Staff Spotlight - Kimberly Richardson
Every year, teachers and educational professionals from each Freehold Regional High School District school are selected to be honored in the Monmouth County Governor's Educator of the Year Program. We are recognizing each of the 2022-2023 recipients in a Staff Spotlight series. This week, we are highlighting Kimberly Richardson, an English teacher at Freehold Township High School.
Ms. Richardson has been teaching at Freehold Township High School for 21 years. Over that time, she has taught a variety of English classes, including English II, Honors English II, AP English Literature, IB English Literature, Academic English I, III, and IV, and Journalism: Newspaper.
Ms. Richardson also serves as the drama co-director and choreographer and is the adviser to the school's chapter of the International Thespian Society. She also helps run the annual spoken word poetry festival.
There was an extra special surprise when Ms. Richardson was announced as the school's Teacher of the Year.
"Our choral director had some of our drama seniors sing the announcement (in four-part harmony)!" she recalled, noting it was an honor to be recognized when she works amongst so many incredible educators at Freehold Township.
Being a teacher has provided Ms. Richardson with several incredible opportunities.
"Early on in my career, I received a few fellowships – one through the National Endowment of the Humanities, which allowed me to study in London for a summer; one through the Japan Fulbright Memorial Foundation, which allowed me to travel all throughout Japan; and another through the American Society of Newspaper Editors which allowed me to take college-level courses in journalism at the University of Texas – Austin," she described.
But it is watching the growth of her students that makes her the proudest.
"I often teach the same students for multiple years, and to watch them mature as writers, thinkers, and human beings is really wonderful. As teachers, we all live for those moments when former students contact us to tell us what they are doing in college or grad school or beyond! Just a few weeks, a former student, who I had many, many years ago, messaged to tell me he was editing a friend’s paper for grad school. When she asked him how he became such a strong writer, he credited my class in helping him!" Ms. Richardson said.
"What I like best about teaching is that every day, every class is different. As much as I try to facilitate students’ critical and analytical thinking skills, they impact me as well. I’ve read Hamlet at least once a year, every year since 1996, and yet, I still learn something new about it with every re-read because I’m seeing it through my students’ eyes," she described.
When asked what advice she would give to new teachers, Ms. Richardson recalled a time several years ago when a fellow teacher noticed she was having a bad day. That teacher pulled her aside and assured her if something she tried in her lesson didn't work, she could always try something new the next day.
"I’ve been teaching for a long time, and I’m still trying new things in my classroom. They don’t always work. I don’t let that impact me or how I feel about my students. We all get a clean slate the next day," she said.