Category: News

News

Scholarship Recipient Brings Colleen’s “Good” to Impoverished Children in South Africa

UntitledMany stories have been shared of Colleen Ritzer’s ability to transform dull, complex math lessons into fun learning exercises that students would happily participate. That legacy of a love for teaching – and devotion to students personal and academic success – was spread across the Atlantic this summer and shared with students living in the worst of conditions.

Tess Dever, one of the first recipients of a Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship, and a student at the University of Connecticut, spent four weeks this summer participating in a study abroad program in Cape Town, South Africa. According to Dever, “It was because of this scholarship that I was able to go on this life-changing experience.”

In Cape Town, Dever interned at Christel House, an elementary school established by an American, Christel DeHaan. According to Christel House, they “transform the lives of impoverished children around the world — breaking the cycle of poverty and building self-sufficient, contributing members of society.” The schools sponsor a “robust K-12 education and a strong character development program are complemented with regular healthcare, nutritious meals, guidance counseling, career planning, family assistance and College and Careers support”

According to Dever, the children who attend the school live impoverished lives, the victims of the country’s 46-year Apartheid racial segregation policy that unjustly forced many into poverty. While Apartheid ended in 1994, many of the families affected by the policy continue to reside in the slums, lacking the financial resources to pursue new opportunities

In South Africa, where Dever interned, there are over 1,000 applicants each year for only 60 slots at Christel House. The parents of many applicants are drug addicts, gang members or abusive.

“The school tries to accept students whose entire family will benefit from them getting a quality education,” shared Dever. “If the family owns an oven, fridge, stove, or microwave, they are considered too rich to go to Christel House. The students who attend all live in the townships in South Africa, which are the slums. The townships are the areas that classified black and colored people were forced to live in under Apartheid. Unfortunately, even though the law no longer says that they have to live in these areas, none of them have the funds to move out.”

Christel House, and students such as Dever who intern there, are a structural and personal refuge for these children. Each morning, students are picked up at 7 a.m. and return home at 5 p.m. They receive meals and snacks, nourishment they would likely forgo if not selected to attend the school.

“Christel House really provides them with the tools to get a quality education, and keeps them off of the streets, where gang members try to recruit kids every day, “ added Dever. “In South Africa, a high school degree is equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in America, so attending Christel House is a truly life-changing opportunity for the students. Even having one family member who has a high school degree provides the family (with what seems like, to them) endless possibilities.”

The four weeks Dever spent in South Africa with the Christel House students left an educational and personal impact.

“I learned more from them [the students] than I ever could have imagined,” Dever explained. “From day one, I walked into the classroom and felt the love that these kids had. The stories that they would tell me about their home lives made my heart ache every day, but the optimism that these students had about everything was absolutely astonishing.

I will carry the lessons I learned into all of my future classrooms.”

News

Ritzer Family Announces 2015 Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Recipients

Scholarship Recipients Have Declared Education as their College Major

***

Last Year’s Recipients to Receive Second-Year Award

(ANDOVER, Massachusetts)-Tom, Peggie, Dan and Laura Ritzer announced the 2015 recipients of a Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship, awarded to graduating high school seniors who will pursue education as a major in college to carry on Colleen’s legacy as a caring and compassionate teacher. This year, the family will award a total of $30,000 in scholarships, including $12,000, second-year scholarships to last year’s recipients, the first to receive a Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship.

Andover RecipientsThe 2015 scholarship recipients from Andover include: Casey Flanigan, Meghan Johnson, Katherine Rex and Sarah Rothmann. Scholarship recipients from Danvers include: William Carleton Jr., Rebecca Hardenstine, Haley O’Shea and Jenna Romano. The family also awarded a scholarship to graduating Nashoba Regional High School senior, Clara Greszczuk, awarded in memory of Michelle Farnsworth, a Nashoba High student who lost her battle with cancer in 2015. Colleen taught at Hale Middle School in Stow after college; the students she taught there are now in the high school.

The scholarship fund is supported by individual donations that were made in the wake of Colleen’s passing in October 2013 as well as the Step Up for Colleen Ritzer 5K and other tribute events held to honor Colleen’s memory.dan2015 The scholarship fund is a permanent tribute to Colleen and builds upon her legacy by helping future teachers obtain a college degree so that they too can share their passion for teaching with future students.

“Our family continues to be touched and strengthened by the many stories friends and strangers have shared about the difference Colleen made in their lives, and the lives of her students,” said the Ritzer Family. “This scholarship fund enables Colleen’s spirit to continue to make a difference as a new generation of teachers is provided financial assistance so that they, too, can pursue their passion for teaching. We are grateful to the many individuals and organizations who continue to support the scholarship fund as they provide critical resources to help form a new generation of caring and compassionate teachers who will be dedicated to their students’ personal and academic success.”

Applicants were required to complete an application that requested information such as extra-curricular activities, awards and recognitions and plans for college.  They were also asked to submit a 500-word essay describing why they plan to pursue a degree in education and what or who has inspired them. The last piece of the application encouraged applicants to reflect on words shared by Colleen in her college essay in which she wrote:

            “Teachers have been an inspiration to me ever since I was just a young girl. Starting in pre-school, I knew I loved helping the teachers and would one day want to be just like them. My dream is to become a teacher, one who shapes the minds and lives of children. My goal has always been to become a teacher that will impact students’ lives.”

William Carleton Jr. will attend the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H. this fall where he will major in music with career aspirations to teach that subject. Carleton participated in a number of extra-curricular activities during his high school years including: cast and crew member for school musicals; Boy Scout troop guide; music director for the school’s A Capella group; and was a member of the football, swim, golf and math teams. He also served as a bass singer in the MMEA Northeast Senior District Choir.

“Math may not be everyone’s favorite subject, but I found it as an entertaining puzzle,” Carleton wrote in his essay. “When I had Ms. Ritzer, she would always find a theme for every chapter’s title slide. For example, chapter one would be puppies and chapter two could be autumn trees. It was something that made the classroom relaxing, and easier to concentrate in.”

Carleton has earned a number of impressive recognitions, some of which include: All-State Choir Recommendations; Eagle Scout, Honors Student; Up and Coming for Choir Award and the Swimming Determination Award.

“…I met up with her (Ms. Ritzer) and told her that I was looking to pursue a teaching career in music,” Carleton added. “Impressed and excited, she offered me the chance to come by during one of her freshmen classes and teach simple algebraic equations, such as the Distributive Property or the Pythagorean Theorem.  She was truly a teacher dedicated to every student’s success; she is a teacher I want to be like.”

