MARYSVILLE, CA - She calls herself a late bloomer having raised her family before taking on the tall order of teaching, but make no mistake, Richenda "Ricky" Nagle is right where she belongs.
"I decided it was a perfect time for me," the Covillaud Elementary School teacher said. "I was able to be a mom and am now able to be a mom to these children."
Nagle prides herself on pushing her first graders to embrace the adventures of learning.
"I have very high expectations," Nagle admitted. "I feel children rise to the occasion. If you raise that bar, they are going to rise right with you."
Nagle grew up in England before coming to the U.S. with her husband. She said a strong support system and a boost of confidence gave her the strength to pursue teaching.
For the last 12 years, the fundamentals of reading, vocabulary and math have been her focus, but most of all, creating a strong foundation for the future.
"They are like sponges and I get so excited when I am around them," Nagle explained.
It's those light bulb moments that keeps the former instructional assistant going, but Nagle admits she couldn't do her job without reinforcements.
"I feel a buy-in from the parents is essential," Nagle said. "I think you've got to get the parents on your side and rooting for you ... I couldn't do this by myself. "
Beyond reading, writing and arithmetic Nagle's sweet, but strict demeanor has shown her students continuous care, an unforgettable connection they will never forget.
"She loves us so much and we love her too," first grader Mia Jung whispered.