The Voice of Cactus Shadows High School

The CS Press

The end of an era: Mr. Richards’ goodbye

Grace Haycraft-Mckee, Staff Writer

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At the beginning of every school year comes a new group of students who will experience the “pow” of Ronald Richard’s English class. But not next year. Come May, Richards will be leaving Cactus Shadows to move to San Diego.

“I remember I used to think he was terrifying,” admitted Ryan Pogemiller about the first weeks in his class. But students quickly learn that Richards cares about each of them, and works hard to teach them the tools to write and think critically.

“I still use everything he taught me including his essay formula, TS, CD, CM, CM, CD,” said Pogemiller. “He is probably my favorite teacher ever.”

Richards, who taught at Sonoran Trails before coming to the high school, is known mainly for his passion in the classroom. He chose teaching over other careers because of his love for the profession.

“I can’t think of another job that I would do for free because that’s how much I love teaching. That’s something important for kids to know. Think of a career or something that you would love to do so much that you would be willing to do it for free and that would be your career choice,” said Richards.

Students in Richards’ classes have had a unique learning experience because of the warm and welcoming atmosphere he created in his class. Instead of finding their teacher in front of the room at the white board, they may find him teaching dance to demonstrate the correct way to write a body paragraph structure. That’s just the way Richards rolls.

“The biggest life lesson he taught me was just kindness. He just modeled it everyday with his actions and showed us that judging others is so unnecessary and that a little kindness goes so far,” said Katie O’Connor, a junior.

For Richards, being a teacher has also shown him qualities that he did not realize when he started teaching. He enjoys working with teenagers because they keep him in synch with the younger generation.

“My students have taught me to have a lot more patience and have also has showed me I can learn just as much from my students as they can learn from me,” said Richards.

The teachers Richards had when he was younger inspired him to become one. However, he did not start out as a teacher. Instead, he worked for Corporate America, a financial institution. It was not until about ten years ago that he got the chance to pursue teaching.

“My wife and I were in a financially good enough position that one of us could take a step back and do what we really wanted to do. We actually flipped a coin and I won,” said Richards.

Richards uses books in his curriculum to inform his students about writing styles and what other lessons outside of English that they can learn from reading. He enjoys teaching “To Kill A Mockingbird” because the lessons in that book are still relevant today.

“What I hope you got out of [Mockingbird] was what I hoped you got out of the class, which was — did you learn anything about yourself or about how you treat others?” said Richards.

In addition, Richards hopes to impact his students in a way that is less sentence structure and more how he is as a person.

“Life is not always about crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s. It’s about relationships and learning to be a good person. The most important things to me is that my students could be themselves and they didn’t feel like they were being judged and that they could speak what was on their mind and that they could learn to get along with other people,” said Richards.

Richards is moving back to teach in San Diego because his wife got a job there. “I can triple my salary moving back to San Diego, and Arizona just does not pay well,” said Richards. “Plus, my mom is getting older and my dad’s passed away and I’m an only child, so I need to be there for her.”

For many of his students, it will be tough to say goodbye to one of their favorite teachers.

“He was really impactful. He was so understanding and just is an awesome person. I’m sad that he is leaving,” said Ryan Pogemiller, a sophomore.

Richards promises to be back next year for the 2018 class graduation. “I will definitely be back for next year’s graduation, there’s no question.”

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The end of an era: Mr. Richards’ goodbye