Ms. Rich: Building Bridges and Circling Wagons

. April 1, 2016.
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A teacher, mentor, mother figure and cheerleader, Meighan Richardson wears many hats. This past January, the educator, affectionately known as “Ms. Rich,” was proudly nominated by her students, and won, the Toledo Public School Proud Teacher of the Month Award sponsored by Boyk Law Firm. Although she suffers from debilitating flare ups due to lyme disease, she continues to press forward for her student’s sake, with lots of help from her best friend (and Scott High School Senior Class Co-Advisor), Leslie Woityna, her boss and other colleagues, her daughters, and her father. This team circles the wagon for her, and allows her to be the best teacher she can be.

Relating to the students

Ms. Rich has the opportunity to connect with teens beyond an education, with the ability to provide them with necessary skills for a lifetime. Richardson believes that she is a “good” teacher but a much better listener, as she takes the time to understand and relate to each student. These traits are what the students love most about her, as they expressed in nominations for the district-wide award; it’s also the reason why she is such an effective teacher.

Richardson, a self-professed “edutainer,” a mash-up between entertainment and education, keeps the kids engaged.

Having spent 14 years at Woodward High School and the last two years at Scott High School, Richardson says, “The students at Woodward and Scott get a bad rep, but you will see that they are actually good kids, arguably some of the best students in the district.”

Generational teacher

The daughter of two TPS teachers, Richardson always knew that she would be a teacher, but admits that she wouldn’t mind stepping into a Community Youth Organizer role. She believes that, “When you step outside of your box and comfort zone the learning happens.” Much of her enjoyment comes from her experience with community service enrichment and the Summer Legacy camp that she’s organized throughout the years, opening a whole new world to her students. 

Richardson is currently partnering with Collingwood Gardens, where students are being taught mound gardening— a Native American technique of planting seeds in small mounds to promote stronger growth. The students have participated in a seed swap and made soups with the vegetables they’ve grown. Through the Collingwood Gardens program the kids are learning a new skill set while they build a bridge to the community and make a positive impact. 

In addition to being a beloved educator, Richardson also has two daughters of her own who have taken to various sides of her personality. Eldest daughter, Katy, who is 20, is very nurturing and is a natural caretaker— she would love to work in the alternative medicine field. Becca, who is 18, is an artist and wants a creative career in interior or fashion design.

Meighan doesn’t take her gift of teaching lightly, because she knows it takes a special person to be able to teach in the inner city and relate to a room full of teenagers.

The Collingwood Garden is a community garden managed by community volunteers.
For more information contact Jessi Terijian or Nic Botek,
or visit the Collingwood Garden Facebook page.