Tiffany Richard helps students find something they’ve lost.

Children are born with a natural curiosity about the physical world around them, Richard said.

“They want to know why the sky is blue or what makes a rainbow,” Richard said. “But something happens by the time they get to high school and for many, biology and chemistry are seen as difficult and boring. My goal is to help them rediscover what it is they loved about science.”

Richard is a biology and chemistry teacher at Olathe East High School. Her passion for helping students rediscover their love of learning was a key factor in her selection as the 2012 Teacher of the Year.

Richard’s father, Bill Biggs, was superintendent at USD 246 from 1988 to 1997. Her mother, Martha, taught English at Northeast High School from 1993 to 1997. Both are PSU alumni.

Despite the fact that both of her parents are both long-time educators, Richard nearly chose a different career path, beginning as a pre-med major at Kansas State University.
A summer calculus course at PSU changed everything.

“I loved the summer class,” Richard said. “It was amazing to be at a school where people were really interested in me!”

Richard, still in pre-med, transferred to PSU. An opportunity to work in the after-school program at Northeast caused Richard to make another change in her plans.

“I started helping with after-school and I thought, ‘I absolutely love this!’” Richard said.

Richard graduated from PSU in 1995 and began her teaching career at Joplin High School and then moved to California, where she taught in El Segundo until returning to Kansas with her husband, Bryan, also a southeast Kansas native, and their two sons in 2003. She has taught in the Olathe school district since.