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Ridgefield School District Honors October Employee and Students of the Month
Tuesday, October 08, 2019

On October 8, Ridgefield School District officials recognized the October Employee and Students of the Month at the regular Board of Directors meeting.  

Math is not easy for everyone and therefore, isn’t everyone’s favorite subject, but Austin Biel is often referred to as “my favorite teacher” by students.  There is something special about the way he teaches math and the way he makes students feel about the way they can learn math.  He gives them confidence in their math abilities but holds them to high standards at the same time.

Austin has a way of making students wrestle with math equations and use their higher thinking skills in order to figure out how to break down problems to understand the process of solving equations.  He doesn’t give kids the answers; he makes them give him the answers and explain their thinking to him.  Austin also uses a fair bit of humor to connect with his students, and you can often see students having fun while learning in his classroom.

As a colleague, Austin pushes his peers and team members to try new strategies and take risks with their teaching.  His willingness to take risks and try new approaches to teaching is evident in his lessons.  Furthermore, Austin has strong communication with the parents of his students and engages them in two-way communication in order to support his students.

The following email comment was received from a parent this year:

“I have been wanting to write about Mr. Biel for over a year!  Our daughter was lucky enough to have him last year for math, and he is just AMAZING.  Really, he is such a caring teacher.  He’s the FIRST High School teacher she asked us if she could buy a gift for, because she just felt he was so good.  My daughter actually HATES math; she has struggled with it her whole life.  So, for her MATH teacher to leave such a good impression on her, we knew he had to be great.  I had the pleasure of speaking to him a few times, and this man is what teachers should all be.  He cared so much about my daughter’s struggles, but he also took note of her efforts!  Really, enough good cannot be said about his way of teaching math!”

Students of the Month

Addison Speer, a third grader, is October’s Student of the Month at South Ridge Elementary School.  The South Ridge Elementary School teachers and staff are very proud of Addison.  His teacher writes, “Addison is the perfect example of an exceptional student.  He is respectful to not only me, but everyone around him and is a positive role model to his peers.  He always knows what to do and will immediately provide help to anyone who needs it.  Nothing is too hard for him, and he never gives up.  Addison is a sweet boy who cheers on his classmates when they may be struggling and becomes their friend when they need it most.  If you are having a bad day, Addison will say some kind, motivating words and make you smile.  I am both happy and lucky to have Addison in my class this year.”

Gael Hurtado, a first grader, was selected at Union Ridge Elementary.  Gael always comes to school with a smile on his face, ready for a new school day.  In kindergarten, he was a student that participated full time in the RISE program (Reaching Independence Through Structured Education).  This school year, Gael is in a general education first grade classroom over 70% of the day and is making outstanding growth as a learner.  Gael actively participates in classroom activities and is making many new friends.  Gael says that his favorite part of the school day is playing games, recess and snack time.  Gael’s general education teacher expressed that she is impressed with his can-do attitude and is astonished to see his social growth in such a short amount of time.  Mrs. Taylor says that Gael is a shining light in their classroom!  Gael’s classmate shared, “Gael is always happy and always has fun with us.  We love to laugh and play together.”  Gael has the Union Ridge Tater Tot spirit through and through!

Tyler Merlock, a sixth grader, was selected at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School.  Tyler is a born leader.  She looks for the positive in every situation, and she looks for ways to make things better.  She is respectful to her peers and staff alike and looks for ways to make sure that she is doing well in her schoolwork and behavior.  Tyler is a good problem-solver, and she will reach out for help to solve a problem if it is beyond her scope to figure it out.  Tyler is a role model in my class, and she is a pleasure to work with.

Ella Fitzgerald, an eighth grader, was chosen at View Ridge Middle School.  Ella is a natural leader and aspires to be a veterinarian in the future.  She likes school, the teachers and the curriculum here at View Ridge.  She is always doing the right thing, doing what is asked of her and will help in any way needed.  She does all of this in a way that reflects her kindness and shows how responsible and respectful she is all the time.  Ella consistently asks for extra work for no other reason except to improve her learning.  She constantly pushes herself to do better and has an unparalleled work ethic.  She is not afraid to ask questions when she needs to and wants to understand everything we do—not just being able to “do” it.  She is nice, polite and a joy to work with and have in class.  Ella is incredibly friendly and genuinely interested in others.  She is awesome!

Ridgefield High School is very pleased to announce senior Hunter Abrams, as its first student of the month for the 2019-2020 school year.  When asked to describe Hunter, his teachers say that he is a consistently excellent student and a terrific communicator who demonstrates leadership and sets a positive example for his peers to follow.  Hunter is involved in National Honor Society, football and soccer, as well as his church.  He takes advanced classes at RHS and maintains an overall GPA of 3.983.  Ridgefield High School has an enrollment of 943 students.  To select one student to represent the entire student body is not an easy task.  Ridgefield High School is proud to select Hunter Abrams as its Student of the Month for October.

Special thanks to the local office of James Schmeling at Allstate Insurance Company, the Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation and the Ridgefield Boosters for sponsoring the district’s recognition program this school year.