Mrs. Tameeka Richards’ investment and love for the Far Rockaway community is so apparent that it would be hard to guess that she was born in London, England. When her father, a computer programmer, was offered a job in the States, the family moved across the pond. Far Rockaway became home to her family, and over the years those early roots have gone deep.
At just 5 years of age, Richards tested into the Gifted and Talented program. She attended local schools as she grew, and then went to Hillcrest High School in Queens Village. All along the way, she knew she was destined to work with children, but she decided to study Marketing at Baruch College.
Graduating at the age of 21 with her first degree in hand, she knew her career path wasn’t going in the right direction. As she began substituting in District 27 as a Para Professional, she saw the great need students had for emotional support as they were learning. Richards then decided to pursue her true passion and went back to school to become a Guidance Counselor.
In 2009, Richards graduated and met Dr. Mullings who offered her the opportunity to be the School Counselor at the new Challenge Preparatory Charter School. In those beginning years, Richards used her educational experience to identify the needs of students, and she addressed those needs by developing a number of original programs.
One of the programs Richards began was Boy’s Time. The program focused on character education for first through third grade boys and expanded to develop activities for boys in fourth and fifth grade as the school grew. “We did activities and special performances. There were incentive trips including an annual trip in December. We visited places like the Botanical Gardens, BAM in Brooklyn, and Citi Field,” reflected Richards.
Richards’ successful programs did not go unnoticed. In 2013, Dr. Mullings encouraged her to go back to school for an Administrative license. After completion, Richards became the Assistant Principal of Administration [now titled Assistant Principal of Operations] at Challenge Prep.
In her latest role, Richards played an important part in the Challenge Charter Schools expansion. Overseeing Operations for the start of the Challenge Charter Middle School this summer meant little time off, but Richards was more than happy to provide her support.
“I interface with new teachers, new staff, and the principal. We have a formula and it works for us, and the community is pleased with our work. As we expand to more schools and bring new people and new ideas in, I help to ensure that the new ideas are married with our culture so that our culture stays intact,” stated Richards.
Back at Challenge Prep, Richards maintains high standards for the scholars. There she provides support in a myriad of ways from helping children know what is expected of them, to ensuring teachers have the materials they need, to checking that the policies and procedures of the school are being carried out.
“I want to see our scholars perform at their highest level. The expectations are high and based on what each child can achieve. If we stay the course, we will get to our goals. We continue to evaluate every year to make sure we get better and better.”
Richards’ deep Far Rockaway roots mean she knows a lot of the parents in this community, and it is clear she has dedicated herself to giving back through Challenge Charter Schools. “It’s a great community, and my parents were great models as I grew up. I strongly believe that strong parents and role models are what our children need to be successful.”
-By Kim Messer, Communications Specialist