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Stories of an Open-Classroom School

Rushwood Elementary, 1970-2000


Debra C. DeBenedictis

Copyright, 2000, DeBenedictis

c/o Rushwood Elementary

8200 Rushwood Lane

Sagamore Hills, Ohio 44067



My quest to research and preserve Rushwood's history evolved into a larger investigation of the open-classroom schools which gained popularity in the United States during the late 1960's and early 1970's. I wanted to find out why Rushwood was built in this manner, and study how the educational philosophy behind this architecture evolved during the next thirty years. Neither quest is finished. Both are left to future Rushwood staff, students, and community members to complete the adventure and fill in the missing pieces, as well as to correct any misinterpreted data.

Research studied in the U.S. about the open classroom during the 1960's was mostly from England. At this time the British were reviewing educational research and philosophy from the early 20th Century, which was pushed aside as World Wars I and II took precedence. Books written in the early 1970's claimed that this progressive movement got stone-walled again in the 1950's and 1960's because researchers gave little regard to teachers' and principals' input, or to the idea of gradual change.

During the late 1960's and early 1970's the open-classroom theory experienced success in practice, in large part due to researchers listening to and involving teachers experimenting with this philosophy. These teachers and their principals learned that, while ideas of team teaching, individualized learning, continuing progress, activity centers, independent research, integration of the curriculum, student ownership, multi-age classrooms, etc., sounded great in theory, in practice, success was dependent upon ample volunteers, on-going in-service for teachers and the community in general, and continual reflection and revision.1

When Rushwood opened its doors in 1970, it was with much excitement at the possibilities this movement afforded for our children and their education. It was precisely because of a strong, organized volunteer force, continual in-service about open-classroom practices, both for the staff and the community, and continual reflection and revision to keep up with the latest knowledge of how children best learn, that Rushwood has been a successful open-classroom school these past 30 years.

In the following pages, I offer for examination, my discoveries of how Rushwood came to be, its thirty-year history that ensued, and where this building is headed, physically and educationally. The Historical Society of Olde Northfield has an extensive collection of information on the schools of this community dating back to the early 1800's. Hopefully, this account of Rushwood Elementary from 1970-2000 will continue that history.



This project could not have been completed without the tremendous efforts of many people. My most heartfelt thank you to the following:

Cluster C 4th grade classes of 1999 and 2000, for conducting interviews and writing down these oral histories,

Former Rushwood staff and students, who so graciously answered our questionnaires and attended our Alumni Day, enabling 4th grade students to interview them,

Rushwood's staff of 1999 and 2000, for also completing our questionnaires and giving up their time to be interviewed by 4th grade students,

Rushwood's P.T.A., which donated time, money, and support to this project,

Mrs. Garth and Mrs. Angelici, who co-ordinated the luncheon for Rushwood's Alumni Day in March, 1999,

Dennis McMahon, Sue MacKenzie, Kathy Bonath, Eunice Bardoun, and Ron Ashley, who helped out in so many ways these past two years, from trying to locate the '73 time capsule with a metal detector, answering phone calls about the project, helping to set-up and display memorabilia and research, providing refreshments, to socializing with the alumni who showed up to be interviewed.

Susan Andrews, from Summit County Educational Service Center, for photographing students and alumni during the interview process, and for granting permission to use these photographs in this book,

Susan Lehtonen, KSU, for coming to observe on Alumni Day, and ending up helping to sign-in and converse with former staff and students,

Ladies Auxiliary Post 6768, for their monetary donation to this project,

Historical Society of Olde Northfield (and Mrs. Conway), for allowing me to browse through old publications and artifacts in the Palmer House,

Rick Craddock, teacher at Akron Garfield, who gave me great ideas at his presentation on students conducting oral histories at the OCTELA conference in Fall, 1998,

Dr. Nancy M. McCracken, my friend and mentor, for her encouragement and support of this project from its conception to the very end,

My husband, Len, and my son, Mike, for their constant encouragement, patience, and support of all my writing endeavors.



