Washington Primary School Principal Michelle Richards’ September Book of the Month is “Chrysanthemum” by Kevin Henkes. The book is a “funny and honest school story about teasing, self-esteem and acceptance,” according to an online description.
“‘Chrysanthemum’ by Kevin Henkes is one of my favorite books,” Dr. Richards said. “It is a story about a girl who loves her name. Our names are special to each of us. This book teaches everyone about respect for each other’s name and how we are to make everyone feel special. ‘Chrysanthemum’ meets a very special music teacher, Mrs. Twinkle, who loves the name Chrysanthemum so much that she wants to name her baby Chrysanthemum.”
The book is aligned with the district’s goal of cultural proficiency and equity. “It is a social action book that is appropriate for primary aged children,” Dr. Richards said. “It is our goal to encourage and cultivate a learning environment where we are free to love ourselves, work together and play together.”
This month principal’s tour began in a first grade classroom. “They loved the book as much as I do,” Dr. Richards said. “Each classroom will have a copy of this text for their library.”
Dr. Richards started the Book of the Month club initiative last year. “The purpose of this initiative is to foster an environment of reading aloud books from all walks of life,” she told Washington teachers. “Each book is one that I shared with my classes as a classroom teacher and administrator. Take time to enjoy this book with our students. Be creative with the discussions. Allow the students to share their connections to the story. The ultimate goal is for students to create various extensions to the text that can be shared with the Washington community. ”
Principal Michelle J. Richards
Dr. Richards has been principal of Washington Primary School since July 1, 2018. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology at SUNY Albany and a Master of Science degree in childhood education at City University of New York-Lehman College. She earned a Doctor of Education degree in educational administration and supervision at St. John’s University and studied for her state administrative certification at CUNY-Queens College.
At the time of her appointment in Huntington, Dr. Richards was an assistant principal in the Elmont School District since 2013 and an administrator there since 2009.
Dr. Richards began her career as a general education teacher in New York City. She worked at Public School 107x (2001-03) and Lewis H. Latimer School-PS 56K (2003-06). She later taught in Elmont at Gotham Avenue School from 2006-09.
In 2009, Dr. Richards moved into Elmont’s administrative ranks after being named assistant to the principal. She was the principal of Elmont’s summer enrichment program in 2009 and 2010. She also served as a district professional development facilitator, curriculum map developer for English Language Arts and as a district testing leader, creating the scoring schedule, selecting and training district scorers, facilitating the scoring process and ensuring testing documents are securely maintained.
Dr. Richards maintains memberships in the International Literacy Association, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.