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From Childhood Dreams to Classroom Realities

A teacher's rise to school leadership uplifts her students and herself.

February 26, 2024

In honor of Black History Month, we're highlighting a Teach For America alum who continues to inspire us with her unwavering commitment to supporting students. Learn more about school leader Trinere Richie's (Indianapolis, '16) career path, her inspiration, and why she continues to make an impact.

Q: When did you know that education was your professional calling?

A: Believe it or not, I knew I wanted to become an educator at the age of five! However, when I think about my journey of becoming an educator, it "ain't been no crystal stair" - Langston Hughes. When I was accepted into Teach for America, it was one of the best days of my life and confirmation that I was headed in the right direction!

Back then, little did I know, that it would take me 12 times to pass the Reading CASA exam to get into the Master of Art in Teaching program at Marian University. I could have given up, but knowing that this was my God-given purpose, I just could not, especially as a Believer. If I would have given up, what message would I deliver to my students if they would encounter similar challenges? Going through that challenging time, only strengthened my why.

Q: What is one of your fondest memories as an educator?

A: I’ll never forget the day I told my students that I was getting promoted to assistant school leader. I explained the position, and their eyes became so wide, and they had the largest smiles. They were so excited and asked if they were still able to come to chat with me. Of course, the answer was yes!  

Q: What do you hope to be true for students?

A: What I’ve always wanted to be true as a teacher and now assistant school leader is for educators to see the whole child. Our students will not, cannot, learn if basic needs are not met and if there is not an authentic relationship present. I would also like our students to see situations as an opportunity for growth. 

Q: What is your 'why' in pursuing this work?

A: As a Black woman in education, I think it’s important that our students see representation not only among their teachers but also in higher positions. It lets them know that one day, they, too, can have a chance to achieve their dreams. The work is definitely getting harder year after year, but my students make it all worth it. It’s important that I show up each and every day to educate, support, love, and inspire our students, staff, and families. When times get tough, I encourage our students, staff, and family to understand that despite the toughness of the day, good things also happen. It is important to hold on to that. 

Again, as Langston Hughes said, 

“Don’t you set down on the steps, 

‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard. 

Don’t you fall now 

For I’se still goin’, honey, 

I’se still climb in’.”