By Angela Higginbotham
Dr. Donna Richardson is a Jacksonville native and a graduate of Andrew Jackson Senior High School. Her love for school morals and enthusiasm began as her high school mascot and has led her through many years in education while inspiring so many around her — most recently as the beloved principal of Mandarin High School. Richardson graduated from Florida Junior College with an associate degree and then earned a bachelor’s in Education/Language Arts with a minor in Journalism from the University of North Florida. She went on to receive her master’s in Educational Leadership and a doctorate in Educational Leadership, also from UNF.
Richardson began her career with Duval County Public Schools in 1985 as an English teacher at N.B. Forrest High School, where she taught for 10 years. A cancer survivor and long time public servant, volunteer and charity supporter, Richardson is passionate about making a difference in the lives of children and the entire community. As a Life member of the Florida PTA, 2016 Principal of the Year and many additional award nominations and winnings, Richardson’s career is certainly one to admire.
Looking ahead with excitement towards new adventures, both Richardson and her husband of 47 years, former JSO lieutenant and long time chief legislative aide in the Florida Senate, Steven, are retiring simultaneously. The former high school sweethearts have two children, seven grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.
- What do you enjoy most about working in the Mandarin community?
The people. The support from parents and their children is overwhelming. The faculty at Mandarin High School and many other supporters in the community is something I will always remember.
- What has been the hardest aspect of your career?
I would probably say the hardest part has been making sure that the school is where it needs to be and that we get that “A” grading. Making sure that the faculty and children have everything they need to succeed and be ready for testing is stressful at times.
- What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love to read and we enjoy traveling. We love spending time with our family and watching our grandchildren grow into fine young people. My husband and I feel blessed to have been able to be public servants for this many years. We are active in our church and are looking forward to working more there and following whatever new journey is planned for us.
- Any big plans after your retirement begins?
My husband and I are really looking forward to a trip to Italy in the fall.
- What is something most people don’t know about you?
I’m very humble. I can’t thank everyone enough for all of the support that has been given to me over the years. I learn from the past, always try to live in the present, and plan for the future every day, both in my professional career and personally.
Photo courtesy Donna Richardson
Donna and Steven Richardson