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WITF’s Spelling Bee Coordinator Ruth Keim is named Regional Partner of the Year by the Scripps National Spelling Bee

  • Christina Zeiders

WITF Spelling Bee Coordinator Ruth J. Keim has been named 2023 Regional Partner of the Year by the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee has announced its 2023 Regional Partner of the Year – WITF Spelling Bee Coordinator Ruth J. Keim. She will be recognized during Bee Week, which is taking place in National Harbor, Maryland from May 30 – June 1.

Keim has developed and built the Central PA Spelling Bee over the past 26 years – first with the Patriot-News, then at WITF.

“When I first started, they told me, ‘Spelling Bee’s going to be your project and here I am, 26 years later. I got into it and really enjoyed it – probably because I love the kids. It’s a great opportunity for the kids,” Keim shared.

The regional partnership with Scripps was a natural fit with WITF’s educational mission with the additional opportunity to prepare the spellers for the national competition by filming and broadcasting the regional competition. It allowed the competitors to become more comfortable spelling in front of a camera.

The broadcast added a lot of extra coordination, but Keim never shied away from the task and continued to ensure the rules and experience would not change due to the needs of a broadcast. Then, when COVID-19 hit, Keim and the production team changed everything again – learning to successfully host the Bee virtually.

In Keim’s final year as spelling bee coordinator, she adapted once again – pivoting from a linear TV format to a digital one, working with WITF staff to help tell the spelling bee story digitally.

Ruth with her husband, Dave, at the 2023 Central PA Spelling Bee Grand Championship.

“Ruth will officially be retiring in June after the national bee concludes,” wrote her nominator Jennifer Balda. “We are going to miss her – especially her enthusiasm, dedication and of course seeing her walking around in her bee slippers – a “bee season” treat. However, we also know that Ruth will always be representing the bee wherever she goes and whomever she interacts with in the community, keeping the “bee” spirit in our region alive and well.”

WITF Vice President of Education, Dr. Andrea Kolb, added,” Ruth’s passion for the Spelling Bee and the spellers, their teachers, and their parents is unmatched.  She is the quintessential cheerleader for this program, and we are so grateful for her leadership over the years. Her legacy will live on here at WITF. Though we will miss her buzz and enthusiasm here at the Public Media Center, we are confident that Ruth will always be a lifelong champion of the Spelling Bee wherever she goes.”

Keim has accompanied the regional champion to the national bee every year to support the speller and their family as they navigate the Scripps National Spelling Bee with a goal to make the experience as enjoyable and memorable as possible.

When asked what she will take away from her experience after 26 years of spelling bees, she said it’s the memories that she’ll cherish most.

“Lots of memories – good memories. Knowing that I can accomplish something that I set my mind to do,” Keim shared. “A lot of great friendships and getting to know the kids, I’ve just always enjoyed spending time with the kids.”

Keim is a valued regional partner, an advocate for students and an ambassador for all the opportunities the spelling bee offers. She’s helped many students have a positive experience with the Scripps National Spelling Bee and has enriched the spellers’ lives.

WITF is thankful for all the incredibly hard work she has put into building and shaping the Central PA Spelling Bee and wishes her a wonderful retirement.

Watch the Scripps National Spelling Bee Semifinals on May 31 from 8-10pm, followed by the Finals live on June 1 from 8-10pm on ION. You can also stream it online through several platforms.

If you want to watch live coverage of every round, you can stream it on ION Plus (available on The Roku Channel). Preliminaries are held on Tuesday, May 30 from 9:00am-7:30pm, and Quarterfinals take place on Wednesday, May 31 from 8:00am-1:00pm.

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