Ritenour Announces 2020 Top District Employees
Because of social distancing, the Ritenour School District “prize patrol” that normally hands out awards looked a lot different this year. Superintendent Dr. Chris Kilbride made the official announcement of the district’s top honors during an online Zoom conference call on March 31. Click here to watch a video from the call. It’s just one of many changes due to the unprecedented school closures caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Ellen Kim, a math teacher at Ritenour High School, is the district’s 2020 Diamond Circle Teacher of the Year. Audris Campbell, an office professional at Wyland Elementary, is the 2020 Diamond Circle Employee of the Year. Tavonda Palmer, graduation coach and leadership teacher at Ritenour High School, is the Make A Difference Award honoree and Luke Sanders, a fourth 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, Kim will compete against other teachers statewide for the Missouri State Teacher of the Year Award. During her 18 years at Ritenour High School, Kim has not only taught a variety of math classes from Algebra 1 to Trigonometry, but also served as a highly-successful volleyball coach since 2007. She has spent her entire educational and coaching career in Ritenour.
“We are so proud that Mrs. Kim has received this prestigious and well-deserved honor,” said RHS Principal Dr. Jeff Marker. “She goes above and beyond each day to help her students reach their goals. Mrs. Kim holds her students and athletes to high expectations and gets results. She truly believes that to accomplish our biggest goals we need to have high expectations for all students.”
As Diamond Circle Employee of the Year, Campbell is known for being an outstanding office professional at Wyland Elementary who works hard to ensure that all needs are met for teachers, staff, students and families each day. Wyland Elementary Principal Dr. Lisa Greenstein says she is a valued member of the school’s front office team who always has a smile and helps brighten the day for everyone she meets.
“Ms. Campbell always comes to work with the expectation that it is going to be a good day,” Greenstein said. “She is always available to support in any situation. When there is an issue within our building, she finds a solution. She goes above and beyond to ensure that all teachers receive what they need to function throughout the day. Since she is the face that most parents see first, she helps them feel welcome and valued at our school.”
The Make A Difference Award annually recognizes a staff member who goes above and beyond in meeting the needs of the whole child. As an RHS Class of 2000 graduate, Palmer enjoys making a difference and leaving a positive legacy in the lives of young people. She is in her 14th year as a teacher at her alma mater.
Palmer is one of the most decorated and celebrated educators in the Ritenour School District. Over the past few years, she has received numerous awards and accolades - both regionally and nationally.
“Ms. Palmer personifies what it means to receive the Make A Difference Award,” said Ritenour Superintendent Dr. Chris Kilbride. “She is a highly-skilled, engaging educator with high expectations of her students not only to live up to their potential academically, but also as servant leaders in their school. She does a great job touching students’ hearts to enable their minds so they can excel academically and beyond. Because of her, many students’ lives have been changed for the better.”
On her nomination form, one of her students commented: “I would select Ms.Palmer because whenever I'm feeling down or not myself she knows automatically and does a very great job of lifting my spirit. She sees unconditional potential in all her students. If you let her she can mold you into your very best and authentic self.”
Ritenour’s First-Class teacher traditionally honors an outstanding first- or second-year teacher. Although Sanders is in his second year of teaching, he has quickly stepped into a leadership role at Iveland, according to school principal Amanda Connelly.
“Our students are engaged in Mr. Sanders’ class because he has the skill of creating a community with them,” Connelly said. “They care about Mr. Sanders and know that he cares about them. They want to learn and know that it matters to be engaged in his classroom. Mr. Sanders tells his class how thankful he is to be their teacher each day and he genuinely means it.”
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:
- School for Early Childhood Education: Stephanie Phillips, preschool teacher
- Buder Elementary: Heather Gehner, kindergarten
- Iveland Elementary: Hannah Fraley, second grade
- Kratz Elementary: Barbara Parson, second grade
- Marion Elementary: Alexis Jamerison, third grade
- Marvin Elementary: LaKisha Fouchè, first grade
- Wyland Elementary: Stacey Frey, second grade
- Hoech Middle School: Kim Carson, music
- Ritenour Middle School: Jocelyn Meyer, art
All award recipients, as well as 25-year service award recipients and 2019-2020 retirees will be recognized at the district’s annual Honors Dinner on a date to be determined.