By Seth Gellman
Walking into East for the first time in Freshman year, I was a little awed at how large and overwhelming everything was. The first place I headed to was Spanish in 201 with Mrs. Rutecki. The corner classroom, covered in Spanish posters and lockers blocking one side of the room, was nothing like I’ve ever seen before. I’d been to Freshman Orientation, but this format was unfamiliar, and there was a little bit of tension in the room. That tension eased as class started, though, as Mrs. Rutecki began to ease us into the new school and make us feel comfortable.
Mrs. Rutecki grew up in Snyder and attended Amherst High School before going to Daemen and then accepting an offer to complete a teaching internship at the University of Buffalo. Mrs. Rutecki says that she never saw herself becoming a teacher, but that she fell in love with the profession after her internship at UB. She grew up with an interest in history and government, and still maintains those interests to this day. Despite this initial disinterest in teaching, she grew up around teachers, as her mother and aunts were all teachers. After receiving her Masters from UB, she started working different part-time teaching jobs in the mid-1980s. After a few years of part-time teaching, however, she took several years off after having her four children. She eventually returned to teaching and found a job at Williamsville East, where she’s been ever since.
Mrs. Rutecki loves teaching, and she enjoys seeing the kids grow as people and overcoming some of the obstacles of teaching. She teaches Spanish 2, 3, and AP Spanish. Her favorite class to teach was AP Spanish, as she thought it was a really interesting and innovative way for students to learn Spanish and culture in Spanish-speaking countries. One of her favorite parts of the class was how students had to communicate and help each other along the way, making it go smoother for everyone. They got to learn about different cultures and talk about different countries in the class. In her Spanish 2 and 3 courses, she enjoyed teaching students about Don Quixote and Spanish culture as a whole. Don Quixote was such an important part of Spanish culture and literary history, and she likes to see her students become more involved in the countries that they read about through interactive activities like walking around the room or having conversations in Spanish.
Some of Mrs. Rutecki’s passions outside of teaching are horseback riding and traveling. She loves living in more rural areas and getting to train her horses and share that passion with her children. She taught them all how to ride the horses, and it’s something she’s done her whole life. Some of her main plans after retirement are to continue horseback riding and spend time with her husband and daughters. As for traveling, Mrs. Rutecki fondly remembers spending time with her extended family in Peru and visiting Machu Picchu. Additionally, she loves the Colca Valley in Peru, where she liked the views and saw beautiful condors. After her retirement, she wants to visit Hawaii and hike more.
After asking her what, in her opinion, is the most important advice for students to take away, she answered, “Follow your passion and be truthful. If you don’t follow your passion, you won’t be happy.” She acknowledges that you don’t need to have everything figured out right away, as people can realize their passion as they try new things, such as when she entered a teaching internship at UB.
As Mrs. Rutecki ends her time teaching at East, she will continue to ride her horses, spend time with her family, and explore nature. One of her favorite parts of her trip to Yellowstone was a tour where she got to see wildlife away from many of the tourist areas. Her willingness to overcome difficulties, innovative ways to teach students, and love for teaching will not be forgotten as she leaves East one last time on June 24.