Table of Contents

Forward.... i

Acknowledgments.... ii

Why Rushwood was Built.... 1

A New School Emerges..... 2

Time Capsule, Circa 1973..... 3

Partial History of Rushwood Staff..... 4

Stories of a Young School..... 5

Memories of Cluster D in '73.... 8

More Stories....10

Collecting Oral Histories..... 13

Collected Oral Histories..... 16

More Student-Collected Oral Histories.... 43

Rushwood..... 72

Notes..... 74

Additional Resources..... 75




In 1960, Nordonia Hills Schools' enrollment was 2136. That number grew to 5334 by October of 1969. During this decade the school system was growing by a classroom per month! In 1967, citizens passed a bond issue for additions/renovations to existing buildings and to build Rushwood Elementary.2 It is believed that the street and school were named after the Reusch family, who lived at one time in a white house behind the Northfield Baptist Church on Boyden/Rt.82.3 In 1957, Mr. Paul Reusch gave three acres on this corner for the building of the Baptist Church.4 Later, the land where Rushwood Elementary stands was supposedly donated to the community by Mr. Reusch for educational purposes. This land was a woods at the time, swampy in places, and a great breeding place for mosquitoes. Many kites and model rockets were lost in those woods.

Several years before Rushwood was built many Ledgeview staff members began a non-graded continuous progress program. First grade teachers set up a continuum of skills. Reading, spelling and math were all individualized. Curriculum was integrated and presented in large and small groups. Classroom teachers taught their own art, music, and physical education. While large groups were instructed in these areas, small groups might be working on language arts or other subject areas, and still others might be working individually. Walls were opened to create large learning areas, and smaller rooms were used for small group learning. Many other districts visited to see how these Ledgeview staff moved children, as well as utilized teachers and space.

The district liked the program so well that when a new building was needed, staff was allowed to meet with the planners and architects to develop the small, large, and open spaces that fit this program. Teachers even got a say-so on exits and restroom placement. A request for carpet and air-conditioning was granted, making Rushwood the first building in the area to have air. 5

Rushwood's construction was viewed with mixed emotions. While teachers planning to teach in the new building were excited and made frequent visits over to check on its progress, children who lived in the area watched sadly as their woods disappeared. One student remembered a huge oak tree near the back parking lot, estimating its age as over 100 years old. Its root system was not properly protected, and it died. Later, local custodians landscaped the entire area. A former student also planted between 30-60 pine trees by the ball fields, where high erosion existed, a few years later. These trees are now full-grown and provide a beautiful landscape, attracting more deer now than the woods did 30 years ago. 6




When Rushwood opened in the fall of 1970, it was a grades 1-6 building. There was no kindergarten, and no gym or cafeteria. Students brought their lunches and ate in what is now the kindergarten room. They also held physical education classes there, which made scheduling challenging. Rushwood's first music teacher, Mrs. Sue Gail Kapela, remembered directing the first choir concert at the new school in this room. In 1971-1972 a gym and cafeteria was built by Mikolay Construction Company. Rushwood was the only elementary in the district to have a gym separate from the cafeteria. Emily Akerstrom, who became Rushwood's first kindergarten teacher in 1972, remembered how spacious it was; that was years before it was further divided to house two kindergarten classes.7

There were no chalkboards or bulletin boards when the school opened. Staff members recalled workers coming in the middle of instruction time to install them. There was no furniture in the teachers' lounge/workroom for awhile. They sat and ate on cardboard boxes. The library was sparsely furnished with books, and the only playground was by the front of the school.8 The Daughters of the American Revolution purchased all the flags for the school.9

Although not totally complete, there was an air of excitement for both staff and students as they descended upon Rushwood for that first day of school in 1970. All sensed that this was indeed a special school and that special things would happen here. From the nearly 100 people who responded to questionnaires regarding their years at Rushwood, almost all had fond memories to share. The common thread running through all these stories was that of a family atmosphere here, how the teachers knew every student in the cluster and went all out to provide the maximum educational experience possible. Thirty years later, those affiliated with Rushwood still speak of that feeling of family.

