Christina Richardson Inspires Her Students to Dream Big

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: April 28, 2010

"During high school, I didn't think I was going to achieve anything," says Chris Reyes '09. "But Mrs. Richardson continually told me how valuable I was in life." This past December, when Chris received his diploma in sociology from Texas A&M University, he got the opportunity to personally thank his former high school teacher, Christina Richardson '04 , for her years of support. And Texas A&M thanked her too, awarding her the Texas A&M Inspiration Award for Exceptional Secondary Education, an honor for which Chris had nominated her.

Christina first met Chris at Bryan High School in her Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) class, a course that supports students wanting to go to college but are unsure how to get there. Chris, then a high school sophomore, enrolled in Christina's same class for the next three years. "She made promises about helping me get through high school, applying to colleges and finding money to attend," Chris says. "She followed through on these promises, accepted her duty as a teacher and not only shaped my educational success, but helped me become a better person." Christina, who holds a master's degree in curriculum and instruction and in public school administration from Texas A&M, began teaching in 2001 at Bryan High School. She decided early on that she would approach her students with an open mind and heart."They're used to teachers - or any adult for that matter - stereotyping them based on the way they dress, talk or who are their friends. Giving kids a chance to show you who they really are makes a big difference," Christina says. "I let my kids have a fresh start. It doesn't matter where they've been; it matters where they're going and how I can help them get there," she adds. After serving for several years as the AVID director for Bryan ISD, Christina won a grant in 2006 from the Texas Education Agency to create a college preparatory high school for the district. In her first year as a high school principal, she worked to create the Bryan Collegiate High School from the ground up. "It's fun to build a school," she says. "You're not correcting someone else's mistakes - instead, you make your own along the way. You get to think about building your own perfect school."

Bryan Collegiate High School welcomed its first students in 2007 and will graduate its first senior class in 2011. Chris is now working for the Bryan Police Department and attending the academy to become an officer. He's also considering federal law enforcement or diplomacy in a few years. "I am just so incredibly proud of him," Christina says. "He is one of my kids who has gone on to do wonderful things despite the hardships in his life. He had a goal, and he went for it - and he achieved it."