Orlo's Rietheimer is East Providence's 2024 District Teacher of the Year

Was honored with other nominees during May 14 ceremony

By Mike Rego
Posted 5/16/24

Kathie Rietheimer, an instructor at the Orlo Avenue Elementary School, was named the 2024 East Providence District Teacher of the Year during a ceremony held Tuesday afternoon, May 14, at East …

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Orlo's Rietheimer is East Providence's 2024 District Teacher of the Year

Was honored with other nominees during May 14 ceremony


Kathie Rietheimer, an instructor at the Orlo Avenue Elementary School, was named the 2024 East Providence District Teacher of the Year during a ceremony held Tuesday afternoon, May 14, at East Providence High School.

Rietheimer, a Grade 4 teacher, was one of 11 teachers recognized for their efforts this year and throughout their careers. She moves on to represent East Providence in the state-wide teacher of the year program sponsored by the Rhode Island Department of Education.

District Selection Committee, made up of central office administrators and former teachers of the year, used the following criteria to select the District Teacher of the Year: Is an expert in their field who guides students of all backgrounds and abilities to achieve excellence; Has a student-centered mindset; Collaborates with colleagues, students, and families to create a school culture of respect and success; Deliberately connects the classroom and key stakeholders to foster a strong community at large; Demonstrates leadership and innovation in and outside of the classroom walls that embodies lifelong learning; And expresses themselves in an engaging and articulate way.

From the committee, "(Rietheimer) is a champion for students, often an unsung hero, who quietly but profoundly impacts the lives of her students. Many describe her as knowledgeable, innovative, caring, committed, collaborative, and fair. She is an expert in the field and goes above and beyond for her students and families. Kathie is well respected by her colleagues, serves on a variety of committees and exudes positive energy. Kathie represents excellence in teaching across the district. Our Teacher of the Year celebration is an opportunity to reflect not only on the individual achievements of our honorees but also on what they represent: excellence in teaching across our district."

Those instructors also noted last week as their building teachers of the year included: Kortney Braga, East Providence High School; Crystal White, Riverside Middle School; Kelly Groff, Martin Middle School; Megan Black, Francis Elementary; Jill Akerman, Hennessey Elementary; Tracy Andrews, Kent Heights Elementary; Lauren Kiendra, Silver Spring Elementary; Kyle Osterhout, Waddington Elementary; Paula Sarasin, Whiteknact Elementary; and Kaitlyn Barron-Shashok Pre-K.

Rietheimer has been teaching in the district for 23 years, including at the middle school level. In her recommendation letter, she was called "passionate about math, science, educating the whole child, meeting the needs of our MLL (multi-language learners)...a leader and role model for students and teachers."

In addition, Rietheimer was cited for being "a strong advocate for the revitalization of the courtyard, which will come to fruition in the summer of 2024. This space will be an interactive garden for students, a classroom space and sensory garden." As well, Reitheimer is an active member of the School Improvement Team, leads the school’s STREAM night, is a Robotics coach, and is a supporter of Conscious Discipline and educating the whole child.

By Orlo parents and staff, Rietheimer is noted as a teacher who "educates students beyond the curriculum, including taking the time to support students who have lost a family member, discussing events happening in society that impact our students or community, modeling positivity and kindness in her classroom and our school and genuinely caring for her students...someone colleagues respect and choose to collaborate with. She can often be found collaborating with her grade level partner or content colleagues."

The nomination letter continued, "(Rietheimer) is data driven and is constantly looking for ways to improve her instruction to better the learning of all. She is willing to think outside the box, looking for creative and innovative ways to ensure each student is getting what they need to be successful in her math class. Colleagues note that she brings a sense of curiosity to her classroom and is recognized by her colleagues as having positive energy."

Nomination letters for the remaining building teachers of the year read, in part, as follows:

Kortney Braga, Spanish, EPHS: "(Braga) shows what it means to have Townie Pride through her hard work, caring nature, and how great she is at teaching...a teacher who stands out because of her love for teaching and how much she cares about her students. Students say she makes learning fun and truly wants her students to succeed. She goes out of her way to make sure her students understand what they're learning and keeps them interested in every lesson."

