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Ritenour Recognizes Seven Teachers with Stepping Up Award

Seven Ritenour teachers were recognized this week with the Stepping Up Award, a new award that recognizes Ritenour support staff members who have gone the extra mile toward earning teaching certification and are now serving students in the classroom.

“During the pandemic you heard about lot of people stepping out of education, causing a nationwide shortage of qualified educators,” said Dr. Mike LaChance, assistant superintendent for human resources and leadership. “Ritenour has been taking steps to ensure a solid pipeline of the best teachers for our students. One way has been to encourage support staff to further their education and become certified teachers in Ritenour. This year we have seven teachers who have stepped up to teaching.”

The seven teachers who were recognized in their classrooms this week were presented with a plaque and pair of new Nike Air Force 1 shoes in custom black and orange, of course. 

  • Candace Hayes, a former teacher aide at the Ritenour School for Early Childhood Education, is now a first grade teacher at Kratz Elementary.
  • Tyrese Robinson, who was an office professional at Ritenour High School (RHS) last year, is currently teaching math at Hoech Middle School (HMS).
  • Robert Swapshire, a student support specialist at RHS during the 2021-2022 school year, is now a social studies teacher at HMS.
  • Amanda Steimel, a former office professional at RHS, made the step into teaching during the 2020-2021 school year and currently is teaching sixth grade at HMS.
  • Drew Swihart, a student support specialist at HMS last semester, is now serving students at the same middle school as a Special School District teacher. 
  • Keiza Taylor, a former social-emotional teacher aide at Marvin Elementary, made the step in August 2021 and is currently teaching third grade at Kratz Elementary. 
  • Kailyn Ware, a long-term substitute teacher at RHS, is teaching biology at the high school. 

These seven educators will be recognized at the 2023 Honors Dinner on April 27 at Ritenour Auditorium.  

Ritenour provides $450 per credit hour toward teaching degrees and reimbursement for the certification exam, as well as offers mentoring throughout the process for support staff who want to become educators in Ritenour. 

“Other support staff members are currently taking the steps to become a Ritenour teacher for next year, said Charles Love, human resource manager, who connects support staff with university programs that address their needs.  “We look forward to recognizing and celebrating them next year with this award, as well.”

Ritenour is also creating a teaching pipeline through the RHS Teach and Lead program, which connects students with pre-teaching opportunities and introduces them to teaching programs at local universities. The Ritenour Pride & Promise Foundation partners with Saint Louis University’s (SLU) School of Education to provide large scholarships to RHS seniors who want to become teachers, and provides mentoring through college, student teaching and certification testing. Those students then come back to Ritenour as teachers.  Currently, five RHS graduates are in the pipeline at SLU to return to Ritenour as teachers.