Alumni News

Alumna Pat Richardson (A.B.Ed. ’58) profiled as N&O ‘Tar Heel of the Week’

Pat Richardson
Photo by Harry Lynch for the News & Observer

Pat Richardson, who helped establish Wake Tech’s Individualized Learning Center in the 1970s, has been honored by The News & Observer newspaper, which named her its “Tar Heel of the Week.”

Richardson was described by the March 8 profile as being an early adopter of the idea that adult students needed tutoring that treated them as individuals, rather than the standardized approach that was in use when she began working in the field.

Richardson grew up in Benson and graduated from Carolina’s School of Education, taking her first teaching job at the U.S. Navy base in Virginia Beach. After a move to Fort Bragg and teaching in elementary and middle schools for several years, she landed a job at Wake Tech in 1972. There she ran the “Programmed Materials Library,” a small space where students studied standard exercises in preparation for high school equivalency exams.

But Richardson, the N&O describes, made changes to the standard program in ways she believed would help students prepare better.

“They had dropped out of high school for many reasons, and their needs were very different,” Richardson told the newspaper. “I felt so strongly early on that adults learn differently than children.”

She went on to train generations of tutors and developed the college’s first programs for English language learners. She helped develop separate learning centers for math, writing and computer and study skills at Wake Tech’s campuses.

She has also worked for many years helping coordinate the high school equivalency program at Broughton High School and as a volunteer at veterans hospitals, the paper said.

Richardson said that along the way she always worked to instill confidence in students.

“I would never tell someone they’re reading at a second-grade level,” she told the N&O. “I’ll say you need to be here and you are here. And this is a good situation, because you respect yourself and you’ve made a good choice.”

Read the entire profile here.