Richardson steps in for Santos-Pontes


Ashley Richardson poses with Enrique Iglesias.

Logan Costa, Guest Writer

Since the super Senhora, Ms. Santos-Pontes, has temporarily departed from the Portuguese community in LHS, Mrs. Ashley Richardson, a former paraprofessional, has found herself on the queen’s throne teaching full-time. Ms. Pontes took a leave of absence halfway through March in order to get her knee replacement surgery done, and since then Mrs. Richardson has become a great addition to our Portuguese class. 

At the south end of the E hallway sits room E202, decorated with posters of Enrique Iglesias, Portuguese roosters, and a photo wall towards the back of the room. One very special part of E202 is the Enrique Iglesias cardboard cutout nested in one corner of the room, symbolizing Ms. Pontes’s love for the Spanish singer and songwriter.

The day after Ms. Pontes left our class for the rest of the year, Mrs. Richardson stood outside of E202 with a smile painted on her face, as if she was eager to meet and get to know us all. Turns out that is exactly what it was. She made us feel at home by introducing herself with her backstory and some information about herself, then it was our turn to share some things about ourselves. 

Since then, we have grown together as a class, one that is unified by friendships and has grown into a Portuguese community where everyone lives, laughs, and loves Portuguese. Mrs. Richardson is new but makes a meaningful contribution to her student’s learning career and leads her classes with unchallenged confidence, paving her path to success. 

Mrs. Richardson’s life prior to teaching Portuguese

Mrs. Richardson comes from a Portuguese family, and she speaks Portuguese as her first language, but she has never taught a class involving the Portuguese language before this year. She began her adventures at Newbury College in Boston, where she focused on her studies, then she migrated south, first to Arizona, then Texas, then to Florida.

Before coming to teach Portuguese for a few months, she told me that she “was in a life skills program as a paraprofessional” in hopes of getting her teaching license. 

Then, she further explains that she “lived in Florida for seven years and worked as a teacher,” where she enjoyed her time traveling frequently with her husband who served in the military.

She says, “I lived in Germany and taught as a preschool teacher later on before coming to LHS.”

Mrs. Richardson states that “she is glad to be back in Ludlow, her original hometown.”

Mrs. Richardson becomes a prodigy

The year has been off to a good start for Mrs. Richardson; she has taken over with a mission, and she continues to teach us new objectives each day. She says, “It has been hard teaching older kids considering that I’ve only taught younger kids before,” but “I feel that I have been successful in teaching my classes so far.”  

Her students, including myself, also feel that she has been making great contributions to our Portuguese learning in E202. We have enjoyed the group projects and assignments our class has completed in Portuguese, where we cooperate in groups and use the Portuguese language as a tool for learning. An outstanding performance by Mrs. Richardson, she takes initiative and calls the shots; she has been awesome.

After interviewing Evan Jaworksi, an intelligent classmate of mine in Portuguese class, he says, “Mrs. Richardson does an effective job at getting her students to be engaged and learn Portuguese.” I even asked Evan if he thought Mrs. Richardson was a good fit for the Portuguese class community, and he replied, “Definitely, she is an outgoing teacher who tries her best and makes it happen.” Evan and I support Mrs. Richardson and what she has done for us; we enjoy her company and class.

It is essential to create a bond with your students and fellow teachers to make the best out of your job, and Mrs. Richardson does just that as she provides a fun classroom environment for all of her classes. Another person who speaks highly of Mrs. Richardson is Mrs. Fernandes, a veteran Portuguese teacher whom I had the pleasure of interviewing for a brief chat about Mrs. Richardson. 

She states, “Senhora Richardson has been doing great under the circumstances that it is her first time doing this kind of job, and she is great to work with.” Mrs. Fernandes also mentions that she works “cooperatively with Mrs. Richardson,” and she sees that “Mrs. Richardson puts a lot of work into lesson planning to have her students participate in her lessons and the work she gives.”

Ultimately, everyone has been enjoying class with Mrs. Richardson, and all of us feel that she has been giving it her all to be a good teacher, making herself an important figure and a great person in general. She stepped up for us when we needed it, and we showed compassion giving her the ability to teach us in the ways she felt that we would learn effectively.

What the future holds for Mrs. Richardson

Will Ms. Pontes come back, and if so, what happens to Mrs. Richardson, you may ask. Well, I can assure you that Ms. Pontes has confirmed that she will be back at the start of next year in the fall. As for Mrs. Richardson, she advised me that she “would love to stay at LHS and teach as a life skills teacher, but she does not see herself teaching a Portuguese class anymore.” 

It seems as though Mrs. Richardson’s journey as a Portuguese teacher at LHS is coming to an end; as unfortunate as that is, we understand and support her to make the decisions she wants to as it is her career. Her service has been greatly appreciated, and I wish that everyone could experience a class with her as a teacher; it would truly be phenomenal, to say the least. I know that wherever she goes, one part of her philosophy will always stay with me, her favorite quote: “Being nice doesn’t cost anything.”