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Jackie Evelyn
Mike Connors

Jackie Evelyn began her teaching career in 2005 and two years later moved to Norfolk Academy to teach first grade boys. She has lived around the world while her father served as a General in the Marine Corps. Because of her significant travel experience and exposure to various cultures, Mrs. Evelyn is able to share a global perspective with her students.  

Teacher - First Grade Boys

Department and Program Affiliations:
Lower School

Academic background:
B.A., Elementary Education, California State University, Chico

Previously Coached Volleyball, Young People’s Theater Program (YPTP), and MyTeachingPartner (MTP) with UVA (Professional Development)

How long have you been at Norfolk Academy?
This is my 13th year at Norfolk Academy.

Tell us why you wanted to become an educator:  
I simply love children. It is a joy each day to come to work. The students always make me laugh, warm my heart, and make each day enjoyable. I admire the way they forgive, the look on their face with they learn something new, and the way their body lights up when they laugh. I always loved my teachers growing up and they inspired me to start working with children at a young age.  

What most excites you about working at Norfolk Academy?  
I really love the people I work with each day. I am surrounded by some of my best friends. I also truly enjoy the families that we are supported by here. Now, my own son is a Bulldog and it is the greatest gift to have him in this wonderful place with me.

Norfolk Academy is unique because…  
Norfolk Academy is a community. I feel loved, appreciated, and happy each time I step onto campus. I am constantly inspired by my colleagues, by their talented gifts in teaching. I have some wonderful relationships that I have developed over the years.

Last book read:  
Room on the Broom 🙂 

What do you like to do in your own time/when you’re not working?  
I love to spend time with my boys, all three! I have two sons and my husband, Tony. We are actually high school sweethearts! Singing is a passion of mine outside of school. Being active is a huge part of my life as well.  We enjoy bike rides, spending time outside, and just time as a family.

Favorite food?  
Hands down, I love Mexican food! Sushi is a close second favorite. I also love the food at Norfolk Academy!

Fun fact your students might not know about you/might find surprising:
I love skydiving and scuba diving!

“When I grow up, I want to be…”  
I have always wanted to be in a band, traveling the world and performing!

Shim Richardson
Mike Connors

Shim Richardson attended Old Dominion University and graduated magna cum laude. While attending ODU, Mrs. Richardson participated in a student teaching exchange program and completed her training in Caerphilly, Wales. She joined the Norfolk Academy family after teaching first grade for 12 years in Virginia Beach public schools and being selected Teacher of the Year.  

Teacher - First Grade Girls

Department and Program Affiliations:
Lower School

Academic background:
B.S., Elementary and Middle School Education, Old Dominion University
M.Ed., Education (K-8), Old Dominion University

How long have you been at Norfolk Academy?  
This is my 16th year at Norfolk Academy.

Tell us why you wanted to become an educator:  
I want to make a difference in the lives of as many students as possible and help them realize their full potential. I believe as a teacher I must motivate, inspire, and encourage my students to strive for success… be the BEST that they can be. Being a teacher is hard work, but I find it incredibly fulfilling.

Norfolk Academy is unique because...
of our dedicated teachers, students, and parents!

Last book read:  
A Better Man by Louise Penny. I have read all 15 of her books and loved every one of them!

What do you like to do in your own time/when you’re not working?  
Spending time with my family, reading, and scrapbooking.

Favorite food?  
Anything seafood!

Fun fact your students might not know about you/might find surprising:  
I lived in Bermuda for three years.

When I grow up, I want to be
a judge.

Art gallery
  • Fine Arts News
Mike Connors

In this Year of Belonging at Norfolk Academy, students can think through what that means through a new exhibit in the school's Perrel Art Gallery.

Root Beliefs is the work of Heather Bryant, a veteran artist who is well-known regionally and has had showings around the world. Ms. Bryant created the works she chose for this exhibit between 2006 and 2018. She selected a variety of images that have a shared theme. 

They illustrate encounters between people faced with the choice of accepting or rejecting each other, Ms. Bryant said. Her goal is to promote harmony and emphasize common experiences of mankind. 

