Scholarship recipients honor memory of Danvers teacher as they head to class

Colleen Ritzer loved being a math teacher at Danvers High School and that's how her family wants her to be remembered.

Ritzer, who was pursuing a graduate degree at Salem State College and teaching at Danvers High, was killed by one of her own students in 2013.

After her death, her family created a scholarship fund for future educators. Now, the first recipients of those scholarships are getting ready to enter the classroom as teachers.
Sarah Mountain and Samantha Walters, both graduates of Danvers High School, were among the first group of recipients.  
Both young women are grateful for the all the support they received from the Ritzer family. "Yes, they financially helped us," Mountain said, "but emotionally, they were always checking in on us... they wanted us to do well, and we wanted to do well for them."

It wasn't just Ritzer's love of teaching that impressed both future teachers, it was the way she connected with students. Throughout her college career, Mountain kept a "CR" sticker on her laptop and two bracelets from 5K fundraisers in her backpack. "On a rough day, I'll see them and it kind of reminds me that there is something good that's going to happen today."

One of Walter’s friends had a quote that Ritzer was known for inscribed on a paperweight: “No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.”

It will sit on Walter's desk in her new classroom, a reminder as she starts her teaching career.

Both women believe becoming good teachers is the best way to honor Ritzer’s memory. "It broke our hearts, but something good is going to come out of this... I can see it when I am with students," Mountain said.

Mountain will be a teaching fellow in the Danvers school system. Walters will be teaching math in Revere. Both plan on starting their graduate programs at Salem State University this fall.