Carrie Richardson, principal of Mary H. Matula Elementary School, has been named the 2023 Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Principal of the Year. With a lifelong passion for teaching, Richardson’s dedication to education and her commitment to fostering a positive learning environment have earned her this prestigious recognition.
Throughout her academic journey, Richardson initially had doubts about her career path. As a freshman at the University of Maryland, College Park, she was enticed by the allure of business and finance, which seemed glamorous during the 1980s. However, Richardson eventually realized that her true calling was to become a teacher. She returned to her original aspiration and declared her major in education, stating, “I am meant to be a teacher. That’s what I want to do.”
Richardson’s illustrious career in education spans 35 years, beginning with her first teaching position in kindergarten at Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School. She explains her affinity for teaching kindergarten, emphasizing the joy and enthusiasm exhibited by young students. Richardson describes them as “little sponges who soak up so much,” allowing her to witness their growth firsthand.
While Richardson found fulfillment in the classroom, she aspired to take on more significant responsibilities. Setting goals for herself, she pursued a master’s degree, which she earned within four years of her graduation. In line with her plan, Richardson also transitioned into an administrative role, becoming the vice principal of several elementary schools before assuming the position of principal at Gale-Bailey Elementary School in 2002.
At Gale-Bailey, Richardson successfully built meaningful connections with the school community, including staff, parents, and students. Her efforts were reflected in a memorable event when the entire school gathered to watch a screening of “The Polar Express,” a beloved book-turned-movie. Richardson’s leadership and commitment to creating a safe and nurturing environment were evident during her tenure at Gale-Bailey.
In 2013, Richardson took on the role of principal at Mary H. Matula Elementary School, where she continues to excel. Sarah R. Michael, president of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), commends Richardson for creating a safe and nurturing environment. Richardson’s open-door policy and approachability have fostered a sense of community and strengthened relationships among staff and students.
Colleagues and educators attest to Richardson’s inspiring leadership and ability to bring people together. Nicole E. Vigil, a fifth-grade teacher at Matula, appreciates Richardson’s unwavering support and willingness to collaborate. Shane Blandford, Richardson’s former vice principal, highlights her emphasis on establishing personal connections, recognizing their significance in fostering relationships with all stakeholders.
Richardson’s dedication to maintaining strong connections between school and home has resulted in a smooth operation and a positive learning environment. Richardson ensures that she knows every student in the building, and her familiarity with the students enhances their comfort level. This practice allows learning to continue seamlessly, even when Richardson visits classrooms, emphasizing her desire to maintain a normal educational atmosphere.
Students at Matula recognize Richardson’s high expectations and commitment to their education. Emma Mackey, a fifth-grade student, appreciates Richardson’s daily interactions, personalized attention, and frequent visits to classrooms to witness learning in action. Audra Dee, a first-grade student, even wrote and illustrated a short story titled “The Best Principal,” highlighting Richardson’s friendly nature, dedication to safety, and her efforts to provide an abundant selection of books in the school library.
Richardson’s outstanding contributions to education and her exemplary leadership were recognized in April when she was named the CCPS Principal of the Year. Her accomplishments have earned her the distinction of being the school system’s nominee for The Washington Post’s Principal of the Year awards program.