This spring, our learner-centered school graduates six seniors. They have been through a great deal to cross the stage and earn their diplomas. LEADPrep also “graduates” Terry Risdon, our beloved science teacher and director of learning. Let me tell you about this quiet, creative believer who is retiring after a full career of serving youth.
Terry joined us in 2014 (year two), as a part-time hands-on science teacher. A family had raved about Terry’s teaching when attending the homeschool co-op where she taught. From my first observation of Terry (at that co-op), I was sold. Science was always the subject I felt awkward teaching when I was an elementary school teacher. Terry made it magical. In this class, all of the students were checking their heart rate, then bouncing balls and moving, and retesting. The students were fully engaged and able to make the connection to the concept being taught.
That was the creative energy and personalization Terry brought to LEADPrep. At LEADPrep, she soon went from part-time to full-time to director of learning. The two of us weathered many storms and hosted tons of evening, weekend, and summer open houses and work parties. Terry’s car was her mobile science lab in the absence of any storage in those early years. When our STEM teacher had to change her plans, Terry added STEM to her science teaching load and kept going with hands-on learning and design thinking.
Knowing the importance of fitness, Terry led students on daily walks—not always a popular activity! Knowing the value of service, she chaperoned years of Friday service activities. With her love of the environment and birds, she arranged many activities to connect our students to nature. This includes our (almost-)annual spring Week Without Walls of service with Mountain to Sound Greenway. She found a camping gear library and was instrumental in launching our fall camping Week Without Walls three years ago. Terry also co-chaperoned our ME-to-WE school building service trip in Nicaragua.
Terry brought gentleness, tenacity, and vision to LEADPrep. She is a believer…in schools that can see the strengths in each student, in students who have often been battered by the system and aren’t sure they trust teachers, in hard work to make a dream come true. She brought her gifts to LEADPrep and is a big reason our happy, humble school is making a difference eight years later.
We honor you, Terry, and will miss you. Luckily, we have you on “speed dial” and know you will be joining us on future projects. Thank you for being the change you want to see for how our youth learn. We are truly blessed by your service at LEADPrep.