One of the many benefits of longevity within a profession is knowing what you’re best at. After 22 years at GAC, Mandy Richey is confident about her “sweet spot.”
“I am a teacher at heart. That’s just what I do. I love the classroom. I chose the direction where I would be with kids all day,” she said.
Ms. Richey currently teaches both MS and HS Social Studies and was named GAC’s 2018 Educator of the Year for Middle School. She has served as Mission Trip Leader for the MS trip to Baton Rouge, LA, and also Athens, Greece for high school. She is the former Academic Dean of the MS, and the former department chair for MS Social Studies. She’s even been a Varsity cheerleading coach.
Yet she seems to have settled in to her role as teacher here on campus. Despite opportunities to fulfill other roles, she has always maintained a love of the classroom. “I’ve always enjoyed middle school kids. Some teachers find them overly-challenging, but I love them.We need strong teachers for the middle school years. It’s a really important time. I believe that,” she said.
Ms. Richey doesn’t settle for anything but a student’s best effort. She is known for going the extra mile to help students before school, after school, whatever it takes. Her love of education, our country’s history, and her students shine through in everything she does here on campus. Her students know this, respect her for it, and work hard for her as a result.
With an approachable style and a passionate personality, classroom engagement is Ms. Richey’s top priority each day. “I need to see kids engaged. We use the computer, but there are a lot of days I say no…screens down. I need to hear voices. I need to hear conversation. I can tell if a kid is getting it or not. I can see it in their eyes,” she said. In fact, Ms. Richey mentally grades herself daily on how well she’s done as a teacher based on how well she’s kept students engaged.
Good teachers know that you must make a connection with students in order for them to learn. Ms. Richey tries to get to know students by talking to them about what they value and getting to know about their lives outside of school. “When you know someone’s story, then your perspective changes. I like to teach my students that. I want them to know that understanding the back story is important. Empathy is essential,” she said.
Ms. Richey has a Bachelor’s Degree from Harding University in Social Science Education and a Master’s Degree from the University of Georgia in Educational Administration and Policy. Her 3 children are Spartans: a son, Nate, graduated from GAC in 2018; a son, Cal, who is a junior at GAC; and a daughter, Evelyn-Anne, who is a 2nd grader.