Linda Christine Richards Bonds
An educator for 36 years, Linda Bonds served the FoxPointMapleDale-IndianHillSchool District caringly and adeptly for 25 years. Now retired, she co-owns BusyHandsChildDevelopmentCenter (located on the northwest side) with her husband, Azie Bonds, Jr.
Born on rural Jacksonville, IL, Linda is the oldest of five children. She attended MacMurrayCollege, graduating in 1975, with a major in elementary education and a minor in deaf and hard-of-hearing teacher education. Her career began at an elementary school in Murrayville, IL, where she once attended. The first African American female teacher from Jacksonville, she taught Title 1 reading. She met her husband when both worked for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples’ (NAACP) youth summer program in Jacksonville. They married in 1980 and moved to Kalamazoo, MI, where Linda taught as the first African American at a hearing-impaired preschool and at the hearing-impaired high school.
Upon recruitment by civil rights and education leader Helen Barnhill to satisfy the Chapter 220 integration suit settlement, Linda and her family moved to Milwaukee in 1987. Interviewed by four school districts in one day, all offered her a contract to fulfill settlement requirements between MilwaukeePublic Schools, the NAACP, and 24 suburban school districts. The desegregation settlement required not only that African American children be bussed into each school district, but required hiring an increased number of African American teachers, counselors, administrators and non-certified staff members. Attracted by the sincerity of principal Jeanne Morrow, the small class sizes and the financial compensation, Linda became the first African American teacher hired by the MapleDale-IndianHillSchool District.
One of two teachers most requested by parents, Linda effectively engaged students in diverse subject matter, including understanding African American historical contributions. Parents intentionally influenced each sibling’s placement in her classes as they attained eligibility. She worked with a supportive team of teachers through several principals. She states, “We were like a family” and adds, “No one stands alone, but rather we are part of an intricately woven network of parents, teachers, community and businesses, forming a collective whole striving for excellence pertaining to the future of our youth.” She received recognition from state superintendent Tony Evers for years of commitment and service, recognition from the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) as an outstanding teacher, and has been featured on local billboards and commercials throughout Milwaukee supporting the strengthening of our schools and community.
”Being first has its merits, but what’s more important is that when the door of opportunity knocks, don’t just walk through it. Kick it wide open so that others may follow,” Linda advises. To this end, the following community activities ground her as a mentor and a role model. She served two terms on Brown Deer’s Educational Curriculum School Board; participated in the planning, development and teaching of UW-Milwaukee’s Summer Tutorial Reading and Math Programs; tutored at Milwaukee Urban League and successfully coached their team of high school students to win consecutive citywide championship titles in both 2002 and 2003 Annual Financial Challenge Bowl Competitions.
Linda teaches summer Kindergarten and Sunday school at MountZionMissionaryBaptistChurch and occasionally substitute teaches. An avid bowler, her other interests include serving as Top Ladies of Distinction – Milwaukee chapter’s correspondence secretary. Linda and Azie’s son, Justin, works as an MPS paraprofessional and their daughter, Kathryn lives and works in Minneapolis as a project specialist for United Health Group.