A Tribute to Ruth and Vaughn Jaenike

Excerpt from Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! As it turned out, majoring in education became my lifeline. The department was headed by Dr. Vaughn Jaenike, whose leadership provided motivation for me. Student teaching saved my collegiate study from complete failure. Vaughn arranged my student teacher practicum with his wife, Ruth Jaenike. She met me in the hallway on my first day of student teaching as she was on her way out of the building to teach at another school. Hastily, Ruth informed me I would need to teach music to first graders on my own. How could I be expected to accomplish this on my first day? The teaching pedagogy received thus far had been minimal, so the concept of teaching by myself terrified me. To this day, I do not remember what I taught. But when the day came to an end, I adored teaching!

Ruth and I shared a collaborative spirit. We decided to approach music education through the humanities, encompassing singing, art, architecture, dance, theatre and symphonic music. Working with this incredible mentor produced the feelings of deep appreciation for the perfect job. At the end of each unit, we held culminating sessions with professionals from the community. Ruth lit the flame which began my passion to teach. I will always be thankful for Vaughn and Ruth’s influence in my life.

NOTE: I just completed an interview with the Lincoln Journal Star (Lincoln, Nebraska) where I heard Ruth passed away recently. The past 24 hours have been filled with sadness as I came to the realization a great lady was no longer with us. Rest in peace, dear Ruth and know you are one of the main reasons for any success I experienced.

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