headshot of mrs ritter

Catalayah Site Teacher of the Year - Stacey  Ritter 

Mrs. Stacy Ritter is the site teacher of the year for Catalayah Elementary; she teaches fifth grade. 

Teachers hold society's future in their hands, which drives Mrs. Ritter's passion for excellence in her craft. They mold doctors, lawyers, mechanics, and teachers. It was her teachers who formed her values as an educator. "I had some of the brightest and most loving teachers. My teachers were honest, present at the moment, had high expectations and truly cared about the whole child. Being a teacher wasn't their job; it was their passion. I wanted to be like those teachers." 

She considers her most significant contributions to education to be the relationships she builds that earn her the capital to prepare a student's mind and heart to learn. "My classroom is my mission field," she said. To help her always be mindful of her mission - her why; she keeps a journal with each student's name listed under the year they were in her class. "It is one of my most prized possessions,” she added. 

Teaching is both a science and an art. 

Mrs. Ritter knows education is a team effort. It's not just about 5th grade but about kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade. What they do in those classes lays a foundation for success in 5th grade. Ritter humbly shared, "Any accomplishments I have are not only mine; they are my team's and my school's accomplishments."

ritter working with students at tables

Success for a child depends on the cooperation of grade-level and upper-level collaboration. Fifth-grade teachers need to know what sixth-grade teachers expect to help set students up for success at the next level. Working to create interactive, engaging, and rigorous lessons paralleled with high expectations will help close any gaps the pandemic created and propel forward. Mrs. Ritter is laser-focused on creating an environment for parent involvement, knowing parent engagement is one of the most significant identifiers of a student's success. 

An outstanding teacher takes the time to observe their students, learn their strengths and weaknesses, find their preferred learning style, and plan accordingly. Each student deserves a teacher who will invest all they can into that student's learning.

Learning takes place at different times and in different situations. She shared the analogy of microwave popcorn, “We wait once we place the popcorn in the microwave and set the timer. The popcorn doesn't immediately pop. Even when it does start to pop, not all kernels pop at once. Even when the time is up, and we think it is finished, some kernels remain unpopped at the bottom of the bag. This is true of learning. Not all students are going to learn at the same rate or time. Once we know where students are, we can develop engaging activities using multiple learning styles to reach the students. Every student will learn when they are developmentally ready and taught in multiple ways."  

Ritter was once asked, "What do you do if you give an assessment and the students don't score well?". The obvious answer is to reteach. However, she feels the appropriate response is, "I should teach the skill differently." This is where teaching is an art. 


Video editing ZTV students: Ariana Ashlock, Mim Hopper, Hope Mallory and Scott Joseph