by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVEâ€”Anna Richards’ fellow teachers at Kaneland John Shields describe her as a quiet, soft-spoken person with an inner strength.
â€œHer demeanor reaches students and parents alike,â€ third-grade teacher and co-worker Sarah Linden said.
Fourth-grade teacher and 30-year Sugar Grove resident Richards was chosen this year as the Kane County Elementary Teacher of the Year.
Linden, whose son had been in Richards’ class several years ago, nominated her for the honor. Linden said it was Richards’ ability to always keep the needs of the students above everything else that she appreciated.
She said Richards would bring extra projects to the classroom to challenge her son, who is good in math. At the same time, she said Richards worked hard to bring the other students along whose ability in math was not up to par.
â€œShe does the best for each student,â€ Linden said.
Richards, in her 18th year of teaching, has been teaching fourth grade at John Shields for eight years.
â€œI can’t think of a better job,â€ she said. â€œEvery day is a new day, and it is just a joy to be with the students. They’re delightful little people.â€
There were a number of teachers in her family who inspired Richards, starting with her greataunt, who taught in a one-room school house in Blackberry Township.
She has taught all of the elementary grades, but said fourth grade has turned out to be the best.
â€œFor me, it is a fabulous year in their development,â€ she said. â€œThey are on the cusp of going from very concrete thinking to more abstract, critical thinking.â€
Richards said that winning the award was a â€œhuge, huge honor,â€ but that many of her colleagues could easily have been in her place.
â€œI learn from everyone,â€ she said. â€œIt takes everybody to make a district successful.â€
However, her colleagues see her as someone special.
â€œWe’re very proud of her here,â€ John Shields principal Shelley Hueber said. â€œI’m just glad the rest of the county knows how fabulous she is.â€
Photo: Kaneland Educator of the Year nominees (left to right) Leanndra Bowen, paraprofessional, Kaneland Blackberry Creek Elementary School; Fran Eggleston, Kane County Administrator of the Year, principal, Kaneland McDole Elementary School; Anna Richards, Kane County Elementary Teacher of the Year, fourth-grade teacher, Kaneland John Shields Elementary School and Karen Devereaux, reading specialist, Kaneland Blackberry Creek Elementary School gathered during the awards banquet May 8 at Pheasant Run Mega Center in St. Charles. Courtesy Photo