CLARKDALE – In the words of Steve Doerksen, Angela Russell is “who she is.”
Doesn’t toot her horn. Isn’t pretentious. Simply an educator “who truly loves her students and seeks their best interests,” said Doerksen, principal at Clarkdale-Jerome school.
Russell is retiring this year after 42 years of teaching, the last 19 at Clarkdale-Jerome. And teaching she said is “all I have ever wanted to do.”
“When I was in high school, I worked with several elementary students needing extra help especially in reading and math,” said Russell. “That is when I decided to go into elementary education and work with special education students.”
Doerksen doesn’t have too many more opportunities to watch Russell teach. Her last day is Friday. But during a recent visit to Russell’s classroom, he saw students at the front of the room, reciting poetry or reporting on their bio buddies.
“The audience then asked thought-provoking questions, to which the speaker would respond using appropriate tone and communication skills,” Doerksen said. “It is clear that Ms. Russell sets the expectations high for not only the speaker, but also the audience. The students are very skilled in this speaker-audience dialogue. As the principal, I see this as enhancing the students’ skills in public speaking and giving each of them great confidence that they can take with them wherever they go.”
As an educator, Russell said she most “love[s] seeing the look in a child’s eyes [and] face when he [or] she realizes that ‘Yes, I can do that’ or ‘I get it.’”
According to Doerksen, Russell “truly is the personification of that ideal elementary school teacher that we all dream of having for our own kids – that caring, loving, nurturing, and encouraging teacher.”
“With her many years of teaching experience, she has had a tremendous effect on many, many kids,” Doerksen said. “I’ll bet there are many now-adults who can still remember presenting their bio buddies in her classroom. As she is now retiring, she will truly be missed.”
When she’s not teaching, Russell spends her time reading, cross-stitching, spending time with friends and family.
Verde Valley Newspapers: Tell us about your teaching style.
Angela Russell: “I try to determine each student’s learning style and then adapt my teaching so all my students succeed.”
VVN: Tell us something notable about your career.
Russell: “I am really glad that I have taught several years in three totally different school districts. I learned so much from each district and met many wonderful people, including students, parents, staff, and members of the community.”
VVN: Do you have a favorite quote?
Russell: “One of my favorite quotes is from Mother Teresa: “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”
VVN: Tell us something about you that most people don’t know.
Russell: “I’m the oldest of four siblings. Probably explains my bossiness.”
-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42