Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Thank You, Mr. Russove

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Thank You, Mr. Russove

Article excerpt

Jack Russove turned my life around. And he did it in his 6th-grade classroom at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

I entered Mr. Russove's classroom at a tender point in my life. I was--once again--the new girl in a new school in a new town because of yet another job change by my dad.

As she had done before, my mother collected files from the old school and hand carried them to my new school. Together, we sat down to meet the teacher. A man teacher. In elementary school. In the 1960s.

With his round face, crew cut, and husky build, Jack Russove looked more like a high school football coach than an elementary teacher. Mr. Russove spent a few minutes quietly reading my school record, which showed rows and rows of A's and good comments every year until 5th grade. That was the year of Mrs. B., who seemed to take an instant dislike for me. She ridiculed me in class, regularly told me in front of other students that I wasn't as smart as I thought I was, and occasionally laughed out loud at my comments, my projects, or my looks. The A's that used to dominate my report card disappeared, replaced by C's and D's and comments about my behavior.

After a bit, he glanced at me and asked, "What happened in school last year?"

I shrugged and looked down. "My teacher didn't like me," I said.

"Hmmm. Well, I like you just fine. I think you're going to have a good year here," he replied. …

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