Mr. William Boliantz, former superintendent, recalled that the citizens were pretty accepting of Rushwood. He remembered the community as being pretty progressive at the time. He was responsible for hiring the staff for the school when it opened in 1970.

Mr. Earl Kane, a former custodian recalled when Mr. Burr Burns was hired in 1970 to be the first custodian of the building. Burr, who was previously a bus driver, called Earl about working part-time at Rushwood, which he did for three years, starting in 1971. Earl remembered buffing the teachers' lounge and all the tiled wet areas in the clusters every Friday night. He also recalled how this building was a prototype, and was meant to be added on to, but when the philosophy of the open classroom lost steam, the popularity of this type of building fizzled out.

Mr. Harold Meese, Rushwood's first principal, still remembered the dedication and talent of the staff in those early years. He believed that the structure allowed for more flexibility for both students and teachers. Mrs. Sue Dover, who taught in Cluster B when the school opened agreed, "I enjoyed my years in the open spaced classroom. It was great training to teach in front of others. It also taught the value of teamwork." Mrs. Pat Addis, another teacher at Rushwood in the early years, also recalled, "I developed a close working relationship while teaching in Cluster A. The teachers all worked as a team in each cluster."




There is strong evidence from several sources that a time capsule was buried, but we have not been able to locate it for several reasons. It was not buried in 1970 when the school opened, but at the end of the 1972-1973 school year. It was not a school-wide event, which was why some teachers at that time, even Mr. Meese, the principal, were unaware of its existence. Cluster D (fifth and sixth grade students) decided to bury a time capsule to show future students what was popular and what the fads were at that time. Several former students, who were in Cluster D at the time, recalled burying a metal box somewhere by the woods by the playground towards the front of the school. They remembered digging a hole in the general area between the swings and the parking lot. Ray Droby, who helped dig the hole, recalled that they dug about 2-3 feet down.

Former students remembered the following items being put in the box: a $1.00 bill, a newspaper, a toy car. Kathleen Donnelly Bond remembered a discussion among students that if aliens found this time capsule, they might think we were all one inch high!

We tried locating the box with a metal detector, but were unsuccessful. We were also unable to locate the four teachers who were in Cluster D that year: Rosemary Pandy, Judy Hoffman, Ruth Davies, and Sally Baumgardt. There is the possibility that students came later that summer and dug it up because of the money, although they were told not to bother for just $1.00. The time capsule may also still be there somewhere; perhaps it will be found someday.

The time capsule we presented on August 28, 2000, will be housed in a metal box, which will be encased in Plexiglas and displayed somewhere in the building, so that when future Rushwood staff and students choose to open it, they will be able to find it!





Mr. Harold Meese, 1970-1977 Mrs. Sally Baumgardt

Mr. William Lowery, 1977-1990 Mrs. Elaine Bushman

Mr. Ronald Ashley, 1990-2000 Mrs. Janet Colbrunn

Mrs. Irene Reville, 2000-- Miss Ruth Davies

Mrs. Jean Ertley

Mrs. Marcia Funk

Miss Mary (Judy) Hoffman

SECRETARIES Miss Susan Keith

Mrs. Lois Janus, 1970-1987 Miss Rosemary Pandy

Mrs. Eunice Bardoun, 1987-present Miss Donna Rosselle

Mrs. Geraldine Rust

CUSTODIANS Mrs. Pearl Shull

Mr. Burr Bums, 1970-1982ish Mrs. Carol Vaughn

Mr. Joe Roskoph, 1982-1984ish Miss Cheryl Adair (speech/hearing)

