Henrico teachers hop on the bus to tour students’ neighborhoods

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Dozens of new Henrico teachers met Monday to learn more about their future students -- specifically their neighborhoods.

A series of community bus tours throughout the county allowed teachers to visit their students’ “feeder patterns” – their elementary, middle, and high schools.

“We’ve been having so much fun, doing so much trivia, learning the history of Richmond and Henrico in general,” Henrico teacher Mary Roundtree said.

The educators realize their influence reaches far beyond classroom walls.

"Being a teacher is more than just teaching them in a class," teacher Briana Pierce said. "It’s being the mother, father, mentor, guidance counselor, so there’s a lot more than just being a teacher, and that comes from really knowing your students and building that relationship with them."

The teachers agreed that part of building those relationships was to understand that their students come from diverse backgrounds.

"Part of our job is really learning about our students, their environment, their culture, and where they come from. It makes them feel much more comfortable when we are aware of their surroundings,” Roundtree said.

Pierce added that the bus ride really helped her connect the dots and prepare to welcome her students this year.

"You get to see the highs and the lows, but you just focus on what they have, and what you can do," she said.

The tours -- conducted by principals, central office employees, and school resource officers -- included stops at important community gathering places, religious sites, and restaurants.