(Editor's Note: Katelyn Borso is a senior at South Plainfield High School and an intern for TAPinto South Plainfield.)
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Kelly Richkus has been working for the South Plainfield School District for the past 20 years. She began her career as a high school English teacher in North Plainfield in 1995, and two years later, took on a seventh grade English position at South Plainfield Middle School.
In 2000, Richkus transferred over to the Grant School and, for the next four years, taught sixth grade English and social studies. In 2004, she was promoted to assistant principal at South Plainfield High School (SPHS) and, for the past 13 years, has enjoyed both the rewards and challenges that come with the job.
Richkus said that, each year, she looks forward to graduation day just as much as the students because she gets to see their hard work from the past four years come to fruition. The toughest part of the job, she said, is when a student suffers from a hardship because she takes it to heart.
Richkus, who currently resides in South Plainfield, said she always wanted to become a teacher and, although she personally didn't love high school, chose to pursue a career in education as a way to help students and teachers become better. To her, teaching was more than just about English as a subject; it was about ‘helping students to learn and grow to become active members of society.’
Richkus grew up in California, and in seventh grade, moved to Freehold, NJ. She went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in education and English at Monmouth University and, later, returned to Monmouth, earning a master’s in administration. She hopes to eventually go on to obtain a master’s in English as well.
Richkus credits her junior year English teacher, Ms. Robinson, for helping to make a difficult high school year fun. Robinson, said Richkus, was also a great role model who also helped to mold and inspire her.
“She helped me to love English and Shakespeare,” Richkus said. “She just made English fun. Every day when we went to class, she taught us to love English and love learning. You didn’t even realize you were learning.”
Richkus also credits Dr. James Hayden, her principal at Freehold Township High School, for helping to influence her career choice.
“He was an amazing influence on me as a student,” Richkus said. “He is the reason I became an administrator and he has been a huge influence on how I talk and deal with students. He is truly my hero.”
To aspiring students considering a career in education, Richkus advises, “Don’t do it unless you love it. This is not an 8 to 3 job. It’s a lifetime commitment, so you need to be passionate about it.”
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