ATLANTA - There are 87 Atlanta public schools and more than 4,000 teachers, so being selected as the district's teacher of the year is no easy feat. This year's award winner spoke more about her colleagues than herself.
"Teachers here are just incredible. I'm constantly having to keep up and be creative," fifth grade teacher Taylor Richardson of Burgess Peterson Elementary said.
Richardson comes from a long line of educators.
"My granddad was one of the first African American principals in South Alabama," she said.
Likewise, her grandmother taught English. And she's Deputy Superintendent Stephanie Johnson's daughter.
"My mom is the person that really helped to inspire me, she's a rock star educator," she said.
Her colleagues say the unique flare she brings to teaching stood out on its own.
"In her classroom she makes connections with the kids. She finds their strengths and weaknesses as the kids grow from there," the assistant principal said.
Richardson helps the Girl Scouts and spearheaded the school's drama club which will hold a performance in the coming weeks.
She has been departmentalized, which means she is solely focused on math this year. She uses rhymes and sayings to help her students remember how to divide.
"I'm very hands-on. I like fun. If I'm having fun, the kids are having fun," she said.
Not only has she received her gifted endorsement, but she's also special education-certified, and still striving to learn more. She says her goal is to make sure she's prepared to teach any child who walks into her classroom.
All that added effort led someone to nominate her for teacher of the year. Committee members sat in on her class and before long, she and two other teachers won for their age groups.
On Nov. 11, the district took things a step further. They decided Richardson's dedication and creativity in the classroom was worthy of the overall district award.
The teacher of the year consideration process begins in May of each year. Back then, Richardson was teaching fourth grade. The committee found her approach phenomenal for both age groups.