Her students at Danvers High School were shocked and saddened by the popular teacher’s death. She’d only been there a year, but had already made a huge impact on the school.
Jenna Glazier, a 16-year-old junior and former student of Ritzer, remembered her as a generous, dedicated and helpful teacher who often told students, “Yay proofs!” in reference to a mathematical exercise that some begrudged.
“She was known for her positive energy,” said John Tibbetts, a 16-year-old junior.
“She just always had a huge smile on her face, and she was always willing to help everyone,” said Kelsey Brooks Jr., a 16-year-old junior.
“She loved teaching,” said Kara Behen, a 14-year-old freshman. “She was just ... amazing.”
Many people worldwide got a glimpse into Ritzer’s approach to life by reading quotes she put on Facebook or the Tweets she sent out to her students.
She maintained a Twitter account at @msritzermath, where she posted homework assignments and described herself as “a math teacher often too excited about the topics I’m teaching.”
She was known for encouraging and tutoring students, as evidenced by her posts to Twitter. A week ago, she wished sophomores and juniors luck on their PSATs. In early August, she wrote, “No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.”
Even the institutions she touched sent out heartfelt words of mourning at the passing of someone seen as a great student who was an inspiration to everyone.
Patricia Meservey, the president of Salem State University where Ritzer was a graduate student in counseling, called Ritzer a “bright and vibrant student. As a dedicated teacher, Colleen wanted to work with and help children with special needs. She believed children have much to offer and often do not realize how special they are as individuals. In her application to Salem State she said she was dedicated to ‘helping students in times of need.’”