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.”
Citizen Staff Reports 12/03/2013
The region's two premier youth soccer organizations – the Richmond Kickers and Richmond Strikers – have partnered to create Richmond United, a cost-free U.S. Soccer Development Academy program designed to serve the most talented players in the region. The arrangement marks the first time in U.S. Soccer Development Academy history that two member clubs have united their respective Academy programs.
Slated to begin play in the fall of 2014, Richmond United will field U13/14, U15/16 and U17/18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy teams. The teams will train and play home games at two of the top soccer specific complexes in the nation, Ukrop Park and Striker Park. > Read more.
Photo by Roger Walk for the Henrico Citizen 11/24/2013
Henricus Historical Park has a new, messy guest. Eleanor, a rare five-month-old Tamworth pig, was donated this month to the Chesterfield park by the Chesterfield County Farm Bureau as part of an effort to enhance the living history museum's partnership with the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. Eleanor and her livestock pig and goat neighbors at the park will be a special attraction for the schoolchildren and others who visit the Henricus Historical Park. Eventually, she will triple from her current 150-pound weight and grow to about two feet tall. > Read more.
Members of Triangle II, a community service club at Hermitage High School, braved the elements Nov. 16 to serve as a spirit team at the Richmond Marathon, providing half-marathoners with cheers, motivational signs and shouts of encouragement as they ran through Bryan Park. > Read more.
The new AMC television series “TURN” is currently being filmed in and around Richmond, and casting officials are seeking background actors to appear on screen.
“The background actors are profoundly important to the filmmaking process,” said Erica Arvold, casting director. “The show takes place during the Revolutionary War, and background actors contribute to the atmosphere of that era.” > Read more.
American Tap Room’s new Willow Lawn location offers breath-taking atmosphere, but average dishes
On a rare warm night in late November, the newly opened American Tap Room was, to my surprise, bright and packed with guests – many eating outside.
I didn’t have a clue what to expect from this unheard-of restaurant in an unexpected spot – right in the heart of Willow Lawn. I came to learn it’s not unheard of; it’s a restaurant chain out of Northern Virginia.
“It definitely improves the look of Willow Lawn,” said my friend, who ventured to the new spot with me on a Monday night for dinner one week after the restaurant opened. > Read more.
Free Birds offers some giggles, but more eye-rolling
Thanksgiving season is upon us – a time for friends, family, and recklessly indulgent overeating. As we settle into our annual turkey-induced food coma, there’s no better time to take in a festive holiday film. And Free Birds, for better or worse, has the distinguished honor of being one of the only Thanksgiving-themed movies currently on the market.
The film stars Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson as Reggie and Jake, two turkeys who can’t stand the Thanksgiving tradition of watching their neighbors be plucked and served for dinner. > Read more.
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