ANDERSON — There's no substitute for experience, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz told female seniors at Anderson Preparatory Academy, urging them to seize opportunities both in college and their professional lives.
She also told the 22 students who gathered Tuesday for the second Senior Girls Luncheon at the 29th Street campus to document all their accomplishments, including volunteer work, internships and jobs.
"Document whatever you've done in your life," Ritz said, because that's what impresses potential employers. "It's not schooling they're going to look at, it's your experience."
Ritz shunned a podium and instead pulled her chair close to the girls for a more intimate conversation, saying, "I don't like to talk at students, I like to talk with students."
She asked each of the girls to introduce themselves and talk about their college or career plans and chatted informally about job prospects in each.
When graduating senior Chayse Devine said she planned to attend Purdue College of Technology to study mechanical engineering, Ritz was excited.
"Not many young women have gone into that field," she said.
Ritz, who grew up in a working class family in Lafayette, said she knew after taking a cadet teaching course in high school that she wanted to be an educator, and after graduating she enrolled at Ball State University.
Money was tight, though, and Ritz worked two and three jobs each summer to earn enough money to pay her tuition and other expenses.
Those jobs varied from building ceilings at a factory to working as waitress at different restaurants. Simultaneously.
"I made it my business to be very purposeful in what I did," Ritz said.
A nationally board certified teacher, Ritz holds two master degrees with licenses to teach elementary, middle and high school in the areas of general education, special education and library science.