Temecula Valley Unified School District staff and board members honored Superintendent Tim Ritter at the board’s July 21 meeting, the final one before Ritter’s impending retirement.
Board members and staff presented gifts to Ritter — sent to his family prior to the virtual meeting — and thanked him for his years of service to the district. Ritter has worked for Temecula Valley Unified since 2001, when he was hired as principal at Chaparral High School. He became superintendent in 2010.
According to Deputy Superintendent Jodi McClay, who was appointed in March to serve as TVUSD’s next superintendent, Ritter began teaching in 1985 as a high school biology teacher in the Chaffey Joint Union High School District in San Bernardino County.
“I think anyone who has worked with Tim will attest to the fact that he reminds us of this daily as he tends to tie everything back to teaching science in a classroom,” McClay said. “So he has been our science teacher for all of these years as well, and we tease him about that pretty seriously.”
After joining TVUSD, Ritter was appointed to serve as Great Oak High School’s first principal when the school opened, before serving both as assistant and deputy superintendent of educational support services. McClay noted that after he became superintendent, he was honored as certificated administrator of the year by the Riverside County Office of Education in 2013.
“He has created an environment and fostered our collective and our individual growth through synergy through inspiration through exceptional leadership and role modeling an always with a sense of humor,” McClay said.
Board members presented to Ritter a commemorative clock and a Southwest Airlines voucher. He was given other gift cards as well, including one to the Apple store, that McClay said were paid for by teachers, parents and community members from across the district.
“That’s from everybody within the district, lots of teachers and support staff and community members have contributed to both of those cards,” McClay said.
Temecula Mayor Pro Tem Maryann Edwards, who played a role in originally hiring Ritter while she was on TVUSD’s board in the early 2000s, joined the meeting in a prerecorded video to share a certificate honoring Ritter and designated July 22, 2020, as “Tim Ritter Day” in the city of Temecula.
“So on behalf of the city of Temecula and all of the grateful parents and the students and residents who live in this fantastic city, thank you on behalf of the city of Temecula and thank you as a friend and colleague,” she said.
Ritter, reflecting on his more than three decades in education, said it was actually not his first career choice, but one he found himself in, and the right one.
“I didn’t choose teaching, teaching chose me,” Ritter said. “I went to school to become a wildlife biologist.”
But he changed his mind after a family friend asked him to help out as a substitute teacher at a private school.
“My life changed within two hours,” Ritter said. “And i have never looked back on that and said ‘wow, had i gone the other way, what would my life have been like?’ because in those two hours, I knew that this is what i wanted to do.”
Ritter’s final day as superintendent will be July 31.