State's Top Teacher Visits Schools in Northwest Indiana

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Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz took time today, during National Teacher Appreciation Week, to visit and observe activities at schools in Lake and Porter counties.  According to her website, Superintendent Ritz stopped by the Hammond Area Career Center then toured the Porter County Career Center before wrapping up her day in Northwest Indiana at  a meet and greet at the Valparaiso Community Schools Administration Building. 
Addressing teachers, administrators and the media, the state's top teacher talked on several topics including alternatives to the ISTEP and IREAD exams to gauge student growth, as well as rules that hold back students who do not pass the exams.  The superintendent said she would like to utilize growth measures saying her office will have an outreach organization consisting of 13 coordinators in nine regions to help schools with their school improvement plans.  The Times reports that the outreach coordinators will be hired from the region they represent.
Superintendent Ritz said literacy is a prime concern of hers and will be implementing a program to combat this summer by empowering organizations like the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Clubs to provide reading in their summer programs.  The program is called "Hoosier Family of Readers," and Ritz says she will be kicking it off on May 10th from the school she used to teach at.
Ritz commented on the new law signed into law earlier this week by Governor Mike Pence that provide funding for officers in school saying that when it comes to project school children, the Department of Education leads the nation with security measures to protect students. 
The superintendent also received many questions from teachers and administrators alike and handled sensitive areas including the voucher program, when she said she is bound to carry out as part of her duties as state superintendent.  Ritz noted though clearly stated her position by stating that "public dollars should go to public schools."  She says due to current legislation, vouchers are paid for first before public schools, so in order to change that the change must happen through lawmakers.
Since it is National Teacher Appreciation Week, Superintendent Ritz said teachers need to be acknowledged more by educators as well as the community for the work they do in the classroom.   The following letter to teachers was posted on the Superintendent website:     You can hear the speech given by Superintendent Ritz's at the meet and greet in Valparaiso, it is available at News Audio On Demand at:  

Educators of Indiana,

In recognition of Teacher Appreciation Week, I wanted to take time to thank you for all that you do for the children and communities of Indiana. As a fellow classroom teacher, I know of the many hours you devote to your profession. 

Albert Einstein once said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” Teaching is both a science and an art; it takes both to inspire students to learn.

Enjoy you time with students…your brief moments with them can make lasting impressions.

I chose the theme “Imagining the possibilities. Making them happen” for my tenure because of what you do everyday in the classroom. Our focus for the next four years will be about positive approaches that will impact teaching and learning…sharing the great things you do in your schools! We will empower each other to provide what we know is best for our students.

Together, we will imagine the possibilities, and make them happen!

Know that you are appreciated.

Glenda Ritz
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction
Spt. Ritz  presented flowers   
Valparaiso Teachers Association and the Valparaiso Community Schools present State Superintendent of Public Education, Glenda Ritz (r) with flowers.
Spt. Ritz  with flowers 3
State Superintendent of Public Education, Glenda Ritz addresses a "standing room" only audience during the meet and greet at Valparaiso Community Schools Administration Building on Wednesday.
Spt. Ritz 1
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, emphasizes the point that there needs to be alternatives to the ISTEP and IREAD programs as well as rules to hold back students
(photos courtesy of Jay Stevens)
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