Five district teachers receive Riecke de Achieve scholarships for professional development this summer

Since The Achieve Foundation

For Tuscan school media scholar Amy Popp, receiving an Achieve Foundation scholarship in March has special meaning. She is one of five educators to receive Michele T. Riecke scholarships totaling $5,073 to pursue professional development programs this summer.

Ms. Popp will be attending the American Library Association’s (ALA) week-long annual conference at Washington, DC at the end of June. She is a second generation from the South Orange-Maplewood School District educator, preceded by her mother, Bernice Popp, a beloved teacher who taught children from Michelle Traina Riecke, for whom the scholarship is named. Said Ms. Popp, “my mother deeply admired Shelley’s commitment to education and learning…. With the funds from this scholarship, I hope to honor Shelley by deepening my commitment to education and sharing research, ideas and resources with my colleagues at SOMSD and the students at the Tuscan School. further extend the intersections and traditions of the scholarship program, Shelley Riecke’s two daughters are now participating in its application review committee.

Riecke Scholars dedicate part of their summer vacation to professional development. The other The 2022 Riecke Scholars are Caitlin Dennehy, special education teacher at South Orange Middle School, who will study mindfulness and education at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY; CHS Advice counselor Karissa Handler, who will be looking for advanced skills to help students apply to college process at Teachers College, Columbia University; Matthew Rice, who will prepare to train other CHS teachers to support trans and non-binary students in a virtual course offered by the Transgender Training Institute; and Seth Boyden, Math Intervention Specialist Elana Ris, who will look further ability to diagnose and advance student understanding and numeracy development through a virtual course on Add+VantageMR® (AVMR) from Math Recovery.

Including this year’s awards, the Riecke Fellowship provided $92,778 to 73 educators from the ten SOMA schools since its creation in memory of Mrs. Riecke, former president of the school board, in 2004. The goal of the program is to support exceptional teaching by enabling educators to undertake continuing education in their fields over the summer and inspire them to share new knowledge that they subsequently acquire with their colleagues in the District. For more information on the Riecke Fellowship, please visit the Go to website.

The Achieve Foundation congratulates this year’s Riecke Scholars and commends them for finding the time and determination to submit applications during such a difficult school year. Many students and educators will benefit from the advances they bring back to South Orange-Maplewood School community in the coming year and beyond.


The Achieve Foundation of South Orange & Maplewood is a registered 501(c)3 organization that promotes a high-quality education that prepares students in the South Orange-Maplewood School District for the future. We support our students, families, and educators by addressing inequality, inspiring innovation, and fostering community. Since 1999, Achieve has invested more than $4 million in programs that support public education in our two cities. To learn more, please visit

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