Every Student Succeeding: Richard Lemmons

In infancy, Richard’s grandparents took him from his parents, both addicts, and raised him as their own. When they died while Richard was still young, depression became yet another battle he had to fight. A host of educators in Riverside Unified School District banded together to help out. Julie and Paul McIntyre, educators in the district, offered support. He became one of the school’s top pianists, pouring his heart into music. Another pair of educators, Brian and Jean Marie Harris, opened their home to Richard, bringing him in to the family fold. The bond is so strong, Richard now refers to them as his mother and father. He credits their love and care with a newfound peace that pulled him out of his depression, onto a college track, and into a bright future of endless possibility.


August 22, 2017

Music to Mend a Broken Heart

When Richard Lemmons sits down at a piano, time seems to stand still.

“How I can describe it is you just fall into the piano,” Richard said. “Mentally, you’re just there. You don’t know anything else is going on.”

But more importantly, piano serves as Richard’s escape from reality.

“Piano has been a way for him to just forget about everything else,” Ramona High piano teacher Ronda Barnes said. “And just something that brings him joy. And you can always tell that by the songs that he would choose.”

The peace and tranquility Richard feels each time his fingers touch the keys is empowering because his early childhood was anything but peaceful. His relationship with his biological parents is best described as non-existent.

“I know that they are like an acquaintance of mine but I don’t necessarily consider them my mother and father,” Richard said.

Richard’s grandparents deemed his mother and father unfit to raise a child. So they took it upon themselves to step up and fill that role. In fact, Richard’s grandparents took him home from the hospital. His biological parents currently reside in Mississippi. But in 2009, Richard’s grandfather passed away. Even today, Richard says he still struggles with the loss.

“It destroyed me,” Richard said. “It threw me into a very severe depression. I really have not been myself ever since then. Just severely depressed since then. Who wouldn’t be depressed losing a father?”

Richard faced another tragedy six years later when his grandmother died. Richard confessed, at that point, he lost the will to live.

“I honestly was at the point where I told my friends I was going to kill myself,” Richard said. “But someone just told me to hold on and stick it through.”

In fact, there were plenty of people who did not let Richard give up on himself. A host of educators in Riverside Unified School District banded together to help out. Julie and Paul McIntyre, educators in the district, offered support. And another pair of educators, Brian and Jean Marie Harris, opened their home to Richard.

“Brian and I said, ‘Ok. We will take him,’” Ramona High teacher Jean Marie Harris said. “’He’s got to have someplace.’ We did not want him going into the foster care system.”

The Harrises told Richard they would treat him the same way they did their own children. Richard’s relationship with Brian and Jean Marie is so strong he refers to them as father and mother.

“The Harrises are like my parents now,” Richard said. “They took me in. Just all around kind of patched me back together. They just have this sense of home to them. They feel like family.”

There was a time when Richard Lemmons struggled to make it through the day. He lost so much at such a young age. But now, he has a new outlook on life. At long last, Richard has found a sense of peace.

“I don’t know how to describe it other than a miracle because when I look back on it, I don’t think this could have been possible,” Richard said. “Just a combination of all the love and care. And all the things I fell in love with to do combined into one and brought me back up to who I think I can be.”

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