You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.


Colleen Ritzer’s dedication shone through on social media


When news circulated Wednesday that Danvers High School mathematics teacher Colleen Ritzer had been found murdered outside her school, many reporters and many in the community quickly searched social media for information about Ritzer. That first instinct isn’t always helpful. Misleading fragments of information circulate all too easily when news is breaking. It’s never entirely certain who owns most Facebook or Twitter accounts. And in any case, a stream of status updates or 140-character comments can provide only so much insight.

And yet readers can infer quite a bit about Ritzer, 24, from the traces she left behind on the Internet. Even the handle she used on her Twitter account, @msritzermath, hinted at a dedication to teaching and to her subject. Her postings — homework assignments, inspiring quotes, a photo of a pumpkin with the pi symbol cut into it — were unwaveringly energetic and enthusiastic. Messages like these made Ritzer’s students feel supported; this they’ve made amply clear in grief-stricken postings of their own after her death.

The world of social media is often criticized for its ordinariness — for capturing countless little details of life in progress. But that’s what makes Ritzer’s postings so haunting now: They offer evidence of a life that was deeply meaningful to students and that’s now been needlessly and tragically cut short.

Loading comments...
Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of