Ritze’s family legacy continues with her teaching career

Monticello second-grade teacher Abby Ritze works with Camryn Spence and Chloe Cupples on a math lesson during Intervention Time. Ritze has been with the MCSD for seven years now. She is a fourth-generation teacher. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Panther Professionals
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Panther Professionals is a weekly series highlighting educators, administrators, staff and aides who are dedicated to the future of the Monticello Community School District.

     Monticello second-grade teacher Abby Ritze has a long family line of educators, something she’s proud to carry on.

     “I’m a fourth-generation teacher,” she said.

     Ritze’s great grandmother and grandmother were both teachers. Her parents are both educators, and her brother is pursuing the career path as well.

     “I babysat when I was younger and was always interested in working with kids,” she said. “I would even help my mom set up her classroom before school started every fall.”

     Ritze is in her seventh year teaching for the MCSD. Prior to coming here, she taught kindergarten for three years in Central City.

     Ritze’s family is originally from Northwest Iowa, but they spent some time living in Pennsylvania when she was growing up. Ritze attended Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) where she earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in special education.

     As one of three second-grade teachers in Monticello, Ritze has her homeroom of students and assists the other teachers with core subjects. The second graders are learning a wide range of subjects: math, reading, writing, social studies, and science.

     In math, the students are talking about place value and telling time. Ritze said they’re also learning two-digit addition and subtraction. In reading, the teachers are working on the standards in identifying the characters and setting, as well as identifying unknown words in the text as they read. When it comes to writing, the students are introduced to Internet research. Recently, Ritze had her students research wild weather, such as tornadoes. They read the text and write about what they researched.

     In social studies, the kids are learning about Native Americans. They just completed a lesson about magnets and gravity in science.

     The second graders also have Intervention Time. Ritze explained this allows the kids to rotate between classrooms for some of their core subjects like reading and math.

     “We all get along well, which is huge,” Ritze said of the two other second grade teachers: Kim Koos and Abby Fagen.

     Ritze has 21 students herself.

     Working at Carpenter Elementary, Ritze said it’s great being able to see the students progress from when she had them in second grade on up to fourth grade before they move on to middle school.

     “It’s exciting to them mature and grow,” she said of the students’ social, academic, and behavioral changes.

     All of the grades at Carpenter collaborate from time to time. The fourth graders spend time coming to read to the second graders, which Ritze said is neat to see how their reading skills have progressed.

     “The kids all enjoy it,” she said. “It’s fun for the little kids to be able to show off how well they’re reading.”

     Throughout all of the elementary grade levels in the MCSD, teachers also work on a curriculum involving social skills. Particularly for Ritze’s class, that entails teaching the students about their different emotions.

     “It’s actually good life skills for every kid,” said Ritze. “It’s good for everyone to know.”

     When Ritze’s grandmother recently passed away, she said her students social thinking kicked in as they offered their sympathy.

     “This is a caring community,” she said. “Everyone asked if I needed anything, knowing I’d be gone for a few days.”

     Ritze said she thoroughly enjoys seeing how everyone in the MCSD “works together as a team in a positive way.

     “Everyone is committed to every students here, wanting them to progress,” she explained. “In second grade, we work together to make sure all of the kids meet their goals.”

     Ritze and her husband Nick and their three children live on a farm near Prairieburg. Their daughter Hailey, who’s in preschool, comes with Ritze to school in Monticello.

     “It’s a short ride and easy commute,” she said.

     The couple’s older two children, Emily, age 12, and Blake, age 10, attend school at Linn-Mar.

     “We stay busy with the kids’ sports schedules,” shared Ritze.

     The family also stays busy raising sheep and cattle on their farm.

     “I always wanted to live in the country,” she said. “That was a dream of mine.”

     Ritze said her husband is a huge part of running the family farm.

     In her own spare time, Ritze enjoys reading in the summer (when things slow down), gardening and spending time with her kids outdoors.



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