Molly is a sophomore in her first year of journalism. She doesn't play any sports, but she manages the JV football team as well as the JV baseball team....
Queen of Rocks
March 2, 2021
Some may think of teacher Amy Richardson as an Earth Science educator. Others think of her as the “rock queen,” but surprisingly enough, it has nothing to do with music.
Richardson absolutely loves rocks–not a shock considering she has been teaching Earth Science and other science classes at FCHS for six years.
Richardson was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, “where the show the ‘Office’’ was set,” she notes. She was raised in Dickson City, Pennsylvania, about a ten-minute drive away, and went to Bloomsburg University while also taking some courses at Penn State and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).
She had two teachers who really inspired her to become an educator, including her Biology teacher, Mr. Wargo, and her Chemistry teacher, Mr. Lucas. “Like the Law of Universal Gravitation, Science attracted me. It is all about problem-solving, asking questions, and finding answers. This is a worthwhile pursuit, one of knowledge and truth. One that must not be tainted by bias,” Richardson noted.
She said a classmate in college helped her narrow down her interest to Earth Science, in part thanks to its focus on field trips and getting to see the world.
She taught for twelve years in Goochland County Schools, and also worked at financial services firm Capital One where she served as an instructional designer, project manager, facilitator, and a trainer.
Her favorite part of her job is the creativity that it offers. “I get to decide how and when I teach certain subjects, as well as personal ownership. Taking personal ownership is both challenging and empowering. It means that you own your day and the experiences you provide to others on that day. It is a gift and a great responsibility. I spend countless hours attempting to perfect a lesson because I know that my few hours of effort will impact 80+ cumulative hours of the lives of others,” said Richardson.
She added that if anything could make her job better it would be “to provide hands-on lab experiences without being terrified of the safety issue. A least a handful of safe, hands-on lab experiences for every subject for every student.” She noted that lab safety is always a concern. “This year, we need to take extra precautions to ensure every student has sanitized lab materials and is wearing gloves and PPE. We would like to send home lab kits or prepare students for at-home labs.” Richardson said she has attended informational ‘coffee talks’ hosted by the VDOE (Virginia Dept of Education) which highlight such concerns. “For example, if I send home a packet of vinegar and some limestone, and one student squirts the vinegar into the eyes of his sibling, a lawsuit can ensue. So I want to, but am intensely hesitant to do the type of hands-on lab experiences I could provide in an in-class environments” she explained.
So what has been her biggest challenge during the virtual school year? “Determining where to devote my time and energy,” she said. “I devoted most of my summer and first semester to learning new software and technology. It was like figuring out what tools you would need and know how to use to build a house when you have never built one. I am now focusing on becoming proficient in using the tools that seem to be the most effective and that students enjoy and respond to,” she said.
When she isn’t teaching, Richardson said she loves to write and learn sustainability skills. “I love to garden, raise chickens, and learn how to use what the Earth provides to heal and enhance our lives.”
Richardson’s family includes her daughter, Hope, who lives in Arlington, VA, and Riley (“the best dog ever” and “a mix of German Shepherd, Collie, and who knows what else,” she says) which she adopted from the Fluvanna SPCA about five years ago. He is a registered emotional support dog. “I would love to see how he can be used to bring people some love and affection during the quarantine,” she said.
She calls her husband “a true gem”– not surprising considering her interest in rocks. “We bonded over our love of rocks and minerals. We got married a little over two years ago in Vegas [and] we enjoy mining together. He makes jewelry, hair accessories, wine stoppers, and more from the natural rock and mineral resources we collect,” she added.
What would students find surprising about her? “All of the stories I have. I have lived a full life and have a bizarre story for everything,” said Richardson.