teacher Debbie Russell was named Educator of the Month for March through the . Take a look at Russell's Q&A below and feel free to offer some congrats for a job well done!
Name: Debbie Russell
Hometown: Massillon, Ohio
Family: Married to Dale Russell for 34 years. Daughter Lindsay and son Cody.
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Malone University; master’s degree from Marygrove College
Experience: 34 years as a classroom teacher, 33 years in first grade, one year in kindergarten. I started my first two years in Plain Township, one year in Houston, TX, and the remaining 31 years in North Canton.
North Canton Patch: How did you get into teaching?
Debbie Russell: Pursuing a career in elementary education was just a natural choice for me. I’ve always enjoyed being around young children. I did a lot of babysitting in my teen years and knew becoming a teacher would be a good fit for me.
North Canton Patch: Who do you find inspiration in?
Russell: While growing up, I drew my inspiration from my mom. My dad died unexpectedly when I was 16. I watched my mom, at a young age of 38, go back to work and raise my younger brother and me through some difficult teen years. She made many sacrifices to make sure I went to college. She was always there, encouraging me all the way. During my 34 years in the classroom, I found inspiration in the children I taught and the many talented teachers I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years.
North Canton Patch: What do you love most about teaching?
Russell: Being a first grade teacher has its many rewards. The children are loving, energetic, innocent and so full of life. Just greeting their smiling faces each morning is uplifting. Rarely a day goes by that I’m not the recipient of a little one’s hug. I love interacting with my students. They love to converse with their teacher and their stories can be touching and funny. First graders come so far in the span of a school year. They mature and learn so much academically and socially. I love seeing their progress and being an integral part of it. I’ve been blessed to be a first grade teacher for 33 years and will be retiring at the end of this school year. I know I will greatly miss all of this.
North Canton Patch: I'm sure you come across a lot of interesting things teaching here in North Canton. What's the funniest, most interesting or embarrassing thing you've experienced in class?
Russell: My most embarrassing moment happened many years ago. Dr. Roden was our superintendent at the time and would often bring his guitar and sing with the first graders. On one such occasion, three classrooms of first graders were gathered together in one room to sing with Dr. Roden. I was sitting along the “sidelines” with another first grade teacher in a very small first grade chair. The children were standing and doing motions to a very lively song. One of the motions required the children to give their teacher a hug. Hearing this, the children came running toward us (imagine a stampede) and knocked us both over in our chairs with the chair legs and our legs sticking straight up in the air. This happened so quickly, there was no way to prevent from tipping over in our chairs. We both laid there hysterically laughing until we could recover ourselves and maneuver back into our up righted chairs as graciously as possible.
North Canton Patch: What qualities do you think make a good educator?
Russell: Elementary teachers in particular need to be very caring individuals. We often wear many different hats throughout the day. There are moments we are nurturing as much as teaching. To do the job well, a teacher should have an abundance of patience and energy and willingness to be flexible, as one never knows what each day will bring.
About the award:
The North Canton Area Chamber/Westfield Bank monthly “Educator of the Month” award honors a North Canton City Schools staff member who exemplifies excellence in education in their interaction with students, parents and other staff members.
During the course of the 2011-2012 award cycle one person from each of the district’s seven buildings will be honored. The Chamber has partnered with Westfield Bank and the on the project. Each monthly winner will receive a plaque and a Starbucks gift basket, which includes a copy of CEO Howard Schultz’ "Onward" book. Schultz initiated Starbucks’ “Empowering Educators” program to highlight educators and school systems making a difference in the lives of their students and communities.