Happy 100th, Binford Middle!

The Fan’s got a pretty sweet party going on this Friday. You down?

At 4:45 PM, on a Tuesday, would it be safe to assume that many of us are getting close to winding down the work day and heading home? At least those of us who arrived at work bright and early in the morning? That’s the slothful world I know and love, but as both the son and husband of teachers, I recognize this timeline to be laughably inadequate in relation to the work needed done by a dedicated educator.

This past Tuesday, at 4:45 PM, I met with a few teachers, as well as the principal and vice principal of Binford Middle School. My brother-in-law is a young and promising English teacher there, and I know he has been working hard to help organize a celebration of the school’s upcoming centennial. I asked if I could stop by to learn more about the event. They were able to squeeze in a half hour with me after teaching middle school children all day, but before their scheduled event meeting, and of course long before any of the inevitable grading and planning would be addressed at home.

And yet, as expected, the group was lively and excited to talk about their school and the upcoming celebration of Binford’s 100 years of existence. Melissa Rickey is the new principal at Binford, and she beams with pride when talking about her staff and the ways things are moving forward with the school. The teachers at Binford are “the most hardworking and adaptable group” that she has had the pleasure to work with, and she is proud of what her students have accomplished. Principal Rickey sees Friday’s centennial celebration as an opportunity to connect generations of current and former Binford Middle students. Many projects will be on display, and guests will also be able to learn about what all has been going on with the school over the past several months.

This is a big year for the school in which some big changes are taking place. Binford Middle School is not only turning 100 years old, and not only recently hired a bright new principal, but is now the only middle school of its kind in Virginia. Binford is an arts integrated school, and the only arts integrated school in Virginia implementing the College Board’s Springboard curriculum. The Springboard curriculum was designed by College Board, the same people behind the SAT tests and Advanced Placement. It focuses heavily on Math and English, and is considered a pre-AP curriculum.

A grant was also awarded to Binford from the University of Richmond Partners in the Arts Program. Partners in the Arts is a program specifically designed to help preK-12 teachers integrate art into the normal curriculum. Although Binford isn’t an “art school,” art is involved in nearly all aspects of the education. When asked for specific examples of how art might be integrated into the regular curriculum, my brother-in-law texted me the following awesome top-of-the-head examples:

Teaching narrative elements through graphic novel creation, math class paired with dance class to teach relationships between subsets, script writing/filming for watershed protection lesson, and pet portraits as partnership with Richmond Animal League.

Between the Springboard curriculum, the Partners in the Arts program, and the teachers and administration at the school, there would appear to be a lot of cooks in the kitchen. But Principal Rickey stressed that a high level of teacher autonomy in the classroom was of great importance. In essence, good test scores should follow good teaching. But teaching is always the primary job, not testing.

Community businesses and organizations have also taken a proactive role in bringing a renewed energy and revitalization to Binford Middle. Long and Foster, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, the Fan District Association, the Visual Arts Center, Art 180, the Latin Ballet of Virginia, the Fan Woman’s Club, the VCU Department of Art Education, [Life Church](http://www.lifechurchofrichmond.org/), Binford’s PTA, Communities in Schools, and 6th Baptist Church have all offered a range of resources and support for the centennial event, and to the school in general. About a dozen students from Open High have volunteered their time to help with the event as well.

This Friday, we’re all invited to join the teachers, staff, and students to celebrate one of our city schools turning 100. The orchestra class will greet us with an outdoor performance, and music will lead into more music as the school band performs inside. Then, onto see the performance that the Latin Ballet of Virginia has been working on with the Spanish classes. After that; slam poetry. Then we’re on our own to disperse and check out a wide range of art projects, as well as enjoy food from local restaurants, and one-of-a-kind historical Richmond photographs brought in by Richmond In Sight.

Binford Middle School, Pride of the Fan: Our Stories, Our Legacy

A Centennial Celebration

  • Friday, April 29th. 6:00 – 8:00 PM
  • 1701 Floyd Avenue
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David Shultz

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