Aaron Ruggles served as a role model to the nation as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. Today, he is a role model in the classroom at Hettie Halstead Elementary where he teaches students to be productive, responsible, caring, and contributing members of society.
“Mr. Ruggles models patriotism by raising the flag every morning and taking it down each afternoon,” said Principal Billie Diaz. “He has trained members of our student council to do this honorable task as well. He models positive character traits by treating all students with respect and kindness”
Ruggles' service on the battlefield and now in the classroom earned him the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8577 Elementary Teacher of the Year award. Ruggles was honored on Saturday along with art teacher Shannon Thompson of S. C. Lee Junior High selected as the VFW Post 8577 Middle School Teacher of the Year and Crossroads High School’s Erin Kilpatrick as the VFW Post 8577 Teacher of the Year. All three teachers advance to the VFW District 14 contest.
Thompson is the S. C. Lee Junior High United Way campus representative, raising more than $8,000 for the non-profit organization this year.
“Mrs. Thompson leads several fundraising activities on the campus,” said Principal Brian Jost. “Students are involved and participate which can give them a sense of doing something for others versus just themselves. Mrs. Thompson encourages participation and promotes this among students. She is very creative in rallying support for the charitable organizations and student support. Her teaching strategies focus on creative thought and expression. Mrs. Thompson’s focus is to include all students in all projects.”
Crossroads High School Principal Pat Crawley said Kilpatrick is the sort of teacher every student enjoys, every caring parent wants, and every administrator wishes he had more.
“Since coming to Crossroads High School last year, Mrs. Kilpatrick has shown a love for the job and the students. She has been willing to work before and after school, weekends, and holidays to help get her students a bit closer to graduation,” Crawley said. “Mrs. Kilpatrick is very approachable, and students quickly pick up on this. She will make time to address issues or just talk with a student that she sees needs some time, but the subject of the student graduating will usually come up in the conversation and she will coax them back to completing their work for the day. Mrs. Kilpatrick is invaluable to our campus.”
VFW teacher honorees are selected based on four core criteria including citizenship, innovation, resources and passion for teaching. Beyond district, the winners hope to advance to the state and on to the national competition where each winner receives a $3,000 cash prize.