Mr. Bill Jones, 1984-1989

Mr. Richard Welton, 1989-1994

Mr. Dennis McMahon, 1994-present


Miss Carol Dobbins, 1970-1973 Mrs. Janette Best

Mrs. Linda Kochan, 1973-present Mrs. Vera Droby

Mrs. Elizabeth Siler

Mrs. Mary Ann Franczyk music

Mrs. Louise Podgorski


Miss Sue Gail, 1970-1972

Mrs. Nancy Davis, 1972-1975

Mrs. Carole Painting, 1975-1977

Miss Wendy Sims, 1977-1981

Mrs. Margaret Brahain, 1981-1984

Mr. Harry Bowman, 1984-1998

Dr. Nancy Lineburgh, 1998-present


Ms. Ann Duchez, 1989-1990

Mr. Joe Culley, 1990-present


Miss Janet Bell, 1970-1975

Mrs. Nancy Donovan, 1975-1979

Mrs. Barb Matlosz, 1979-1981

Mrs. Lucy Kaufinan, 1981-1988

Mrs. Mary Sleeman, 1988-1990

Mrs. Marianne Holland, 1990-1998

Mrs. Kathy Bonath, 1998-present




In addition to the oral histories captured so vividly by the Cluster C 4th grade classes of 1999 and 2000, the following anecdotes, so graciously submitted by former Rushwood staff, serve to make Rushwood's past come alive for us once more.

I remember the super aides in Cluster A, the terrific gym and music shows, the wonderful original team in Cluster A and the great times we had working with the youngsters. I remember several marvelous parents and the many great students who supported Rushwood, the many great volunteers who worked in Cluster A. I recall how excited the staff was when Mr. Lowery came to the building in 1977 as the second principal. I remember Burr Burns and the loving, meticulous care he took of the beautiful building, the notes he left us when we weren't as careful as he wanted us to be, how hard it was for him to load the kiln, seeing him outside in the terrible winter storms, shoveling the walks so children and staff could go home safely, and convincing the P.T.A. to get him a snow blower so he wouldn't drop over of a heart attack. (Carol Vaughan, teacher, 1970-1983)

I remember Mr. Meese as the "father" of Rushwood. He tried his best to carry out the continuous progress philosophy. I remember what great helpers elementary students were. The community reacted favorably to my home visits, and invited teachers on occasion to dinner. I also remember how Rushwood's library acted independently of the other school libraries. (Janet Bell Wojnaroski, librarian, 1970s)

I remember the first talent show being quarantined by the health department because Charlotte, the gerbil, bit a child. I remember building message boards with the students as part of a grant project. (Sue Dover, teacher, 1970-1974)

I especially liked teaching the second graders. I can still remember doing plays from our reading sources. (Pat Addis, teacher, 1971-1977)

The first field trip each year was to my home where the children made cider in an old Sears cider press: washing apples, throwing them one at a time into the press as an adult turned the handle. Drinking the cider back in the kindergarten room capped the day. This is the one thing that the students remembered when I met them years later. (Emily Akerstrom, teacher, 1972-1976)

I really enjoyed it being very open, spacious. I taught in a conventional classroom after I left Rushwood and I missed the open aspect. I remember in 1976, the bicentennial year, our cluster dressed, did activities, etc. every other week to commemorate the 1776 experiences of children. When I got married, my cluster (all 100 children and teachers) gave me a surprise wedding shower. (Pam Weir, teacher, 1972-1984)

I remember seeing the table shaking during a small earthquake in my little tutoring room off Cluster B. This happened a few days after we witnessed on T.V. the Challenger Space Shuttle explode, a very sad experience for all of us. I remember the happiness I felt when so



many students voluntarily signed themselves up for my Recess Math Help program. (Marilyn Clark, tutor and teacher, 1972-1987)

One time a hot-air balloon landed on the playground at recess. The gentleman promised to come back and talk about his balloon to the entire school. He kept his promise, brought his balloon for us to see, and I got to go up as high as the tether would allow, along with a few students. (Margaret Gerhardstein, teacher, 1974-1978)

In the year 1975-1976, we were commissioned by the administration to put on a system-wide program celebrating the bi-centennial. Physical education and music teachers were involved. Our theme was American legends, and Rushwood had Casey Jones and trains. We did lots of songs, dances and movement on the trains. (Carole Painting Weinhardt, teacher, 1975-1979)

