This week’s feature on nominees for Wilson County Teacher of the Year is Rob Ruslavage.
Rob Ruslavage is a CIP teacher at Stoner Creek Elementary School, where he has been for the last five years.
The class he teaches originally started at Rutland Elementary before the school expanded to two campuses, moving the program to Stoner Creek. He was a teacher at Rutland for one year but was an aide in the program for the three years prior.
Ruslavage originally got a degree in mechanical engineering from Penn State University. He worked for a while before becoming a stay at home dad. When his children were old enough to start school, he decided to go back himself. After taking classes at Cumberland University, he became certified and licensed to teach special education classes.
Before becoming a full-time teacher, he was also a substitute and an aide. After subbing at Rutland, he realized he was a good fit and had the right mentality for the program. With his engineering background, he is very analytical and thinks about why his students may act out with behavior issues and figure out a strategy to help them overcome it.
In his class, Ruslavage works with students of all grade levels, but currently only has those in second, fourth and fifth grades. He and two aides each can work with one grade level at a time to ensure each grade can focus on their level of learning.
He said the students he works with displayed some type of behavior issue in their regular classrooms that was a problem. He said he can see his students’ progress and continues to want to ensure they will be successful when they leave his class.
“In this room, I feel that each one of these students has a great potential to learn and that’s something I can build on as long as I can get past the behaviors,” he said. “If I can get through the behaviors, then they can start to learn and nothing should hold them back.”
Ruslavage said he was excited, blessed and honored to be chosen Stoner Creek’s Teacher of the Year by his colleagues. He said that though they might not see him throughout the day, they see the results of his job through the students he has helped.
“I can’t do my job without the support of parents, aides, teachers and administration,” he said. “I appreciate the support I have received from all of them.”
Ruslavage has enjoyed working with the staff at Stoner Creek and is proud to represent them.
“They have been very supportive of me and more importantly they’ve been supportive of my students,” he said. “They’ve been very welcoming to them, and I think the students feel that … It’s a good group of teachers here.”