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February 2019 Babies & Kudos


Heidi Lesinski, fifth-grade teacher at Marvin Elementary, and husband Dan, welcomed a baby girl into their family on Dec. 27. Elaine Jo made her debut weighing 7 lbs. 7 oz. and was 20 inches long.

Lesinski baby      Lesinski family

Kevin Schlemper, a math interventionist at Hoech Middle School, and wife Tiffany welcomed their first baby girl, Alaina Kay on Nov. 20. She weighed 8 lbs. 2 oz. and was 20.5 inches long. She joins her two older brothers, Lucas, 6, and Caleb, 4.

Schlemper baby

Rebecca Stoltz, fourth-grade teacher at Marvin Elementary, is a proud first-time grandma. Lincoln Joseph Eling made his debut on Jan. 17 at 8 lbs. 11 oz. and 21 inches long. Rebecca’s daughter, Megan, and son-in-law, Cory Eling, are his proud parents.

Stoltz baby

Rachel Woelfel, seventh-grade math teacher at Hoech Middle School, and husband Roger, celebrated the birth of Addison Mae on Dec. 13, who weighed 7 lb. 13oz. Big sisters Emily, 6, and Kaylee, 4, were excited to welcome their new little sister.

Woelfel baby

Nancy Giannasi, SSD occupational therapist at Wyland Elementary, is excited about the arrival of a new grandson, Jacob Barrett, who was born Jan. 5, weighing 8 lbs. 5 oz. His parents are Melissa and Kyle, and his big brother is Samuel. 

Giannasi baby


Jane Bannester, broadcast teacher at Ritenour High School, presented an extended session on podcasting basics at the METC Conference on Feb. 11. She will present on podcasting, drones, and broadcasting apps at the Missouri Interscholastic Press Association J-Day Conference on the Mizzou campus on March 25. 

Elizabeth Green, a teacher at Ritenour Middle School, completed her first marathon on Jan.13 at Walt Disney World.

Elizabeth Green

Jeremy Houseright, media convergence teacher at Ritenour High School, will defend his doctorate dissertation on “Teachers’ Views on The Ethical Use of Social Media in the Classroom” at Missouri Baptist University on Feb. 22. His doctorate is in Education Leadership.

Tavonda Palmer, Ritenour High School dropout prevention specialist and Student Leadership teacher, was named the Courageous Educator of the Year for 2018 by the Educators for Social Justice. The award committee noted that Palmer was selected for demonstrating “unwavering commitment to social justice by using innovative teaching practices that seek to disrupt racial and social inequality in our society” and “for using her voice as a platform to promote and reinforce social activities in public education.” She was honored with this award at the Educators for Social Justice Conference on Feb. 9, 2019 at Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School.

Ritenour was well represented at the Educators for Social Justice Conference on Feb. 9. In addition to Tavonda Palmer being recognized as Courageous Educator of the Year, three other Ritenour educators had roles at the conference: Tisha McBride, Iveland Elementary fourth-grade teacher, led a session on the "Justice League: Using Graphic Novels to Teach Principles of Social Justice." (pictured below); Evelyn Gilliam, professional development coordinator, hosted a table about Equity Leadership & Learning; Julie Hahn, assistant superintendent for data, interventions and supports, hosted a table about the Ritenour International Welcome Center.

Tisha McBride

Keaton Strong, crisis intervention specialist at Ritenour High School, has been selected to speak on trauma at three conferences. He will be the keynote speaker on Trauma Informed Care for Victims of Sexual Assault/Human Trafficking at the Feb. 21 BJC/BJH Emergency Care Conference at Barnes Hospital. On April 9-12, he is the keynote at the Midwest Justice for Children Conference in Chesterfield, where he will talk about the same topic. He also will talk about trauma informed care in schools and its connection to teaching at the St. Louis County/St. Louis City Juvenile Division Centers Conference in June at Harris Stowe State University.

A trio of teachers from Marvin Elementary presented "Art Beyond Color" at the 2019 Powerful Learning Conference Jan. 28-29 at Tan-Tar-A in Osage Beach, Mo. Presenters were: Alan Kmetz, art teacher; LaKisha Fouche', first-grade teacher; Cindy Murray, fourth-grade teacher. 

Marvin Elementary teachers