Ritenour Announces 2023 Top District Employees
The Ritenour “prize patrol” surprised four top Ritenour staff members on March 13 in their schools to announce that they’ve been selected as the 2023 top district employees: Ritenour Diamond Circle Teacher of the Year, Employee of the Year, First-Class Teacher and Make A Difference Award honoree.
Amy Metz, an English language learner teacher at Ritenour High School (RHS), is the district’s 2023 Diamond Circle Teacher of the Year. Roger Robles, a nighttime custodial supervisor for the district, is the 2023 Diamond Circle Employee of the Year. Bilal Ewing, Marion Elementary principal, is the Make A Difference Award honoree and Madison Kukic, a fifth-grade teacher at Wyland 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, Metz will compete against other teachers statewide for the Missouri State Teacher of the Year Award. Metz, a lifetime Husky and RHS graduate, started teaching in the district in 2009 at Buder Elementary. She moved to Ritenour High School in 2018 as an English Language (EL) teacher, where she now also serves as a department chair and a mentor for EL teachers.
Her students say that she provides a safe learning environment where they feel valued and respected.
“Mrs. Metz always focuses on students first,” said RHS Principal Dr. Jana Haywood. “Students are always at the forefront of her daily decision-making and planning. One of her biggest roles as an EL teacher is removing barriers to ensure learning at high levels for our multilingual students, and she does that incredibly well each and every day. She provides a safe environment where students are not afraid to ask for help - this helps them grow as learners.”
As Diamond Circle Employee of the Year, Robles is known for going above and beyond at his job and has a passion for helping others. He is the night custodial supervisor for the district, a position he was promoted to this school year after serving four years as a lead custodian at Hoech Middle School.
“I don't think there is anyone that Roger has ever met that could say anything but positive things about him,” said Ritenour Director of Operations Michael Smith. “He does an outstanding job for our district. Roger is passionate about helping others and is always putting a smile on the faces of those around him.
“Roger is a wonderful, positive example for our community,” Smith added. “Being bilingual allows him to make countless positive connections with our Spanish-speaking staff, as well as English learner students and their families,”
The Make A Difference Award annually recognizes a staff member who goes above and beyond in meeting the needs of the whole child. Ewing is in his third year as principal at Marion Elementary School. He has spent the majority of his 24-year educational career as an administrator in Ritenour - also serving as an assistant principal at Iveland Elementary, Hoech Middle School and Ritenour High School.
According to a comment from his nomination, “He has made a difference in so many lives within our district, and he is the true meaning of this award.”
Superintendent Dr. Chris Kilbride said, “Mr. Ewing naturally builds strong relationships with students, staff and families. He makes a difference daily for students and families by ensuring that all voices are heard and respected.”
Ritenour’s First-Class teacher traditionally honors an outstanding first- or second-year teacher. Kukic is in her second year as a fifth-grade teacher at Wyland.
“Mrs. Kukic creates a space in her classroom where students are safe to be who they are and express their authentic selves,” said Wyland Elementary Principal Dr. Lisa Greenstein. “We appreciate not only her skills that make her classroom a model for trauma-informed teaching and learning, but also the extra effort she made to become bilingual in Spanish. 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:
- Buder Elementary: Nicole Eberenz, interventionist
- Iveland Elementary: Leslie Fister, interventionist
- Kratz Elementary: Chelsea Booker, English Language Learner (ELL) educator
- Marion Elementary: Cindy Busby, fifth grade
- Marvin Elementary: Ashley Heede, third grade
- Wyland Elementary: Amy Murillo, third grade
- Hoech Middle: Dr. Marquita Bowers-Brown, sixth-grade social studies
- Ritenour Middle: Camille Morgan, seventh-grade math
All award recipients, as well as staff who have served in Ritenour for 25 years and our 2022-2023 retirees, will be recognized at the district’s annual Honors Dinner on Thursday, April 27 at the Ritenour Auditorium.