SSD Ritenour Dispatch

May 2023


On April 13, 2023, the Ritenour School District Board of Education approved new boundaries for all elementary and middle schools to help create a balance in enrollment based on the capacity of each school. It’s the first time that Ritenour has made significant changes to its elementary school boundaries in more than three decades. Learn more and view the new boundary map here.

Students from Buder, Iveland and Kratz elementary schools will now attend Hoech Middle School.

Students from Marion, Marvin and Wyland elementary schools will attend Ritenour Middle School.

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The Paraprofessional of the Month for March 2023 is Sean O'Brien from Ritenour High School

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Pictured left to right: Dr. Jana Haywood (RHS Building Principal), Nathan Dwyer (Building Coordinator), Kevin Harr (Paraprofessional Facilitator), Sean O'Brien (Para-Professional), Alyssa Yakimov (Teacher), Abby Wallace (Teacher), Peter Blow (Teacher)

Congratulations to Sean!

This is Sean's second year with SSD. He spends much of his day floating between rooms to help with students in crisis or who need additional support. Sean describes his role at Ritenour High as the "utility man," someone who can move throughout the school and help where needed. Sean's unique role allows him to build close connections with the students. In fact, for Sean, the relationships with the students is what it's all about. "It's the best thing about this position," Sean said. "You have to earn the trust of the students to make an effective team."

Sean, a national champion basketball player and experienced coach, sees similarities to the message he delivers to the students at Ritenour and on the basketball court: Hard work and being a good teammate are essential to success. "If you help others," Sean says, "the help will be returned to you." From his time in basketball, Sean understands what it means to be a part of an effective team and brought that attitude and experience to Ritenour. "We respect each others strengths and weaknesses," he reported. "When someone needs help, we help each other out. We do what we need to do to meet our goals." He also emphasized the intentionality of inclusion as a key reason for Ritenour's success. "Ritenour makes it a point to include our students. Our kids are included more and more in general education each day." He credits both the Ritenour principal Dr. Jana Haywood and his SSD Coordinator Nathan Dwyer with setting this important direction for the school.

When asked to provide advise for new paraprofessionals starting their position, Sean emphasized the importance of getting the job done. "Do whatever is best for the kids and the whole team will be successful."

When not helping students at Ritenour, Sean coaches basketball at Vianney High. He is a big sports fan and is always willing to participate in friendly (or serious) competition. He also respects and learns from the leadership styles of sports legends John Wooden, Buzz Williams, and Tony LaRussa.

Thank you to Sean for his impressive and meaningful work with our students!

Still on the hunt for good summer camps or activities?

There are search engines that can help with that. Blueprint 4 Summer and Kids out and About are great resources to help fill those hot summer days.

Special Education Foundation

SEF Accepting Applications for Kid to Camp Program: The Special Education Foundation is now accepting applications to assist children with disabilities served by SSD to attend one or more camps this summer. Each year, the SEF provides tuition assistance to enable students served by SSD to attend summer camps. Sometimes children with disabilities cannot join their peers in a summer camp experience due to financial constraints or other hardships. SEF steps in to help young people and their families take advantage of these experiences that can sometimes be life-changing. Parents and caregivers can have peace of mind knowing that their child is in a safe and healthy place. Apply here.
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Student Leadership Opportunities

Please check out these unique and FREE leadership opportunities for high school students with disabilities, ages 16 - 21.

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SSD Family Leadership Institute – Spring 2023

Last call for applicants to the Family Leadership Institute (FLI)! FLI is a great opportunity for educational decision makers to:

  • Build an understanding of future planning and problem-solving using Charting the LifeCourse tools.

  • Learn to effectively participate in their student's education and improve the educational climate for all children.

  • Learn how to positively interact and collaborate with other families and school personnel.

  • Discover new resources and network with other families.

This program, which is offered at no cost to participants, is designed for family members who are the education decision-makers for a student with a disability.

The three sessions will be held in-person on Wednesdays, from 5:30-8 PM on April 19, 26, and May 3, 2023. Dinner will be provided for attendees.

Click here to apply today!

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Community Partner Highlight

PEERS® (Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills) is a 12-16 week social skills program for children, teens or young adults with autism. In this program, individuals are engaged in learning real-life skills for connecting with others, as well as building and maintaining friendships. Parents/Caregivers will also participate in the program and will be taught how to support and assist their child/young adult in making and keeping friends by coaching and providing feedback during weekly homework assignments.

This program is offered to three age groups:

  • Children’s Friendship Training: 3rd-5th graders

  • PEERS: Middle and high school aged students

  • PEERS for Young Adults: Individuals ages 18+ who are no longer in high school

New sessions will begin in May and August 2023.

A pre-program assessment to determine eligibility is required. Funding options include DDRB, DMH and Private Pay.

For more information and to see if you qualify, please contact our Admissions

Department at 314-394-7100 or via email

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DESE Special Education Survey

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has contracted with the University of Missouri’s Institute of Public Policy to conduct the 2022-23 Parent Special Education Survey required for federal reporting. To complete this survey, visit and enter the following Access Code: NQAJPB. DESE thanks you for providing your input by April 30.

SSD Parent Advisory Council Meeting

Parent Advisory Council (PAC) is comprised of families advising and collaborating to improve the education, confidence, and social outcomes of each student served by SSD. SSD's PAC works closely with the SSD Board of Education, Governing Council, and District administration to provide valuable input and feedback from the parent perspective.

