Memphis Field Coordinator

TennesseeCAN 901 606 6534

What do Mary Church Terrell, Justin Timberlake, Aretha Franklin and Shelonda Richardson have in common? They were all born in Memphis, Tennessee.

As a classroom instructor for seven and a half years, Shelonda was devoted to ensuring that her students excelled no matter where they lived. As an educator, she has shared a wealth of experiences that have contributed to the success of her 400 students. Shelonda exhibits an unshakable passion for education and believes in the power of passion and hard work to produce change.

She originally joined StudentsFirst Tennessee because the model of education reform resonates with her core values. For Shelonda, changing policies means changing strategies for the better. Her motto is: “Put God first in whatever you do, and you will always succeed.” Shelonda received her bachelor’s and master’s of education from Christian Brothers University in 2007 and 2011, respectively.

I aspire to be like my sister and best friend. Here’s why:

I aspire to be like my sister, Tonya Richardson, and my best friend, Tamira Samuel. My sister, Tonya, is both bold and devoted to finding success. When I was a child, she made sure to regularly exercise with me to help me stay fit and healthy. She has always pushed me to think outside of the box, and in a world full of copies she is not afraid to embrace everything that makes her unique and original.

Likewise, I aspire to be like my best friend, Tamira, because she is one of the best people I know. She has undertaken so many different challenges in her life and managed to find success in nearly all of them. She is very kind and always seems prepared for every occasion. Although I am not a ballerina, both Tamira and Tonya definitely keep me on my toes.

Why I love my job:

Education is my soapbox. I love my job because I get to speak for a cause that should be at the forefront of our minds.

My connection to public schools:

From growing up and teaching in an urban area, I understand how imperative it is for us to make sure every student receives an excellent education. I was on the cusp of the transition of educational changes that still affect students today.

I remember going to the Capitol when I was in high school to speak to legislators about education. I was passionate then and I am just as passionate now.

I was raised by two people that focused on education as the key to success. I am so glad they instilled that in me.

What I’m bad at:

I am bad at being patient. I want things to magically come together as soon as I think of them. I believe in hard work, but I do not like to run into snags. I also do not like wrinkled paper.

The image that represents why I work at 50CAN:

This image represents why I work at 50CAN. It shows that everyone is capable of writing his or her own story. We use these items everyday, but I don’t think that everyone truly understands their significance. It is important for our students to know that where they come from does not define who they are; it is who they choose to become that defines them. Their backgrounds may be where their stories start, but it most definitely does not have to be their ending. We have to help all of our students dream so they can reach their fullest potential.

Image source: Chris Blakeley (cc)