A superstar principal

Brad Richardson is the principal of the year for RCS.
Sep. 13, 2013 @ 12:01 PM

When Brad Richardson became principal of Forest City-Dunbar Elementary School, home of the superstars, he had no idea that he would soon be a superstar for education.

Richardson was named the 2013-14 principal of the year for Rutherford County Schools (RCS) during the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday.

"He's a wonderful administrator. Every decision that he makes is based on what is best for the students in the school," said Sonya Bagwell, bookkeeper at Forest City-Dunbar. "I worked with him at Forrest Hunt and moved with him here because I like working with him so much."

Richardson, originally from Harnett County, began his career with RCS in August 2007 at Cool Springs Middle School as a social studies teacher. He received his teaching degree from Campbell University.

"The teaching idea came from family. My grandfather was an educator and I lived with my grandparents while I was attending Campbell to save some room and board," Richardson. "He was the driving force to motivate and educate me. He was one of the early ones to start partnering with community colleges and getting GED programs going. He was very passionate about education and we did a lot of talking about it over dinners."

During his first year of teaching, Richardson went to Gardner-Webb University to get his masters in administration which he received in 2000. He then achieved National Board Certification in 2001. In 2003, he became the assistant principal at East Rutherford Middle School.

"Marty Hopper was the principal at East Middle at the time and hired me to be his assistant. He had a passion for kids and he really helped me," Richardson said. "I never felt like I was his assistant, I felt like we were an administrative team. He really prepared me to eventually become a principal. He valued my input and I gained a lot of insight from him."

In 2006, Richardson began looking for principalships and found himself at Forrest Hunt Elementary School.

"I didn't realize how much I would enjoy elementary school. I really think this is my niche," Richardson said. "I can focus on early learning and really get to know the children. I like seeing them grow and progress."

Richardson is in his second year as the principal of Forest City-Dunbar. Since starting at the school he has lead the efforts in implementing a school-wide uniform dress code and receiving Board of Education approval of a year round school calendar to begin in 2014.

"We worked together as assistant principals at East Middle and I watched him grow and bloom. He has a great work ethic and is a good, well-rounded guy," said Neil Higgins, principal of Sunshine Elementary School. "Since he's been at Forest City-Dunbar I've been impressed with him pulling all this together as they've gone through these changes. It's been a pretty big task and it looks like he is the man for the job."

Richardson was also instrumental in obtaining a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant for the school. The money, which comes out to $400,000 a year for four years, will go to start the new Forest City-Dunbar Young Scholars program. The program will provide additional instruction time for students after school and intercessory programs.

"I want people to be excited about being a part of Forest City-Dunbar and what we are doing. We want the kids to be as successful as possible," Richardson. "I want people to look at us and say, 'I want to be at that school."

Richardson said that his success is due to all of the support he receives from his family and the teams of people he has worked with throughout his career.

"It's nice and humbling to win this award. The hardest part about it is you know that you don't do anything by yourself. You have to have people to help you. I've been blessed to have helpful people around me and a really strong supportive family," Richardson said. "Any time you commit to being an administrator it is time consuming. I have five children and my wife, Carrie, is a full-time teacher. They are really supportive in allowing me to do the things I've been doing at Forest City-Dunbar."

Building relationships with students, parents and people in the school system is Richardson's favorite part of the job. He also enjoys problem-solving and planning for the future.

"It's a tough job. But if you look forward to coming into work and enjoy what you are doing, it's great," Richardson said.