Panel of Teachers Speak at ‘Tales from the Classroom’

Panel of Teachers Speak at ‘Tales from the Classroom’

By Andrew Devine – Editor-in-Chief

   The UMF Aspiring Educators of Maine (AEM) hosted a panel of teachers to discuss horror stories, life lessons, and experiences that came from working in the classroom.

   The panel consisted of teachers of all levels: Dan Ryder and Andrea Palmer, who have been teaching for about twenty years, high school and first grade respectively, Chelsey Oliver, a first-year teacher and recent graduate from UMF, and Elaine Grant, a retired teacher that taught for nearly 40 years.

   The program started with a potluck style dinner to which all attendees were invited. Following the meal, the panel began with a light-hearted question that led to some serious answers: “What is your favorite story to tell about teaching?”

   Most responses from the panelists resulted in profound lessons that the group had gathered over what amounted to over 80 collective years of teaching. Dan Ryder, an English teacher at Mt. Blue High School for nearly 20 years, included some of these important responses.

   “You can be friendly without being a friend,” and “You have to be authentic, and figure out what that means exactly,” were some of the lessons Ryder shared with the club.

   Students in attendance seem to have taken in important lessons pertaining to their future careers from the event.

   Bradley Howes, a sophomore Secondary Education student who worked with Ryder during his practicum, said, “What I took away from it is, you’re going to screw up many times in your first, second, and third years; the point is you have to go with it and own it.”

   On the horror theme of the event, Bryan Eldridge, a member of AEM, said: “Kids aren’t scary; kids are only scary if you make them scary.”

Stephen Riitano, President of UMF Aspiring Educators of Maine.
(Photo courtesy of Andrew Devine)

   Stephen Riitano, President of UMF Aspiring Educators of Maine, helped organize the event and led the panel on stage in the Landing. Riitano said, despite the title of the event, which is a spin on the 1980s television program: ‘Tales From the Crypt’, it was not meant to be a scare.

   “I think the big thing was a balance between horror stories and what is rewarding and informative about teaching.” Riitano said, “If we had just done an hour full of the worst that can happen, it might come as turning some people off.”

   AEM has held similar events in the past, under former name Student Maine Educators Association, and hopes to continue work in aiding students in their advancement towards work in the education field.

   “It’s usually an annual event that Aspiring Educators does,” said Riitano. “Last year it really wasn’t that big, there were only five or six people in the Ed Center lobby, so it was great to have 65 people show up.”

   This event, and the high attendance, shows the progress the club has shown since the start of the school year.

  The club will be hosting an event focusing on Special Education in November.

Student Feature: Stephen Riitano Making a Difference

Student Feature: Stephen Riitano Making a Difference

By Kaitlyn Polk, Contributing Writer 

UMF student Stephen Riitano. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

UMF student Stephen Riitano. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Stephen Riitano is a friendly face around UMF and is very excited to graduate in 2018 with a major in secondary education. Currently a CA in Mallet Hall, Riitano is also the vice president of Student Senate, president of Operation Giveback, and will be a Resident’s Assistant starting next year. He has a lot on his plate and continues to have a smile on his face while balancing his many involvements.

Being a CA makes him a familiar face around campus. “I call being a CA the fishbowl effect,” Riitano said. “You become a face on campus that everyone knows and goes to.” He strives to help all of his Mallet Hall residents so that they can be the best they can be.

Riitano has a passion for teaching and always has. “I have always wanted to be a teacher since 3rd grade,” Riitano said. He had his eyes set on UMF when he was in the eighth grade. “For years I have dreamed of coming to UMF,” Riitano said. Now that the end is so close, it is exciting to be finally in the profession.”

Before Riitano graduated from Bangor High School in 2015, he knew right away where he wanted to go next. “I decided to come to UMF based upon its esteemed reputation in teacher preparation,” Riitano said, “I came here my junior year for a tour and absolutely loved the campus and feel I got. I couldn’t wait to apply.” He loved the campus so much that he works as an Admissions Ambassador and gladly gives tours to incoming students and strives to make them love UMF as much as he does.

Riitano has had many impact on friends and students, including fellow Bangor High alum, Jake Harris. After both graduating high school in 2015, Riitano went on to college while Harris took a year off. Riitano knew UMF was a perfect fit for Harris and did his best to get him to apply.

“He told me how great the campus was, so I came here for a tour and fell in love with the place,” Harris said, “I would have never come to UMF without Stephen.” Harris is currently a freshman with a major in psychology.

Officer of Financial Affairs for Student Senate, Marshall Maxsimic, believes that Riitano is doing great things as well. They will be working together on the Eboard of Senate, and Maxsimic couldn’t be more excited. “Steve is really involved with a lot of things on campus so he brings a unique perspective,” Maxsimic said, “One example was Operation Give Back through SMEA, which was a huge success so I know that Steve gets results.” Operation Give Back is designed around a Create Grant that was given to the Student MEA last semester.