NEWBERRY COUNTY — After teaching math in Newberry County for 26 years, Lori Ricard has turned in her teacher’s hat to become the new math specialist for the Newberry County School District, a position that allows her to use her love of math as a coaching tool.
Ricard, 53, will be based at Mid-Carolina High School but she will travel around the district and attend state level meetings, serving as a liaison between the S.C. Department of Education and the local school district.
Her goal is to help teachers with their math curriculum while serving as a colleague, building positive relationships that will help support their math teaching.
“I will work as a researcher to provide resources and instructional strategies that will engage and excite our students about learning mathematics,” Ricard said.
Ricard will provide instructional strategies, professional development, analyze data and assist teachers with lesson planning, assessments and understanding standards. One of her goals is to research the best practices.
The math specialist position was created three years ago and falls under the Department of Instruction under Dr. Lynn Cary. Frankie Bennett, wife of Bennie Bennett, held the position for the last two years.
Ricard said Frankie Bennett did an outstanding job, something she hopes to continue.
“I have had great leaders in this school district who have inspired me to be the best teacher I could be,” she said. “Working under Mr. Bennie Bennett’s leadership for the past 10 years was an awesome experience. He always greeted me with a smile, a pat on the shoulder and thanked me for doing my job.”
Ricard said Deedee Westwood had an equally important influence on her.
“With her support and encouragement, I had opportunities to grow professionally by taking on leadership roles within the school,” Ricard said. “They both had high expectations and showed me, through their actions, that they truly understood and appreciated the job of a teacher.
“A pat on the back and a kind word goes a long way in today’s stressful world. They were great motivators and had the kind of leadership style that always made me want to work harder,” she said. “I am excited for the future of Newberry County School District. I look forward to continuing to grow professionally and improve under the leadership of our new superintendent, Mr. Jim Suber.”
Ricard, who has been teaching math for 30 years, said she loves math because it is exciting and is comparable to solving a puzzle. Plus, she said, it gives her a sense of accomplishment because she likes to know if she is right or wrong.
“I think of math as a fun challenge,” she said. “I like the critical thinking part of math and I just love a challenge. In my teaching, I always liked my students to see relationships and patterns in what we are learning, for them to make connections. I also think it is important for students to have the conceptual understanding of mathematical idea before they move on to higher levels.”
Ricard started out teaching math at E.L. Wright Middle School in Columbia, where she taught sixth and eighth grade math for three years. After leaving E.L. Wright she began working for Campus I Middle School, in Lexington District Five, where she taught seventh grade math, and served as an administrative assistant, due to the fact she was getting her masters in administration at that time.
Ricard left Campus I after one year, and made her way to Newberry County.
“I married my husband and he was from Newberry County. So I came to Newberry County and I went to Newberry Middle School for three years, teaching sixth grade math, and then I came to Mid-Carolina Middle School,” Ricard said.
Ricard taught at Mid-Carolina Middle for 21 years, where she mostly taught seventh grade math. She did leave for two years to teach fifth grade math at Pomaria-Garmany Elementary School.
During her time teaching in Newberry County she has been Teacher of the Year three times for Mid-Carolina Middle School, and has been District runner up for District Teacher of the Year.
Her personal side
Ricard was born in Florence County to N.H. and Barbara Bryan and grew up in Pamplico. She graduated from Hanna-Pamplico High School and continued her education at Clemson University.
She majored in elementary education and earned her middle school certification at the same time. She graduated in 1985, and in 1989 she received her Master’s in Administration from the University of South Carolina.
“I thought one day I would want to be a principal, but I decided after doing my internship that I enjoyed the curriculum part of education more that the principalship,” she said. “I enjoyed being in the classroom and I never wanted to leave the classroom, until this year.”
Ricard is also endorsed in gifted and talented education through Converse College, which means she is certified to teach gifted students. In 2005 she became nationally board certified in early adolescence mathematics, and in 2015 she renewed her national board certification.
She is married to Danny Ricard and together they have two sons, Rhett Ricard, 26, and Drew Ricard, 22.
“Rhett is a lawyer and he will be going into the Marines in October he will be a lawyer in the Marines. Drew is in his first job in Charlotte, N.C. at Bank of America in Finance,” Ricard said.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.