Notre Dame Academy school teacher recognized with Emerson Award

Even as a little girl Jenny Raetz knew she wanted to be a teacher.

“I decided to teach in Catholic schools since my childhood was very faith-based,” she says.

Recently Raetz was among 86 St. Louis-area teachers honored with the annual Emerson Excellence in Teaching Awards.

The award recognizes classroom instructors for their accomplishments and dedication to their students and the teaching profession. The teachers are nominated by their schools’ administrators.

Raetz teaches math and religion to grades 6-8 at Notre Dame Academy in Belleville.

This is her 18th year of teaching. For some of those 18 years she taught 3rd grade. She has also taught technology and a variety of classes for 5th through 8th grade students.

“I enjoy teaching math and religion,” she says.  “I have always been a numbers person so I love teaching math. By teaching two different subjects to different grade levels I get to do a variety of activities, projects, lessons, games, and discussions and use a wide variety of technology.”

Growing up, she attended St. Albert the Great Grade School in Fairview Heights and Althoff Catholic High School.

“I had a great experience in both grade school and high school,” she says. “I loved the ‘family’ atmosphere.”

Jenny and her husband Paul, who works for Flawless Foundations, live in Millstadt and they have a daughter Brooke who is in 7th grade and a son Evan who is in 5th grade.

“We love all our land, woods, and the creek,” she says of their home in Millstadt.

When not teaching, she enjoys cooking, shopping, doing anything outdoors, and running, she says.

In her nomination letter, Notre Dame Academy Principal Linda Hobbs called Raetz an “obvious candidate” for the award.

“Jenny has a dynamic personality and is well respected by her students, parents, and staff members,” Hobbs said. “Her love and excitement for teaching are demonstrated by her ability to modify lessons and her willingness to try new things within her classroom.”

According to Hobbs, Raetz spends countless hours preparing her classroom and lessons to help motivate and excite her students to learn. 

“Jenny has extensive knowledge of technology and uses that knowledge to enhance her instruction within the classroom. She is creative and she encourages students to be creative and think outside the box.  She encourages students to use that creativity to become involved in their school community.”

Raetz is one of the school’s student council moderators and she helps encourage students to become leaders in the school through various student council activities that are designed to better their school.

Hobbs gave one example of how Raetz listens to her students and helps them to make a change.

“Her students wanted to create a positive experience for the entire school and she helped the students create a school carnival,” she said. “The carnival was created and run by the Student Council themselves. Her students, with Jenny’s guidance, were able to see an idea come to reality.”

Hobbs said Raetz is respected and trusted by all her students and that they do not hesitate to come to her when they have a problem in school, whether it is with an assignment or a social issue.

“She works with them and the staff to find a resolution,” Hobbs said.

“I have a great relationship with my students,” Raetz says. “I respect them and they respect me. I try to make learning fun and have a good time while doing it.”

The Excellence in Teaching Awards program is sponsored annually by Emerson, the St. Louis-headquartered global technology and engineering company.