Teacher Tuesday: PMECC’s Hale and Richards.

March 3, 2020

Teacher Tuesday: PMECC’s Hale and Richards.

By Kate Krieger, MCP Staff Writer.

Teacher Tuesday is a presentation of Metalworks. 

Mason County Press is featuring area educators for a new weekly series called “Teacher Tuesday.” We will be choosing different educators from Mason County.

Researchers have said that early childhood education is key to a child’s success because much of their development happens between the ages of 2 to 5. Tricia Hale and Julie Richards are no strangers to early childhood education and they believe in the concept of introducing different ideas, concepts and behaviors to young children that they will be more successful in the future.

Hale is the 4-year-old preschool teacher for the tuition-based program housed at Ludington Area School District’s Pere Marquette Early Childhood Center; Richards is a paraprofessional who assists in the classroom. Between the two of them, they have over 30 years experience working in public education. Hale is in her eighth year at PMECC. Her first year was in the 3-year-old program. Richards has over 25 years of working as a paraprofessional in the Ludington Area School District, with the last seven years being in Hale’s classroom.

“I believe it is so important for the kids to have a stepping stone that takes them into their educational career,” Hale said. “It’s all about that ‘Ah, ha’ moment that I love so much. When they figure out something new on their own, their face is priceless.”

Hale and Richards have been referred to as the “Dynamic Duo” and they feel that title is well-suited for them because they have so many similarities when it comes to being in the classroom.

“I just love working with Tricia,” Richards said. “She can never leave. We will be doing something in the classroom, and we end up finishing each other’s sentences, we are so in sync.”

Richards said she is more behind-the-scenes, where Hale is front-and-center. She said she enjoys that because she can take on a different role and see things in a different perspective from Hale which can help keep the classroom running more fluently.

“We work so well as a team,” Hale said. “We could go all day and not even talk to each other and we’d still get the job done. It’s like we’re the same person.”

Hale and Richards both said they wouldn’t want any other job because the kids and their parents are so great to work with and know what expectations they hold for their children.

Nicole King, a previous parent from Hale and Richard’s room is thankful for the duo, “I was blessed to have two of my kids have these two amazing teachers. They are very caring people and they taught my kids so much and always made everyday fun.”

Lynsey Baldon’s daughter attended the preschool class last year. She said she is excited for her two younger children to go through the program as well. “Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Richards are the best combination of teachers ever,” she said. “They are fun, loving and truly care for the children in their class as if they were their own. They took my super shy, nervous daughter and made her feel so happy, comfortable, and loved that she was able to come out of her shell and flourish and truly love school. There aren’t enough words to describe these two wonderful ladies. I can’t wait for my other two to go through their class.”

“We have high standards,” Richards said. “We also have great parents who support us.”

Hale responded that not only is the educational piece of early childhood greatly important, but so is the social-emotional piece.

“Manners in this room are a must,” she said. “These kids are like part of our families and everyday we tell parents we teach them as if they were our own kids.”

The two women spend countless hours working on bettering their classroom and how they can do things even better than the years before. They are always looking for new techniques and teaching strategies to use with their students because they know how quickly education changes and how quickly the world changes as well. 

“I worked with the Hale and Richard’s duo for five years,” Courtney Walters said. “They were always helpful, inspirational and fun. Now that my daughter Emerson is in their class, I feel confident that she is learning, having fun and loved”

Out of everything they teach each student, each year, when asked what is the number one thing they want the kids to take with them onto kindergarten and into everyday life, their responses were the same.

“I want them to be respectful,” Hale stated.

And Richards responded: ”Hey! I was going to say that.”

PMECC’s Parent-Student Organization president Charlotte Nickelson has had all her children in the preschool program. 

“Tricia and Julie are amazing,” she said. “All three of my kids have had them and I have been so happy with how they work their program and get them ready for kindergarten. I feel safe with my kids in their care.”

PMECC houses two, tuition-based programs run by Ludington Area School District, a morning, 3-year-old class and one morning and one afternoon session of 4-year-old preschool. Great Start Readiness Program preschool and Head Start are also located at PMECC. 

“I always tell each child, ‘I know you can do it,’” Hale said. “We really believe in all of them. We just love what we do and we love coming to work to see these kiddos.”

Metalworks is a small, family-run company with facilities located in Ludington and Manistee, manufacturing metal office filing systems. Be sure to show your support by liking the Metalworks Facebook page here.

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