Carolyn Ruhnow’s fifth-grade classroom at Rice Lake Elementary in Lino Lakes, MN, quite literally goes to the dogs. And that’s perfectly fine with students, parents and co-workers alike. Armed with the philosophy that integrating man’s best friend into the educational environment is a great way to facilitate learning, the innovative educator often takes her own dogs to work with her. Not only do her kids get some fun one-on-one time with the canines, but Ruhnow then integrates the dog/pet theme across the curriculum and enhances it with technology.
She works with a divergent range of students— from non-verbal to twice-gifted—and thanks to her differentiation skills, each one is challenged appropriately. A Fulbright scholar who taught in England for a year, Ruhnow incorporates an array of interdisciplinary units that integrate England, dogs and global education. Moreover, she integrates technology and implements outside curriculum to augment existing teaching strategies. When it comes to student achievement, her kids’ scores were better than 93 percent of other classes in reading and better than 90 percent in math on the Northwest Evaluation Association exam. Eighty-four percent fell at or above the state average on reading and math.
Ruhnow serves as School Growth Facilitator for Q-Comp, a Professional Learning Community (PLC), and sits on many district committees. She readily volunteered to work on the School Improvement/Staff Development Committee to align building goals and professional development with PLC goals. A peer coach, Ruhnow supports the staff in setting Smart Goals, creating appropriate strategies and assessing student learning. Heavily involved in staff development, she also trains teachers in reading and schooled the entire staff in SMART Board technology—yet a sampling of reasons why Carolyn Ruhnow continues to be heads and tails above the educational pack.
CBS Minnesota | Oct 16 , 2010 | Minneapolis, MN