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Ritenour Announces 2021 Top District Employees

The Ritenour School District is proud to announce its top 2021 employees, who were surprised during a Zoom meeting on March 23, 2021, with district leaders and colleagues.  Click here to watch the video of the presentation.  


Christina Melly, an English language arts teacher at Ritenour High School, is the district’s 2021 Diamond Circle Teacher of the Year. Erica Hill, Ritenour’s lead nurse and Wyland Elementary nurse, is the 2021 Diamond Circle Employee of the Year. Dr. Michael Nobile, instructional coach, is this year’s Make a Difference Award honoree; Sydney Tomaso, a second grade teacher at Kratz 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 Ritenour Diamond Circle Teacher, Melly has set the bar for meeting her students’ academic and social-emotional needs during an especially difficult year when most of her students felt isolated. She went above and beyond in finding ways to connect to her students and share her success with both virtual and in-person instruction with colleagues. 

“She checks up on us making sure we are mentally okay or not just to see if we have the right mindset with everything that's going on in the world,” said one of her students. “She is very supportive of anyone and is a go-to teacher for anything. Her classroom is and feels very positive and welcoming.”

As the district’s Teacher of the Year, Melly will compete against other teachers statewide for the Missouri Teacher of the Year Award. 

Hill was selected as the 2021 Diamond Circle Employee of the Year for going above and beyond helping her fellow school nurses and administrators navigate the constantly changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic. In helping put together the district’s response plan, Hill put students and staff first in all her decisions. 

 “She has been a leader through the COVID Issues, finding time for questions and concerns regarding staff, students and parents,” said one colleague. “When faced with many changes in protocols and policies due to COVID, she remains encouraging to the staff with each email and never fails to thank us for our hard work.”

Dr. Nobile was selected for this year’s Make A Difference Award for being able to transform the way students learn and succeed as he works with teachers at Buder and Iveland elementary schools.

As an Instructional Coach, Dr. Nobile has helped many teachers create magic in their classrooms,” said an administrator who has witnessed the changes in student engagement and achievement.

The First Class Teacher award honors a teacher in his/her first or second year of teaching who demonstrates outstanding teaching. Tomaso already is recognized as a rising leader at her school.

“It is rare that a new teacher comes into the profession with such poise, thoughtfulness, and care to do right by the students in their class,” said Kratz Principal Dr. Tim Streicher. “Ms. Tomaso became a leader on her team right away.  She possesses all the poise and knowledge of a teacher with much more experience.”

In January, the district announced Diamond Circle Teachers at the building level.* 

They are: 

  • Buder Elementary: Jennifer Halderman, art 
  • Iveland Elementary: Mitzy Barnstead, English language learner (ELL)
  • Kratz Elementary: Dawn Zeitz, ELL
  • Marion Elementary: Kaitlyn McLaury, fourth grade
  • Marvin Elementary: Rachel Scholten, kindergarten
  • Wyland Elementary: Dena Allen, fourth grade
  • Hoech Middle School: Amanda Kowalczyk, seventh grade science teacher
  • Ritenour Middle School: Dr. Matthew Macko, eighth grade English language arts
  • Ritenour High School: Christina Melly, English language arts

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all award recipients, as well as 25-year service award recipients and 2020-2021 retirees will be recognized during a special virtual honors event on April 29. 

*The Ritenour School for Early Childhood Education honors a Diamond Circle teacher every other year.