Elizabeth Ruggiero ’66 Has Always Taught “Human-First”

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“I had a firm background on just how to relate, how to be a human.”


As Elizabeth Ruggiero ’66 puts it, Wheelock College didn’t teach her how to teach. Rather, she spent her time here learning about child and human development. It was a unique approach at the time, but she believes it affected her ability to work with students as humans, and not just pupils, at a number of levels- some of whom she keeps in touch with to this day.

She started out teaching second and fourth grade, and moved to teaching middle school after receiving her degree in Special Education. She also did stints as a principal in a Korean international school that taught grades K-9, before returning to the US and teaching high school, the level she calls her “favorite.” But at every turn, she emphasizes that treating her students as human first, helped them to achieve their goals:

I had kids who, number one, wanted to quit school; number two, hated school; or weren’t doing well in school. I was really saying, “Come on, you can do it. You can do it!” I kept them in school. I refused to let them quit.

According to Elizabeth, that determination to keep her students going, to honor her enthusiasm and excitement for the work, is “9/10th of the battle.” We’re so pleased to see that after so many students have passed through her classrooms and offices, that love for the work still continues to fulfill her.