Ms Richmond has always encouraged young women to discover their voices. So, it seemed a fitting way to have her years at The Mount recorded by one of the College girls. Budding journalist, Abigail (College II) sat down with Ms Richmond to interview her about her time at The Mount and to find out more about her plans for retirement.
After 6 years as Principal of The Mount, Ms Richmond retires at the end of the Autumn term 2021 from the teaching profession after 34 years, and as The Mount School’s 19th Principal since 1831. During her 6 years with the UK’s only all-girl Quaker School, she has made an immense contribution to the development of the School, helping to define and position the value of girls-only education.
Since the age of 10, Ms Richmond has always wanted to be a teacher, and “never wanted to do anything else”. She found her love for working with children through taking part as a volunteer in the Girl-Guides, it seemed like a natural course for her. With her passions for teaching being “so huge”, Ms Richmond found it difficult to imagine herself pursuing any other career. However, when she was very young, she liked to imagine herself being a librarian as she was so fascinated by the world of reading. She had difficulty deciding between specialising in Maths or English, but eventually came to the decision that Mathematics would be her choice of study further at degree level. Ms Richmond also found a passion for gardening and even considered a career in horticulture!
Along with her gardening, Ms Richmond plans to spend more time outdoors in her retirement and would like to volunteer to help Duke of Edinburgh Award groups. Ms Richmond also describes herself as “a very musical person” and in the future would like to join a choir and play her recorder more often! Having never had a gap year or ‘career break’, Ms Richmond is looking forward to taking some time out to herself. She’s excited to walk her sister’s new dog and may volunteer at the local cat and dog shelter. Although she doesn’t have any pets, if she did, Ms Richmond would most likely get a hamster, she “loves hamsters, (and) always have had hamsters”. When she did have hamsters, Ms Richmond “firmly believed” that they drove more miles than any other hamster ever did since she travelled so much between Darlington and Newcastle. They accompanied her on the passenger seat!!
Every head gets their portrait painted for display in the Esther Tuke room. When asked if she could pick any artist, dead or alive to do hers, Ms Richmond said that she is a big fan of impressionist paintings, and Renoir is her favourite artist so it would have to be him. Lucy McEroy, a local artist, is currently in the process of painting her portrait and Ms Richmond is very excited!
The Mount is the 6th school that Ms Richmond has worked at, and the first of her being head-teacher. Being on a leadership team for over 22 years, she’s “much richer” having had such a breadth of experience prior to The Mount. Although experiencing a few challenges along the way, Ms Richmond is proud of our resilience and stability throughout the pandemic. With a sense of great essence and core values, her ultimate achievement is “setting girls out into the path of life”. Ms Richmond herself has taken on many of the key Quaker values that create our ethos, with the value that attracted her the most to Quakerism being honesty, integrity and truth, which she tries to reflect within her everyday life.
Acknowledging that we are an all-girls school, Ms Richmond aimed to raise awareness regarding important global issues that young girls should be concerned with in the 21st century. Her morning meetings cover environmental issues, women’s rights, as well as teaching us how to “look after the world”, encouraging us to celebrate these aspects for example through ‘national day of the girl’ or our variety of school committees.
Some of the best attributes exhibited in girls at The Mount are their “gentle air of self-confidence” and Ms Richmond believes that The Mount does exceptionally well in bringing out pupils’ characters “in the best possible way”. Throughout her time here, she has aimed to get the best out of each student and member of staff. Our Mount ethos can be reflected into the future and is seen in previous Mounties and Scholars, with their sense of “self-assurance”.
Rapid fire round
- Favourite school dinner – Roast
- Favourite sport – Badminton
- Favourite room in the school – Esther Tuke Room
- Favourite restaurant – Amici’s
- Favourite film – The Shawshank Redemption
- Favourite book – Pride and Prejudice
- Favourite school subject – Mathematics
- Favourite member of staff – “You can’t ask me that!!”
- Do you know all the words to the school text – “When I’m singing them, yes”
Ms Richmond says that she has loved every second in the school and will be very sad to leave, she hopes to have “left a lasting legacy”. Her experience as head at The Mount in three words are “privileged, fortunate and enjoyment”. Whilst we are understandably sad to see her leave, The Mount School pupils wish Ms Richmond (and her potential hamsters!) all the best for the next stage of her life, returning to her family and home in Newcastle.
A message from Ms Richmond – “I wish the school the very, very best for the future and everybody in it. It’s a great school, why would you want to be anywhere else?!”
By Abi, College II
Junior School Girls present Ms Richmond with a leaving card