Josh Ritchie believes every student should leave high school knowing they can go to college.
“We need to quit saying college is expensive,” said Ritchie, the counselor at East Junior High in Boise. “College isn’t expensive. There are expensive colleges, but it’s finding ways to get free money for school.”
His passion for helping students apply to college changed the life of Anna McClain-Sims, a 2017 Borah High School graduate. Ritchie worked as a counselor at Borah High School last year and suggested that Anna apply to an Ivy League school. She thought she wouldn’t get accepted.
“Money was an issue at first because I thought an Ivy League school cost a fortune,” Anna said. “I then realized you don’t have to be rich to go to a prestigious school.”
Anna applied to Reed College, Smith College and Stanford University. She got accepted to Yale University.
“Simple fact is I would not be at Yale if it weren’t for Ritchie,” Anna said. “He gave me hope that came with experience.”
Anna received scholarships from Yale University, Boise Pride Foundation and Lightfoot Foundation.
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“Students like Anna are smarter than me, more driven than me and more responsible,” Ritchie said. “I just want to let students know there are scholarships available and it doesn’t hurt to apply.”
Anna wanted to give back to Ritchie for inspiring her to apply to Yale University. During her college registration this summer, she was asked to nominate an outstanding educator who deeply impacted her life. She nominated Ritchie.
“Ritchie helped me see things outside the box,” Anna said. “He helped me shine and I wanted to say thank you.”
The Yale University Office of Undergraduate Admissions announced that Ritchie was selected as a recipient of the 2017 Yale Educator Award. The Yale Educator Recognition Program recognizes outstanding educators from around the world who support and inspire their students to perform at high levels and to achieve excellence.
“I see my job as taking everything students have done and packaging it in a way to put it to use,” Ritchie said. “The whole goal of education is preparing students for what is next.”
Of this year’s 326 nominees, who represent 33 states and 24 countries, 83 teachers and counselors were selected to receive the award.