This month’s National Renaissance Staffulty of the Month is Terri Vanderwijst from Mountain Ridge Middle School in Gerrardstown, West Virginia. Nominator Ronald Branch II describes how Terri coordinated the spring JR-MAC regional conference, bringing together students and staffulty from nearly 20 schools to share Renaissance strategies and energy (lightly edited):

“This is Terri’s second year at Mountain Ridge Middle. Prior to working here, Terri was extremely involved in the Renaissance Program at Musselman High School. During that time, she helped coordinate numerous Renaissance activities and presented at the Jostens Renaissance National Conference. Since coming to MRMS, Terri has served actively as a Student Council Advisor, helping to plan several Renaissance events. She also started our chapter of the National Junior Honor Society and we just held our second annual induction ceremony. Last week, Terri planned and organized the Spring Conference for the Jostens Renaissance-Mid-Atlantic Collaborative (JR-MAC). These conferences took place on two consecutive days in two schools located over three hours from our school which are not Renaissance schools. Terri collaborated with Jostens representatives, school administrators, and members of the JR-MAC to put together two outstanding events, in which the value of Renaissance was shared with hundreds of students and staffulty from nearly 20 schools that are interested in improving their school culture through Renaissance. Terri did an outstanding job planning these conferences and spreading the value of Renaissance to schools in the states of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Her passion for students and staffulty are greatly appreciated at MRMS, and she is an asset to our school and Jostens Renaissance.”

What’s a favorite Renaissance moment for you?

Our principal encourages everyone to submit shout-outs for students and staffulty. Shout-outs are read during the end of the day announcements. Students are recognized for different reasons, but mostly for doing the right thing. I love seeing my students hear their shout-outs in the afternoon announcements, be applauded by their peers, and get to pick up their reward at the end of the day!

How has Renaissance impacted your school’s culture?

Our school opened in 2014 as a Renaissance school, so our students don’t know any other way for middle school to be. Our staffulty have come from a variety of school situations, so they know the difference. 100% of our staffulty recently responded to a survey that our school is a great place to work!

How has Renaissance affected you personally?

Renaissance has kept me focused on the most important part of my job– students. Going to the JRNC each year renews my commitment to education, rejuvenates me, and inspires me with fresh ideas for my school, and new ways to reach more students.

What advice would you give to someone just starting with Renaissance?

Make connections with others who have successful Renaissance programs. We are all willing to share, and encourage you to make our ideas your own. Start with your team and a few good, manageable ideas, and build from there.

Terri will receive a shirt and a lapel pin, and was entered into a drawing for free registration to this year’s Jostens Renaissance National Conference.

To nominate someone in your school for the National Renaissance Staffulty of the Month honor, click here

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