This blog post is part of our 2019 Teacher Appreciation Week celebration highlighting just a few of the teachers at public charter schools who are going above and beyond for their students. Thank you to all the teachers in the charter school movement!
Danielle Riha is the 2019 Alaska Teacher of the Year. In January, she was named as one of the four finalists for the 2019 National Teacher of the Year.
Ms. Riha is a wonderful teacher and woman. I have been lucky enough to have her as my teacher for 7th and 8th grades. Ms. Riha has impacted my life, and the lives of all her students, in a lot of different ways.
Ms. Riha is very proud of what she does. One of her gifts is her ability to connect and create personal relationships with her students. I love the bond she has with everyone in our class. She has created these relationships by doing things like giving high fives to all her students as they walk in the morning. Ms. Riha notices when her students are struggling in a subject or are in a bad mood. When this happens, she pulls us aside and checks in with us and see what is wrong. If we need help in a subject, she will give us extra time to work during the day. She is a very positive teacher and she hopes for her students to strive for success.
Ms. Riha teaches her students to follow our school’s cultural values. She teaches us how our cultural values play into our identities and daily lives. For example, before we go to “specials” she reviews the values we need to show the specialists—listen to our elders, participate and be respectful.
I appreciate how Ms. Riha stands up for us and values our opinions. After a lesson, she will ask our opinion. She asks if we liked it and understood what she was teaching. When we have a hard time with a lesson, she will change it around, so it is more eye-opening for us. When needed, Ms. Riha will also fight for our opinions in the school. Recently, she helped us by getting permission for middle schoolers to have time in the morning to be with only our peers instead of being with the elementary school students.
Ms. Riha is the kind of teacher who makes sure we all have the ability to fulfill our full potential in school and in life. She is amazing at teaching. She has become a major role model for me because instead of focusing on the negative she has me focus on the positive and the good to come. She inspires me to live for the whole extent of my life and she has helped me finding my identity. She has given me a better realization that my culture is very important.
Nya Ramirez is an eighth-grade student at the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School
Ms. Riha is one of my most influential people in my life. She has been my 7th and 8th grade teacher. She has taught me way more than academics. She has been such a good teacher to all her students. She is one of the best teachers at our school. She is always kind and welcoming to anyone that enters her room. She has gotten our class ready for high school by showing us what it’s like in high school and taking us on a tour of East High School. She has provided a “high school like” system at the Alaska Native Cultural Charter Schoolwhere we switch classes. What I’m trying to say is she is an amazing teacher and deserves to be the National Teacher of The Year.
Peter Griggs is an eighth-grade student at the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School
I absolutely love my students and my school family. At Alaska Native Cultural Charter School we have amazing parents, staff, students and community members that help create a safe, caring, challenging learning environment. I am honored by the kind words from my students. I know that they have had many wonderful teachers here at ANCCS!