Norma Richards Knows How to Groom Students for Full Academic Scholarship in Her Book "Free Ride to College"
“My three children were labeled at school, but they still all earned academic scholarships and all three are engineers today.” As a special guest at Minor High School April 7, she shared with the student body a step- by-step guide to go to college free with scholarship. Her book Free Ride to College tells how to develop a competitive student profile, become a stellar student, ace the scholarship essays, and impress at interviews.
Norma’s Father was the first black appointment to West Point Academy and her aunt was the first black to the Alabama Board of Cosmetology. Her book and background proves she seeks and demands high standards.
One of her children was special education, another was ADHD, and the third was legally blind. As a science teacher she firmly believed in STEM courses, science, technology, engineering, and math and tutored her children herself to make certain each was a whiz at math. She set a high standard for academics at her house and her children met it, though sometimes grudgingly.
Her basic speech theme was: “You don’t have to be a genius. You just have to be curious.” She quoted well-known athletes Jason Brown, Lawrence Funderburke, Jimmy Jackson, and Archie Griffin, a two-time Heisman trophy winner. She talked about Mae Jemison, a medical doctor, an astronaut, and an engineer. She proved that engineering opens doors and can be stellar careers.
Her four-point take-away was effort, discipline, be inquisitive, and critical thinking. She also reminded students that writing skills were essential to winning scholarships. Her children wrote more than 13 essays to garner their scholarships. She played a video excerpt of Myron Fletcher’s discussing his career as a rocket propulsion engineer who is “living his dream” on the team of planning a Mars Mission. Another video excerpt showed the results of engineers planning intricate robotic characters and 3-D effects for a movie.
She gave incentive prizes for listening and to students who answered her questions correctly. They were 9th grader Toby Parker, junior Edmond Jones, and sophomore Darrell Black.
Principal Kalvin Eaton praised Mrs. Richards and urged all students to study harder, hunker down, and meet her standards to earn that scholarship. Drama teacher Wayne Duckworth helped set up her presentation.