One of Maura Ridder’s greatest joys in life is the relationships she has built with the children, their families and the staff at STEM School Highlands Ranch (SSHR). Not a day goes by where Ridder does not get excited to go to school.
Ridder was not always a teacher. Her mother, a college professor, told her that she, too, would be an excellent teacher. Ridder disagreed, protested, and instead went into law.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado Boulder and holds a law degree from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California.
During her college years, she studied English and theater in London. Her love for the city brought her back after college graduation, where she worked at a children’s camp managing 25 counselors and 250 children.
Eventually, Ridder made it back to the states where she met and married her husband, went to law school and after working in several civil law firms – including the County of Santa Clara Office of the District Attorney, she started her own family law firm in San Francisco.
Thirteen years later in 2006, Ridder and her husband, Peter, and then two daughters Madeleine and Kilian, moved to Colorado. While caring for her family, Ridder created and co-hosted a core-values radio show called Mom’s the Word which aired on Denver’s KLZ 560 AM, as well as Castle Rock Radio, a local internet station at the time.
After five years of discussing parenting issues, Maura felt it was time to focus on her master’s program in education. Ridder earned her master’s degree from Regis University and her principal certification and license from Lamar University.
Ridder realized she loved working with kids and teaching through her own passion for theater. Directing and choreographing children’s musicals made her realize she should work with kids all the time, not just for a few months out of the year.
She began her teaching career at Mountain Vista High School teaching ninth and eleventh grade English. She was then hired to teach high school English at SSHR. However, at the last minute, she was asked to teach in the middle school.
Ridder is serving in her tenth year at SSHR and has worked as a language arts teacher, the department lead of language arts, an instructional coach, and the professional development coordinator. Joining the leadership and administration team this year, Maura embarked on a new path as the middle school director.
The SSHR mission is to never stop innovating. Ridder feels the school truly lives by that motto. Over the years, the school has changed, progressed and grown. She has watched her students live by this mission while they receive jobs at Lockheed and Arrow Electronics and head off to pursue higher education at Colorado School of Mines, West Point and the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Whether she is in a teaching or leadership role, Ridder’s favorite day of each year is graduation, when she can watch her students walk up the aisle and claim their diploma. Each student has made Ridder so incredibly proud to have been a part of their education.
By Julie Matuszewski; photos courtesy of Maura Ridder