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Teacher Spotlight: Patricia Ruth

Patricia Ruth began her teaching career in the 1970s at Stanford University as part of her graduate program. Here she taught a freshman humanities course and would lead discussion groups. Five years after completing her graduate school at Stanford, Ruth went on to become a professor at her alma mater, Scripps College. Her previous professors became her colleagues, including her favorite professor, Richard Fadem. According to Ruth, he taught her the most important skill that anyone, especially a teacher, should have: the ability to ask the right question. “Not questions, but a question, a singular one,” stated Ruth. She admires the way he was able to create meaningful discussions that would keep students engaged even after he left the classroom. She believes that interaction and discussion is a vital part of any learning experience. 

After ten years of teaching at Scripps, Ruth and her family moved to Santa Barbara where she was able to get a job at SBHS through an emergency credential. After two years, she enrolled at UCSB to earn her teaching credential all while raising three boys. She believes that being a parent has allowed her to understand her students. She also acts on the importance of being an active teacher so that students don’t lose interest in her class. Therefore, her methods can include performing her material to her students which aligns with her belief that teaching is a “performative profession.” Ruth credits her history in theatrics for her teaching style. She participated in her high school’s play Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass as well as Under Milkwood during her time at Scripps, where she worked closely with future Hollywood star, Robin Williams or as she refers to him, “Rob.” 

Her love for words has motivated her throughout twenty-five years of teaching at SBHS. If a student has yet to experience one of her classes, they can expect to be treated like adults. They will read fascinating and challenging texts, but most importantly, “they will be expected to talk,” shares Ruth. Despite teaching almost a hundred students each year, she still manages to create personal connections with her students and makes sure they are getting the literary education they deserve. When asked what her favorite class to teach was, Ruth’s response was the AP Capstone Seminar class. This is an interdisciplinary research class that allows students to look at issues through different lenses. This year-long class has three components, one of which is the AP board grades and the other two Ruth grades. She believes this a fair grading system as it takes into account a student’s effort throughout the year. Many students agree with Ruth that this is one of the most important courses a student can take in high school as it requires “college style, in-depth research,” stated by senior Ben Hashim. When asked what his biggest takeaway from Ruth’s class was, he shared that he learned the value of discussion because when you discuss something with a group of people, one finds themselves going more in-depth than they would have done when they’re reading something on their own. “I think [AP Seminar] is a highly, highly underrated class,” said Hashim. He was not the only student who valued this class which was unfortunately not offered this year. Another senior, Layla Szymczak also believes that this class offers an advantage for students for their futures. She is not only grateful for the friends she was able to make through her discussion group, but she felt that she was able to learn valuable skills that will help her in college. It’s no question why Ruth is such a school celebrity and is still beloved by SBHS alumni.

Ms. Ruth visiting her alma mater, Scripps College [Image Courtesy of Ms. Ruth]


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    Yharai is a senior at SBHS. She plays on the girls varsity water polo team and is in the MAD academy. She enjoys eating good food and hiking and is excited to write for the voice of SBHS.

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