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Ritenour Announces 2019 Top District Employees

Sheneè McCoy, fifth-grade teacher at Kratz ElementaryThe Ritenour “prize patrol” surprised three top Ritenour staff members on March 20 in their schools to announce that they’ve been selected as this year’s top district employees: Ritenour Diamond Circle Teacher of the Year, Employees of the Year, and Make A Difference Award honoree.

Sheneè McCoy, a fifth-grade teacher at Kratz Elementary is the district’s 2019 Diamond Circle Teacher of the Year. Keaton Strong, crisis intervention specialist at Ritenour High School, is the Diamond Circle Employee of the Year. Jeremy Kane, a counselor at both Buder and Marvin Elementary schools, is this year’s Make A Difference Award honoree.

Diamond Circle Awards are given to Ritenour teachers who best exemplify the district’s commitment to quality education and service.

As the district’s Teacher of the Year, McCoy will compete against other teachers statewide for the Missouri Teacher of the Year Award. During her six years in Ritenour, McCoy not only has taught fifth-graders at Kratz, but also has served as a new teacher mentor and RNEA building representative for her school. Prior to her tenure in Ritenour, she taught in Chicago Public Schools, East St. Louis and Confluence Academy in St. Louis.

Kratz Principal Dr. Tim Streicher says McCoy is a tireless advocate for her students, an inspiration to her colleagues and a partner with parents.

“When you walk into Ms. McCoy’s classroom, you can feel genuine energy and enthusiasm for learning and see that her students want to reach higher goals,” said Streicher. “She goes above and beyond when it comes to meeting the social and emotional needs of her students so they can learn at higher levels, and always takes time to help her fellow teachers become better at their craft. On top of all this, she communicates beautifully with families, helping them become the best partners they can be in their child’s education.”

Keaton Strong, crisis intervention specialist at Ritenour High School As Diamond Circle Employee of the Year, Strong has been a champion for students, families and for staff members at Ritenour High School since he joined the district in 2018. Prior to his position at RHS, Strong was a human trafficking state investigator with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, a St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officer, and a field supervisor at Saint Louis University.

Ritenour High School Principal Jeff Marker said Strong is a dynamic member of the school’s team who always has a smile to share.

“Mr. Strong truly is a superhero who is a fierce student advocate and outstanding ambassador for our district,” said Marker. “Staff, students and families always can count on him for a smile, a positive attitude and enthusiasm as he tackles problems and finds solutions. His ability to create and nurture positive relationships has changed the culture in our building and beyond.”

The Make A Difference Award annually recognizes a staff member who goes above and beyond in meeting the needs of the whole child. Kane has served the social-emotional needs of Buder and Marvin students and their families since 2015. He has been instrumental in building trauma-responsive resources and programs in the schools he serves.

“Mr. Kane is a warm, genuine individual who creates positive interactions easily,” said Jeremy Kane, counselor at Buder and Marvin Elementary Julie Hahn, assistant superintendent for student interventions and supports. “His creative approach inspires and empowers our students to recognize how special they are. He also is masterful at creating a caring community that values and celebrates diversity by working tirelessly with staff and families.”

In January, the district announced Diamond Circle Teachers at the building level. Awardees are selected each year by colleagues in their buildings. The School for Early Childhood Education selects an honoree every other year. This year’s honorees are:

  • Buder Elementary: Laura Grubb, kindergarten
  • Iveland Elementary: Rachael Younge, third grade
  • Kratz Elementary: Shenee` McCoy, fifth grade
  • Marion Elementary: Rachel Thomas, fifth grade
  • Marvin Elementary: Julie Bober, fifth grade
  • Wyland Elementary: Jake Sandman, third grade
  • Hoech Middle School: Jessica Todd, eighth-grade English language arts
  • Ritenour Middle School: Nikki Krbec, eighth-grade English language arts
  • Ritenour High School: Colette Love Hilliard, English language arts
  • International Welcome Center, Deepa Jaswal, English language learning

All award winners, as well as 25-year service award recipients and 2018-2019 retirees will be recognized at the district’s annual Honors Dinner on April 25 in the Ritenour Auditorium.