I think that the ability for four classes to get together in the center of the cluster to watch movies, conduct team meetings, present "walking portraits," awards, etc., is pretty unique! I remember working with Mr. Ashley the year we were the only two fifth grade teachers in Cluster D. Kindergarten was on the other side of the cluster. We'd hear kazoos, the Letter People, and playtime. It brought the oldest together with the youngest. Making books about these kindergarten students by our 5th graders was a wonderful experience. I also remember the wonderful Christmas and spring programs, the state fair we would hold in the cafeteria, the math fair Mrs. Starcher's class and mine did for the rest of the school, the day we had to have school outdoors due to smoke in the school, and the sad news of one of our custodian's death (Joe Roskoph), due to his airplane hitting the blimp dock at Goodyear. (Leslee Rodgers, teacher, 1973-1993)

I remember how you couldn't open any windows, and how it was always so cold in the building. It was a neat structure, very innovative at the time. I remember Pearl Shull who helped me through the 'first year teacher' fears, and who was a mom figure to me since I was miles from home. I remember a bridal shower given for me, and how Mr. Meese told me an upset mom was on the phone to get me down to the teachers' lounge for my surprise. (Jean Walker Koch, teacher, 1973-1976)

I remember how the room with the closing door was used for special projects, small group activities, etc., but never as a homeroom class. I remember Cluster C's "Our Morning Talks," where students chose a topic they wanted to learn more about, spent time researching and preparing a speech, and selected a host/hostess to introduce them and keep track of the time. The speaker had to speak for five minutes, use notes, and display appropriate visual materials. It was amazing how the students accepted this responsibility, and how excited they were to be the one presenting. (Pearl Shull, teacher, 1970-1977)

I remember Cluster D as being so crowded with four teachers and lots of kids (over 120 students). We depended a lot on our aide, Mrs. Podgorski. There was a large wooded area where we would go for "listening walks." (Barb Forster, teacher, 1973-1975)



I remember doing science projects in the middle of the cluster, especially "Structures," a unit in which we built with straws. I also remember when we had a special art/craft time for ten weeks or so in which parents helped us teach different craft projects. (Ellen Borsits Janik, teacher, 1973-1980)

My assigned space as principal was the windowless principal's office. It was my least favorite place in the school. I suppose there were many students who felt the same but for other obvious reasons. There are many advantages to a school with an open setting such as Rushwood. The one that I enjoyed most as principal was the fact that I could tour the building each day, wandering into and out of each cluster and see what was happening in every classroom. I tried to spend some time each day in the cafeteria and/or playground helping the teacher aides and enjoying children being children. I especially liked visiting the kindergarten where the enthusiasm of the children was infectious. It was especially refreshing during a bad day where the little kids would "pick me up." From an administrative point of view, the open setting of the school gave me the opportunity to be much more aware of what was going on in the building at any point of time.

I remember the wonderful Christmas and spring programs put on by the various music and physical education teachers. I remember Mr. Bowman in full Scottish regalia blasting off the annual Halloween parade with the pipes. I remember the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. Much of the school was assembled in the library to watch the teacher/astronaut, Christa McAluff blast off into space. We watched in horror and disbelief as the space shuttle exploded before our eyes. I especially remember the many excellent teachers with whom I worked during the several years that I worked at Rushwood. I was blessed with a good group of students supported by interested and actively involved parents and taught by an excellent teaching staff. If I had any measure of success as a principal, it was because of those factors. (William Lowery, principal, 1977-1990)

I worked with wonderful teachers. I enjoyed recess time where I had a chance to talk to the children, and especially, listen to them. It let me know where they were coming from. I remember one time in the winter when I brought the students in from recess and the teachers were still in a meeting with Mr. Meese. I was alone with all of them and told them to go their seats. I said, "Order in the court house. Monkey wants to speak. The first one who speaks is the monkey." The students were all quiet, not one word. It taught me that you don't have to holler to have students listen to you. (Joan Zak, aide, 1971-1977)

At first I got lost. The music room was very small, but we made it work. The staff was family; we were very protective of one another. I particularly loved the field trips to E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall. (Harry Bowman, teacher, 1984-1998)

I enjoyed the wonderful air-conditioning! The camaraderie of Cluster A was special. I invited Hope Carr to enlighten our students concerning the handicapped, and it was awesome. (Joyce Ritchie, teacher, 1984-1985)