Kelly Groff, Special Education, MMS: "Kelly has embraced her role since starting here. She is early in her career but already demonstrates the essential qualities of a special educator. She believes in the ability of all children to learn, is patient with significant behavioral challenges , and is wholly dedicated to her role. Kelly always comes to school each day with a smile on her face. She has a true love of her job and students. Her day are filled with many challenges but she is always up for the challenge."

Crystal White, Special Education, RMS: "(Crystal's) unwavering commitment and dedication shine through in her daily interactions with colleagues and students. Crystal's work ethic and tireless passion are unparalleled as she continues to devote countless hours, day and night, to ensuring all her students have access to an equal and inclusive learning environment...Crystal possesses a unique talent for juggling various tasks effortlessly. Few individuals can manage their daily responsibilities the way she does."

Megan Black, Special Education, Francis: "Mrs. Black is a beacon of light and inspiration in our school community, and it is with immense pride that we honor her with this well-deserved recognition. Megan's journey with us began as a parent and valued member of our Parent Teacher Organization. While she has been an educator for some time, we were lucky that she decided to join our Francis team in the middle of last school year. Her tireless efforts and unwavering dedication have not gone unnoticed, as she has become an integral part of our school family."

Jill Akerman, First Grade, Hennessey: "Jill’s commitment to fostering a culture of attendance is truly commendable. By serving on the attendance committee, you demonstrate not only your concern for each student's academic success but also your understanding of the importance of regular school attendance in achieving that success. An advocate for the Science of Reading, Jill employs innovative approaches to promoting literacy and instilling a love for reading among students."

Lauren Kiendra, Kindergarten, Silver Spring: "Mrs. Kiendra inspires, motivates and leaves an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of her Kindergarten students. Mrs. Kiendra understands that teaching goes beyond imparting knowledge; it's about forging meaningful relationships built on trust and respect. She ensures that every student feels valued and empowered to reach their full potential."

Kylie Osterhout, Kindergarten, Waddington: "It’s not often we come across an individual who embodies what it means to be an educator; deeply committed, empathetic, and nurturing. Continually working with each student, improving on the previous day’s work like a gardener nurturing flowers to bloom. Though her commitment alone is not what makes her exceptional. She has an ability to relate to her students and build trusting and enduring relationships with them. This trust and these relationships are the byproducts of the safe, positive, and inclusive classroom which she fosters daily."

Paula Sarasin, Whiteknact: "As a dedicated reading specialist at our school, Mrs. Sarasin consistently goes above
and beyond to foster a love for reading and learning in our students, While also providing unwavering support and inspiration to both children and colleagues alike. Paula's commitment to literacy education is truly exceptional. Every year, she orchestrates and plans an extraordinary Reading Week filled with engaging activities for children, stat, and
families alike. Her creative approach not only makes learning fun but also instills a lifelong love for reading in our students."

Tracy Andrews, Kindergarten, Kent Heights: "Tracy boasts nearly three decades of teaching experience, marked by an unwavering commitment to both her role as an educator and her own journey as a lifelong learner. Throughout the ever-evolving landscape of educational curriculums, Tracy has displayed a remarkable ability to adapt, catering not just to conventional learners, but also embracing students with diverse learning styles and disabilities. Her approach, deeply rooted in student-centered practices, serves as a beacon of inspiration."

Kaitlyn Barron Shashock, Pre-K: "During her two year tenure in the district she has already proven to be a leader in a very strong team of teachers who work collaboratively to ensure that the needs of these very 'little' people are nurtured, developed and strengthened on a daily basis. Comments from families of students in the program are 'always on top of her game, very creative in her ability to teach all types of learning styles. Very involved...always thinks about
her student’s needs first. She makes sure they are loved and taken care of.”

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Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.