Whether she was operating her own day care, or tutoring, teaching high school, or raising a family, Cheryl Howard has always put kids first.
Teaching mathematics seems to be in her blood. The Raynham native’s father David Richardson was a math teacher at Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School.
“My dad told me I should be a math teacher,” she said.
Besides her father, Cheryl’s mother is Virginia Richardson, and she has three brothers Scott, Bruce and Brian.
Cheryl is a 1985 graduate of Bridgewater-Raynham, where she participated in several clubs and activities, including World Language Club, National Honor Society, and World Affairs Club. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1991 with bachelor’s degrees in math and science. Cheryl then took a year off to open a day care center.
“My son has a severe bleeding disorder and I wanted him to be with me, so I opened my own day care center in Shutesbury,” she said.
Cheryl ran the day care for a year. She went through a divorce and took a job at North Amherst Motors, but she was putting in up to 60 hours a week. With her son still at a young age, Cheryl opened another day care center in 1993, and ran that until 1999.
In the meantime, Cheryl also tutored high school and Greenfield Community College students from 1997-1999.
“My dad told me I should be a math teacher.”
During this time, Cheryl met her current partner Kevin Howard, who also has a son. Cheryl’s son Michael Longto and Kevin’s son Ryan, both attended pre-school at Franklin County Technical School. Michael graduated from the FCTS plumbing and heating program in 2010. Ryan is a 2011 graduate of Turners Falls High School.
In 1997, Cheryl had a baby girl, Melanie, who is now a senior at Turners Falls High School. When Melanie was 2 ½ Cheryl decided to pursue a career in education. She landed her first job teaching math at Granby Junior and Senior High School.
“I was good at math, and I when I was tutoring and seeing how helpless the students felt, I saw that I had a knack for breaking down problems to make them understandable,” Cheryl said. “I thought, ‘maybe I can do this.’”
A year later, Cheryl took a job at Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School in Hadley. She taught there for four years, but when the school moved to South Hadley she left, feeling that she was too far away from her children who were attending school in Montague.
Cheryl then taught at Turners Falls High School for a couple of years before being laid off. During her years at TFHS, she attended graduate school at Antioch University New England in Keene, New Hampshire, graduating in 2006 with a master’s degree in education. Cheryl next took a job at Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, where she taught until 2012. After spending a year teaching at Greenfield High School, she was hired at FCTS.
“I was good at math, and I when I was tutoring and seeing how helpless the students felt, I saw that I had a knack for breaking down problems to make them understandable. I thought, ‘maybe I can do this.”
“This school is so much like a charter school,” Cheryl said. “People stop, smile, and interact. Some places don’t have that warmth. This is a caring and friendly environment.”
Cheryl likes that when FCTS students are challenged by teachers to excel, they respond.
“They take (the challenges) in stride,” she said. “They adapt themselves to doing it. When kids leave the school they are better prepared for the workforce than other high school kids. What more can you offer a child? It’s amazing. I love it.”
“This school is so much like a charter school. People stop, smile, and interact. Some places don’t have that warmth. This is a caring and friendly environment.”
In addition to teaching at FCTS, Cheryl also teaches a night class at GCC one night a week.
In their spare time, Cheryl and her family like to go camping in the New Hampshire woods.
“They take (the challenges) in stride. They adapt themselves to doing it.”
“It’s pretty primitive,” she said. “We’ve seen turkeys, moose, deer. It’s peaceful.”
Cheryl also likes to spend time outdoors hiking with her dog and snowshoeing.