Community Christian School in Pease is welcoming a new face on campus this year with the addition of Principal Dick Ritzema. Former administrator Amy Banks will retain her role in communications with the community and will have a bigger presence in the classrooms.
Ritzema’s last position was in Illinois, but he’s not exactly a stranger to the Pease and Milaca areas.
“We have a broad historical base here and they still stay connected,” he said. “I’ve only been here a month and a half, but I’ve known the community for over 40 ears because I married one of its own.”
Ritzema and his wife, Lois (VanDeRite) have six boys, 13 grandchildren and two more on the way. His former position at his hometown and the parochial school he attended as a child was superintendent of the K-12 district. His resume also includes the principal position at Central Wisconsin Christian Schools in Waupun, Wis., service on the Wisconsin board of non-public school accreditation, and curriculum developer for Christian Schools International.
During his 42 years in education, Ritzema said he has learned a few things.
“I’ve always seen the role as a Christian school is to strengthen communities, strengthen families and strengthen kids,” he said.
Riztema earned his bachelor’s degree in education at Dorte College in Sioux City, Iowa (where he and Lois met), and his master’s in education from the University of Minnesota.
He and his family were called to his hometown of Fulton, Ill., to help the struggling Unity Christian School. As an immigrant child, Ritzema said he remembered well as he learned to speak the language from the ABC tiled floor in the English classroom. When he returned 25 years later, the tile was still there.
“I said we are not carpeting over that,” Riztema said laughing.
Although his career in education has a four-decade long list of achievements and prestigious positions, Ritzema said the best part of his job can’t be found on a resume.
“The biggest thing is touching the lives of kids,” he said.
For the full story, see the Thursday, Aug. 9 print edition of the Times.