Charter school principal began in construction

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Scott Richards, the new principal at Sweet Home Charter School, has literally gone from the tool shed to the classroom.

Richards grew up in the Portland-Hillsboro area, he said. In his first career, he owned a small landscaping, maintenance and construction business.

About 10 years ago, his wife got a job teaching in Corvallis, Richards said. He sold his business and went back to school. He attended Linn-Benton Community College and then finished at Western Oregon University.

While at LBCC, he started helping in his daughter’s classroom and the SMART program, he said. “I decided I could do this the rest of my life.”

He graduated in 2004 from Western with a teaching degree and took a long-term substitute job teaching third grade in Albany. They now live in Tangent, and his wife works for the Willamette Education Service District in Salem.

“Then I came out here and taught kindergarten out here last year,” Richards said. “Last year, toward the end of the year, they started hinting that they wanted me to play the role of administrator.

“I loved kindergarten, which if someone would’ve told me that 10 years ago that I’d be a teacher, I would have laughed.”

After working in Albany, he was offered jobs in several different districts, he said, but he chose Sweet Home Charter School.

“Something just felt right,” he said. “I felt I should be here. There’s just something about these kids (kindergarteners) who know almost nothing. Everything I put in front of them was their first time.”

He most enjoyed watching the children learning to read for the first time, he said.

As principal, he takes care of administration as well as subbing for teachers when needed, he said. He tries to get into the classrooms as much as he can at other times.

Mainly, “I’m here to support the teachers and support the kids,” he said.

Being full-time principal “has got its own set of challenges,” he said, but he enjoys it, getting to know all of the faces and children in the school.

In its second year, the school has added a first-grade class and a fifth grade. The school now has two kindergarten and first-grade classrooms and one each second through fifth grade.

Last year, Mary Northern, a member of the People Involved in Education board, served as volunteer administrator for the school. PIE operates Sweet Home charter School.

Richards is married to Corin Richards. They have one daughter, Shelby, 15, who attends West Albany High School.

He enjoys fishing, hunting, boating – just about everything outdoors, he said.