People have an innate desire to belong, Ms. Bryant said. That stems from the need to be a part of something greater than oneself, she thinks.

“Since we are all made of the same elements, philosophically or physically, we are all united and belong together," she said. “Through that understanding, our differences can celebrated and appreciated."

Ms. Bryant, who teaches at Old Dominion University, has a wealth of experience in educational settings. She will teach Norfolk Academy students in advanced studio art classes, showing them the process of monoprinting on October 29, October 31, November 5, and November 7.

In addition to her teaching, Ms. Bryant has exhibited her work around the United States and internationally, in places including the K. Caraccio Print Collection in New York; Special Collections of the Art Museum of Estonia; Print Collection of The School of Art at the University of Wales; Print Collection at Zayed University in Dubai; and Proyecto 'ace Print Collection in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Knox Garvin, director of the gallery and an Upper School art teacher, reached out to Ms. Bryant when he learned this year's theme would focus on belonging.

There are opposing forces in Ms. Bryant's work, Mr. Garvin said, such as a struggle between vice and virtue. The work exposes a struggle to belong. But ultimately, it creates a sense of harmony.

“I like its imaginative qualities, how free it is," Mr. Garvin said.

The art gallery, which is located inside the John H. Tucker Jr. Arts Center, typically has four exhibits a year; in the fall, spring, around the winter holidays, and toward the close of the school calendar. Two are done by students, the other two by outside artists.

Mr. Garvin chooses the outside artists. In addition to how Ms. Bryant's art complements the theme of belonging, he likes her creative imagination. Students can sometimes be perfectionists, he said. They need to see that it's good to try new things, even if they don't always work out.

“It's OK to be different and strange and surreal," Mr. Garvin said. 


Doug and Rachel Ellis
  • Alumni News
Mike Connors

Doug Ellis '00 and his wife, Rachel, suffered a tragedy last year. Their baby daughter, River, died when she was just a few days old, the result of a complication during the birthing process.

Through their sadness, the couple has started a nonprofit organization, the River Ellis Foundation, which assists Hampton Roads residents who face unexpected hardship.

“We hope to give a sunrise to those who are in their darkest hour," Doug Ellis said in a recent article for The Virginian-Pilot's Virginia Beach Beacon. 

To learn more about the Ellis family and the River Ellis Foundation, including how to help, read the Pilot article and visit  

  • Alumni
Elise Broach and a student.
Mike Connors

Lower School students received a treat last week--the chance to learn about writing from an accomplished author.

Elise Broach came to campus from October 2-4. During those three days, she made presentations to grades 1 through 6, and she gave students individual help during workshops. She also checked in on classes to offer even more tips.

Ms. Broach has written 23 books that have been published during her writing career. But one message she wanted to get across to students is that, while writing is fun, it takes time and hard work. Her first book, Wet Dog, was accepted for publication in 2000, but did not come out until five years later.

“It is perseverance that is the key to great writing," Ms. Broach said.

Students listened and absorbed that lesson. 

“You can't give up what you're doing," said Miles, a first grader.

On her final day, Ms. Broach worked with the two youngest grades. Good books need interesting characters, she said, asking them to create their own. Elephants, foxes, and unicorns were just a few of their ideas. 

Next, the students gave their characters names. “Ella The Doughnut" and “Melvin The Monster" were two that impressed Ms. Broach.

Characters face problems, the author said. One child invented an owl who couldn't fall asleep during the day.

“That is a great problem!" Ms. Broach responded.

Last, the character solves the problem, she continued. The students readily offered imaginative scenarios. One character whose balloon sailed to space recovered the balloon by leaping off a trampoline high into the sky, grabbing it, then pulling it back down to the ground.

“That is a great story! Did everyone hear how complete it is?" Ms. Broach said.

At the end of the workshop, the students thanked the author, who applauded their creative energy. “I hope you will keep working on your stories," she said.

Micah, another first grader, planned to do that and more. He was hooked on writing.

“I just had fun," Micah said.