Ritzer, a 2011 graduate of Assumption College who was working toward a master's degree at Salem State University, seemed to always wear a wide smile and was approachable to students and colleagues alike, said Charlotte Dzerkacz, who became good friends with Ritzer in 2011 when they taught at the same middle school.
"She was energetic, she was compassionate," Dzerkacz said. "You couldn't ask for anything more from a teacher or a friend."
Salem State issued a statement lamenting Ritzer's death.
"She believed children have much to offer and often do not realize how special they are as individuals," the university said. "In her application to Salem State she said she was dedicated to 'helping students in times of need.' "
Ritzer was known to take to Twitter to dole out homework assignments and wisdom to her students.
"No matter what happens in life, be good to people," she wrote in August. "Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind."