Teacher Exemplifies Excellence

The news is filled with information about teachers these days. In Chicago, teachers are on strike to resist reforms that introduce new measurements of their teaching achievement. In Los Angeles, teachers will be considering reforms agreed upon by school officials and administrators to also establish new norms with which to evaluate teacher performance. Like in social services, some members of the teaching profession have resisted the efforts to quantify performance, arguing student achievement is dependent on so many factors that it is inordinate to tie teacher performance to student achievement.

No matter where you stand on this issue, everyone agrees it is imperative to provide a high quality, effective public education system if we hope to prosper and offer students a pathway to lifelong success. May I suggest that what impedes achieving this noble ambition has more to do with the easily bruised egos of teaching professionals, academic theorists, and politicians than a sincere interest in what is most effective for students.

In the middle of these verbal barrages are earnest students and dedicated teachers who serve as human shields for the various combatants. What are achieved are piecemeal efforts that neither support teachers nor offer effective education. This quagmire threatens the viability of the pubic education system and endangers students.

Rebekah Ruswick with Judge Terry J. Hatter, Jr.

With this as a background story, Hillsides Education Centercelebrates this week the extraordinary service of one of its finest teachers, Rebekah Ruswick, who after a distinguished tenure will be moving on to serve in a senior program position with a local school system.  Rebekah exemplifies not only what is a great teacher, but also a great staff member. The list of her attributes is long; I feel the greatest one is her drive to see students succeed, not only academically, but in all aspects of their lives. She will be missed, but her legacy will be students who have been touched by her dedication, advanced academically, and more importantly, moved on from HEC confident because of the care they received through her instruction.

HEC is a great source of pride for all us associated with Hillsides, not just because of its students’ achievements, but also its mission driven staff that sacrifice much for the satisfaction of seeing their students succeed. I am convinced that lessons learned in places like HEC would serve as an excellent primer for those who sincerely espouse academic excellence and professional development in our public school system. Might I be biased?

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