By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
GARLAND – For the first time in more than four decades, students will enter the doors of Good Shepherd Catholic School next fall without seeing a seeing a familiar face.
Gail Richardson-Bassett, affectionately nicknamed “Mrs. R-B” by students and serving as the school’s principal since 2007, announced she is retiring this June.
“It has been a blessing to serve this community for so many years,” Richardson-Bassett said. “I thank God that He chose to put me on this path.”
Richardson-Bassett moved to Texas from Massachusetts with her husband Steve in 1979. At that time, she took a job teaching second grade at Good Shepherd.
“My husband said when he got a job and we moved to Texas, ‘Five years. We’ll just be here five years,’” she recalled with a smile. “One of the reasons I’ve stayed here this long is that I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by people who have a strong belief in Catholic education and who have supported me throughout all these years.”
Richardson-Bassett taught for many years at the school, also serving as an assistant principal for 12 years before accepting the role as principal 16 years ago.
“I had many ideas and goals for this school and I am happy to say I have seen them fulfilled,” said Richardson-Bassett, noting that she witnessed the campus grow and change with the construction of a new church as well as implemented a one-to-one student technology program and a tuition assistance program to allow families the ability to afford a Catholic education.
“It has been a joy to see hundreds of students grow and graduate from our school. When I hear of their accomplishments, I am proud that our school contributed to their success.”
In her time at Good Shepherd, Richardson-Bassett also witnessed the Hispanic community grow in the parish and school grow to a point where now it is much of the student population.
“I’ve always worked to incorporate and celebrate the community’s culture into our school culture,” Richardson-Bassett said, noting the school’s celebrations of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and las posadas. “If you are going to welcome a community, you have to be a part of it.”
Assistant principal Ben Compton, who will step into the principal’s role in the fall, said Richardson-Bassett has been a cornerstone for the Good Shepherd community for 44 years.
“She has touched the lives of so many students and their families,” Compton said. “She gives tirelessly to serve this school and strives to create open avenues to Catholic education, whether working to obtain tuition assistance and financial aid or making Catholic education accessible to families that may not know that option exists.”
Pauline Stoffels began working with Richardson-Bassett in 1988 as teaching partners for second graders at the Garland school.
“While I had previous teaching experience it was my first year as a second-grade teacher, so Gail became my mentor guiding me in sacramental preparation requirements and the curriculum,” Stoffels recalled. “She was the ultimate professional and a beloved teacher, so I truly looked up to her as a role model.”
Over the years, Stoffels said she has witnessed Richardson-Bassett’s unwavering commitment to the success of the school.
“She is the first to arrive and the last to leave the building,” she said. “She is very goal-oriented and is an unstoppable force in attaining them and makes many personal sacrifices to meet them.”
Stoffels added that Richardson-Bassett was instrumental in keeping the school fiscally sound, spending countless hours writing grants, sacrificing her weekends to take boxes of used ink cartridges to get recycling rewards to purchase office supplies teachers needed, and serving as the head of the spring fundraiser where she would work tirelessly late into the night in her office for months every year to make sure it was successful.
“She knew this was our ‘make or break’ event, and through her efforts, it would be a success,” Stoffels said.
“She sees our needs and does everything in her power to meet them for the betterment of our students and school,” he said. “Her efforts continue to ensure the success of the school community.”
Stoffels said Richardson-Bassett always made time to greet the students each morning as she opened car doors and welcomed them to school.
“Gail truly epitomized the ‘Good Shepherd’ in leading our school for her unwavering commitment to grow the flock, share the Gospel values and message, and ensure the academic growth of the students,” said Stoffels, adding that to say that “She will be missed is an understatement.”
As she departs, Richardson-Bassett knows that Good Shepherd Catholic School will always hold a special place in her heart.
“The love, prayers, and support that I’ve received from this community have helped me in many ways,” Richardson-Bassett said. “I will always be grateful.”