Ritz impressed with Benton County schools

BENTON COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz walked the halls of Benton Central Junior-Senior High School Tuesday for the first time in her career.

Ritz met one on one with several teachers and stopping to speak with students along the way. She said meeting with educators in a more personal setting is something she strives to do during every school visit.

“I enjoy it, and the teachers themselves really know that I care about what goes on in their classrooms,” said Ritz. “Because it’s all about what happens inside the classroom.”

Ritz chose to visit the high school after attending Purdue’s STEM conference earlier Tuesday morning. She said it is important to visit with educators in rural schools who may not always feel like their voices are heard.

“Rural schools definitely need to be paid attention to,” stated Ritz. “They have great programming, and I just get a sense that a lot of people don’t know what great programming they have. So, I like to emphasis that and make sure they’re recognized.”

Benton Central teacher John Weitlauf had the chance to show off some of his students’ hard work to the state superintendent.

“The community kind of knows what we do and knows what we’ve accomplished, but to have somebody from the state level come in and recognize what we’ve been doing, was really neat,” said Weitlauf.

That hard work has paid off as Ritz could only describe their work as impressive.

“They’re giving kids opportunities to go forth, and be really productive citizens, and have opportunities for careers — as they should,” said Ritz.

Positive feedback like that from Ritz is something students and staff said they will never forget.

“You tell people when you’re driving up [Interstate] 65 and you see the windmills, that’s Benton County,” said Weitlauf. “People don’t really know. So to have someone, again at that level, come out and see what we’re doing and appreciate what we’re doing was incredible.”

Ritz also spent time at Otterbein Elementary School Tuesday.

Ritz said she hopes to come back to Benton County more often.

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