Holly Ritter

Lowell Elementary

  Holly Ritter is the literacy coach at Lowell Elementary in Waterloo.
  Her responsibility is to mentor the teachers so that they can best
  meet the needs of their students and work with children that are
  having difficulty with learning to read. When Holly shares teaching
  points she does a great job of explaining the how's and why's and
  makes everyone feel united in their mission. Holly is passionate about
  helping to improve our children's reading skills. She is very
  determined in trying to do whatever it takes to help improve reading
  proficiencies for the children at Lowell. The testing data showed that
  when the children left Lowell at the end of the last school, the
  student's scores showed they had 75.9% children reading at the
  proficient level. At the beginning of this school year they were
  tested again and their reading proficiency dropped to 43.1%. When
  students were asked if they read over the summer many of them said no,
  they did not have any books to read at home. At Lowell, 86% of the
  children are eligible for free or reduced lunches so we know that
  poverty plays a large role in the lives of many of our children. After
  seeing those test results and knowing the children were not where they
  needed to be, Holly decided to open a book store so that she could get
  books into the hands of their children. Lowell is the first elementary
  school in the Waterloo district to have a book store at school.
 Holly wasn't going to let anything stand in the way of having this book store.
  Even though Lowell has no extra spaces in the school she carved out a
  corner of their stage as space for the book store. It is open every
  morning from 8:15 to 9:00 for the kids to do their shopping. Holly
  only has one volunteer at this points so she "plays store" for this
  project on four of the five days that it is open. This means that it
  takes a big chunk of her "before school" planning time. The children
  can purchase books at a minimal charge, .25 or .50, and can also get
  free book coupons for reading extra minutes at home or behaving in the
  classroom. Holly spread the word that they were in need of new or
  gently used books and she did that by getting information to their
  partners-in-education, local churches and businesses. She was very
  successful in the collection of books and was able to stock the
  shelves with hundreds of books. In the first week the book store was
  open more than 200 books were "purchased" by the students. Holly is
  ambitious, energetic, passionate, and dedicated and brings a sense of
  enthusiasm to everyone she encounters. Holly is truly a "Teacher of
  the Week" and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to meet and work with her.


Julie Ehlers