Highland Gardens Elementary teacher instilling discipline, one s - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Highland Gardens Elementary teacher instilling discipline, one step at a time

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MONTGOMERY CO., AL (WSFA) -

With every step, stomp and move, Latoya Richardson is instilling a level of discipline and integrity in her students.

"In society today, I don't think it's pushed enough and I would rather them get it from me than the streets," says Latoya Richardson.

The Highland Gardens Elementary 5th grade teacher and step coach says it's her duty to help.  Richardson comes from a long line of educators and says teaching is in her blood.

"Kids need the most help, everybody doesn't have a mom and dad at home so I want to take the place," says Richardson.

While Ms. Richardson takes on the role of a 2nd parent to some, ""If they need rides home I got them, if they're hungry I got them," she says."

She stresses parental involvement and mandates academic and conduct standards for her steppers.  The AUM Alum says it's that "Ah-ha" moment that gets her out of bed every morning.  "When they say, I get it now, I get excited."

The step team members and their parents sign a contract at the beginning of the year; Richardson mandates an A or B average for the girls to be able to compete.  "There is no excuse to have less than a C."

Richardson says the Artistic School Kids is much more than just a step team, it's a mentoring program.

"She puts us in our place so we won't grow up to be girls that don't know how to carry themselves or don't know how to treat other people," says Makhiya Turner, a student of Richardson's and a member of the step team.  Turner says she sometimes spends the night at Turner's house on the weekend just because she wants to be around her more and learn from her.

Richardson says the girls ask about college, "I don't care what college you go to, just as long as you know about it and you're informed," she says.

The Artistic School Kids practice 5 days a week and compete on the high school level.  The girls range in age from just seven-years-old to 12.  The Highland Gardens Elementary teacher and coach says her weekends and evenings are dedicated to "the girls."

Congratulations Ms. Richardson, you're this week's Class Act.  If you would like to nominate a Class Act, please email your nomination to kdrescher@wsfa.com.

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