Sue Rich was destined to be an educator. Her journey to teach began as young as her junior high days and has metamorphized many times over. Her passion, unquestionable. Her dedication, both inspiring and notable.
Recently Rich was named among an impressive group of Central Valley women as a recipient of an Outstanding Woman Award, presented by the Stanislaus County Commission for Women.
“It was surprising because I didn’t know I was being nominated,” Rich said. “I was very touched that colleagues felt that I was deserving enough for them to take the time to put together an application. It is very humbling to see the lists of women who were honored before me.”
Founded in 1979, the SCCW is an independent, non-governmental organization aimed at promoting awareness of issues concerning women. The mission statement of SCCW reads: SCCW is committed to supporting a coordinated effort by concerned groups and individuals in Stanislaus County to develop more fully the potential of all women.
Rich fits the bill of the organization mission, making her an unquestionable fit of someone deserving this honor. In addition to a background in teaching, the accomplishments outlined in her nominee bio include being an active participant in initiatives: Stanislaus READS, Stanislaus Futures and Destination Graduation as well as the launch of Reading Clubs and 6 Cups to College.
The 6 Cups to College mentor program pairs first-generation high school students with professionals and business leaders in a mentor role. To date the program has 175 mentors working with students from seven area high schools.
“I love 6 Cups to College,” Rich said, sharing that she herself is the child of college educated parents. That’s a fact which she shared can make the process of preparing and applying for college a bit easier than some might think.
“Navigating the transition from K-12 public school system into college is not easy if you have no parents, siblings, other family or friends that have gone before you. The idea of 6 Cups is that the mentor and mentee get together for a face to face maybe six times, maybe over a cup of coffee at Starbucks, to plan, collaborate, and discuss the issues of getting to college.”
The mentor shared the story of her first mentee, who was child number four and the first of her family to complete junior high school. She is now a freshman at Cal State Stanislaus with plans of becoming a nurse.
“College is a dream for many,” Rich said, “and 6 Cups ensures that it is not a pipe dream.”
The SCCW honoree however, did not always have dreams and aspirations of working with young people. While she first got her start as a swim teacher while in junior high, her career aspiration was to be a large animal veterinarian. Maintaining English classes while in college, she came to realize perhaps her focus needed to be revisited.
“When I realized that I was more at home in Shakespeare class than in Chem 1A, I started to rethink my career plans,” Rich said.
She currently works as an Assistant Superintendent at Stanislaus County Office of Education. She began her teaching career in 1980 as an English teacher and Yearbook Advisor for Riverbank High School.
“I enjoy the energy, passion and willingness to take risks that come with young people,” she said of her passion for her career in education. “Selfishly, working with children is rewarding because you can see the results of your work and building relationships and assisting youth along their way is satisfying.”