James Richmond- 2011 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award Recipient

James E. Richmond, superintendent of Charles County Public Schools in Maryland (CCPS) was selected by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Space Foundation as the winner of the 2011 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award. Named for Mercury Astronaut Alan Shepard, the award was presented during the opening ceremony of the 27th National Space Symposium on April 11, 2011 at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The superintendent of a district with nearly 27,000 K-12 students, Richmond launched multiple programs to help his students excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

A long-time advocate for STEM education, James Richmond has made a lasting impact on tens of thousands of students. And,
through the programs he has created, he is helping to develop a future workforce of scientists and engineers.
— Dr. Stephen Feldman, president and CEO of the Astronauts Memorial Foundation

Located 25 miles south of Washington, D.C., CCPS was able, under Richmond’s guidance, to take advantage of its proximity to the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Andrews Air Force Base and the Patuxent River Naval Base to develop compelling and real-life-based technology programs for students.  In addition, CCPS has worked closely with the Space Foundation to bring space-related STEM programs to teachers and students.

CCPS programs initiated under Richmond include:

  • Project Lead the Way, an aerospace engineering-themed course, in CCPS high schools
  • Gateway to Technology, which includes a new flight and space curriculum, in CCPS middle schools
  • STEM curriculum written by the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
  • Space Foundation Space Across the Curriculum professional development courses for CCPS teachers of all grade levels 
  • Telepresence distance learning technology for live exchanges among students and aerospace scientists and engineers around the world 
  •  “Magic Planet,” a device that allows teachers to use real-time NASA data to create three-dimensional videos that depict scientific phenomenon
  • The Team American Rocket Challenge, an international program to involve students in aerospace engineering


Richmond’s significant accomplishments include:

  • Securing federal grants to add digital technology to classrooms 
  • Involving all of the district’s 35 schools in the MESA (Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement) program since 2007 
  • Developing productive partnerships with a wide range of space industry, military, government and educational institutions and individual scientists to support and supplement CCPS school program;
  • Including a digital classroom/planetarium with aerospace programming and “Science on a Sphere” for use by students throughout the district in the new St. Charles High School that opens in 2013 
Jim Richmond is a vocal champion for STEM and for using space themes to engage students in technology subjects. He is also a good friend of the Space Foundation and an extraordinary educator.
— Space Foundation CEO Elliot Pulham

Because CCPS has an educational partnership with the Space Foundation, Pulham said the Space Foundation recused itself from voting when Richmond’s nomination advanced to mitigate any perception of a conflict of interest.  Richmond was elected unanimously by the other members of the selection committee.  
In his fourth term as superintendent of CCPS, Richmond started his education career with Charles County Public Schools in 1966 as a classroom teacher. Since then he has served as: social studies teacher, vice principal, high school principal, director of supervision and curriculum, director of school administration and regional administrator.

He has a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Tusculum College, Greeneville, Tenn., and a master’s degree in educational administration from Bowie State University, Bowie, Md. Richmond earned his specialist (EdS) degree in school administration from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He was named as the Maryland State Superintendent of the Year in 2003, and is the recipient of numerous awards for excellence and his work in the area of minority achievement.