Degrees and Certifications:
2008 Illinois Teacher of the Year ~ awarded by the Illinois State Board of Education 2009 Professional Achievement Award ~ Columbia College, Columbia, Missouri Best Mom in the Whole World (33 years in a row) ~ awarded by her sons Michael and Andrew Completed Doctoral Candidacy Exam ~ Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, Illinois Masters in the Art of Teaching ~ Rockford College, Rockford, Illinois Bachelor of Science in Art ~ Columbia College, Columbia, Missouri
Mrs. Ruth Meissen
I have always known I would have a career that incorporated my love of art, but teaching was the furthest profession from my mind. Initially, I pursued a career in commercial art. (I always wanted to do what Darren Stevens did for a living on the TV show "Bewitched.") Within a few years after college graduation, I transitioned from my role as a professional graphic designer to became the art director for Nylint Toys in Rockford. During that time, I was also the vice-president of the Northern Illinois Advertising Council.
After twelve years in the business, I took some time off to raise my second child. It was during that period I began thinking about changing my career path. During what I thought was a private discussion with my husband...(Ha! All parent know there is no such thing!)...my son Michael who was just seven years old at the time interrupted us and told me that I should become an art teacher. I thought the idea was insane. When I asked him in a grossed out tone of voice, "Why would I want to be an art teacher?" he replied, "because you'd be good at it." Before that moment, the thought of becoming a teacher had never crossed my mind.
Days later I found thinking about my son's crazy suggestion and wondered if I would even be suited for the job. After all, at this point in my professional career, I had only dealt with adults. I needed to find out if I liked other people's children as much as my own. So I enrolled in some education courses while trying my hand at substitute teaching. To my surprise, not only did I like it, I LOVED it! The intensity of my previous career made the potential chaos of a classroom full of active students seem easily manageable. But most of all, being able to share my artistic knowledge and love for creating artwork with students was absolutely exhilarating!
My life was forever changed by that one little comment made by son as he passed through the room on his way to the refrigerator. He saw something in me that I had not yet discovered in myself. Each and every day I step into my classroom when see the faces of my students, I know I have that same opportunity to pay that same gift forward. It is my goal to help my students discover talents and skills they did not know they had. Most importantly, I have the privilege of providing students with the opportunity to use those talents and skill sets to help others whose needs are far greater than their own. In that way, students learn real life lessons about hard work and the joy that comes from making a difference.