Señora Liz Ratzi has truly made an impact on my middle and high school career. When I first heard of the “new Spanish teacher” in 7th grade, people were saying that she spoke very fast, she was intimidating, and that she was very passionate about teaching. One week into the school year and knowledge of her work ethic and presence has already spread through our small yet mighty campus. I was nervous to be in her class, as word of her high energy intimidated me. Three weeks later I walked through the door to her class, not really knowing what to expect. She greeted us with a bright smile and literal open arms, saying, “Buenos días clase!” a phrase I didn’t know I would miss hearing so much. My nervous energy soon turned into that of excitement and curiosity. I was eager to learn how to speak in the language that was displayed in comic sans all over her colorful classroom. Looking back I am so grateful that I chose to learn Spanish with Señora Ratzi, as she has truly sparked my curiosity for learning the beautiful language since day 1. Every day subsequent to that one, I rushed into the classroom, sometimes getting there early, eager to learn. I remember one time in 7th grade I had downloaded the Duolingo app to better my understanding of the spanish language, and a question entered my wired little brain. I knew that only Señora could answer my question as to what the true definition of “sobre” was, so I ran across campus after school to ask her. She was not even teaching me that semester, but when I knocked on the door and asked if she was busy, she looked away from her computer, flooded with emails as I can imagine, and greeted me with a smile. I asked her my question and she nearly gave me a full on lecture about what sobre meant, giving me example sentences and writing on her whiteboard. I left her classroom feeling like a spanish pro, and I was excited to apply my knowledge to something more.
Throughout the years I have always looked up to her and seen her as an extraordinary teacher, completing tasks at a pace immeasurably fast, answering questions before they can fully come out of a student’s mouth, and memorizing each of her approximately 50 student’s handwriting. Her spanish classes have taught me so much more than how to speak the language. I cultivated and executed critical thinking skills and was always encouraged to continue to participate in class and express my ideas. Another aspect of her teaching method that has definitely benefitted me as an individual and not just a student is her self reflection. During midterm week she gives us a paper to fill out that asks what our current grade in the class is, what we hope it will be by the end of the semester, and why we want the grade. At first I honestly thought it was useless and not beneficial to my time but looking back I actually really benefitted from it. Her reflection guides aided me in recognizing my strengths and weaknesses and making goals to improve my Spanish abilities. Never had I seen a teacher make room in their already busy teaching schedule to help their students reflect on their work ethic and grades. Now, I use my tactics to help me set goals for my other classes as well as my personal life.
Watching from a distance, I’ve seen how she is endlessly on top of her game, constantly improving her lesson plans and her weekly schedules to fit our needs. She has always been willing to help her students and prioritize their needs before her own. I’ve seen her send emails at 5:30am, edit my scripts for a presentation at 11:00pm, and still maintain her high energy throughout her work day. I notice how she organizes her notes in color, knowing that I and other students in the class are visual learners that implement color-coding into our notes to better our understanding. She also drew our conjugation charts, T charts, funny and memorable Google Images and other visual aids to help my classmates and I fully understand the concepts. She always went the extra mile to ensure of her student’s understanding. Today, I went in to help her clean out her classroom, as she is leaving our school due to personal reasons. While organizing piles of paperwork I stumbled across certificates and printed emails from classes and conferences that she went to on her own time to better her teaching methods and tactics. Although I’ve seen the effort she puts into teaching each and every one of her classes first hand, through seeing proof of having attended these conferences I’ve seen how Señora truly cares about the outcome of her teachings upon her students. As her student of 5 years I’ve come to respect her more and more as she has continuously proved to me that she cares about her students and our school.
Along with teaching Spanish to middle and high school children, Señora is the head of the National Honor Society at our school. At my small private school, the few people we have wear many hats, as she likes to put it. She has worked relentlessly to create new programs that will benefit the student’s school-wide, like the Academic Buddy program, in which each NHS member acts as a tutor to an assigned 6th grader at our school. She has always asked for our feedback and has put in great effort to organize a way in which all of our needs were met by decreasing our tutoring scheduling from 3 times a week to just two, which lifted a heavy load off of our high school backs. She accommodates for us, and although I’m not on the executive council and I do not make action plans, I can imagine all of the effort she puts into making sure we are alright. Prior to her being the NHS advisor, she was the class advisor of my class, the class of 2020. As the class rep, I experienced first hand her passion for organizing our meetings as best as she could help us with, scheduling meetings and highlighting which council member says what in order to insure everyone partook in an equal leadership opportunity. She helped us fundraise, hearing out our ideas and providing us with the materials we needed, even if she needed to scavenge through a Costco on a work-night.
From what I can see, she is truly broken by her having to leave La Pietra. I will not explain in further detail other than she was definitely not fired and her leaving was definitely not her decision. She knew she was going to have to leave since the summer of 2018, and had kept it from everyone in her work setting until recently. She had been carrying the heavy weight of knowing that she would have to leave our school for nearly the whole year, and no one noticed. Although I know her on a seemingly personal level, and I knew she seemed stressed out, I did not know her plans of leaving. She powered through the stress and somehow maintained her high energy and enthusiasm in each and every class.
I look up to her because as a teacher, her job is often overlooked, yet behind the scenes, she does the absolute most for her students. She has put in countless hours towards her students and her job in general, and as a student I truly admire her for that. She truly cares about the outcome over the income, and for that I will always remember her as my absolute favorite teacher.