Patricia Ann Richardson
2005 Outstanding Teacher of America
Patricia Ann Richardson
Science Teacher, Morningside High School; Inglewood, California
Patricia Richardson has been teaching at Morningside High School for 32 years. She was inspired to become a teacher by one of her college professors, who made learning easy and was a talented motivator. Using that professor as her model, Ms. Richardson studied to become a teacher.
In all of her years teaching, including student teaching, all but six months have been spent at Morningside High School. Ms. Richardson is a staunch defender and advocate of the school, even though it is currently considered as performing under current standards. She is working diligently on many committees and across all departments and with the Inglewood Unified School District to remedy the situation by instituting new learning models that more closely monitor and support students, especially in their freshman and sophomore years.
Ms. Richardson's approach to learning is student-based. She says that each student has his or her own perspective and needs, especially in a school like Morningside, which has a largely disadvantaged population when it comes to socio-economic status, parental education and English language comprehension.
In this atmosphere, Ms. Richardson's list of successful students shines. She has many former students who keep in touch regularly and who come back to speak with and to teach her classes, from politicians to doctors, lawyers, ministers, newscasters and sports figures.
Ms. Richardson's students know that they can count on her for much more than a great lecture and good homework assignments. She is there for them as a friend and as a stable adult in their lives. She helps with personal issues, and advises clubs and groups, like MESA and Academic Decathlon, that help to raise students' self-images by showing them how much they can learn. She works with students so that they can see how college educations can change their paths and then does everything she can to support her students toward their educational goals.
Ms. Richardson is also a favorite among the staff and administration of Morningside High School. She is a sought-after mentor for newer teachers and she has a valued perspective of Morningside High, due to her 32-year history at the school. Ms. Richardson is continually active on many school and district committees, so that the teachers' and students' voices are an integral part of the decision-making process. She has been active in her union and stays abreast of union laws and grievance procedures, so that she can aid other teachers.
Ms. Richardson has a great love of learning, of teaching and of her students. She believes that the success of just one student is enough to keep her motivated to go on, but that her goal is for all students to be successful.