By Kelly O’Meara & Sarah St. George
For the past 30 years, Katherine Richards has taught art to students at Bird Middle School. Richards graduated college from Rhode Island School of Design and later attended Curry College, where she majored in Art Education at both colleges.
“She’s a great artist in her own right and she’s a great asset a Bird Middle School,” Walpole Art Department Head Sandra Allison said. “She tries to get everybody to try something in art and enjoy what they are doing.”
Richards knew she wanted to teach art at a young age and has continued teaching for the past 34 years. Richards’ love of teaching art has allowed her students to express their creativity through their artwork.
“My favorite part about teaching art is when the kids do something creative, something I’ve never seen before,” Richards said.
Although not every student may be talented at or enjoy art, Richards’ passion has allowed all students to take a greater interest in the class.
“I came into middle school not really liking art,” eighth grader Livia Brooks said. “Over the past three years, [Richards] has made me enjoy art a lot more than I did before.”
Despite her lifelong struggle with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, Richards has been able to channel her creativity through her love of art.
“When I was younger, [my classmates] were mean to me because of my learning disability,” Richards said. “I wanted to be the one that made the difference.”
Richards’ enthusiasm is one of the things that make her students more engaged with the class.
“[Richards] is the best,” eight grader Natalie Griffin said. “Her constant jokes make class fun, and I always look forward to her class.”
Richards is known because of her ability to make a long lasting and impactful impression on her students and their ability to express their imagination through art.
“[Richards] has made my experience at Bird a lot more fun and exciting than I expected it to be,” eight grader Mark Mouradian said.
Richards impacts not only Bird students but also other artists.
“Without [Richards], I don’t understand how Bird Middle School would manage,” Allison said. “The students create beautiful artwork that she displays all over the school for everyone to see.”