Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fall is here!

Dear Hollymead Families,

Well after a few record-setting days, the temperatures seem to be turning to Fall. Thank goodness! As the new season is here, it brings many fun events to Hollymead. The first, is the Book Fair. The PTO runs our Book Fair, and hosts a Bingo Night on the last night, next Friday, October 11th. This is a fun family event, and the Book Fair is a wonderful opportunity for students to get books, and support the school.It should be a week full of excitement, and I’m looking forward to seeing many of you next Friday night.

Last week, we had our United Way Day of Caring. Many local businesses helped us clean out our courtyards, finish some work on the outdoor classroom, clean up the front of the school, get some books into and out of circulation in the library, and provided our younger students with a reading buddy for the day. It is a great day here at Hollymead, and the school looks amazing. A special thank you to UVA Pediatrics, National Ground Intelligence Center, and the Center for Financial Research Analysis.

The pre-schoolers are really getting into a rhythm now, and are enjoying their songs, routines, and free play experiences! Kindergartners have been to Wildrock and the fire department in the last few weeks. They are having a blast. First graders have made apple pizzas, apple sauce, and have begun work on a gift for their parents! Second grade has been excitingly working outdoors. I saw them out there observing birds, painting benches, and planting entire beds of herbs. Third graders have been exploring multiplication – a practical rite of passage for any 8-year-old. Fourth grade students have been working on an arts integration project around animals and habitats. 5th graders have been making art out of arrays, working on their writer’s eye submissions, and designing learning spaces.

We so appreciate getting to be with your students every day! As always, please let us know if we can do anything to serve you better!


Craig Dommer

Principal, Hollymead Elementary School

Hollymead C.A.R.E.S.

Dear Hollymead Families,

Here at Hollymead we are always talking about Hollymead C.A.R.E.S. Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, and Self-Control. Each of these characteristics leads to being a better student and person, and creating a better and more positive Hollymead community. We try to show and talk about how Hollymead CARES throughout the school year, and it also provides a great opportunity for you to talk to your students about those character traits. Ask how they showed they CARE today!

It has been a great first month of school. Students have already been on field trips, and have been working on creating outdoor learning spaces. Some of the younger students have benefited from our improved teaching kitchen through Alphabet Cafe, and homemade Apple Pizzas. We are so excited to see you all this Thursday, and share our plans for the year. It will be a great evening. See you then!


Craig Dommer

Principal, Hollymead Elementary School

What Do You Wonder

Dear Hollymead Families,

What a great first couple of weeks here at school. Today we had our first school-wide morning meeting. The staff and students were full of Hollymead pride. We spoke about curiosity, and even shared with partners about questions we have in our head. We are going to post these questions around the school, and work to explore answers as a community of learners!

If you are in the school visiting, you should also feel free to write something (dry erase only) on the board. Kids are so naturally curious, and showing them that we adults are as well, will only help to keep that curiosity going.

We are looking forward to the rest of the year. Have a very safe long weekend!

Craig Dommer

Principal, Hollymead Elementary School

Welcome to 2019!

Dear Hollymead Families,

What a great time of year! The building is humming with activity, and you can sense the excitement from the students and community as the start of school gets closer. We’re very much looking forward to our second year. For families new to Hollymead, welcome! This newsletter will have some useful information for the beginning of the school year.

This year, as a staff, we will be continuing to challenge our students to be curious, and passionate about learning. We will also use student choice and relevance as areas that will drive the work in which students engage. Creating an environment where students feel inspired to be curious and creative, critical thinkers is an ultimate goal.

We are always interested in the thoughts, questions, and expertise of all of our stakeholders. The Hollymead community is very diverse, and we want to take advantage of all the knowledge, creativity, and enthusiasm of our entire community. Let us know how we can better help you, and how you could help us!

Please contact me if for any questions or concerns. You can reach me by phone, 434 973-8301; by email at; or in person at school.

Craig Dommer

Principal, Hollymead Elementary School

Welcome to Hollymead 2018

Dear Hollymead Community,

Welcome to the 2018-19 school year!  I’m so excited to start my first year here at Hollymead.  I believe in the power of students to embrace their learning through curiosity, and the power of teachers to inspire it.  This is my 15th year in Albemarle County, and I have been a teacher, math specialist, Lead Instructional Coach, Assistant Principal, and Principal.  I enjoy listening to all stakeholders, and figuring out how to help a school best support its students and community.

The focus at Hollymead on meeting the academic, social, and emotional goals of children is something that has inspired me this summer.  I’ve spoken with many parents, teachers, and some students, and it is extremely evident in those conversations, how much care is taken with the learning of students.  The community is active in making the school a special place, and the teachers are dedicated to each student. These are admirable qualities in any school.

This year, I’ll be spending a lot of time listening and learning from all of you about Hollymead and what makes it special.  In addition, I’m interested in how we can engage students in learning that they are curious about while making sure that they are all growing skills that will help them in their future schooling and beyond.  I’ll be asking students about their passions, what excites them about learning, and how we can make them more excited to be at school. I am planning to share some of those stories in this space throughout the year, as well as on the Hollymead twitter feed @HornetNews.

Throughout the year, I hope that you’ll come to the school to see learning, to volunteer in a classroom, to attend a PTO event, or to just share your thoughts.  I know that this community has a lot of built-in expertise, and I’m hoping that some of you will come to see how you can share that expertise with our students. Hollymead is a great place to be, but I’m sure that by working together we can make it even better!  Thank you for your commitment and your support of our students and our school.



New Special Education Teacher

Please welcome Sydney Wicks to Hollymead.  She is part time at Hollymead, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  She also works at Agnor Hurt.  We are so happy to have her join the Hollymead team.

