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Ritenour Announces 2022 Top District Employees

Dion Johnson, 2022 Diamond Circle Teacher of the YearThe Ritenour “prize patrol” surprised four top Ritenour staff members on March 14 in their schools to announce that they’ve been selected as this year’s top district employees: Ritenour Diamond Circle Teacher of the Year, Employee of the Year, First-Class Teacher and Make A Difference Award honoree.

Dion Johnson, a third-grade teacher at Marvin Elementary, is the district’s 2022 Diamond Circle Teacher of the Year.  Jesseca Hankins, an office professional at Marion Elementary, is the 2022 Diamond Circle Employee of the Year.  Alexander Terrance, an assistant principal at Ritenour Middle School, is the Make A Difference Award honoree and Dianitia Butler, a first-grade teacher at Iveland Elementary, is the district’s First Class Teacher.   

The awards are given to Ritenour teachers and staff who best exemplify the district’s commitment to quality education and service.

As the district’s Teacher of the Year, Johnson will compete against other teachers statewide for the Missouri State Teacher of the Year Award. Johnson, who started teaching in Ritenour in 2011, is a teacher-leader at Marvin and is admired by his colleagues for his extensive teaching knowledge and skills.  His students say that he is a passionate and energetic leader who always has a positive attitude.  During recess, you can often see him on the playground interacting with students by playing kickball or football.  

“We are so proud that Mr. Johnson has received this prestigious and well-deserved honor,” said Marvin Elementary Principal Nikki Autenreith.  “He has such a great rapport with his students.  He goes above and beyond each day to help her students reach their goals, and he truly believes that to accomplish our biggest goals we need to have high expectations for all students.”   

Jesseca Hankins, Diamond Circle Employee of the YearAs Diamond Circle Employee of the Year, Hankins is an integral part of the Marion Elementary team.  Hankins significantly contributes to creating a positive culture and climate at her school. According to Marion Elementary Principal Bilal Ewing, she always greets everyone with a smile and creates a welcoming environment for students, staff and families. 

“Mrs. Hankins is our superhero,” Ewing said.  “She goes out of her way to make coming to school the best possible experience for students, staff and parents.  Ms. Hankins loves our students and is a trusted adult that many of them rely on every day for care and support.”  

The Make A Difference Award annually recognizes a staff member who goes above and beyond in meeting the needs of the whole child.  Terrance is in his fourth year as an assistant principal at Ritenour Middle School.  In February, he was named the new principal of Hoech Middle School.  

Terrance makes a difference in the lives of students by building strong, caring relationships with them every day, according to RMS Principal Dr. Brian Rich.  

“Students adore Mr. Terrance,” Rich said.  “He is skilled at building strong relationships with students, staff and families.  He works closely with all members of our school community to build a productive and engaging environment.  It’s not unusual to walk down the hall with Alex and hear him address every student by their name along with a ‘high five’.” 

Ritenour’s First-Class teacher traditionally honors an outstanding first- or second-year teacher.  Butler is in her second year as a first-grade teacher at Iveland.   

“Student engagement is Mrs. Butler’s greatest strength,” Iveland Principal Amanda Connelly explained. ”In her class, everyone is not only expected to participate but wants to participate. Ms. Butler herself is engaging as a person and her enthusiasm and excitement for learning are contagious for her students. Just walking into Ms. Butler's room makes you want to participate in the learning as well.  She exemplifies what we are striving for as the future of Ritenour teachers.”  

In January, the district announced Diamond Circle Teachers at the building level during the winter employee convocation. Awardees are selected each year by colleagues in their buildings. This year’s honorees are:

  • Ritenour School for Early Childhood Education: Linda Voelkel
  • Ritenour Virtual Academy: Amber Chaidez, first grade
  • Buder Elementary: Tina Nichols, fourth grade 
  • Iveland Elementary: Amanda Stein, third grade
  • Kratz Elementary: Yen-yi Chen, art
  • Marion Elementary: Amy Germain, first grade 
  • Marvin Elementary: Dion Johnson, third grade 
  • Wyland Elementary: Cindy Herd, second grade 
  • Hoech Middle: Cliff McDaniel, band 
  • Ritenour Middle: Mark Goldman, eighth grade English language arts and social studies
  • Ritenour High School: Danielle Swallow, math

All award recipients, as well as 25-year service award recipients and 2021-2022 retirees, will be recognized at the district’s annual Honors Dinner on Thursday, April 28 at the Ritenour Auditorium.  

First-Year Teacher
First Class Teacher Dianitia Butler

Alexander Terrance
Make-a-Difference Honoree Alexander Terrance