By MEGAN WILLIAMS
Daily News-Record 4/20/19
HARRISONBURG — When Chaz Haywood asked Michael Richards to come to the front of the room to be sworn in as the next superintendent of Harrisonburg City Schools, the Rockingham Circuit Court clerk commented on the moment being a special one, because it was a full family affair.
Standing by his side while he swore to execute the duties of superintendent, were Richards’ children and wife, NoNieqa Ramos.
In fact, Richards’ two youngest children, a daughter in sixth grade, Margot, and a son in first grade, Langston, insisted that they also sign the official document recording the swearing-in.
Margot decided to sign the document with a drawing of their cat.
“I’m very excited. We love Harrisonburg,” Richards said to the crowd gathered in City Council chambers on Friday afternoon.
After a months- long, nationwide search, Richards was named the next superintendent in early March. He will take over for interim superintendent Pat Lintner on May 1.
Richards comes to Harrisonburg from Loudoun County Public Schools, a district of 83,000 students, where he served for four years as chief of staff.
Prior to that, he served several highly diverse school districts in roles such as director of data and accountability, administrator of special campuses and programs, principal, facilitator of research, supervisor of special education and as a teacher of high school English and special education.
He has also served on the faculty of several graduate school departments of educational leadership and has published scholarly articles on topics including school public relations, campus climate and equity.
In the last month, Richards has been balancing his duties in Loudoun County as chief of staff while trying to learn about Harrisonburg Schools before taking over next month.
“I’ve just been trying to get to know the organizational structure and the programs,” Richards said.
He had a whirlwind tour of central office and met dozens of staff members. He has meetings set up with all the building principals his first week on the job and will spend time in classrooms meeting teachers.
“I can’t wait to get in there and get to know everyone,” Richards said.
Richards has also been getting up to speed on the big issues of the moment, especially the design and construction of the new high school.
He said Lintner has been helpful in getting him started on things he will need to know as superintendent.