Casey Flanigan will attend Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire where she will pursue a degree in secondary education with a concentration in math. During all four years of high school, she was a member of Phoenix Swimming and the Andover High School swim and dive team. Those organizations which Flanigan volunteered her time include Birthday Wishes; Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Merrimack Valley; Frost School; and Special Olympics.

“I expect that after spending four years in college, I will be well-prepared to take the next step and become a teacher,” said Flanigan in her scholarship essay. “I want to be able to look back on college and know that it helped me become the best version of myself. I also hope that I can learn things in college that will help me be a good mentor and role model for future students. I have always looked up to my teachers, and hope that I will learn those skills necessary to do so in the next four years.”

Flanigan was recognized with the Coach’s Award from Phoenix Swimming.

This year’s first scholarship was awarded to Clara M. Greszczuk, who will attend the University of Delaware in the fall where she will major in education and study English and psychology. Her post-undergraduate plans include pursuit of a Master’s in Education with a desire to teach, like Colleen, at the high school level. Greszczuk participated in a number of extra-curricular activities while a student at Nashoba Regional High. These include: field hockey team, peer tutoring, stage manager for theatrical performances, ReACT Theatre Camp, ski team, student ambassador and student advisory council. She also helped to organize blood drives and served as a counselor at Camp Sunshine, a camp in Maine that provides respite for children with life-threatening illnesses.

“I would like to infect students with my enthusiasm for reading and the English language and inspire students to write well in the way that my teachers did for me,” wrote Greszczuk in her application. “Another goal I have for college and beyond is to continue doing community service work, whether that be peer tutoring or helping out at a food pantry. This will help me become part of the community and meet amazing people.”

Greszczuk also amassed an impressive number of awards and recognitions as a student: Achievement in Latin Award, Justice in Law Award and the Pre-Calculus Award. During her junior and senior years, she was a member of the National Honor Society, a recognition of her academic achievements.

Rebecca Hardenstine will attend Providence College in Providence, R.I. where she will pursue a dual elementary/ special education degree to prepare herself to “help all of my students to the best of my ability.” Hardenstine’s lengthy list of community engagement includes CCD teacher; Danvers Library page; Girl Scout; Homework Club volunteer; Global Activism vice-president; and Tomorrow’s Teachers volunteer. She is a member of the Danvers Marching Band and held leadership positions in the National English Honor Society, National Honor Society and World Language Honor Society. She also leads Bible Study for Courage.

“I do not believe I can become the best teacher I can be by just reading books and being in classrooms,” Hardenstine shared in her application essay. “In order for me to be the dynamic teacher I want to become, it is important for me to have a meaningful life. And having a meaningful life means growing spiritually, making a difference in my community, and having a career that I love.”

Her volunteer and academic accomplishments have been recognized with the College Board AP Scholar Award; Danvers High School Outstanding Student Award; Dartmouth College Book Award; Girls Scouts’ Gold Award; and was recognized with a Certificate of Academic Excellence by the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. Hardenstine was also a member of the President’s Education Award Program.

In preparation for her future classroom, Hardenstine has already begun to gather a “collection of supplies, posters and books…given to me by retiring teachers who wanted to pass on the legacy.”

Meghan Johnson will attend Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts where she will pursue a dual degree in education and math. During high school, she was a volunteer, or intern, for Andover High School Sustainable Garden Project; Camp Runels; Girl Scouts; and New Horizons for Youth. She was also a member of the Girls Varsity Ice Hockey and Ultimate Frisbee teams.      

“Someday, I hope to be a great teacher like Colleen and become a leader in education reform to make school a more positive and enriching place for students,” said Johnson in her scholarship application. “Because of Smith’s open curriculum, I have to take half of my classes outside of my majors, math and education. These outside classes will prepare me to promote a positive learning environment for my students, as I will be able to have intelligent conversations across subject lines with my students in and out of the classroom.”

Johnson was recognized with the following awards: Excellence in Math 4; High Honor Roll; K-12 Gold Award and Most Athletic and Fun to Work With.

Haley O’Shea will enroll at Boston College as a member of the class of 2019 where she will study to become a high school English teacher. O’Shea’s high school involvement includes National Honor Society; National English Honor Society; school committee; school council; Senior Center Volunteer; Student Bible Study; Tomorrow’s Teacher’s, World Language Honor Society; Yearbook; and member of the softball team.

“At an early age, my love for learning and my desire to help others caused me to decide that someday I would want to help children discover who they want to be, just as my teachers have helped me,” O’Shea wrote in her application essay. “Ms. Ritzer has taught me that ‘being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind’ and has reminded me to be kind to all whom I meet. My teachers have shaped me into the person I am today – a kind, courageous individual. They are the reason that I, too, wish to become a teacher someday. I want to be a teacher to inspire others to stand up for what they believe in.”

O’Shea was awarded the Danvers Girls’ Softball Sportsmanship Award; Danvers High School AP European History and Biology Award; the Book Award from Smith College; and named an AP Scholar Award by the College Board.

Katherine Rex will attend the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire where she has declared majors in elementary and special education with aspirations to become a kindergarten teacher. Rex’s lengthy list of volunteer service includes cheerleading coach; church mission trip; Lazarus House; peer mentor; St. Augustine School; and Warrior Way.

“Making a difference in the lives of others has always been important to me,” said Rex in her scholarship essay. “I always knew I wanted to do something to make a difference in the world. I am so excited to see what the next four years brings me. Becoming a teacher has always been my dream and now is that chance to begin that dream.”

In addition to babysitting her cousins at no charge for many days after school, Rex was recognized with the Deidre Ann Didio Memorial Spirit Award; High Honor Roll; and Excellence in Biology Award.

Jenna Romano will attend Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. this fall where she will major in elementary education. Romano’s impressive community service engagement includes: organizer for the Alzheimer’s Association; coach, Danvers Youth Cheerleaders; member of S.A.D.D.; Freshman Mentor; member, Student Council; and volunteer for Tomorrow’s Teachers. She was a varsity Hockey Cheerleader and balanced a part-time job.

“Becoming a teacher has always been a lifetime goal of mine,” explained Romano in her essay. “Ms. Ritzer left a wonderful legacy behind which was ‘be good to people’ and that will forever live on. I will always remember the things she stood for. I hope that one day when I am a teacher, I will be able to touch the lives of my students and inspire them to be the best that they can be just like my teachers did for me.”

Romano’s academic recognitions include member of the National English and World Language Honor Societies.

Sarah Rothmann will attend Bates College in Lewiston, Maine this fall where she will pursue a degree in education. At Andover High, Rothmann was a star athlete of the cross country and indoor and outdoor track teams. Her volunteer endeavors include service with the EXCEL Program, Healthy Kids Running Organization, student-resident mentor, Religious Education teacher and Warrior Way leader.

