MassCUE is pleased to announce Ritamarie Benoit as our Featured Educator for February 2023!
Ritamarie Benoit is an expert at managing a lot of projects at once, while keeping students at the center of every decision. As the Grades 3-5 Curriculum Supervisor for the Duxbury Public Schools, she is responsible for the oversight and implementation of curriculum, professional development, technology integration and digital learning for a school with 600 students across 30 classrooms. One of her favorite projects each year is coordinating the Duxbury Elementary Science Fair for more than 200 students, grades K-5. A former classroom teacher who has always been drawn to technology, she’s been in her current position for 11 years. Her position is always evolving with the changes in education, but it never gets boring.
“My work is so different every single day. It’s never mundane,” says Benoit. “We are always striving to stay current in research and best practice in order to provide the highest quality education to our students.”
During her years as a Curriculum Supervisor, Benoit has seen a shift in the technology focus from learning to use devices to leveraging technology to make lessons engaging, learning more collaborative and individualized and feedback immediate. She says teachers have more confidence and creativity today than ever before. Her advice to other leaders in positions like hers: always know your “why.”
“Only leverage those tools that are truly going to revolutionize the learning for students,” Benoit says. “Involve the teachers as much as possible so that you select tools that allow teachers to teach in new and creative ways.”
Benoit points out that it’s also important to provide embedded professional development to support implementation. While she facilitates PD for her building and always makes a point to attend, she enjoys most when the teachers have room to determine the training that they need as well.
“What I love seeing is that our teachers now go to each other for help and training. It’s inspiring how they collaboratively problem solve to apply tools in ways that elevate what they do,” says Benoit. “When it comes to PD, I find giving teachers time and getting out of the way yields the best results!”
In addition to PD, Benoit supports teachers in implementing the curriculum and oversees subcommittees in every subject area who are always working on a particular phase of curriculum review. She says Duxbury has been on the forefront of leveraging new technology to facilitate learning and when the pandemic hit, it became clear that the school needed to have a Single Sign-On (SSO) solution to help students and teachers manage all of the tools and passwords they were using. They chose Clever SSO.
“We used a combination of Clever and Google Classroom to survive the remote learning during the pandemic,” says Benoit. “Between grades 3-5, we probably have about 15-20 tools that now all speak to the student management system seamlessly. It’s been game changing.”
Another tool that Benoit has worked to introduce in her district is iReady, which was selected to ensure consistency between the two elementary schools after the primary school had enjoyed success with this platform. What Benoit loves about iReady is that it is a universal screener, but it also offers students a personalized learning path as a result of their diagnostic score. Students receive lessons they can do independently and teachers receive immediate feedback.
“It has amazing potential,” Benoit says. “Teachers can be working in small groups with a group of students, while those doing independent work are being served lessons that are just right for them in the moment.”
Of the many challenges of her role, Benoit says the biggest one is managing teaching time. Other challenges include coordinating for a large school and identifying when to move forward and when a change will result in unnecessary strain.
“I have the opportunity to advocate for the teachers and the students when we think it will be too much change at once or too steep a learning curve,” she says. “It can be a challenge to find the balance between the excitement of new educational opportunities and providing enough time to support effective implementation.”
Benoit is a longtime member of MassCUE and says attending the Fall Conference exposed her to many ideas over the years. She has often presented at the conference and also joined the Makerspace and STEM Special Interest Group (SIG) when she was creating a Makerspace in her school. Participating in outside groups and making connections is another key part of her success.
“One piece of advice I would give is commit to staying active with leaders in other districts. Information sharing and networking with regional groups and user groups is so beneficial,” she says. “I try to stay connected with people in other districts across the state in every subject area.”
Another piece of advice she would give to colleagues: make time to visit classrooms every day.
“It’s unfortunately easy to go from meeting to meeting all day and miss getting out to classrooms, but we must prioritize the classrooms every day,” she says. “When you go into a classroom and the students want to share their Book Creator writing or their reading fluency milestone in this weeks’ Flip video, that replenishes your energy and provides joy.”
Ritamarie Benoit is the Curriculum Supervisor at Alden Elementary School in Duxbury. She has been supporting students and teachers with curriculum, assessment, digital learning, and professional development in this role for 11 years. Prior to this work, she spent 16 years teaching middle school science and grade 5. Ritamarie started her teaching career in Brockton, teaching grades 1 through 5. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Stonehill College and her Masters in Educational Leadership from Fitchburg State College. She received her Apple Certified Leader certification in Cupertino, CA in 2016. Additionally she is a Google Certified Educator, Screencastify Genius, and Clever Certified Trainer. She is passionate about high quality curriculum, using data to inform instruction and intervention, and digital learning. Ri has presented at MassCue and other national and regional conferences on the Use of Student Data, the benefits of Analytic Vue’s Data Dashboard, Project-Based Learning, Mystery Skype, and the use of Learning Management Systems.Print this post