Position: Eighth Grade Science Teacher
School: Mason Middle School
School District: Mason City Schools
City, State: Mason, Ohio
About the Nominee: Jay Reutter was nominated by his principal, Tonya McCall. Mr. Reutter has been teaching science at Mason Middle School for many years. He always has the students' best interest at the forefront of any decisions he makes. Over the years, he has not only transformed into a great science teacher, but a great leader among his peers.
Mason Middle School underwent a huge transition from teaming to a more traditional middle school schedule. During this time, Mr. Reutter initiated a grassroots effort to identify concerns and develop a plan of action. This included surveying staff to better understand their needs, researching possible solutions and ultimately planning and implementing a school-wide House System.
Mr. Reutter recognized that in a building with over 1825+ students, there was a need to create an opportunity for staff and students to build relationships that fostered academic achievement and student leadership skills. He and his colleagues recognized that the middle school years are crucial to the development of students' social and emotional well-being, which can translate into stronger student achievement. He saw this as an opportunity for staff and students to participate in community service, develop leadership skills and promote positive academic and social behaviors. To get this initiative off the ground, Mr. Reutter established “house leaders” who met during the school year and in the summer to craft the initiative's framework. This included organizing the houses, the families within the houses, the staff assigned to each house and the kickoff events for both staff and students. Additionally, he engaged one of the district's community partners, The Mason Schools Foundation, by writing a grant to fund the proposed activities.
There are countless other examples of Mr. Reutter's leadership. One of his school's administrators showed him the article about the Pineapple Chart, a system that allows teachers to invite one another into their classrooms for informal observations. Within days, Mr. Reutter had already organized a Pineapple Chart on campus, purchased a whiteboard to display in the front office and implemented it with staff. He single-handedly made the Pineapple Chart happen at his school! He has also spent numerous plan periods visiting other teachers’ classes and encouraging other teachers to do the same.
Mr. Reutter is constantly encouraging professional growth as either a presenter or participant through the promotion of his district's learning series. He encourages staff to spend a few minutes of plan time observing someone else. He also encourages them to tweet something they learned using the hashtags #masonlearns and #MMSLearns.
When it was suggested that MMS students needed to have some direct support in order to encourage perseverance and grit within the student population, Mr. Reutter worked with the House leadership team to develop a school-wide activity with this focus in mind. He also organized a monthly after-school meeting with science teachers who were willing to try innovative practices involving technology within their classroom.
Mr. Reutter is a learner! More importantly, he takes what he has learned and shares it with staff to encourage others to increase their own knowledge and perspective. One of his most recent quests involves taking a deep dive into the world of personalized learning and innovator’s mindset. He is willing to take risks within the classroom to implement innovative practices (i.e. using a new gamification unit for teaching earthquakes and plate tectonics).
Mr. Reutter incorporated “Flex Fridays” in his classroom, giving him time to meet with students as needed while giving other students opportunities to enrich their learning with extensions or other activities, including passion projects. For many years, he has also served as a mentor in the MMS Mentoring Program in an effort to make connections with students in need.
Other areas of excellent performance include: -being identified as a Master Teacher -serving as MMS Science Fair Coordinator, MMS Google Coach and a Building Leadership Team member -receiving the district Innovation award -presenting at the MMS Cool Ideas Fair, a teacher-organized professional development idea exchange -introducing the concept of Ignite Talks as a means for professional development
One of his colleagues stated, “I have had the pleasure of teaching in the same department and grade with Mr. Reutter for 17 years. He is an innovative teacher and is always willing to try new things. Mr. Reutter is continuously implementing new tools to reach his students and engage his students. He is collaborative within our department, shares responsibility, and coaches teachers in executing new technology. Mr. Reutter...has motivated me as an educator to take risks and embrace changes.”
The bottom line is that Mr. Reutter by example, pushes the staff and students at MMS to be a better version of themselves!