“I am inspired by Colleen’s dream to become a teacher ‘one who shapes the minds and lives of children’ and will use these words as my motivation to enlighten the lives of my siblings and all students around me,” said Rothmann, the second oldest of seven children, in her scholarship application.  “Wherever I may end up, whether I am teaching abroad in a foreign country or teaching at the local elementary school across the street, my goal will be to serve as both a role model and mentor to my students and help them become driven and hardworking individuals who strive to accomplish their lifelong goals and endeavors.”

Rothmann received a number of recognitions for her academic pursuits. These include: Bates Scholarship; Excellence in English, Excellence in French I, II and V; Excellence in Masterpieces of British Literature; Excellence in Modern American Literature; High Honor Roll; and National Honor Society.

Eligible applicants must be Andover or Danvers High School seniors who plan to pursue a degree in the field of education at an accredited four-year college or university. Guidance counselors encouraged well-rounded students who plan to major in education or a specific subject (i.e. math, science, etc.) with a concentration in education to apply for a competitive scholarship.

Applications that met eligibility requirements were reviewed by a selection committee comprised of family members and educators including: Tom Ritzer, Colleen’s Dad; Peggie Ritzer, Colleen’s Mom; Susan Craig, Colleen’s Aunt; Todd Butterworth and Sarah Giaquinta, Danvers High School Math Teachers; Kimberly Bergey, Andover High School Guidance Counselor; and Kimberly Rocha, Nashoba Regional High School English Teacher.

The Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Fund is held at the Essex County Community Foundation.

 

News

Ritzer Family Announces 2015 Andover Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Recipients

Andover RecipientsScholarship Recipients Have Declared Education as their College Major

***

Last Year’s Recipients to Receive Second-Year Award
(ANDOVER, Massachusetts)-Tom, Peggie, Dan and Laura Ritzer announced yesterday the 2015 Andover recipients of a Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship, awarded to graduating high school seniors who will pursue education as a major in college to carry on Colleen’s legacy as a caring and compassionate teacher. This year, the family will award a total of $30,000 in scholarships, including $12,000, second-year scholarships to last year’s recipients, the first to receive a Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship.

The 2015 scholarship recipients from Andover include: Casey Flanigan, Meghan Johnson, Katherine Rex and Sarah Rothmann. Last week, the family awarded a scholarship to graduating Nashoba Regional High School senior, Clara Greszczuk, awarded in memory of Michelle Farnsworth, a Nashoba High student who lost her battle with cancer in 2015. Colleen taught at Hale Middle School in Stow after college; the students she taught there are now in the high school. Four scholarships were also awarded last week to graduating Danvers High School seniors.

The scholarship fund is supported by individual donations that were made in the wake of Colleen’s passing in October 2013 as well as the Step Up for Colleen Ritzer 5K and other tribute events held to honor Colleen’s memory. The scholarship fund is a permanent tribute to Colleen and builds upon her legacy by helping future teachers obtain a college degree so that they too can share their passion for teaching with future students.

“Our family continues to be touched and strengthened by the many stories friends and strangers have shared about the difference Colleen made in their lives, and the lives of her students,” said the Ritzer Family. “This scholarship fund enables Colleen’s spirit to continue to make a difference as a new generation of teachers is provided financial assistance so that they, too, can pursue their passion for teaching. We are grateful to the many individuals and organizations who continue to support the scholarship fund as they provide critical resources to help form a new generation of caring and compassionate teachers who will be dedicated to their students’ personal and academic success.”

Applicants were required to complete an application that requested information such as extra-curricular activities, awards and recognitions and plans for college.  They were also asked to submit a 500-word essay describing why they plan to pursue a degree in education and what or who has inspired them. The last piece of the application encouraged applicants to reflect on words shared by Colleen in her college essay in which she wrote:

            “Teachers have been an inspiration to me ever since I was just a young girl. Starting in pre-school, I knew I loved helping the teachers and would one day want to be just like them. My dream is to become a teacher, one who shapes the minds and lives of children. My goal has always been to become a teacher that will impact students’ lives.” 

            Casey Flanigan will attend Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire where she will pursue a degree in secondary education with a concentration in math. During all four years of high school, she was a member of Phoenix Swimming and the Andover High School swim and dive team. Those organizations which Flanigan volunteered her time include Birthday Wishes; Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Merrimack Valley; Frost School; and Special Olympics.

“I expect that after spending four years in college, I will be well-prepared to take the next step and become a teacher,” said Flanigan in her scholarship essay. “I want to be able to look back on college and know that it helped me become the best version of myself. I also hope that I can learn things in college that will help me be a good mentor and role model for future students. I have always looked up to my teachers, and hope that I will learn those skills necessary to do so in the next four years.”

Flanigan was recognized with the Coach’s Award from Phoenix Swimming.

            Meghan Johnson will attend Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts where she will pursue a dual degree in education and math. During high school, she was a volunteer, or intern, for Andover High School Sustainable Garden Project; Camp Runels; Girl Scouts; and New Horizons for Youth. She was also a member of the Girls Varsity Ice Hockey and Ultimate Frisbee teams.      

“Someday, I hope to be a great teacher like Colleen and become a leader in education reform to make school a more positive and enriching place for students,” said Johnson in her scholarship application. “Because of Smith’s open curriculum, I have to take half of my classes outside of my majors, math and education. These outside classes will prepare me to promote a positive learning environment for my students, as I will be able to have intelligent conversations across subject lines with my students in and out of the classroom.”

Johnson was recognized with the following awards: Excellence in Math 4; High Honor Roll; K-12 Gold Award and Most Athletic and Fun to Work With.

            Katherine Rex will attend the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire where she has declared majors in elementary and special education with aspirations to become a kindergarten teacher. Rex’s lengthy list of volunteer service includes cheerleading coach; church mission trip; Lazarus House; peer mentor; St. Augustine School; and Warrior Way.

“Making a difference in the lives of others has always been important to me,” said Rex in her scholarship essay. “I always knew I wanted to do something to make a difference in the world. I am so excited to see what the next four years brings me. Becoming a teacher has always been my dream and now is that chance to begin that dream.”

In addition to babysitting her cousins at no charge for many days after school, Rex was recognized with the Deidre Ann Didio Memorial Spirit Award; High Honor Roll; and Excellence in Biology Award.

            Sarah Rothmann will attend Bates College in Lewiston, Maine this fall where she will pursue a degree in education. At Andover High, Rothmann was a star athlete of the cross country and indoor and outdoor track teams. Her volunteer endeavors include service with the EXCEL Program, Healthy Kids Running Organization, student-resident mentor, Religious Education teacher and Warrior Way leader.

