Schools all over the country opened their doors earlier this month to a rush of students filling the hallways with nervous chatter and familiar laughter. As the clouds dance among the mountains in the sleepy little town of Warrensville, NC the phrase “Ruth Ashe can teach a rock to read” was uttered at Blue Ridge Elementary School. Ruth Ashe can teach a “rock to read.” For the past three years her approach to reading instruction and teaching in general has produced remarkable results, outlier results, within her school and district. I am impressed by her, but more importantly, thrilled for her school and students.
I was struck by her colleague’s phrase – “a rock to read.” That sounds difficult, impossible even. We might be surprised at the methods that yielded this outcome. Was there a new and improved secret method? No! Her secret is that she gets to work early, stays late, and mercilessly shepherds her students with both carrot and stick. She finds family partners to augment the work at home.
Rinse, lather, repeat!
Does this sound familiar? As an independent school professional, it does to me. It sounds exactly like the best teachers I have known. The desire to challenge each student, the unyielding expectation, the energy to confront behavior early and cajole progress is where dedicated talented teachers live.
As the school year begins…look around. Who could teach a “rock to read” at your school?