Congratulations, Andrae Riddick

Published 10:04 pm Monday, April 10, 2017

There’s a certain irony to the fact that Suffolk Public School’s City-Wide Teacher of the year never really intended to be a teacher.

Andrae Riddick earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from North Carolina State A&T State University and had intended to pursue a career in forensic psychology, but his experience as a mentor for high school students while he was an undergraduate opened his eyes to the possibility of teaching as a vocation.

Encouraged by the teachers at the schools where he mentored high school students, he changed course and pursued a master’s degree in special education at Old Dominion University.

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This is Riddick’s fourth year as a teacher at King’s Fork high School, and the fit between this man and that career is evident in the fact that he was chosen out of all of Suffolk’s finest public school teachers to be honored this year.

Riddick co-teaches geometry in classrooms that include both general education students and special education ones. He says the only difference between the two groups is the particular kind of instruction they need to learn. That approach clearly endears him to his young charges.

King’s Fork Principal Dr. Ronald Leigh said in a press release that Riddick’s role as the School Service Learning coordinator is where he’s done his best work. Service Learning integrates student academics with community service.

Assistant Principal Kimberly Warholak said in a press release that Riddick’s commitment to his students is demonstrated when he works one-on-one with students struggling academically, or who just need someone to listen.

For our money, that’s the true hallmark of a fine teacher. Sometimes the difference between a successful student and an unsuccessful one is simply the presence of a caring adult who is willing to put in a little extra time and effort.

Suffolk has many such educators, and the annual Teacher of the Year presentations honor some of the best of them.

Emma Neave of John F. Kennedy Middle School was named Middle School Teacher of the Year, along with Creekside Elementary School’s Natalie Street for Elementary School Teacher of the Year and Sabrina Hayes of John Yeates Middle School for Rookie Teacher of the Year.

We salute Riddick and the others for their honor, and we’re proud of the hard work they and so many other good teachers in this city are doing on behalf of this next generation, even if teaching is not what they ever thought they’d be doing in life.