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Prairie Middle School psychologist receives two prestigious honors

Prairie Middle School psychologist Dr. Kinette Richards Dr. Kinette Richards has deep roots at Prairie Middle School.

Richards, who’s served as Prairie’s full-time school psychologist for the past five years, has myriad ties to the school and the local community that go far beyond her own role as an employee. Her own children attended Prairie; she served on the school’s P.A.S.S. (Partnerships for Academically Successful Students) equity committee before she signed on as a school psychologist.

“I live in this community and I raised my kids in this community,” Richards said. “I feel like this is where I should be.”

Those ties make her everyday work all the more rewarding for Richards, who sees her role as a critical part of helping all students excel and meet the standards of Cherry Creek Future Forward, the district’s roadmap for maintaining excellence well into the future. Richards isn’t the only one who sees her work as a valuable part of the school’s daily operation – she was recently honored with two awards from the Colorado Society of School Psychologists.

She clinched the first runner-up spot for the CSSP’s School Psychologist of the Year Award, and was named as Supervisor of the Year for her work with the University of Denver and aspiring college students.

These honors came as a stirring tribute and a heartwarming validation of years of hard work for Richards, who first found out she had won the first of the two awards when she was home sick.

“It was so amazing. You go to work, and you do what you can do and try to do the best you can do. Then this happens,” she said. “I was so surprised and honored that I got both of these. It’s overwhelming to be in a position where people recognize your contributions and want to honor you for them.”

The awards are a reflection of the school’s commitment to mental health for all students, and represent the Workforce Excellence priority in Cherry Creek Future Forward. According to Prairie Principal John Contreraz, Richards is steadfast in her daily commitment to students.

“You can always count on Dr. Richards’ head and her heart to be working for our students, families and Prairie community,” he said. “She’s being recognized for two main reasons, one for her overall track record for being a great psychologist, and another award from the University of Denver for being a great educator and leader of learning … She creates learning experiences for students and goes above and beyond what’s expected when it comes to training and working with people.”

All of this work is part of Richards’ broader mission as a school psychologist, one that gets to the heart of education and enrichment.

“My overall approach and passion in my particular capacity is all about helping people to find hope,” she said. “Students and families can have trauma in their lives … One of the most beautiful things about this role is that you get to see the resilience of the human soul.” 

Posted 12/20/2019 at 1:15 PM