CALVERTON — Once a student walks into Ashley Richmond’s classroom at Calverton Elementary School, they are instantly family.
“These students are not just students, its almost like they’re my kids. So I have such a relationship with them that we’re doing things on the weekends – whole family events,” she said. “I’m making sure that it's not isolated. We’re a family. We’re a community. This is what we are, and they need to know we love them.”
Richmond builds her classroom dynamic around trust, love and caring about everyone in the room. The fourth-grade teacher shares stories of her life – about her dog getting out of the house and more – to create an atmosphere where students can share their struggles and joys.
“I feel they put more of an effort into it if you show you care more,” she said. “You’re not just a teacher. You’re a counselor. You’re a friend. You’re a shoulder to cry on.”
Richmond has always had a passion for mentorship, and it is what ultimately led her to education. She started her secondary education in a vocational school seeking certification in plumbing but realized that while she liked the work, she enjoyed helping others learn more.
Then her sister became pregnant, and Richmond started to help raise her nephew. It was through that experience she found her path to education.
“If my sister hadn’t had him, I would have probably never figured out that this is where my passion is,” Richmond said.
Growing up in Baltimore, she said she was often told she was not good enough, that she was never going to amount to anything, but she always had her grandmother championing for her. Now, as an educator, she wants to emulate her grandma and encourage her students to chase their dreams.
Her goals, she said are to give her students confidence, passion and a love for learning to help mold them into young adults.
“I want to see them love learning. If they don’t love learning, how are they going to grow? How are we going to ask them to respect each other or respect us,” she said.
She is also busy beyond the classroom, where she is not only teaching fourth-grade students but also English as a second language and talented and gifted students. She is a writing fundamental teacher, a mentor teacher, on the bullying prevention team, writes science curriculum and leads professional development. Richmond helps with Side by Side, the school safety committee, the parent action committee and SOAR, the after-school Title I program. She also leads three different Girl Scout troops and hosts an after-school home economics class.