URBANDALE, Iowa -- A golden apple and placard have made a home on Tina Richardson’s desk. The Urbandale Middle School Special Education teacher has taught in the district for five years. This award, she says, is one of her biggest accomplishments.
“I don`t have children of my own but the students that sit in my classroom are my kids so they know that I will do anything for them,” she says as she fights back what she calls "happy tears."
Richardson takes teaching seriously and invests endless time into her students in order to see their progress.
“Even though some people think teachers only work from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. that is a a misconception. I don`t ever stop thinking about my students,” she says.
The teacher not only focuses on academic progress but the social progress of her special needs students. Quinjuu Ketty, an eighth grader says, “She`s the best. She’s the greatest and we work hard for her.”
No matter how many steps her students take in the right direction, Richardson says it's her job to help protect some of the schools most vulnerable.
“There are so many things as far as special education students," she says. "They can be taken advantage of by the other kids and I hope that they trust not only me but the other adults.”
Loren Dekruyf, the principal at Urbandale Middle School, calls Richardson’s responsibilities a vital role of the school's overall success.
“It`s a wonderful thing to see, no matter what background our student has or what struggles they have. They are going to be supported in their learning.”
More than a dozen students and parents nominated Richardson for the award, many of the nominations coming from her students. Richardson says this school year is bittersweet as she prepares to send off more than half of her students to high school.
“It definitely takes a village to help educate a child and they know I will be a part of that village no matter what, whether they are sitting in my classroom or 25 years old.”