“I am inspired by Colleen’s dream to become a teacher ‘one who shapes the minds and lives of children’ and will use these words as my motivation to enlighten the lives of my siblings and all students around me,” said Rothmann, the second oldest of seven children, in her scholarship application.  “Wherever I may end up, whether I am teaching abroad in a foreign country or teaching at the local elementary school across the street, my goal will be to serve as both a role model and mentor to my students and help them become driven and hardworking individuals who strive to accomplish their lifelong goals and endeavors.”

Rothmann received a number of recognitions for her academic pursuits. These include: Bates Scholarship; Excellence in English, Excellence in French I, II and V; Excellence in Masterpieces of British Literature; Excellence in Modern American Literature; High Honor Roll; and National Honor Society.

Eligible applicants must be Andover or Danvers High School seniors who plan to pursue a degree in the field of education at an accredited four-year college or university. Guidance counselors encouraged well-rounded students who plan to major in education or a specific subject (i.e. math, science, etc.) with a concentration in education to apply for a competitive scholarship.

Applications that met eligibility requirements were reviewed by a selection committee comprised of family members and educators including: Tom Ritzer, Colleen’s Dad; Peggie Ritzer, Colleen’s Mom; Susan Craig, Colleen’s Aunt; Todd Butterworth and Sarah Giaquinta, Danvers High School Math Teachers; Kimberly Bergey, Andover High School Guidance Counselor; and Kimberly Rocha, Nashoba Regional High School English Teacher.

The Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Fund is held at the Essex County Community Foundation.

News

Ritzer Family Announces 2015 Danvers Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Recipients

dan2015

Scholarship Recipients Have Declared Education as their College Major

***

Last Year’s Recipients to Receive Second-Year Awards

(ANDOVER, Massachusetts)-Tom, Peggie, Dan and Laura Ritzer announced last evening the 2015 Danvers recipients of a Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship, awarded to graduating high school seniors who will pursue education as a major in college to carry on Colleen’s legacy as a caring and compassionate teacher. This year, the family will award a total of $30,000 in scholarships, including $12,000, second-year scholarships to last year’s recipients, the first to receive a Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship.

The 2015 scholarship recipients from Danvers include: William Carleton Jr., Rebecca Hardenstine, Haley O’Shea and Jenna Romano. On Monday of this week, the family awarded a scholarship to graduating Nashoba Regional High School senior, Clara Greszczuk. The scholarship was awarded in memory of Michelle Farnsworth, a Nashoba High student who lost her battle with cancer in 2015. Colleen taught at Hale Middle School in Stow after college; the students she taught there are now in the high school.  Andover recipients will be announced next week.

The scholarship fund is supported by individual donations that were made in the wake of Colleen’s passing in October 2013 as well as the Step Up for Colleen Ritzer 5K and other tribute events held to honor Colleen’s memory. The scholarship fund is a permanent tribute to Colleen and builds upon her legacy by helping future teachers obtain a college degree so that they too can share their passion for teaching with future students.

“Our family continues to be touched and strengthened by the many stories friends and strangers have shared about the difference Colleen made in their lives, and the lives of her students,” said the Ritzer Family. “This scholarship fund enables Colleen’s spirit to continue to make a difference as a new generation of teachers is provided financial assistance so that they, too, can pursue their passion for teaching. We are grateful to the many individuals and organizations who continue to support the scholarship fund as they provide critical resources to help form a new generation of caring and compassionate teachers who will be dedicated to their students’ personal and academic success.”

Applicants were required to complete an application that requested information such as extra-curricular activities, awards and recognitions and plans for college.  They were also asked to submit a 500-word essay describing why they plan to pursue a degree in education and what or who has inspired them. The last piece of the application encouraged applicants to reflect on words shared by Colleen in her college essay in which she wrote:

            “Teachers have been an inspiration to me ever since I was just a young girl. Starting in pre-school, I knew I loved helping the teachers and would one day want to be just like them. My dream is to become a teacher, one who shapes the minds and lives of children. My goal has always been to become a teacher that will impact students’ lives.” 

William Carleton Jr. will attend the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H. this fall where he will major in music with career aspirations to teach that subject. Carleton participated in a number of extra-curricular activities during his high school years including: cast and crew member for school musicals; Boy Scout troop guide; music director for the school’s A Capella group; and was a member of the football, swim, golf and math teams. He also served as a bass singer in the MMEA Northeast Senior District Choir.

“Math may not be everyone’s favorite subject, but I found it as an entertaining puzzle,” Carleton wrote in his essay. “When I had Ms. Ritzer, she would always find a theme for every chapter’s title slide. For example, chapter one would be puppies and chapter two could be autumn trees. It was something that made the classroom relaxing, and easier to concentrate in.”

Carleton has earned a number of impressive recognitions, some of which include: All-State Choir Recommendations; Eagle Scout, Honors Student; Up and Coming for Choir Award and the Swimming Determination Award.

“…I met up with her (Ms. Ritzer) and told her that I was looking to pursue a teaching career in music,” Carleton added. “Impressed and excited, she offered me the chance to come by during one of her freshmen classes and teach simple algebraic equations, such as the Distributive Property or the Pythagorean Theorem.  She was truly a teacher dedicated to every student’s success; she is a teacher I want to be like.”

Rebecca Hardenstine will attend Providence College in Providence, R.I. where she will pursue a dual elementary/ special education degree to prepare herself to “help all of my students to the best of my ability.” Hardenstine’s lengthy list of community engagement includes CCD teacher; Danvers Library page; Girl Scout; Homework Club volunteer; Global Activism vice-president; and Tomorrow’s Teachers volunteer. She is a member of the Danvers Marching Band and held leadership positions in the National English Honor Society, National Honor Society and World Language Honor Society. She also leads Bible Study for Courage.

            “I do not believe I can become the best teacher I can be by just reading books and being in classrooms,” Hardenstine shared in her application essay. “In order for me to be the dynamic teacher I want to become, it is important for me to have a meaningful life. And having a meaningful life means growing spiritually, making a difference in my community, and having a career that I love.”

Her volunteer and academic accomplishments have been recognized with the College Board AP Scholar Award; Danvers High School Outstanding Student Award; Dartmouth College Book Award; Girls Scouts’ Gold Award; and was recognized with a Certificate of Academic Excellence by the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. Hardenstine was also a member of the President’s Education Award Program.

In preparation for her future classroom, Hardenstine has already begun to gather a “collection of supplies, posters and books…given to me by retiring teachers who wanted to pass on the legacy.”

