Baychester resident Lucille Nelson Richards, a retired educator in East Bronx schools, was treated to a surprise trip down memory lane , when she visited her old classroom at Olinville's PS 41.
In celebration of the Week of the Young Child, Council Member Andy King organized some of his third grade classmates from the school to present their teacher Ms. Richards with the first annual 12th Council District Educator of Influence Award. They were joined by Miss Perry's second grade class, the current inhabitants of Room 103, who welcomed Ms. Richards to their classroom with a round of applause.
The students asked Richards about her years as a teacher, her current interests and her favorite color. (Purple.) Her advice to the students was to "Read, Read, Read", and mentioned she read a book a day at their age.
Gina Washington, one of King's classmates in Richard's class, attended the event and thanked her former teacher for the impact she made on her life.
"I just want to thank you. I don't know if it was because of you, but I've been an educator for 27 years," said Washington.
King encountered Richards at a block association meeting two years ago, where initially the two did not recognize each other. They had not seen each other in over 40 years.
"I said, 'I had a teacher named Ms. Richards in 3rd grade' and she said "I was a third grade teacher at PS 41. Andrew? We hugged and there were some tears" recalled King, who has not gone by Andrew in many years.
Ms. Lucille Nelson Richards was a career educator in the New York City Public School system. After substitute teaching around the borough for two years, she taught K-6 and communications arts at PS 41, the school from which her son graduated and daughter attended. She retired as acting assistant principal at PS 160 in Co-op City in 1995. Richards also spent 13 years as the coordinator for the Bronx Learning Center and was a chapter leader for the United Federation of Teachers.
Council Member King spoke of the important to acknowledge educators as pillars of the community.
"It's called the Educator of Influence Award because we always remember that special someone who guided us in the right direction," said King. We should recognize those dedicated professionals who gave us those experiences we remember for a lifetime."
King will present the award annually to a Northeast Bronx teacher or retired educator with significant experience who has made an impact on the local community.
The Week of the Young Child™ was established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children in 1971 to acknowledge and recognize that the early childhood years (birth through age 8) lay the foundation for children's success in school and later life.