Hi there! My name is Sydney Wicks, and I am joining the wonderful Hollymead community as a resource teacher. I was born and raised in Charlottesville, where I attended the University of Virginia for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I received my Master’s degree from the Curry School in both general elementary education and special education. After graduating, I moved out to the great state of Wyoming where I spent two years teaching special education and enjoying the outdoors as a seasonal horsepacker and avid backpacker. I recently moved back to Charlottesville in order to be closer to family, and I am excited to be joining all of you!

November 2017 Update

Dear Hollymead Families,

It’s hard to believe that we’ve already finished the first quarter of the school year.  During this successful start, there have been many exciting learning projects, field trips and school wide morning meetings.  Our PTO has been so supportive of teachers already providing a coffee/muffin cart as a treat one day and snacks for a faculty meeting on another day.  Several teacher grants have also been funded!  The Spirit Week and Book Character Parade were lots of fun and helped build relationships at our school!

CARES (cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy and self-control) is the cornerstone for how we treat each other at Hollymead.  CARES is written on the walls.  Students hear about CARES in classroom morning meetings and on the television broadcasts.  They also hear about it when there is a problem and they determine which CARES word would help the situation.  Please ask your child about CARES.

Arriving at school on time is so important. Students who arrive late interrupt the flow of work and instruction in the classroom. Those students often feel like they are playing catch up, a feeling I know I don’t like. Make it a goal to get your child to school on time. On time is in the classroom at 7:55 a.m. We allow a 5-minute grace period, but begin writing tardy passes at 8:00 a.m. Some mornings we write as many as 35 tardy passes. Other mornings only a few. The best way for students to arrive on time to school is by riding the bus. The buses are all here before the 7:45 bell and they are all unloaded by 7:50. If your child is a walker, make sure they allow ample time to get to school. The crossing guards leave their posts at 7:55 am to be on time for other duties and will be unable to supervise children who are running late. The safety of our students is our highest priority and we want them to cross the street when a staff member is present and able to assist them.

My door is always open. Please let me know if you have questions or concerns. I am truly thankful for all you do to support our students, our teachers and our school.

Your partner in education, Nancy V. Teel, Principal

Building Hollymead Community

Dear Hollymead Families,

Like you, I am saddened and horrified by the events and loss of life on August 12th in Charlottesville. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the three people who lost their lives and to all the people who were injured. Charlottesville has always been my home, and no matter where I travel, I am always happy to return to my hometown. I love this university town and its diversity is part of its greatness.
Some parents have concerns about what their children will learn regarding these events at school. We discussed this very thing the first day teachers were all together on Monday, August 14. We reminded teachers that as school representatives we are politically neutral. At the same time, we will always educate students through Hollymead CARES and reinforce the importance of being a welcoming community. Our school should be a place of safety for all students.

We anticipate that some of our children will come on Wednesday knowing all about these events and others will come knowing nothing about it. This is a parental decision and it is important for us to support your decision. As I wrote above, we will not start any conversations about the recent events. It is important to know that some students might start conversations. If this happens, teachers will redirect them so that they can continue the conversation with an adult in private. Megan Kopley, our school counselor, and Lauren Servis, our school psychologist, will be available to talk as necessary. Staci England, our assistant principal, and I will also be very visible and available for children as needed.

Our school community is remarkable. We expect to have another terrific year and are excited to build relationships with new students and build new class communities with all of our students. As our superintendents and school board chairs wrote in their message, “Our schools are where we make acquaintance with civic responsibility. The work we do in our schools must always bring to life our nation’s most sacred promise—“to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” This year we will continue with this work so that “We will be known as a community whose teachers and staff will continue to do what the best educators always have done—stand tall in modeling these American ideals in their work every day.”

Nancy Teel
Hollymead Elementary School

New Guidance Counselor at Hollymead Elementary School


I am excited to have the opportunity to be the School Counselor at Hollymead Elementary.  I come to Hollymead with 17 yrs of experience in education. After completing my undergraduate degree in my home state of New York, I set out on an adventure moving to Virginia.  I started my career as a teacher in Stafford, VA in 2000.  In 2004, I completed my Master’s of Education in Counselor Education from VCU.  I have been working as a School Counselor in Spotsylvania, VA since 2004.  I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the Hollymead community this coming school year.

I am a mother to a 7 yr old daughter, Hayden.  Together we love hiking, camping, paddle boarding and any adventure that takes us outdoors.  I am a certified Kidding Around Yoga Teacher for kids and love sharing yoga with others.  We often come to Charlottesville to walk the downtown mall or attend festivals and events.  I am excited to move here and experience all this area has to offer!

Robin Aldridge Memorial Playground

We have added a musical piece of equipment to the fenced in playground. There is a keyboard and drums for our musical visitors. The funds were raised during the Fun Run Fundraiser on Septemrobin-aldridge-sign_0079ber 12, 2015 and other sources of fundraising including the Hollymead PTO and grants. The new piece of equipment along with the sign dedicating the playground to Robin Aldridge are in memory of Robin Aldridge, an early childhood special education teacher in Albemarle County for many years. We tragically lost Robin and her daughter Mani on Friday, December 5, 2014. Robin had been teaching the pre-school class at Holllymead for two and a half yearsplayground-music_0076.  She was a strong advocate for all students, but especially for students with special needs. She loved children and music and we celebrate her life on a fun filled playground with music.

I want to thank the Robin Aldridge Memorial Committee, everyone who participated in the Fun Run and others who donated their time and money to raising this memorial to honor Robin.