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Making A Difference: Tavonda Palmer, Ritenour High School Spanish & Leadership Teacher

Tavonda Palmer receives award Tavonda Palmer, a Ritenour High School Spanish and leadership teacher, was honored Oct. 27, 2016 with 30 Leaders in their Thirties by North County Inc. 

Palmer, 34, is in her 11th year as a teacher at her high school alma mater. She has taught Spanish for her entire career. During the last six years, she also has been teaching the Leadership class and more recently also became the co-sponsor of the school’s Game Changers, a social justice organization. As an RHS Class of 2000 graduate, she enjoys making a difference and leaving a positive legacy in the lives of youth. 

“She is a highly-skilled, engaging teacher with high expectations of her students not only to live up to their potential academically, but also as servant leaders in their school,” said Ritenour Superintendent Dr. Chris Kilbride. “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.”

During the summer of 2016, as the St. Louis region’s first recipient of the McDonald's Academic Excellence High School Teacher Award, Palmer received $1,000 to use in her classroom and had the honor of throwing the first pitch at the St. Louis Cardinals home game against the Kansas City Royals. Palmer is using the award money so students in the Social Justice Club can have more opportunities to serve the homeless populations in the St. Louis area. 

Under her guidance, Palmer’s Leadership class received the National Association of Student Council of Excellence for Student Leadership, the Missouri Association of Student Council’s Gold Standard Award for their community service, activities that build a positive school culture, and staff and student appreciation events.

As sponsor of the school’s Game Changers, Palmer has helped students have courageous conversations on race and other social justice issues.

More about Palmer:

Question: What made you decide to become a Spanish teacher and then want to also take on the course on student leadership?
Palmer:  I wanted to teach something that I could get creative with and could have fun teaching, and Spanish was my favorite class in high school because of the fun and creativity.  As a senior in high school, I knew I wanted to teach Leadership.  I was student council president and had a lot of responsibility with running the Leadership class at the time and loved it. 

Question: What do you enjoy most about your job?
Palmer: I love the family-like relationships that I am able to develop with my students and all of the community service that I am able to do with my student leaders.

Question: What are some of your favorite pastimes?
Palmer:  I love shopping and relaxing while watching Netflix. I also enjoy quality time with my family and friends. 

Question: Outside of RHS, what other organizations do you volunteer with?
Palmer: I use to volunteer at church but RHS has taken a lot of that time. I am a part of a women's group that consistently find needs in the community and helps to fill them.

Question: What would you like to share about your family?
Palmer: I have four parents, four brothers, three sisters and five nieces. My family is blended, but is definitely one big loving family.