Stepping through the doors of Bellwood Elementary School, located along the Jeff Davis corridor in Chesterfield County, you’re likely to witness students tending the school garden, participating in a manners luncheon, practicing reading skills to therapy dogs or learning to design with a 3D printer. Proud to be a Title I Distinguished School, the staff is dedicated to providing engaging, relevant education that prepares students to thrive in a rapidly changing world. They are led by principal Jennifer Rudd, the 2017 winner of the R.E.B. Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership from Chesterfield County, who strongly believes in helping her students exceed academic standards while also cultivating their interests and talents to inspire life-long learning.
Mrs. Rudd also works diligently with her staff to remove socioeconomic and language barriers for her students and their families. The school is resourceful in addressing these unique needs - raffling bicycles and helmets to encourage outdoor play after school, a bookmobile that delivers games and books in the summer, microwaveable meals for families living in motels and a direct line to a bilingual staff member. The school lives by the mantra “Every Child, Every Chance, Every Day” and it is paying off with a remarkable attendance rate of 96%.
With her R.E.B. award of $7,500, Principal Jennifer Rudd will create the “Removing Everyday Barriers” Room, also known as the R.E.B. Room, to strengthen relationships with parents and guardians while tearing down sociocultural walls. The catalyst for the project was learning that many parents, especially within the Hispanic community, are intimidated to enter the school and engage with the administration. The R.E.B. room will offer a space where families can access counseling and workshops, Social Services assistance, language classes, conference space and even a washer and dryer.
“Everything we do is about encouraging our students to believe in themselves,” says Mrs. Rudd. “While academics are important, we look at our children differently. They cannot be successful if we don’t listen and respond to what they are going through. They are more than a score.”
See all 2017 R.E.B. Principal Award Winners