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Amanda Ritzler, the OSU Marion Women’s head volleyball coach and a Strategies for Success in Mathematics teacher at Kenton Middle School traveled to Normal, Ill., on April 13 and 14 to be the keynote speaker for the 22nd annual Expanding Your Horizon Conference, at Illinois State University.
There were parents, students, college students, professors, community members and teachers from area schools in Illinois who welcomed her. Her stories related to being a teen and not having a great deal when she was younger … yet still setting goals and achieving what she wanted out of life despite some hard times. She had grown up in a one income-two parents, seven children houshold which moved a couple of times in her elementary years. Despite struggling with self-esteem at times, she worked for everything she wanted from a very young age.
During her speech, she used a large puzzle of her life experiences from elementary, middle, high school, college, past medical issues and shared some of the people she has met along the way who have helped her learn some pretty big life lessons. She also touched on her experiences working two jobs at the same time as being a distance runner for the travelling cross country, indoor and outdoor teams for the Unviversity of Toledo in the 1980s.
She told the students that challenges and sometimes hardships can make people stronger. She also wanted the students to walk away with the idea that mistakes are not always fun, but needed sometimes so they can become better people in the long run.
Ritzler said, “It is not like anyone tries to make mistakes, but when we do … we need to look at them differently. We need to know how we change, learn and grow from it. I think it can help define us in a positive way if we let it. It can help mold our purposes in life as long as we use them correctly.. truly some of my best efforts and biggest rewards … are from what I thought were struggles at the time.”
This organization is something Ritzler is sure could really encourage and help youth in our own community. In fact, she, Catherine McDonald (2013 EYH ISU director), and then newly retired, Carol Benson ( EYH director for the past 22 years at ISU) have been planning to bring this to our community. Details and research for this endevor have been going on behind the scenes for the past four years to try to bring this conference to this area and community.
The EYH Conference is a learning activity based day for middle and high school students to use math, science and technology to its fullest potential.It used to be just for young girls, but this year it was opened up to anyone who wanted to participate. It also helps encourage goal setting, finding ways to self motivate, as well as a way to meet great role models in our communtiy.
Ritzler is looking to start this conference in our area. She knows of only one other site in Ohio at this time offering this conference and it is in Wooster. She has contacted the director for the national organization, and will be meeting with them in late May. She also has contacted the directors in Wooster for some advice on how to get this great career oriented, discovery based conference for the youth in our community and our surrounding areas. They will also be helping her understand the ins and outs of running this program and getting it started.
Anyone interested in helping or finding out more about this community project can contact Ritzler at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.