Teaching children responsibility and helping keep them safe have earned Huber Ridge Elementary School patrol adviser Patty Ryther top honors from the Ohio AAA Auto Club.

Teaching children responsibility and helping keep them safe have earned Huber Ridge Elementary School patrol adviser Patty Ryther top honors from the Ohio AAA Auto Club.

Ryther is one of five safety-patrol advisers out of 500 nominees who was selected for leadership and dedication to safety and citizenship in the 2019-20 School Patrol Advisor of the Year recognition program from Ohio AAA's 38-county territory.

"She approaches each student with a gentle kindness while empowering them to be responsible and independent student leaders," said Tyson Hilkert, Huber Ridge principal, in his recommendation letter.

Ashley Rable, a Huber Ridge fifth-grade teacher, also provided a recommendation letter for Ryther.

"Passion is the most important quality to have when dealing with the safety of children," she said. "All that Patty does is done with this passion and love. She is passionate about keeping kids safe, and about the patrollers growing as human beings, evolving in their independence and responsibility. When training students, Patty's passion is apparent."

Ryther, 63, said she loves being a patrol adviser, a position she has held since 1999.

She said she was surprised to be chosen out of all the people who were nominated.

"I knew the principal was (nominating me), but I didn't know about others," she said.

Ryther said she doesn't plan to retire any time soon.

"A lot of kids who see me will ask, 'are you still doing safety patrol?' They remember. They can receive scholarships," she said.

Since becoming the safety-patrol adviser at Huber Ridge, Ryther has mentored four students who have been inducted into the Ohio AAA Auto Club's Safety Patrol Hall of Fame.

She has received two Great Educator and Mentor awards from the Westerville Board of Education for her various roles, including crossing-guard adviser.

Ryther said she was a Huber Ridge parent volunteer from 1984 to 2000.

She also worked with the Ohio AAA Auto Club to obtain grants to support the patrol and worked with AAA representatives to provide training for the students during their lunches.

Ryther said safety patrol usually starts with 42 students at the beginning of the school year, but that number drops off.

"This year, they didn't get trained because of COVID," she said. "The fifth-graders train the fourth-graders in April. This year, we didn't get a chance."

She said she usually works directly with the fourth-grade safety patrol, but she supervises both fourth- and fifth-grade units. While school families are picking up items at the school for the coming year, Ryther said, students have been asking if they can come back to safety patrol.

"Hopefully, we can come back," she said.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla