Nicole Richardson knew she wanted to become a teacher when she was in high school.
At the time she was going through some obstacles and had a teacher who made an impact on her – Richardson still gets teary-eyed when she thinks about her.
“She just turned my life around,” she said.
From that point on Richardson knew she wanted to pay it forward – and she has always wanted to work with children.
“I wanted to be that person who made a difference for someone,” she said. “If my students can remember the relationships and experiences we have, I don’t care if they don’t remember all the facts about the American Revolution.”
Richardson, a 41-year-old married mother of two, has been teaching fourth grade at Newington Elementary for four years. She teaches math, science and history – and says her passion in particular is science.
Richardson studied early childhood and elementary education at Newberry College and has her masters in technology and education through Leslie University.
It is her 19th year teaching total.
She started off teaching in Newberry County before she followed that school’s principal to Greenwood County, where Richardson taught for two years. She ended up meeting her husband and then moved to Myrtle Beach, where she taught at a school in Conway for eight years.
Richardson moved to Summerville when her husband got a job transfer – and she loves it. Aside from teaching she stays busy with different clubs and committees; she leads the recycling club, the Young Astronauts club and she coaches the math competition team. She has also coached a few technology clubs in the past. Richardson also served as the representative for the grade this year.
This past year Richardson was nominated for Teacher of the Year at Newington – she was one of the four finalists for the school.
Richardson said her best experience teaching was when she got to teach in the science lab all day long for fourth grade when she taught in Greenwood County.
“It was fabulous,” she said. “We had animals everywhere. It was a true zoo.”
Richardson said she has no “worst” experience teaching.
“You have some years more trying than others, but I love what I do,” she said. “In fourth grade, even though they do get frustrated, they still like to please. It’s really about the relationships you build with your students.”
When she is not at school Richardson enjoys spending time with her family: her husband B.J., 17-year-old daughter Logan and 11-year-old son Lucas. Logan is entering her senior year at Ashley Ridge High School and Lucas will be going into the sixth grade at Gregg Middle School. Richardson said she taught her son when he was in fourth grade.
“I think I became a better teacher when I had kids,” she said. “I think my biggest strength is that I’m motherly with all of them. I just kind of care for everybody.”
Richardson enjoys reading, and said she reads a lot. She also loves photography. Her kids like being on the water so the family does “a lot of water stuff.”
“My time outside of school is really just with my family,” she said, adding a lot of past and current students live in her neighbor. “Everybody knows Mrs. Richardson’s house.”
The family has two dogs – a golden retriever named Chester, who is 12 years old, and an 8-year-old shi’tzu named Cuddles.
They also have a California King Snake named King Charles. In her classroom Richardson keeps a lizard that her students named Hunter because he likes to hunt for his food.
“We’re full of little creatures,” she said.
Richardson said her life goal is to keep doing what she is doing and enjoy time with her family.
“I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “I don’t see myself doing anything else.”