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CodeRVA teacher in the running for top award

RICHMOND — A Richmond math teacher is among five Virginia teachers chosen as state finalists for the 2019 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The award is considered the country’s top honor for math and science teachers.

Rebecca Hall, an algebra teacher at CodeRVA, is one of the five state finalists. The other finalists are:

  • Myron Blosser, a biology and biotechnology teacher at Harrisonburg High in Harrisonburg;
  • Timothy Colin Bouchillon, an environmental science and Capstone Research teacher at Manassas Park High in Manassas Park;
  • Kelly Draeger, a seventh-grade mathematics teacher at Mark Twain Middle in Alexandria; and
  • Aziz Zahraoui, a geometry and calculus teacher at Churchland High in Portsmouth.

Hall has taught at CodeRVA since the school’s 2017 inception. The school, which focuses on computer science, is a partnership among school districts in the region that all send students to Richmond for the year-round model.

A national review committee will review the applications before the winners are announced by the White House.

Awardees each receive $10,000, a presidential certificate and a trip to Washington, D.C., for recognition events and professional development activities.

Smart Beginnings gets $100K grant from VECF

RICHMOND — A local school readiness initiative has received a $100,000 grant from the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation.

Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond received the grant to help engage families and improve the equity of early childhood services and resources, among other things.

“We are developing communication and engagement strategies with parents so they can easily access the relevant information and opportunities to shape their daily routines with their children,” said Rich Schultz, the executive director of Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond, in a statement.

Said VECF President Kathy Glazer: “VECF is committed to the development of Smart Beginnings’ capacities to create conditions that effectively support school readiness in the communities they serve.”

The grant is for two years.

Kirkpatrick donates to VCU humanities college

RICHMOND — A $2 million donation to the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University will help the school establish a scholarship for students and pay for faculty professional development.

The gift will also create a fund to train science majors in verbal and written communications, presentation and interpersonal skills.

Patricia T. Kirkpatrick, a Richmond native who now lives in Northern Virginia, made the gift on behalf of herself and her late husband, David W. Kirkpatrick.

The initial $50,000 donation will establish the scholarship, which is need-based. The $1.95 million estate gift will increase the scholarship and create the endowed David W. and Patricia T. Kirkpatrick Faculty Fund and the endowed David W. and Patricia T. Kirkpatrick Science Communications Fund.

Liberty freezing tuition through 2020-21 session

LYNCHBURG — Liberty University announced last week that it is freezing tuition rates for two years in a row.

The private school said residential students in 2020-21 will pay the same amount in tuition as they did in 2018-19 and the coming academic year, which starts later this month. Liberty also announced that rates for its online program would be frozen for the fourth straight year.

The undergraduate tuition for the next two academic years will be $23,800.

Seven in 10 graduates of Liberty’s 2018 class took out money for student loans for a four-year bachelor’s degree, according to data from the State Council for Higher Education of Virginia. The average borrower, according to the state data, left school with $31,837 in loans.

The move comes as public college students in Virginia are paying the same amount in tuition this year as they did last thanks to a statewide tuition freeze.

Tuition at every four-year public college in Virginia has increased at least 50 percent since the 2008-09 school year. Students and their families pay 55 percent of the cost, on average, at Virginia’s four-year schools, while the state pays 45 percent.

For the first time since 2001-02, though, tuition is the same as it was the previous year.

UR professor receives $270K grant from NSF

RICHMOND — A University of Richmond chemistry professor has received a National Science Foundation grant to research DNA and gene mutation.

Michelle Hamm received the $270,000 grant to cover three years of research, which uses synthetic and physical organic chemistry to address specific biological questions.

Hamm has taught at UR since 2001.

— From staff reports

Education Reporter

Justin Mattingly covers K-12 schools and higher education. A northern New York native and a Syracuse University alumnus, he's worked at the RTD since 2017. You can follow him on Twitter at @jmattingly306.

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