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East County Wednesday, May 29, 2019 2 months ago

Back to her teaching roots

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New Braden River Middle principal previously was a teacher and assistant principal at the school.
by: Andrew Atkins Staff Writer

Kimberlain Zenon-Richardson didn’t want to to be a teacher.

When she was still in high school, she ignored teachers who told her she would be a good leader. Zenon-Richardson had it in her head that she wanted to be a doctor, so she worked toward her goal.

Born and raised in Bradenton, she decided to go to school for biology. When she graduated from University of South Tampa with her bachelor’s degree, she was looking for some time to fill the break before she worked on going back to school when somebody suggested to her that she get her temporary teaching certificate.

“The moment I walked into a classroom, I realized that’s what I was going to be,” said Zenon-Richardson, who is now 49. “I didn’t think or dream I was going to be a school leader.”

Zenon-Richardson, who is currently the assistant principal at Electa Lee Magnet Middle School, will return July 1 to her roots as the principal at Braden River Middle School, where she previously taught and was assistant principal prior to her time at Lee.

To Zenon-Richardson, returning to Braden River feels like coming home, but her coworkers at Lee Middle will miss her.

Brenda Goodbrad, an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Lee, has known Zenon-Richardson for about three-and-a-half years. She describes her as an “ambitious, hardworking person.”

“She puts in more hours than I thought even existed in a day,” Goodbrad said.

She described Zenon-Richardson as having a heart for the students while maintaining high standards for them and her staff, and pointed out that she always has the back of her administrative team.

“She’s such a visionary,” Goodbrad said. “She’s really going to create a beautiful environment for teachers, a safe environment for students, and a place where the community wants to be involved.”

The other assistant principal at Lee Middle, Tamara Cornwell, described Zenon-Richardson as her “work sister.”

Cornwell said she would get emails at 3 a.m. from Zenon-Richardson.

“She’s just that dedicated to moving students forward,” Cornwell said.

Zenon-Richardson, though, said she does take time to relax. She enjoys spending time with her family, including her husband, John; sons Jeremy (27) and Joshua (26) and five grandchildren, or watching Netflix shows like “The Crown” and “Stranger Things.” She said while she does describe herself as a “workaholic,” she enjoys life, too.

She said she’s trying not to think too much about her upcoming departure despite her excitement for her new job, but is still mentally preparing and making plans for her transition.

“I have to get out in the community and get to know the new parts,” Zenon-Richardson said of the area around Braden River Middle School.

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