Ms. Orinda Nelson- Vice Principal

Favorite vacation destination/hobby:

When I have the opportunity to get away, I love being in the Caribbean. The warm weather and varied shades of blue water bring a smile to my face and help me breathe easier. Although I love the Caribbean, I also love seeing new places. When I was a teacher, my mother and I would pick a different country to visit each year. My trip to Australia was one of the best.

"What is the thing you like most about your work?"

It is so much fun seeing students get excited about what they are learning. Each teacher has a different style of teaching and developing a classroom culture. As the assistant principal I have the benefit of seeing every classroom in action.

"How has teaching/working with kids enhanced your skills in other areas of life?"

Working in a school means that every day brings new challenges and sometimes multiple challenges at the same time. It is never boring. This has helped me stay calm in all areas of life. When I lived in California I was in both the 7.0 earthquakes (it followed me from northern California to southern). I was able to remain calm and help others focus on what needed to get done to get back to normal.

"What is the funniest thing a student has said to you?"

For some reason I can’t think of anything funny a student has said although there have been hundreds of things that students have said to make me laugh. One thing that I find entertaining is how very young children associate height with age. This works in my favor, since I am only 5”1’ I get to permanently be around 21 years old . . . until the students reach 2nd or 3rd grade.


"What is the biggest misconception about teaching/working in a school?"

Many people seem to think that teachers do not need to put much effort into their jobs. What they don’t realize is that teachers spend a lot of time analyzing student work to determine where students need help. Teachers plan their lessons thinking about what might be confusing to their students, how much information they can share in an allotted time without overwhelming them, and so much more. As the assistant principal, I spend time observing every classroom to see how students are responding to instruction and then the principal and I look over student data (test scores, quizzes) to determine if we need to change our approach. The administrators work with the teachers to find professional development opportunities to help us all improve. What I didn’t expect when I became an assistant principal is that I would be working on building maintenance, organizing all of the testing, and dealing with transportation concerns.

"Why do you love Ritchie Park?"

Everyone at Ritchie Park has been so welcoming! The parents, teachers, students, and staff have all made me feel like I was meant to be here. Thank you all!

Favorite Movie:

When I have free time I am usually watching an action movie although I enjoy all genres. I love movies and I have many favorites but the one that comes to mind is Heart and Souls. It is sad, funny and happy. The overall theme is being brave enough to correct your  mistakes, including mistakes made by not taking action.

Favorite Quote:

I don’t know where this quote originated (it may be a movie original) but I have remembered it ever since I heard Master Shifu say it in Kung Fu Panda 2:

“If you only do what you can do, then you will never be more than you are now.”

I think this is an important message for students as they struggle to learn new things every day. For some reason, we (adults) have managed to convince children that it is bad to try and fail, so many of them stop trying at a very early age. I want our children to try, fail, learn, and try again even if they fail several more times.