For principal, move to Eagle Ridge was the right choice

Former coach happy helping students thrive from an administrator’s chair

Steve Smith
ssmith@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/18/21

The new principal/head of school at Eagle Ridge Academy in Brighton — and former administrator at Stargate School in Thornton — wasn’t looking to make a job change.  Scott Richardson and his …

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For principal, move to Eagle Ridge was the right choice

Former coach happy helping students thrive from an administrator’s chair

Posted

The new principal/head of school at Eagle Ridge Academy in Brighton — and former administrator at Stargate School in Thornton — wasn’t looking to make a job change. 

Scott Richardson and his family recently moved to Brighton. 

“And the job opening was presented to me by a colleague shortly after our move,” he said. “They encouraged me to apply multiple times. After discussing it with my wife and a few mentors, I decided to take a chance and apply.” 

Richardson replaces Mary Nell Stringer, who retired at the end of the school year. 

“I already knew a bit about Eagle Ridge from previous interactions with students and staff,” Richardson said. “In my previous role, I interacted with several of the coaches and students during extracurricular activities between former schools and Eagle Ridge.” 

He took something from those experiences. 

“What I noticed was the relationships that existed between students and staff and how hard the staff works to ensure student success,” Richardson said. “I also witnessed high expectations and a continual desire to get better. Throughout the interview process, this became more and more evident as I met with staff, students, parents and the board. 

“Everyone was welcoming and truly there to make sure the school didn’t just stay afloat but thrived,” he continued. “As I started to conduct individual meetings with staff members and interact with our admin. team, counseling team and front office staff, I knew I had made the right choice.” 

From coaching to administration

Richardson started his education career as a social studies teacher and coach in Texas. His wife was born in Colorado, which prompted the decision for his young family to move to Colorado. His first job in the state was as a social studies teacher in the Denver Public Schools. He also spent time as an assistant principal/athletic director at Weld Central High School and in the same positions at Stargate School in Thornton. 

“I actually had aspirations of becoming a college track coach and eventually an athletic director,” he said. “I competed in track and field at the collegiate level (hammer throw and discus) and still have a passion for track to this day. I was a graduate assistant coach at Baylor University and loved it.” 

His first job offer was to be a coach for the shot put and discus athletes at Hardin Simmons University. The salary of $9,000 wasn’t enough to support a family. A mentor of his gave him the chance to see what athletic administration looked like. 

“I realized that ADs at the university level are gone all the time — yet another blow to the dream of having a family,” Richardson said. “With the lack of family time and trying to wrap my head around the lack of financial stability, I realized that what I had really enjoyed as a coach was teaching my athletes and watching them get better. This drove me to get my teaching certificate and enter the K-12 ranks. I found that same excitement and fun in the classroom setting.” 

Richardson had no intention of becoming an administrator at first.

“I had a mentor teacher that was going through his admin licensure courses that encouraged me to start mine as well,” he said. “His advice was to get it done early and that it was always nice to have if you ever found yourself in that situation. I also bounced this off of my Dad, who I tend to run all of life’s big choices by. My Dad stressed that the more education and certifications you have, the better off you will be as it opens up doors for opportunity.”

Post COVID planning

His first goal at ERA is one that’s familiar all over the United States – to get through COVID. And he also knows school administration decisions won’t make everyone happy. 

“I want to keep our students and staff at the forefront of every decision we make,” he said. “It goes back to that family mentality and keeping that as a priority.” 

He wants to push the students to become “the absolute best college prep school in the nation while keeping that family mentality,” even if some won’t opt to go to college. 

“Les Brown probably said it best. ‘Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.’” Richardson said. “I’d like to see us build a home facility for our soccer teams and improve the facilities for all of our students and staff. I want them to view ERA as a home away from home.” 

Richardson began his new job just as the pandemic began. He described his first year as a “rollercoaster ride.” 

“But there have been supports all throughout this process,” Richardson said. “Our board of directors has been extremely thoughtful and supportive. Dr. Fiedler (district Superintendent Chris Fiedler) and the district office team are always available and ready to help. Fellow principals around the district are all willing to share ideas and thoughts. We have a fantastic charter liaison from 27J, Kenlyn Newman, who helps to ensure that our charter schools are successful.  The ERA staff has not only been welcoming, but they are bending over backward to adjust to our learning plans and make sure our kids are put first.  

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I am so excited to get out of this pandemic so we can continue and strengthen our students and staff’s ability to achieve their goals,” he added.

Richardson “loved” teaching social studies. 

“There are many times I have found myself as an administrator just visiting classrooms to recharge my batteries,” he said. “I’ve been known to just go sit and work in a classroom — no observations or evaluations, just interaction with students and staff or sitting back and taking it all in. It’s really a magical process when you see all the light bulbs turning on.” 

But he switched to administration so he could provide support to students and staff. 

“I love watching others reach their potential and thrive,” he said. “Administration gave me the opportunity to do this on a larger scale. I believe that if I do my job right, teachers, students, and staff will be the focus and that they will feel valued and recognized for their efforts.” 

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