If engagement, warmth, dedication and positive energy are high on your wish list, you can't go past ACG Sunderland's new Year 5 teacher Sam Richardson. Having always wanted to pursue a career in Primary education, Sam ensures that she and her young charges make the most of every day in the classroom. She is passionate about the difference she can help make in her students' lives, as she helps them grow and progress along the pathways of their learning journey.
Additionally, the experienced educator has not only taught a variety of year levels (including three years teaching Montessori students), but she's also a familiar face to avid television audiences. With her strong interest in the performing arts, Sam has worked as an actress on everything from Shortland Street to Jono and Ben. Plus, she is even co-writing a mini-series.
As a result, Sam will also share her stage and screen know-how with her young charges as a specialist drama teacher for some of our Primary students.
Sam, what appeals to you most about teaching primary-aged children?
They have such a drive for learning, and the 'ah-ha' moments are fabulous. To me, those moments are the most rewarding part of the job! I find that once students get to Year 5, they start to have more responsibilities and have gained more confidence, which makes them a real joy to work with.
What qualities are most important to you in a primary school?
A sense of community and a supportive environment. I believe it takes a village to raise a child, and when everyone has the same goal in mind – the child – we can work together to help them tap into their own unique potential.
How do you make your classes fun and engaging?
My goal is to help each student unlock their potential and motivate their learning. I try and cater to the individual, and I understand that we all learn differently. Accommodating that is very important to me.
My favourite activity is circle time, where we all sit together and acknowledge those in the classroom or ourselves. It is a great way to involve everyone, and it helps students build confidence and create a safe space.
What words do you think your students would use to describe you?
Fun, caring, kind and loud!
In addition to being a Year 5 teacher, you will also be teaching specialist drama lessons. Why do you think this is an important subject for children to explore?
Drama nurtures self-discipline, confidence and teamwork and develops research, negotiation, problem-solving and decision-making abilities. It boosts vital communication skills and encourages interpretation and creativity (which in turn deepens students' understanding of themselves and the world around them).
Exploring drama contexts such as identity, society and culture empower students to become more critically reflective. There are just so many benefits.
Tell us about your experiences working as an actor.
When I was a teenager, I was lucky enough to go to London with my high school, and we took part in some amazing shows. This ignited my spark to become a performer and entertainer and share stories with people. I've worked as an extra for over a decade now and am currently a nurse on Shortland Street. I absolutely love working on set, even if there's a lot of downtime and we have to be very silent!
Last year my creativity went into overdrive, and I began creating my own TV series. We filmed the first scene just before school started for 2022.
Where can we find you when you are not on set or in the classroom?
I'll be hanging out with my beloved dog Ollie or in the kitchen baking.
What can we expect to see from you in the coming school year?
Hopefully, a fun year packed with fantastic learning and great memories.
And finally, any words of wisdom for your students?
Mistakes will happen. We learn from them, forgive and always move forward.