Upper school social studies teacher Lucas Richardson was drawn to the education field by his love of soccer.
“Soccer has introduced me to so many important things in my life - friends, new and old, my wife and even my career as an educator,” he said. Soccer has been an integral part of Lucas’ life since he was a youth player.
Lucas grew up playing high school and club soccer in Denver, Colo., and became an All-Ivy League player and team captain at Dartmouth College.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in government, with an emphasis in public policy, he interned for the non-profit Grassroot Soccer. The organization implements HIV prevention programs through soccer-focused activities in several countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
As part of the internship, Lucas traveled to Zambia for 10 months, working with families and youth in conjunction with local HIV educators. During his internship, Lucas had the opportunity to coach his first team, which proved to be a pivotal experience.
"Coaching for the first time in Zambia made me realize how much I enjoyed working with students in that sort of environment," he said. "I continued coaching upon my return to the U.S., and sought opportunities to give back to the game of soccer while taking steps toward becoming an educator."
Following his internship, soccer and education were permanently entwined in Lucas’ life. He returned to Denver to serve as the program director for America SCORES Denver, a combined after-school literacy and soccer program. After a short time as an assistant coach at Dartmouth, he returned to Denver to teach and coach at two college preparatory schools.
Fueled by his interest in teaching, Lucas went back to school to earn his master’s degree in history from the University of Kentucky. While at Kentucky, Lucas served as the director of operations and graduate assistant for the men’s soccer team.
With a slight nudging from his wife, Becky, (a Kansas City native), Lucas came to Kansas City and Pembroke Hill.
“I worked in an independent school before and really liked the community aspect,” he said. “The teachers are very involved in the life of the school beyond the classroom. This type of setting is great for me.”
Lucas enjoys working with PHS students in the classroom and loves how they are always willing to engage in discussion. He also enjoys the autonomy he enjoys as a teacher.
“The administration is open to new approaches, which allows us to keep things fresh,” he said. “It opens the learning process up in an engaging, enjoyable way.”
At the end of each unit, his ninth grade World History classes finish with a big picture simulation, designed to make students think critically about what they learned. For example, his classes play the video game CivCity: Rome, and deconstruct the game using primary and secondary sources. The students then evaluated whether it provided an accurate representation of life in the Roman Empire.
“Anything can be used as a source: video games, movies, books,” he said. “What I try to do is have them analyze these sources and continue to help them learn how to evaluate information that is presented to them."
Last fall, Lucas was the assistant boys soccer coach. Through this role, he enjoyed developing relationships with students outside of the school walls. “You get to see them outside of the school-structured setting, and in the process develop a more complete understanding of them,” he said. “Similarly, they get to interact with us in a different environment, which I think helps create stronger relationships and a more positive school culture.”
Lucas said it's great to see how involved the students and teachers are each day, from athletics to the arts, and how every facet of the school is valued by the community.
"Students here have endless opportunities to pursue their interests and express themselves both in and outside of the classroom," he said.