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To honor the important work of our employees, we recognize outstanding substitute teachers, paraeducators, and support staff through our annual Substitute Educator of the Year program. Jim Rue, a retired special education teacher, is now a substitute teacher for St. Paul Public Schools in Minnesota. He is the winner of our 2023 Substitute Educator of the Year award for the K-12 substitute teacher category.
In this Q&A, he shares about his experiences and offers wisdom to new substitute teachers.
Why did you become a substitute teacher with Teachers On Call® - a Kelly® Education company?
After I retired, I still wanted to be of service to the students of Saint Paul Schools, particularly at my former assignment at Belwin Outdoor Science. Now, I work with students in an outdoor setting, have a flexible schedule, and maintain my skills as an educator.
What do you like most about being a substitute teacher?
I enjoy being connected to the students and my talented co-workers. Not only does being a substitute teacher keep me connected to the community, it also helps me to maintain and improve my skills as an educator.
Advice to students?
You can change your world and the world. Believe in yourself, have a dream, work hard, be kind, and good things will happen.
What advice would you give to new substitute teachers?
I would say that they should never underestimate the positive effect they can have on a young person’s life. They should never lose sight of being able to change the life of a student. That positive influence may not be seen by them until years down the road, or ever, but what you do does have an impact.
Watch this video to learn more about Jim.
Do you have a memorable moment or day from your work in a school?
I have had many interesting, profound, and funny moments in education but one moment stands out. It was a winter day. Cathy Smith, the classroom teacher, and I had taken a group of 5th grade students out to the stream to collect some water samples. This same group of students were scheduled to come to Belwin Outdoor Science once a month to study water quality. Not all the students were excited about this adventure, to say the least. However, on the way back from the stream with our samples, while enjoying the beauty of falling snow, one student said, “Maybe I will not play for the NBA, maybe I will do science.” Education is so much about giving students choices.
Who was an influential teacher or educator in your life?
I have always been fortunate to work with intelligent and caring educators, administrators, and caregivers. Mary Macbee, Charlie Burbach, Gina Sarge, Anne Degree, Diana Swanson, Pat Leseman, David Barrett, Ron Peterson, Dennis Moeller, Bruce Albrecht, just to name a few.
What is your mantra, or what is the best advice you’ve received?
Do not assume you know what someone is going through. Be kind in your actions and be of service to others.
What colleagues say about Mr. Rue.
“Given Jim’s rich experience in teaching nearly every learning style, and accommodating nearly every special need, whether physical, cognitive or emotional, our Belwin team knows we can count on him to deliver excellent experiences for students.
Above all is Jim’s incredible power to connect with each individual student. Rather than approaching a lesson as a set of content that must be covered, Jim meets every student where they are, and advances the students’ learning in the most proficient and effective ways possible.
Jim enriches science education at Belwin through his own volunteer field research project on Blanding’s turtles, a threatened species, in cooperation with the Minnesota DNR. He has a talent for transforming the forests and prairies into classrooms, while meeting Minnesota State Science standards and addressing student concerns and special cognitive and physical needs."
– Josh Leonard, Education Director - Belwin Outdoor Science
Congratulations, Mr. Rue!
"Jim Rue is a true representative of the high-quality educators Kelly Education provides to its partner schools each day," says Nicola Soares, President of Kelly Education. "He operates with high integrity and makes a clear difference in ensuring a successful learning environment exists in the classroom. We are proud to recognize his commitment with this honor.”
As one of four Substitute Educator of the Year winners, Jim Rue will receive a $5,000 bonus from Kelly Education, as well as $1,500 donated on his behalf to Belwin Outdoor Science.
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