Inspired by her father, a music teacher and the first black man to be hired by Perth Amboy Public Schools, Joyce Suzanne Richardson-Melech has dedicated herself to building her own legacy in the field. She started as a musical teacher in the Perth Amboy Board of Education, and quickly added the positions of assistant band director, musical play director, and gifted and talented music teacher to her repertoire. Dr. Richardson-Melech then took her talents to the Anthony V. Ceres Elementary School, where she served as a musical play and chorus director, and to the Dr. Herbert N. Richardson 21st Century Elementary School, where she served as a music teacher. Although she retired in 2014, she couldn’t stay away long. Dr. Richardson-Melech decided to channel her background into helping the next generation of educators, and has been serving as a supervisor of student teachers in music education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey since 2016.
Outside of the classroom, Dr. Richardson-Melech has been very active in her community. She is a member of prominent organizations like the NAACP, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of Musicians, and the New Jersey Music Educators Association, and is the president of the New Jersey Retired Music Teachers Association and the vice president of the Fulbright Association. Additionally, Dr. Richardson-Melech is the secretary of the board of directors and a member-at-large of the Philomusica Community Choir. Her rapport among her peers led her to be selected as a delegate of People to People Music Education in 2007, 2010, and 2011. This gave her the opportunity to go to Russia, South Africa, and Brazil.
To prepare for her endeavors, Dr. Richardson-Melech earned a Bachelor of Music in music education and a Master of Music in music education from Westminster Choir College in 1979 and 1981, respectively, and a PhD in music education from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in 2011. She also became a certified supervisor and music teacher in the state of New Jersey, and furthered her academic and professional standing through the Fulbright-Hays Summer Seminars Abroad Award. The seminar she attended was in Mexico.
As a testament to her accomplishments, Dr. Richardson-Melech received a variety of accolades over the years. She was particularly proud to have a room named after her at the school that was named after her father, and to have been inducted into the Hall of Fame at Perth Amboy High School. Other notable honors include the New Jersey Governor’s Award for Arts Education, the Master Music Teacher designation from the New Jersey Music Educators Association, the Teacher of the Year award from the Anthony V. Ceres School, the Award for Excellence in Teaching from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and the Lois Bailey Glenn Award for Teaching Excellence from the National Music Foundation.
When Dr. Richardson-Melech has spare time, she enjoys travel, needlecrafts, knitting, crocheting, and antiques. She also plays the piano, clarinet, oboe, and cello, and sings.