16 Excellence in Education winner: Linda Ruthig

A change in careers takes a leap of faith and a lot of courage, but when you finally go for your dreams and try something new, the rewards are often abundant.

Our final 16 Excellence in Education winner for 2011 can attest to that. Linda Ruthig decided to become a teacher later in life and there are plenty of kids who are sure glad she did.

Ruthig works with 4th and 5th grade students at Northpoint Elementary School in Granger.

She was the coach for this year’s winning team of PHM’s Battle of the Books. Her students say she made it fun.

“It’s unbelievable how she does it,” said fifth-grader Nick Casetti. ”She makes the material so you can do it, anybody can do it. She makes it easy to learn.”

The six team members read six books and then memorized intricate details about each one, a task made easier with Miss Ruthig’s guidance.

She’s not just a coach. She’s their favorite teacher who pushes them to learn more.

“Since second grade, from what she teaches me, I’ve had way better writing skills,” said fifth-grader Maggie Finnessy.

When it comes to classroom reading, Ruthig sets the bar high.

“I don't remember learning Shakespeare and Greek Mythology until high school,” said parent Jennifer Casetti.

“Sometimes I sit back myself and I think ok, I'm really asking a 10 year old to do this,” Ruthig said. “And then I think they can do it! And we do it!”

It's that kind of attitude that made Ruthig pursue teaching later in life. She was 49 when she became a teacher. Now 60, she appreciates education and her students in different way.

“I've been a mom and now a grandma and I like to think that hopefully I can understand kids and know what they need and be there for them.”

“She's always concerned about kids first,” said her teaching partner, Jennifer Doms. “No matter what decision she makes if it impacts the kids we're all about it.”

Ruthig and the school received cash prizes from our sponsor, Notre Dame Federal Credit Union. CEO Tom Gryp presented the checks.

To see the story of our other winner, click here.

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