Shelley Ritz named Plaquemines Principal of the YearMar 1st, 2011 | By Michelle Provencher | Category: news
More than a thousand children between pre-kindergarten and fourth grade come through the front doors of Belle Chasse Primary School every day.
Like any other elementary school, the kids skip inside with backpacks in tow, some eager to reunite with their friends, others searching for a missing homework assignment.
However, the difference that separates BCP from other schools is its figurehead, Principal Shelley Ritz.
Every morning Ritz stands in the atrium of BCP, personally greeting each student as they enter, and directing them to the library, their classroom or the cafeteria for breakfast.
The school day officially begins with the “Good Morning Song,” followed by morning announcements – hosted by Ritz – which are broadcast into classrooms.
Afterward, Ritz begins her daily tasks, which includes making rounds to visit classes.
“Hi, Ms. Ritz!” shouted a boy from the kindergarten class as the principal entered the room.
“Hi, Anthony,” Ritz warmly responded. She knows every student in the class by name.
She joined the teacher on the colorful carpet in the center of the room, and asked the group of five- and six-year-olds to explain what they were doing.
Half a dozen little hands shot up into the air.
They were brainstorming for different modes of transportation. And on the dry erase board next to the teacher was written “car,” “plane” and “motorbike.”
Other kindergarteners were chopping up magazines, searching for words.
“We want the children to be independent readers, writers and thinkers,” said Ritz. “We want [them] to know what they are doing and why.”
Ritz steps into several other classrooms of varying grade levels throughout the school on a weekly basis, at times with a team to assess the teachers. She knows the curriculum being covered as she travels from class to class, as well as the approach the teachers are taking.
“The only way teachers get smarter is to provide professional development,” said Ritz. “If we accept that we’re learning, it’s such a difference.”
Ritz is ambitious, and luckily, so are the teachers at BCP.
“[The teachers] are on the train with me,” said Ritz of where she sees the school going.
The BCP teachers have responded positively to Ritz, and recently showed her their appreciation.
It was a month ago when Ritz arrived at the school midday from a meeting. She was immediately notified the multi-purpose building was flooded.
She worriedly rushed to the building to survey the damage, only to discover the auditorium-sized space to be dry. The fluorescent overhead lights were extinguished, and a “red carpet” made from sheets of paper lined the floor. As the principal suspiciously entered further, stage lights came on and the whole staff burst into “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
The production of song and dance, and student-acted skits were put together to celebrate Ritz’s recent award, Plaquemines Parish Principal of the Year.
Upon receiving the news, Ritz was overcome with emotion.
Ritz became principal of BCP five years ago, after teaching fourth and fifth grade in the parish.
In the late afternoon on Feb. 25, Ritz received the news that she was Principal of the Year at the regional level, and will be going on to the state level of the award. On March 17 she will be one of eight principals being formally interviewed by the state department, the winner will be Louisiana’s Principal of the Year.