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Photo courtesy of Mrs. Rich.

Women to Watch for March 9: Mrs. Rich

The Lancer Spirit is celebrating the women of Londonderry during the month of March in honor of Women’s History Month. For each day of the month, LSO will be highlighting an inspiring woman within the Londonderry community who has demonstrated strong leadership and influential behavior.

Today’s “Woman to Watch” is LHS Assistant Principal Mrs. Rich for demonstrating influential behavior within her community.

From beginning her career at LHS as an English teacher to taking over as the assistant principal in House 3, Crystal Rich has devoted her career to helping others.  With a maternal passion and a resilient ambition to watch kids succeed, Rich has made the students here at LHS her number one priority—right after her own children.

“I believe the blessing of being a mother has given me the ability to educate differently,” Rich said. “I am the luckiest mom around and furthermore I’m lucky to be working in a career where I can apply all that my own child has taught me about patience and understanding.”

From the very beginning of Rich’s tenure at LHS, she taught with purpose, realizing that “there was more than just a job” to teaching.  In class, Rich grappled with real-world issues and discussions with her students, supporting them through all her English classes had to offer.

“The great thing about literature is that it has no set path,” Rich said. “It can branch out into all kinds of conversations.”

When Rich transitioned to her administrative position, a whole new set of tasks arose. One of the biggest for the family-oriented Rich was the newly formed schedule, including longer hours. But that was nothing the Rich family couldn’t overcome.

“Before I took the job, I discussed everything with my husband over and over again. He was definitely my rock,” Rich said. “Now, sometimes I have my kids at work with me when I spend many hours working after school. That way, I won’t have to spend the afternoon hours without them.”

Apart from the Londonderry community, Rich has her life centered around “by far the most rewarding experience,” which is being a mother.

“Each and every person has value and worth,” Rich said. “[My kids] are future Lancers and I couldn’t be more excited for them to walk these halls someday.”

The relationship that Rich has cultivated with her first-grade son, Colton, and sixth-grade daughter with autism, Grace, is unlike any other. It’s also one of the major influences—if not the largest—in her everyday work life in and out of House 3. 

“My two children are both exceptional in their own special ways,” Rich said. “Being the mother of a child with autism allows me to see this world through a different lens, to feel and experience this life on a level I never dreamed possible.”

While she was focused on giving an undying love to her biological family at home, Rich was coming to find that she was becoming part of a new one at work. Rich’s House 3 team brought her in with open arms, helping her each step of the way and ultimately bonding together to form their “phenomenal” family.

“I couldn’t work with people better than Mrs. Mitchell and Mrs. Ryan. Even though there are less of us here than in the other house offices, we make a great team,” Rich said. “They’ve always been so supportive of me and my family. This is really my home away from home.”

Rich’s familial relationships help her to see problems with students from a different perspective. 

“When dealing with a student and their issue at hand, I think to myself, ‘If this [student] were my kid, how would I want an administrator to handle this?’ After all, it’s okay for kids to make mistakes,” Rich said. 

This mindset of learning and growing from mistakes has become a staple of Rich’s time in House 3, and one that hasn’t gone unnoticed by her students.

“I’m not a House 3 regular,” Senior Kevin Macarelli said, “but every time I’ve gone into that room I’ve seen kids who clearly had gotten themselves in some sort of trouble, leaving with a hopeful complexion and positive attitude.”

Rich’s hard work towards personalizing the high school experience for her students doesn’t stop at the final bell however, as she continues her pursuit to see students learn and grow into the Adult Education program at LHS.

“Being administrator for adult education is tough because your job is to help motivate these groups of kids,” Special Ed teacher Lori Jabar said. “ But Mrs. Rich leads by example, she realizes that graduation is a moment in life that everyone should recognize and celebrate, and she personalizes that experience for each student.”

The time that Rich has put into this program spans over a decade. From summer school to teaching English to Distance Learning Coordinator, Rich has invested part of her life in Adult ducation. 

Rich feels a personal connection to the program and has watched its benefits first hand. During the time Rich was teaching English in Adult Education, she taught a young woman who graduated and later married Rich’s brother, starting a family with him. 

“She’s now living a very successful life, so it’s a program that has always been very close to my heart,” Rich said. “[Adult Ed] is something I’m more than proud to be a part of.”

On top of the traditional school day and Adult Education, Rich also models admirable character outside of academics with her involvement in the Athletic Leadership Committee (ALC).

At the time of Rich’s training to become an assistant principal, ALC was in its infancy, with it being a proposed idea by one of Rich’s inspirations, Howard Sobolov. When Rich heard about the idea, she jumped on her opportunity to turn it into a reality, seeing its potential to bring out the best of members in the student body.

“We have so many incredible athletic leaders here at LHS. Their skills and talents on the field often translated off the field in their gestures and actions,” Rich said. “They had the skills to effect change, they just needed the power to do it. I wanted them to have that voice and power, so we created it.”

Although Rich had to step down from ALC when she became an assistant principle, she is very happy to watch the group grow and continue to demonstrate strong leadership around LHS.

“The ALC is something I am extremely proud of. It was very, very hard for me to step away from the group as I really felt I was losing a part of who I was,” Rich said. “The joy of changing roles is seeing how you’ve created something that can continue on without you. To me, that means I did something right.”

Rich admires her students and encourages them to always strive for their goals.

“Leadership, although some of it innate, can and should be fostered in others,” Rich said. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

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