations. Participation helps children realize they can make an impact without money. Donating items that they no longer use or donating their time can make a real difference in our school, our nation and our world! We are extremely proud of these students and the Pinchbeck community.
At our elementary school, we believe showing compassion towards others has a role in our children’s education. Therefore, Rays Reaching Out was created to provide opportunities for our school community to reach out to others through voluntary participation in various service projects. This year families donated school and art supplies to Laburnum Elementary, Full Circle Grief Center and a School in Uganda. They donated over 100 gently used children’s DVDs and enough coins to purchase a 42” plasma TV and DVD player for the YWCA’s Family Shelter. On Veteran’s Day, items were collected for Operation Gratitude. Around the holidays, food was collected for Henrico County Christmas Mother and coats for the Coats for Kids program. We also collected snacks for Mrs. Clayton’s Cupboard and over 700 used books for Books on Wheels. Currently, we are collecting used shoes for Walk in My Shoes.
Glen Allen Elementary –– 11101 Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
“Cubs Care!” is a school-wide initiative with the very important mission to APPRECIATE ~ RECOGNIZE ~ SUPPORT our school community.
We APPRECIATE those teachers, staff members, administration members and parent volunteers who go above and beyond the call of duty to help out our school throughout the entire academic year. We encourage everyone to “catch someone in the act” of doing something extra-special and nominate them. Every nominee receives a Cubs Care! Certificate of Appreciation, and each month we celebrate one winner who truly exemplifies what it means to be a Glen Allen Cub.
We RECOGNIZE any teacher, staff member or administrator who achieves a professional or lifetime milestone be it sending flowers to celebrate a new birth or marriage, giving a commemorative gift to new retirees, or a welcome card to new teachers joining our school.
We SUPPORT members of our school community who experience significantly traumatic events. Our most noticeable effort is our “Giving Tree”, an actual empty tree that we installed in our school’s lobby. Recently, one of our students suffered a life threatening medical emergency. We encouraged students and teachers to write notes of support on paper flowers and hung them all over our Giving Tree.
Our Cubs Care! program has been an inspiring and meaningful addition to our school community.
Gordon Elementary, Chesterfield, VA
What makes Gordon Elementary so special is its sense of community. We have a 97% joining rate in the PTA. Teachers, parents, and administration all make it a point to get to know each other and the students. It is a wonderful supportive environment. We have the best students who not only care about themselves but for charitable events in the community. Students participate in running events for the community. Also hat day once a quarter with 100% benefit a local charity. Go Patriots!
Pinchbeck Elementary School, Henrico
Homework Helpers is the after-school tutoring program for students in Grades K-5 at our elementary school. Teachers, parents and retired teachers in our community band together to make sure that the students who need one-on-one help with their homework get the help that they need. The program is held Monday-Friday for 40 minutes after school. Our amazing teachers at Pinchbeck man this program alone on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Pinchbeck parents and other “angels” from the community help out at all grade levels on Mondays and Wednesdays. One of our weekly helpers is a grandmother of one of our Pinchbeck students who is not even in the program. One of our PTA moms put a blurb in the St. Mary’s Catholic church bulletin and we got five of our helpers that way. Two of those helpers are retired ESL teachers and I cannot tell you how valuable they are to our students and parents where English is their second language. It is much easier for parents to help out at school DURING school. That is why I am so impressed with the parents who give of their time AFTER school to sit and read or think through math problems with students. Pinchbeck is a school where teachers, parents and our neighbors in the community work together in the best interest of our students.
Canterbury Community Nursery School, Richmond
Building an Outdoor Play Space When Canterbury Community Nursery School moved last summer, we gained a beautiful indoor space but desperately needed to construct an outdoor play area for our students. Funds were very limited for this project, so we relied heavily on volunteers and community donations. A committee of teachers and parents met throughout the summer, researching ideas for a natural playscape. We searched thrift stores, Craig’s list features, our attics and backyards to gather and re-purpose items for our playground. Over the summer, we held several community build days where parents, teachers, children and community members worked in unison to build and install our amazing playground. On one particularly hot Saturday in July, we had over 100 volunteers working on our playground! Canterbury’s playground has a traditional climbing structure with monkey bars, two giant sand boxes with a huge tractor tire in the center, music walls, listening pipes, chalkboards, easels and a tire covered hill where the children run and play tag. There is a mudpie kitchen and a stage for dancing or acting. The outdoor space is winning complement to our preschool’s mission statement: Canterbury educates children in a creative, supportive, nurturing environment in partnership with family and community. We are currently working on a garden adjacent to the playground where spinach and radishes are growing in an old claw foot tub and giant gourds will soon decorate our fence. Canterbury’s new outside environment is a testament to creativity, teamwork and a love for learning.
St. Christopher’s, Richmond
This year, St. Christopher’s held its second annual Dads Read competition for 5th-grade boys and their fathers or male mentors. This year, each father and son read three books (Code Talkers, The Last Newspaperboy, and Powerless). In January, groups of eight father-son pairs teamed up in a quiz competition that tested their knowledge of the three books. Over 100 fathers and sons participated in this year’s Dads Read program, and while the quiz competition was rousing fun, the real value of Dads Read was providing fathers and sons a rare opportunity to read and discuss books together.
Dads Read was the brainchild of St. Christopher’s librarians Lucinda Whitehurst and Brenda Snead. In the summer of 2011, after the first Dads Read program, Ms. Whitehurt and Ms. Snead presented the project at an international boys’ school conference. As a result, Dads Read now extends beyond our borders. In May, a team of St. Christopher’s fathers and sons will participate via Skype in a quiz competition against father-son teams from the Crescent School in Toronto, Canada.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to SHOUT OUT about a wonderful program that allows fathers and sons to bond through reading, and to share their passions with other fathers and sons outside the United States.
William Fox Elementary School, Richmond
Our school has the best PTA I can imagine. The PTA raises about $100,000 every year and uses this money to fund wonderful enrichment programs for all grades, all year long. Additionally, the funds are used to support the teacher’s classroom work and invest in grounds improvements around the school. The children who attend Fox get a top-notch education in a happy and vibrant environment. Fox recently celebrated its 100th birthday and students came back to visit from far and wide, a wonderful testament to the enduring spirit of the school.
Peter Paul Development Center, Richmond
Coming from five of the RPS elementary schools in the East End of Richmond, Peter Paul Development Center’s students learn and play in a safe after school environment that not only nurtures its students, but promotes academic excellence. Students come from four of the city’s public housing communities and the surrounding neighborhood to learn at our center. Our teachers, staff and volunteers work with groups and individual students daily to help them primarily with academic subjects but also with a number of enrichment activities. In addition to classroom time, students can participate in girl scouts, Lego robotics, chess, tennis, basketball and the children’s garden.
A number of devoted volunteers lead children each Wednesday in activities in the children’s garden, a major focus of our healthy living program. Begun four years ago with several raised-beds, the garden has expanded and is now a place for learning about healthy eating, holistic relationships that produce plants (bees, earthworms, birds), the beauty of the natural surroundings, and the necessity of caring for things (and people) on a consistent basis. As thy sample food from the garden, they learn not only that fresh food tastes good but that eating healthy foods is a way to prevent some of the greatest health conditions in this impoverished neighborhood – diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease. Without the children’s garden and the volunteers that drive it, the impact of learning about healthy eating and living would be diminished.