May's Meeting - May. 10, 2023 7:00pm - 9:00pm

SSD PAC Zoom Link

Meeting ID: 955 4237 2430

Passcode: 795650

All meetings are held virtually via Zoom.

For more information or to join the meeting virtually, please visit the PAC website.

PAC general council meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month.

Ritenour School District PAC

The goal of the RSD-SSD PAC is to collaborate with parents/guardians, Ritenour School District Administration, and SSD Administration to improve the overall results of our kids. We seek parent input on matters concerning special education services.

We meet monthly to develop our abilities to:

  • Share information and support with other parents navigating the special education process

  • Learn about advocating effectively for our children

  • Improve communication and promote collaboration between Ritenour Schools and Special School District

  • Promote a positive, inclusive understanding of students with disabilities

The RSD PAC meeting will be on Monday, May 22nd from 6:00pm - 8:00pm at the Ritenour Administrative Center. Future meetings will be held on the 4th Monday of each month.

Family & Community Engagement (FACE) Workshops

Parent/Family Workshops

All of the workshops offered by FACE are provided free of charge and are open to all parents, families and community members.

After registering, participants will be provided with information about the platform that will be used for the workshop.

If you are unable to attend the live workshop, please still register so that we can send you the link to the recording a day or two after the workshop.

The workshops will be set up as webinars, so you will be able to see the panelists but not other attendees. Your confirmation and reminder email will contain information about how to submit questions to the panelists in advance, or you can use the chat and Q&A features during the workshop. If you have any questions, please let us know.

If you need more information, or if you require an alternative format as addressed by the Americans with Disabilities Act, contact, 314.989.8460 or 711 (Deaf/HOH).

Registration Options

To register for a workshop, please email or call 314.989.8460.

Upcoming Workshops

Join the FACE team on May 24th for a Lunch and Learn to discover new and exciting ways to engage your students this summer. Face will highlight various local opportunities as well as ways to keep your students’ skills sharp over the summer break.

The Community Action Agency of St. Louis County (CAASTL) will be at the HUB, located in North County Technical School, on May 12, 2023 from 9-4pm. CAASTL can help families in need of rental assistance, utility assistance, and weatherization needs.

Youth Mental Health First Aid Training is available for families in SSD. The course is located at Maryland Heights Community Center on July 22, 2023 from 9 - 3:30 PM. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. To join us please register at Seats are limited. Register to become a mental health first aider today.

The National Association on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers meaningful resources to support youth, educators, families, and caregivers have productive discussions about mental health with youth and young adults. Please visit the website to review the resources.

Lunch and Learn Series

Special School District’s Family and Community Engagement (FACE) department is excited to offer a virtual Lunch & Learn series for SSD families and stakeholders. The series, which will involve community organizations sharing information about their work, will continue during the 2022-23 school year and take place from 11:30 AM - Noon.

Representatives from three community organizations and three SSD departments will participate in order to increase awareness about their agencies or programs and make connections with those in our SSD community who may benefit from their programs and services.

Features in the 2022-23 Lunch & Learn Series are:

SSD Family and Community Engagement (FACE), Summer Engagement Activities - May 24, 2023

Each event is held virtually through YouTube Live. To access the video, please click on the organization's name in the list above. The videos will not be available to view until their scheduled date and time.

May 12 9:00am - 4:00pm

Hub Huddle: CAASTLC

Event held at The Family Resource Hub at North Tech High School

1700 Derhake Road

Florissant, MO 63003

May 3 5:30pm - 8:00pm

Family Leadership Institute (Session 3 of 3)

Register for this in-person event

Dinner will be provided for attendees.

The Family Resource Hub

The Family Resource Hub is where families and educators develop effective partnerships to improve student outcomes.

For more information visit the The Family Resource Hub.

The Family Resource Hub Satellite Food Pantry is located at North Tech High School which supports families with access to non-perishable food items and household supplies.

The Family Resource Hub Satellite Food Pantry

SUMMER HOURS FOR THE HUB: Access to the HUB, located in North Technical High School, will only be available over the summer by appointment. Email to make an appointment.

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Affordable Connectivity Program

The Affordable Connectivity Program is a Federal Communications Commission program that helps connect families and households struggling to afford internet service. This new benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers.

Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail in application.

You can learn more about the benefit, including eligibility and enrollment information, by visiting, or by calling 877-384-2575.

Free At-Home COVID-19 Test

Residential Households in the U.S. can order one set of 4 FREE at-home tests from To order the free tests visit

Special School District is providing assistance to those who need help accessing or completing the online form. For assistance, visit FREE At-Home COVID Test.
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Upcoming Dates

May 25

Early Release - RHS Finals 9-12 only

May 26

PreK-12 Last Day of School

May 29

Memorial Day (NO SCHOOL PreK-12)

May 30

Teacher Work Day

Ritenour District Event Calendar

Let's Talk!

Let’s Talk is an open invitation from Special School District (SSD) to tell us what’s on your mind.​Let’s Talk is an easy way to submit feedback at your convenience directly to the SSD staff member who can help.

Ritenour School District

Kyle Johnson, Special Education Coordinator - Kratz, Marvin & Wyland

Emya Williams, Special Education Coordinator - Iveland, Marion & Buder

Stephanie Genenbacher, Special Education Coordinator - Hoech & Ritenour Middle

Nathan Dwyer, Special Education Coordinator - Ritenour High