Ben Rudolph, 4th Grade Teacher at Buckman Arts Focus Elementary in Portland, Oregon
Nominated by Juno Anthony & Mr. Rudolph’s 4th Grade Class
Mr. Rudolph does so many fun things like turning our math (multiplication) into a fun board game, or having us do these different experiments in class with dirt and water and rocks creating mini landslides and stuff in order to study erosion. He always pulls what he calls ‘The Sticks of Fate’ to choose students to give answers or jobs to and he has the 'Bean Bag of the Week’ (where he chooses 3 students who get to sit on the class bean bags during the week as a reward), and he gives us treats and snacks like pretzels or Starburst as a reward at the end of some of his more challenging learning games. He always picks the most interesting and exciting adventures to read to us. For writing, he gives us super fun prompts like 'What would you do if you were the last person on earth?’ or 'If you woke up one morning and you were your favorite animal what would you do?' Right now, we’re learning about Oregon and instead of just assigning us a boring old report, he is having us make our own travel brochure for whichever area we’re working on. Today he taught us about perimeter and area in math using a funny YouTube song that sings about perimeter and what it is to the tune of Better than Ezra’s "Good."
*Note from Juno’s mom:
From the parenting side, Mr. Rudolph is always very communicative, sending home emails each week to tell us what’s coming up on the school calendar and what the kids are currently working on. He’s also super responsive to any questions or concerns from parents — getting back to us in a timely manner and consistently showing a deep level of caring and commitment to the kids.
In the short time that our son has been in Mr. Rudolph’s class we’ve watched him become more confident in math and he’s now excited about doing homework and taking tests (this has NEVER happened before!). Overall our son is more excited to go to school each day and comes home from school content with his school day and feeling more confident in his own skills.
Congrats, Ben, from all of us at K103! Get to know Paula Weidner:
What inspired you to become an educator?
My mom was my greatest inspiration to become a teacher. My mom was a teacher for 41 years and she loved every minute of it. Sometimes I believe that teaching is genetic because my two older sisters are teachers too!
What do you like most about teaching?
This is such a hard question to answer! There are so many things I love about being a teacher. I love the energy and laughter of an elementary school classroom. I love watching that "ah ha" moment when a child learns something new. I love hearing kids say, "this is so much fun!" because learning SHOULD be fun. I love the challenge of shepherding 27 unique personalities through the trials and tribulations of a school year. I love the opportunity to teach kindness and empathy. I love witnessing the pride of a child when they persevere through a difficult task. I love recess, read aloud, P.E., art, cafeteria pizza day, fart noises and potty humor. I just love what I do.
What has changed the most since you began your career in education?
The expectations and responsibilities of the classroom teacher continue to grow while resources shrink. A teacher truly needs to be a "jack of all trades' to be successful in today's educational system.
What would you like parents to know about your job?
Teachers have families too. Be patient with teachers as they try to strike a healthy balance between their work family (students) and their home family.
Share a favorite story about your years in education.
When I returned to work after taking paternity leave for my first child, a student sat next to me and said, "Are you OK Mr. Rudolph? You didn't used to look so old".