Top Teachers: Todd Ritter
Henrico H.S., drama
It was a circuitous path that led Todd Ritter to his job teaching drama and technical theatre at Henrico High.
But after 11 years, he still views it as “the best job in the world.”
Prior to teaching, during his 15 years in professional theatre, he noticed that student volunteers or interns were often the hardest workers at the theaters where he spent time. “Their wide-eyed appreciation for theatre was always so refreshing,” he recalled.
When he moved to Richmond, Ritter was asked to be the guest artist at the Center for the Arts and immensely enjoyed working with the students there. After two years, the previous teacher moved on, and suggested Ritter apply for the job.
Today, he sees artistic endeavor and study as the glue that holds education together.
“Without art education, we lose perspective. Art can be the spark in a child that brings them back to their desks the next day.”
In many respects, said Ritter, his job entails helping parents and students understand that “art does not occur in a vacuum,” and that playwrights, artist, dancers and songwriters are influenced by the world and events around them.
“We as artists cannot help but let the outside world mold what we do as artists,” he said. “Therefore, it is essential to study history and other art forms in order to gain perspective.”
One of his favorite teaching memories, in fact, involved a sophomore who came running into his class many years ago.
“Mr. Ritter!” the student said. “We were talking about the Greeks in history today, and I completely understood what the teacher was talking about because of your lectures last year!”
Another thing he enjoys about the job is working with “my fellow teachers – some of the most dedicated and passionate teachers that I have ever met.” Among the role models who have inspired him in college and beyond, he said, is the center’s past director, Lee Hanchey.
“If I can do half the things that she accomplished as a teacher, I know I will be a success,” he said.
Parents, he said, have also made his job much easier; some are so “fiercely loyal” that they continue to support and help him years after their child has graduated.
On the other hand, there are many parents he has never met, or has only met at graduation – even though in many cases he has worked with their child for four years.
He can’t help wishing that more parents understood how crucial it is to be involved all the way through high school.
“As a father of two very young children,” he said, “I already understand where they are coming from. By the time your child reaches high school you have served on enough committees, bought enough wrapping paper and baked enough cookies for two lifetimes.
“But as a high school teacher I wish they could hold on for just a few more years.”
High school students may be young adults, but they still need guidance and encouragement – as evidenced by the senior whose mind he changed about college.
“[The student] felt that they didn’t stand a chance of getting in, but after much persuasion, they tried and got accepted.
“Whenever I think back to that moment,” said Ritter, “I know that I made a difference, and I use that feeling to drive me when I get really stressed at work.”
Dr. Even Alexander, a New York Times best-selling author who has been featured on Oprah and Dr. Oz, was in town last week to promote his June 27 talk, "Proof of Heaven," at Glen Allen High School.
Alexander (pictured, at right, while Unity of Bon Air church member Harry Simmons interviews him) has written about what he considers to be his journey through the afterlife.
Tickets to this month's event are $25 and will support the new Bon Secours Hospice House being built later this year. > Read more.
The Innsbrook Rotary Club, which is celebrating its 25th year in 2015, has completed a number of volunteer projects this year and raised thousands of dollars for various organizations through three events.
The club's annual rose sale, benefit for youth live auction and Virginia Fire Games competition, combined with individual and corporate donations, have raised nearly $70,000 – money that the club contributes back to the community.
FeedMore is the beneficiary of the club's 25th anniversary project, which provides refrigerated trailers to be used for the distribution of food throughout Central Virginia. > Read more.
For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarInnsbrook After Hours will present 311 with special guest The Green at 6 p.m. 311 mix rock, reggae, hip-hop and funk into their own unique sound. The band has released… Full text