Dass Richardson

Elementary Art Teacher

How many years have you worked at Oak Grove?

I have worked at Oak Grove since 2006, first teaching and subbing in the Early Childhood Program, and for Art and the “Junk Trunk.” Since 2015 I have been the Elementary Art Teacher.

Why do you work at Oak Grove?

I am inspired by the beautiful campus and the community that exists among parents, students, teachers and staff.

A quote that inspires your approach to your job.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”
– John Muir

Where is your special spot on campus?

The path walking from the Pavilion towards the ECP. When I taught kindergarten, my co-teacher and I would walk behind children running or laughing or stopping to inspect an insect, with the blue sky and the grand Topa Topas in the background. It was always magical.

Coffee or Tea?

Coffee.

What makes an Oak Grove education unique?

As a parent at Oak Grove, I have always appreciated the willingness on the teachers’ part to work with me and my husband to support our kids. The school as a whole aims to build bridges and create connections through parent education, family activities, student conferences, and regular communications.

How do we prepare students for their life ahead?

Oak Grove students are often asked to reflect about themselves, situations, and about the world, which leads to self knowledge. Students graduate from Oak Grove with a stronger sense of self, which I believe creates confidence and clarity.

What outdoor experience has been most impactful for you?

Every time I drive around Ojai or to the coast, I absorb all the incredible natural beauty around me. Walking around Oak Grove’s campus, hiking on a trail, having my feet in the sand at the beach… Noticing nature on a daily basis is more impactful to me than one particular experience, (though Yosemite was pretty incredible!!).

The best live music performance/concert you ever attended is …

At Oak Grove, it was when my daughter (who was always shy about getting attention) surprised us when she sang an entire song solo at last year’s High School showcase. Outside of Oak Grove, it was probably seeing U2 live when I was in high school. I was so close to the stage – it was really unforgettable.

Which teacher in your life affected you greatly? How?

Adrienne Hoskins. Adrienne welcomed me into the fold of the ECP staff as a substitute teacher, and taught me the true meaning of being loving and present with children. This is how I teach, because of her.

Name something that nobody knows about you.

At the end of each semester (so, in June and in December) I watch the “Lord of the Rings Trilogy” while enjoying lots of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream!

Person (dead or alive, famous or not) that you’d most like to share a meal with.

Ram Dass (and not because we share the same name).

Name a place you’ve always wanted to visit, but haven’t yet.

Venice, Italy.

What is your most bizarre OGS experience?

I can’t think of any, but I am sure I will remember one tomorrow!

Share a hilarious OGS experience.

When I was teaching a lesson about Georgia O’Keefe to my 2nd grade class a few years back, I brought in real trumpet vine flowers from my yard for students to observe and paint. I was saying, “Notice how Georgia O’Keefe often gets right up close to the flower. Get your eyes close to the flower and really notice what you see…” and as if on cue, ear-wigs (or pincher bugs) started pouring out of the flowers and spilling out on to the tables. The students started screaming and running, and it was complete chaos. It was supposed to be a bucolic peaceful activity – but it turned out to be super hilarious!

Favorite Oak Grove expression?

“Do the Dass!” (ask Mr. Clumpy!) Also, not an Oak Grove expression, but whenever you see horses parked outside a coffee shop, or a Kombucha shop that’s always busy, or discover we are banning plastic bags, I think “That is SO Ojai!”