Karen Prichard was someone who had true compassion for each of the students she served and always saw the possibilities in them. Many times, I remember her talking about one of the students with a gleam in her eye as she told about how they'd progressed. She astutely noticed when my own son's file was transferred to the brand new charter school, that he hadn't been tested for Special Ed services, even though I'd requested it the two previous years.
Karen had all sorts of tricks up her sleeve. Whether it was grids of letters to teach students proper tracking, to eye exercises with a tennis ball on a string, to tantalizing board games that she kept in her office. Karen not only knew all the tried and true tricks to help students learn, she also kept up on the latest research. Karen used a visograph, connected to a laptop, to measure reading comprehension, tracking and other skills important in reading.
The philosophy that every child matters and can learn and that it's up to the adults to figure out how to get them to learn, is Karen's lasting legacy at Jefferson Academy. As the elementary principal, Mike Munier, said yesterday at the service, "Karen was the cornerstone of Jefferson Academy's philosophy."
It was Karen's compassion that was contagious. She often stayed late in order to finish up her work because she was busy with students during school hours.
Did I mention that Karen did all of this while dealing with her own medical issues? No one I know ever heard her complain. At the beginning of JA she was on crutches and later she had a scooter. None of this slowed her down until she eventually retired.
Rest in peace, Karen Prichard. You have the thanks of hundreds of students, whose lives you changed forever.