Haley O’Shea will enroll at Boston College as a member of the class of 2019 where she will study to become a high school English teacher. O’Shea’s high school involvement includes National Honor Society; National English Honor Society; school committee; school council; Senior Center Volunteer; Student Bible Study; Tomorrow’s Teacher’s, World Language Honor Society; Yearbook; and member of the softball team.

“At an early age, my love for learning and my desire to help others caused me to decide that someday I would want to help children discover who they want to be, just as my teachers have helped me,” O’Shea wrote in her application essay. “Ms. Ritzer has taught me that ‘being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind’ and has reminded me to be kind to all whom I meet. My teachers have shaped me into the person I am today – a kind, courageous individual. They are the reason that I, too, wish to become a teacher someday. I want to be a teacher to inspire others to stand up for what they believe in.”

O’Shea was awarded the Danvers Girls’ Softball Sportsmanship Award; Danvers High School AP European History and Biology Award; the Book Award from Smith College; and named an AP Scholar Award by the College Board.

Jenna Romano will attend Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. this fall where she will major in elementary education. Romano’s impressive community service engagement includes: organizer for the Alzheimer’s Association; coach, Danvers Youth Cheerleaders; member of S.A.D.D.; Freshman Mentor; member, Student Council; and volunteer for Tomorrow’s Teachers. She was a varsity Hockey Cheerleader and balanced a part-time job.

“Becoming a teacher has always been a lifetime goal of mine,” explained Romano in her essay. “Ms. Ritzer left a wonderful legacy behind which was ‘be good to people’ and that will forever live on. I will always remember the things she stood for. I hope that one day when I am a teacher, I will be able to touch the lives of my students and inspire them to be the best that they can be just like my teachers did for me.”

Romano’s academic recognitions include member of the National English and World Language Honor Societies.

Eligible applicants must be Andover or Danvers High School seniors who plan to pursue a degree in the field of education at an accredited four-year college or university. Guidance counselors encouraged well-rounded students who plan to major in education or a specific subject (i.e. math, science, etc.) with a concentration in education to apply for a competitive scholarship.

Applications that met eligibility requirements were reviewed by a selection committee comprised of family members and educators including: Tom Ritzer, Colleen’s Dad; Peggie Ritzer, Colleen’s Mom; Susan Craig, Colleen’s Aunt; Todd Butterworth and Sarah Giaquinta, Danvers High School Math Teachers; Kimberly Bergey, Andover High School Guidance Counselor; and Kimberly Rocha, Nashoba Regional High School English Teacher.

The Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Fund is held at the Essex County Community Foundation.

News

Stow Resident, Greszczuk, Awarded First 2015 Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship

clara

Will Attend University of Delaware to Study English, Psychology;
Pursue a Master’s in Education

(ANDOVER, Massachusetts)-Tom, Peggie, Dan and Laura Ritzer announced this evening at a Senior Awards Night this year’s first recipient of a 2015 Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship. Following a review by the scholarship committee, the family has awarded a Scholarship to Nashoba Regional High School graduating senior, Clara Greszczuk.

This year’s first scholarship was awarded to Clara M. Greszczuk, who will attend the University of Delaware in the fall where she will major in education and study English and psychology. Her post-undergraduate plans include pursuit of a Master’s in Education with a desire to teach, like Colleen, at the high school level. In the coming weeks, the family will announce a total of $16,000 in scholarships for Andover and Danvers graduating seniors.

“Our family continues to be touched and strengthened by the many stories friends and strangers have shared about the difference Colleen made in their lives, and the lives of her students,” said the Ritzer Family. “This scholarship fund enables Colleen’s spirit to continue to make a difference as a new generation of teachers is provided financial assistance so that they, too, can pursue their passion for teaching. We are grateful to the many individuals and organizations who continue to support the scholarship fund as they provide critical resources to help form a new generation of caring and compassionate teachers who will be dedicated to their students’ personal and academic success.”

Applicants were required to complete an application that requested information such as extra-curricular activities, awards and recognitions and plans for college.  They were also asked to submit a 500-word essay describing why they plan to pursue a degree in education and what or who has inspired them. The last piece of the application encouraged applicants to reflect on words shared by Colleen in her college essay in which she wrote:

            “Teachers have been an inspiration to me ever since I was just a young girl. Starting in pre-school, I knew I loved helping the teachers and would one day want to be just like them. My dream is to become a teacher, one who shapes the minds and lives of children. My goal has always been to become a teacher that will impact students’ lives.” 

Greszczuk participated in a number of extra-curricular activities while a student at Nashoba Regional High. These include: field hockey team, peer tutoring, stage manager for theatrical performances, ReACT Theatre Camp, ski team, student ambassador and student advisory council. She also helped to organize blood drives and served as a counselor at Camp Sunshine, a camp in Maine that provides respite for children with life-threatening illnesses.

She also amassed an impressive number of awards and recognitions as a student: Achievement in Latin Award, Justice in Law Award and the Pre-Calculus Award. During her junior and senior years, she was a member of the National Honor Society, a recognition of her academic achievements.

“I would like to infect students with my enthusiasm for reading and the English language and inspire students to write well in the way that my teachers did for me,” wrote Greszczuk in her application. “Another goal I have for college and beyond is to continue doing community service work, whether that be peer tutoring or helping out at a food pantry. This will help me become part of the community and meet amazing people.”

The scholarship fund is supported by individual donations that were made in the wake of Colleen’s passing in October 2013 as well as the Step Up for Colleen Ritzer 5K and other tribute events held to honor Colleen’s memory. The scholarship fund is a permanent tribute to Colleen and builds upon her legacy by helping future teachers obtain a college degree so that they too can share their passion for teaching with future students.

Eligible applicants must be Andover or Danvers High School seniors who plan to pursue a degree in the field of education at an accredited four-year college or university.   (This year, the family extended eligibility to Nashoba Regional High School; Colleen taught at Hale Middle School in Stow after college. The students she taught are now in the high school. This award was given in memory of Michelle Farnsworth, a Nashoba Regional High student who lost her battle with cancer in 2015.) Guidance counselors encouraged well-rounded students who plan to major in education or a specific subject (i.e. math, science, etc.) with a concentration in education to apply for a competitive scholarship.

Applications that met eligibility requirements were reviewed by a selection committee comprised of family members and educators including: Tom Ritzer, Colleen’s Dad; Peggie Ritzer, Colleen’s Mom; Susan Craig, Colleen’s Aunt; Todd Butterworth and Sarah Giaquinta, Danvers High School Math Teachers; Kimberly Bergey, Andover High School Guidance Counselor; and Kimberly Rocha, Nashoba Regional High School English Teacher.

The Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Fund is held at the Essex County Community Foundation.

News

Thousands to #StepUpforColleen

stepupRegistration Open for 2015 Step Up for Colleen 5K

(ANDOVER, Massachusetts) – Family and friends of Colleen E. Ritzer today announced that the second annual Step Up for Colleen 5K will be held in Andover on Sunday, May 3, 2015 in memory of Colleen Ritzer. Proceeds from the event will support the Step Up for Colleen Fund at Essex County Community Foundation which benefits the Colleen E. Ritzer Scholarship Fund that provides college scholarships to high school graduates who pursue education as a major and reflect Colleen’s values.

Registration for the 2015 Step Up for Colleen 5K is now open at www.stepupforcolleen.com. The new website features information about Colleen Ritzer, an online volunteer sign-up page, and a video of the race course. The site also features a ‘social wall’ that collects and shares the reasons why individuals have decided to #StepUpforColleen. The purpose of the wall is to allow participants a forum to inspire others to #StepUpforColleen.

“Last year’s Step Up for Colleen not only provided an opportunity for thousands in the community to come together to remember Colleen, but also raised resources to provide scholarships for future caring and compassionate teachers graduating from Andover and Danvers,” said the Ritzer family. “As Colleen’s parents, brother and sister, we cannot begin to express our sincere gratitude to those who participated in last year’s race. It was a reminder of the many lives Colleen touched or changed. We look forward to the sea of pink ascending Bartlet Street as the community once again ‘Steps Up for Colleen’.”

More than 4,000 registrants participated in the inaugural Step Up for Colleen 5K. “The 2014 event exceeded all expectations,” says race director Nina Caron, who expects well over 5,000 runners and walkers this year. “The 2015 race will feature several enhancements, including a USA Track & Field certified course and youth-sized shirts,” she adds.

A number of sponsorship opportunities are available. Benefits for sponsors vary by level, and include a company logo on event apparel, recognition online and in promotional materials, public acknowledgement at the event, up to 40 complimentary registrations, and more. Companies and organizations interested in sponsorship opportunities should contact Kim Grady at kim@stepupforcolleen.com or (978) 494-4435. More information is also available at www.stepupforcolleen.com/about/sponsors.

About Colleen Ritzer
Colleen Ritzer, a lifelong resident of Andover, passed away on October 22, 2013. She was a 2007 graduate of Andover High School and a 2011 graduate of Assumption College. Colleen was pursuing a graduate degree at Salem State College and was a math teacher at Danvers High School. She adored spending time with her family and friends, and was an amazing daughter and big sister to her brother and sister, Daniel and Laura. She left a lasting impression on everyone she met. From a young age, Colleen knew she wanted to be a teacher and worked diligently to achieve her goal. Even though teaching was her profession, it was also one of her favorite hobbies and her passion. She spent countless hours finding unique and creative ways to inspire and teach her students.

About the Step Up for Colleen Fund
The Step Up for Colleen Fund supports charitable activities that honor the legacy of Colleen Ritzer, including the Colleen E. Ritzer Scholarship Fund, which benefits Andover and Danvers High School seniors who demonstrate a passion for teaching, academic excellence, and love of family.

icon-box_02
News

Applications for 2015 Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarships Now Being Accepted

CR Sticker Opt 2ANDOVER, Massachusetts – February 11, 2015 – The family of Colleen E. Ritzer announced today that applications are now being accepted for memorial scholarships named in Colleen’s honor. Andover, Danvers and Nashoba Regional High School seniors who plan to graduate this year are eligible, and encouraged, to apply. All applications must be received by April 1, 2015.

Click here for Application Information

“Colleen had two passions in life: making the learning of complex math theorems fun and spending time with her loving family,” said the Ritzer family. “Recipients of a Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship help to create a permanent legacy for Colleen as they study to become caring teachers dedicated to the success of their future students. As a family, we are incredibly grateful to the many individuals and organizations who have generously given in support of the scholarship fund and to those that continue to host events in Colleen’s honor. Their support is having a direct impact on the education of future teachers.”

Last year, more than $20,000 in scholarships were awarded to 12 students from Andover and Danvers High Schools. At the end of their first semester of college studies, each of the recipients reaffirmed their commitment to pursuing an education or specific education-related degree. The first recipients of a Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship are attending institutions of higher learning such as Assumption College; Endicott College; University of Connecticut; University of North Carolina, Wilmington; University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and more.

The Ritzer family established the scholarship fund to honor Colleen’s passion for teaching and family and to create a permanent legacy for their daughter and sister. The fund is supported by donations from generous individuals and organizations, the Step Up for Colleen 5K and other events held to honor the memory of Colleen Ritzer such as the Andover Youth Services Christmas Tree sale, a Holiday Pops concert and more.

Eligible applicants must be well-rounded graduating seniors at Andover, Danvers or Nashoba Regional High School who demonstrate a passion for teaching, academic excellence and love of family. Those applying for a scholarship award must plan to pursue a degree in the field of education at an accredited four year college or university in fall 2015. Students who plan to major in a specific education-related subject, such as math, science, etc. are also encouraged to apply for a scholarship award. Interested students may download a scholarship application here.

The Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to a Nashoba Regional High School senior in honor of sophomore Michelle Farnsworth who passed in January of this year. (Upon graduation from college, Colleen taught 8th grade math at Hale Middle School. The students she taught now attend Nashoba Regional High School.) A school-choice student from Leominster, Michelle was a member of the high school field hockey and swam with the Wachusett Swim Club while balancing a demanding academic schedule that included accelerated Spanish 2, Algebra 2, Environmental Science, English and U.S. History. Michelle accomplished much on the field, in the pool and in the classroom. Despite the challenges she faced fighting a rare muscle cancer, Michelle always maintained a positive outlook, often sharing “Smile, because life is too short to be anything but happy.”

A selection committee comprised of family members, teachers and guidance counselors will review eligible applications. The application process includes an essay describing why the applicant plans to pursue an education degree and what or who has inspired them. The application also asks students to reflect on words shared by Colleen in her college essay in which she shared “Teachers have been an inspiration to me ever since I was just a young girl. Starting in pre-school, I knew I loved helping the teachers and would one day want to be just like them. My dream is to become a teacher, one who shapes the minds and lives of children. My goal has always been to become a teacher that will impact students’ lives.”

-30-

 

 

 

 

 

 

News

Danvers Herald: Danvers concert raises $3,000 for Ritzer Scholarship, DHS program

dheraldDANVERS
International Cars, LTD and its flagship Danvers dealership, Honda North, presented the 11th annual Holiday Pops Concert to benefit the Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Fund and The Danvers High School Arts & Music Program.
The concert featured the return of the Hillyer Festival Orchestra, and took place Sunday, Dec. 7, in the Danvers High School Auditorium.

