Educators of the Year
PTA group recognizes two outstanding BTW teachers
Posted on 03/29/2019
Ritzus and Sanford

The Montgomery County Council of PTAs has recognized two Booker T. Washington Magnet High educators with a long history of exceeding expectations and overcoming adversity.

The council has named Treasure Ritzus its Outstanding High School Educator of the Year, and Jennifer Sanford its Outstanding High School Support Staff of the Year.

 

Ritzus has been at BTW for more than a decade. Principal Quesha Starks describes her as a compassionate teacher who has mentored many, and especially first-year teachers.

 

Ritzus has never received a single parental complaint, Starks said, adding that Ritzus allows no excuses for failure, misbehaving, or giving up in her class.

 

Ritzus is well-known for her dedication and care for her students. A social worker visiting the program asked to meet Ritzus, the “superwoman” who so many students credited as helping them through difficult times, Starks said.

 

“Dr. Ritzus understands that when students’ needs are not met, learning is impacted as well,” Starks wrote in her letter of nomination for Ritzus. “From notifying parents and school administrators to having conferences with students to make sure they are progressing after a life episode, she is dedicated to making a difference and making sure that adolescents are supported to achieve educational goals.”

 

Sanford joined BTW as the media specialist when she was the parent of a BTW student. During her time there, she helped transform the media center into a dynamic shared social space for students.

 

On Aug. 18, 2018, tragedy struck in the form of a devastating fire that destroyed every resource she had purchased, whether personally or through grants.

 

Starks recalled how quiet Sanford became after that, how some wondered whether she would pull through.

 

“One of the first fragments from the fire that I discovered after sunrise was a page from a library book,” Starks wrote. “A portion of the text managed to survive even though the entire building was lost in flames. ... Just as a single page from a book that was lost forever rose from the ashes, Mrs. Sanford’s energy and determination rose from the ashes after all that she had worked for and lost in one single day.

 

“She never stopped gathering supplies and new materials for our Media Center, which had to be converted into a dance studio at Hayneville Road Elementary School, our temporary location. She moved from working in one classroom to moving to an Annex building to transform three classrooms into a Media Center.”

 

Sanford continues to advocate for restoring the BTW Media Center and continues to gather new supplies as she rebuilds.

 

The Montgomery County Council of PTAs recognized Ritzus and Sanford during a ceremony at Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.