Read More

News

Checking in With the Scholarship Recipients

ornamentsDear Friends:

As we prepare for the holidays, Colleen’s favorite time of the year, we wanted to once again thank you for your support of the Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Often, generous individuals such as yourself support an effort such as this, but rarely is information shared relative to the continued impact of that generosity. We recently reached out to the first recipients of a scholarship in Colleen’s name to see how their first semester went and if they were still pursuing a degree in education.

Each of the individuals who responded shared that the first semester was a tremendous success and their decision to pursue a degree in education – Colleen’s major – was strengthened or reaffirmed. As parents and siblings of Colleen, we are proud that Colleen’s legacy continues through these students. We are comforted that Colleen’s spirit continues to inspire. Thanks to your support of Colleen’s scholarship fund, another generation of passionate, caring teachers is studying hard to follow in Colleen’s footsteps, empowering and inspiring another generation of students.

We thought you might enjoy reading about the scholarship recipients’ progress towards an education degree. Please click here to read more about their first semester.

On behalf of our family, thank you once again for your support of Colleen’s scholarship fund. Your support is making a tremendous difference.

May you have the very best of holidays and happy New Year.

Sincerely,

Tom, Peggie, Dan & Laura Ritzer

Checking in With the Scholarship Recipients

From Massachusetts to North Carolina and many places in between, the first recipients of a Colleen E. Ritzer Scholarship have just concluded their first semester, many having reaffirmed their decision to pursue a degree in education.

For Mary Leahy, who has wanted to be a teacher since she was in elementary school, the scholarship is helping her live out her dream.

An education major at Wagner College in New York, Leahy was nervous about her first semester away, but quickly adapted to the new college workload and met a number of new friends. Those classes she most enjoyed this first semester were education courses such as ‘Ways of Knowing’ where she was partnered with a 24 year-old diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.

“Her life goal is to become independent and be able to live independently,” shared Leahy.  “Each session we worked on making a cookbook for her to use in the kitchen to help gain her independence. Working with her was always the highlight of my week and from the moment she walked into the room she put a smile on my face,”

The scholarship is not only assisting in the financing of Leahy’s education, but also helping her to “enjoy both my time at school and my first teaching job.”

“I know for a fact that I was born to be a teacher and my first semester of college has confirmed that for me and has made my desire to make a difference even stronger.”

Leahy also expressed her gratitude to supporters of the scholarship fund.

“Thank you for the wonderful gift you are giving me. You are helping me live out my dream and I will be forever grateful to all of you. Ever since I was in elementary school I have –wanted to become a teacher and now I am finally living out my dream,” Leahy shared.

At Assumption College in Worcester, Jessica Ferronetti not only discovered that she chose the right school, but is “really enjoying my Spanish and Education classes, especially because everyone in the classes are also majoring in them.” The scholarship “helped me to push myself in order to get the education I need, so I can be the best educator I can be.”

Ferronetti’s decision to pursue a degree in education was reaffirmed this past summer while working as a camp counselor. “I loved working with all different types of kids, and every single one of them helped me to learn how to be a better leader,” she shared.  “It truly made me want to become the best teacher I could be.”

“I am honored, every day to be living out Ms. Ritzer’s legacy,” Ferronetti shared.

Also studying at Assumption, Carly Sakellarios quickly discovered that her classes and teachers at Andover high well-prepared her for academics and social situations at the collegiate level.

Sakellarios noted ‘Schools and American Society’ as one of her favorite classes this past semester because “it’s exciting to know that I have begun my journey of becoming a teacher. Hearing stories from my professor about her experiences teaching has gotten me even more excited about my major than I was before.”

Like other recipients, the scholarship has provided some assistance in the costly effort to purse a college degree.

“I work hard during the summer, but now with the scholarship’s help, it has taken off some pressure of needing a job during the school year,” said Sakellarios. “Because of this [scholarship], I am able to concentrate and focus on my classes and studying. It has also been a huge motivation, because it is such an honor to have received this scholarship.”

The first semester, and interaction with other education majors, has generated newfound excitement for her chosen major. “The classes I have taken here, and the stories I have heard from upperclassmen that are learning to become teachers, has made me even more confident that I am on the right path,” she shared.

“I am finally on my way to becoming a teacher, and I wouldn’t change that for any amount of money.”

To the supporters of the scholarship fund, Sakellarios shares her gratitude.

“Your support of the scholarship makes a difference to students who are planning on becoming a teacher, so your support will make a difference in children for years to come. It is beyond appreciated.”

Studying at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Christine Aumais was often reminded of Colleen’s impact this past October as some of Colleen’s favorite quotes were displayed in pink chalk throughout the campus community. Like many first-year students, Aumais approached college with excitement and nerves.

“Entering college, I knew I wanted to have a career working in …high school, but I was still apprehensive and really nervous,” Aumais shared. “I don’t feel apprehensive or nervous anymore because I know that it is a good fit for me and I am so confident that teaching is exactly what I want to do. I am so excited to continue exploring and figuring out who I am as a person.”

Among those courses she has most enjoyed. Aumais drew a particular interest to a sociology class- ‘Social Problems’- that explored pressing topics such as race, gender, class and more.

The scholarship has empowered Aumais, allowing her to “focus on my studies and getting involved within the UMass community. Because of the scholarship, some of the financial burden has been lifted, and I have time to pursue what I love, rather than stressing about earning money to pay for books and tuition.” Aumais’s decision to pursue an education degree has only intensified since starting at UMass Amherst and she has even begun to explore the possibility of serving as a guidance counselor.

“College if anything has made me more interested in pursuing a degree in education. I have loved watching my professors teach because each and every one of them is so passionate about the subject they are teaching, as well as helping us learn and spark the same interest and excitement in us as they have. I am however exploring other options in terms of what subject I would like to teach, as well as considering counseling. I had never thought about becoming a guidance counselor before until it was also suggested to me by a personality survey in OASIS. Something about it stuck out to me and I have been looking into it recently.”

“Mostly everyone I have met decided to become a teacher because they want to make a difference in the lives of children.

They want to make them excited to learn and be a part of their growth into adults. One friend said something that really struck me, and I think really sums up why most people want to pursue a career in teaching; ‘If even just one kid grows up to be a better person because of you, the world will be a better place.’”

The scholarship has alleviated some of the burdens associated with pursuing an advanced degree. “I would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported the scholarship fund. Not only has this scholarship helped me relieve some of the costs that come along with college, it has really made me think about what it truly means to be a teacher, and more importantly reminds me daily to be a good, kind person. I am so proud to be connected to Colleen’s wonderful legacy through this scholarship and I will do my best in continuing it through teaching as well as spreading kindness.”

Courtney Comeau, also student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst quickly discovered that time management is critical to a successful college experience. “As the work load increases, along with my practice schedules and extracurricular activities, it was very important to manage my work accordingly,” she explained.

Possessing a “passion for writing” the class ‘English Writing’ helped her to refine her creative writing skills.

And the scholarship itself has “encouraged me that teaching is a realistic goal seen in my future and going for my masters will be more attainable with the help you have provided me.”

Comeau offers her thanks to the scholarship fund supporters and reflects on how the fund enables Colleen’s legacy to continue inspiring aspiring students. She also pledged to pursue a career in teaching to carry on her legacy.

“I would like to thank the people that have supported the Ritzer family and the Colleen Ritzer Scholarship.  This has, ultimately, supported me.

It means so much to me to carry on Colleen’s dreams of becoming a teacher and helping children.

You have no idea how this has driven me to be my best.  I am so proud to be a recipient of this scholarship and so proud to carry on Colleen’s legacy.  I will go on to do great things, I promise!

In only her first semester at Endicott College, Emily Felter has already ventured out of the classroom volunteering with people with disabilities at the North East ARC. Inside the classroom, she  – appropriately — discovered ‘Introduction to Education’ as her favorite course. Thanks, in part, to an energetic and inspiring professor the class focuses upon Felter’s core area of interest.

The scholarship made her decision to attend Endicott an easy one.

“Without the scholarship I would most likely have had to go to a different school,” she explained.

“Starting the education program at Endicott has … confirmed that I have made the right decision in my career choice,” Felter shared. “I look forward to learning over my four years what it will take to be an amazing teacher.”

Like her peers, many of Felter’s friends are pursuing an education degree because they, like Colleen, “want to make a difference in a child’s life” and make sure kids are provided the very best educators to inspire them to achieve their full potential.

The supporters of the scholarship fund reassure Felter that “so many people are willing to support and reach out to the teaching community. Who knows where I would be without this scholarship, and right now I couldn’t be happier. Thank you so much for your support.”

Tess Dever, studying at The University of Connecticut, has already immersed herself in the education program in and out of the classroom.

As a member of the UConn’s Future Educators club, the University’s future teachers gather once a week to plan academic nights, literacy programs and science programs at nearby elementary schools. The program also exposes the future teachers to those who have served a lifetime and even one year in the classroom. Dever is also involved with ‘America Reads’ a program where she visits first grade classrooms and assists the teacher writing, reading and workshop lessons.

The scholarship and her first semester at UConn solidified her decision to major in education.

“I believe that it [the scholarship] was that extra push that I needed that forced me out of my comfort zone to get involved as a first-semester freshman in different things that UConn’s campus has to offer,” Dever explained. “If one thing is for sure, it is that after my first semester at college I want to be a teacher more than ever.

Everything that I took part in convinced me more and more that I know what I am supposed to be doing in life.”

To the scholarship supporters, Dever offers these simple words of thanks: “Since I was little I wanted to be a teacher, and this scholarship is what helped me strive for my dream. A year from today I will be applying into UConn’s Neag School of Education in an integrated bachelors/master program to be able to become the teacher I have always wanted to be. I would just like to say, thank you.”

Salem State University was Samantha Walters’s choice to begin her journey toward the teaching profession where she discovered a number of students who are also charting a similar career path. She has enjoyed the flexibility and academic choices provided by college.

“Whereas in high school we took classes we were mostly required to take, at college you take more classes you are genuinely interested in,” Walters explained. ”This allows you to meet more people like you, and sort of discover more about yourself.”

With a continued interest in education as a major, specifically as a high school math teacher like Colleen, Walters has met many who, like she, “all agree that we chose it because we are passionate about the subjects we want to teach and we want to make a difference in the lives of other kids.”

The scholarship has made a tremendous impact on Walters, for which she is very grateful.

“I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude and appreciation to the supporters of the scholarship fund, and to the Ritzer family for making a difference in our lives and providing the ability to pursue education,” Walters shared.

Sarah Mountain also chose Salem State to begin her studies towards becoming a teacher where she thoroughly enjoyed her ‘Exploring Education’ class. The class introduced the future teacher to the various aspects of the education system and the different philosophies teachers follow. Although a first-year student, Mountain has already begun what she described as the “fun” classroom observations: a kindergarten and fifth grade class in a local elementary school.

Thanks to the scholarship, Mountain will graduate will a little less debt.

She also shared her pride to “represent the scholarships message to the community and represent Ms. Ritzer’s legacy.” That legacy and her classes have generated a new eagerness towards a degree in education.

Mountain has many words of gratitude for the supporters of the scholarship fund.

“Thanks to your support of this scholarship, the legacy of Ms. Ritzer will be kept alive and help make the world a better place one great teacher at a time,” said Mountain. “By supporting the scholarship fund we can help everyone see the good in every day.

“I would also like to thank the supporters of the scholarship for helping me live my dream of becoming a teacher. With their help I am now going to school to become a teacher. I dream to someday create a difference in the world like Ms. Ritzer’s did for her students.”

Nearly 800 miles south of Salem, Andrea Lang has also declared education as a major at The University of North Carolina, Wilmington where the “freedom, independence, high expectations, distractions—and therefore room for mistakes—that came with my first semester of college forced me to discover a lot about myself,” she explained.

“I learned the best way for me to learn, work, prioritize and stay motivated. In particular, I learned that by setting small, manageable goals I stay focused and motivated and get everything done. Setting smaller goals and making plans, schedules, or “To Do” lists lessen my stress and keep me happier.”

Lang’s favorite class in her first semester was an elementary education-based class ‘Concepts in Mathematics.’ The class added additional excitement about her degree choice and inspired Lang to declare a minor in mathematics.

“I loved exploring the reasoning and concepts behind basic mathematics that I was usually told to just accept or memorize as a child. I enjoyed the way the class challenged me to explain these concepts and solutions with pictures and words in a way that an elementary level math student would understand,” she shared.

The Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship has not only provided financial assistance, but also motivated her to “push myself and positively impacted my success and attitude this semester.”

Lang, too, is also grateful to the generous supporters of the scholarship fund.

“I am extremely grateful for the supporters of the scholarship and the opportunity they gave me to receive such a meaningful award,” Lang shared. “Colleen’s memory and passion for teaching continues to inspire and motivate me to work hard, stay positive, and be good to people.”