I remember the wonderful books in the library for the children, and the many activities in the gym, both for class and for assemblies. The custodians always had fun times during our cleaning in the summer and during holidays. (Shirley Griffith, custodian, 1987-1993)




It was almost fall, late August of 1973. Even though I had already taught one year, this was all so new. Most of the kids would still be sixth graders, but somehow the fifth would be mixed in, too. All four of us were new. Toni had taught in Cluster C last year. Barb and Leslee were fresh out of college. We all seemed to get along. Leslee and I would teach English, Barb and Toni, the math. Toni and I would teach social studies, and Barb and Leslee would do the science. We'd all teach reading and spelling.

Mr. Meese seemed nice enough. He seemed to have a lot of confidence in us…even though we were all left-handed. Imagine all of us teaching handwriting. Nancy Davis taught music, we had a new gym teacher, Mrs. Whittaker (she'd later be Mrs. Kochan). Miss Bell was the librarian. Dear Mrs. Podgorski was our full-time aide. Bless her, she helped us out from 8:30-3:30. She'd sometimes keep the kids out late at recess if the four of us had gone out to lunch and were a few minutes late getting…she'd watch for our car. She was our surrogate mother. Lois Janus was our secretary. Burr Burns was our custodian…this school was new and spotless. He intended to keep it that way. He was always on his hands and knees early in the morning sewing/gluing the carpet seams.

We had a lot of fun that year…each week we took turns bringing in a donut for the four of us...we did snow sculptures for art, and judged first, second, and third place. The winners went to McD's. We had a Roman Banquet after our study of the ancient culture. We designed and embroidered tapestries to represent the Middle Ages. We had an international fair after countries throughout the world were researched. The country's foods were represented, along with their nutritional content, to go along with our health unit. We had a book-reporting contest, and did puppets and plays,putting on Julius Caesar one year. Students were in different levels in math; some used a seventh grade book. Students read various novels in their twelve different groups. We held a talent show, and even bonged some acts, all in good fun. We played volleyball--the teachers against the students. We had a great choir that brought tears to your eyes, as did the band lessons we heard from across the hall in the music room. Guest speakers were brought in. Kids wrote stories and plays, learned parts of speech, and gave different types of formal speeches. Sometimes we did group or team work and presentations. Sometimes we got together for a movie or special assembly.

The 70's had a feeling of pessimism to them left over from the Vietnam War and Watergate Trial. Sometimes authority was scorned. This pessimism spilled over into the school students often came to school in faded, torn clothing--usually jeans, and many had long, shaggy hair. Sometimes, if you disciplined a student, you were threatened with "My parents will sue you."

As the years went on, education became more important to both parents and students--to society in general. Respect increased, students knew they were expected to take their studies seriously. (Deb DeBenedictis, teacher, 1973-present)

(P.S.) Remember when…

Cluster D teachers carried on the tradition of presenting Mr. Meese with a funny scrap book of school events at Christmas.

Christmas parties were held at restaurants and spouses/friends attended.



Burr kept an attic where ever-so-neatly a teacher could find any and everything she would ever need for any project...;

Gracie McKee dusted quietly in your room around 3:00...;

Field trips were allowed to go until 3:15...and the ones to Stan Hywet, Greenfield Village, and Sea World?

Student Council held bake sales...;

Homeroom teachers taught art...;

Binney, Smith, and Co. held an after school workshop to give us art ideas...;

Remember when...;

Handwriting consultants came to give us ideas for teaching cursive...;

Cluster B built and sold birdhouses in the spring...;

ASCEND sponsored the Sumi artist Mitsku each ...;

Sixth graders had a graduation ceremony complete with diplomas (teacher-made) and "Pomp and Circumstance" played in the cluster...;

Teachers ran races at Field Day...;

The choir sang four-part harmony at Christmas concerts...;

Student Council officers gave speeches to the whole school...;

Movie projectors were used in the clusters...;

Remember when…

We held our Bicentennial Show for the whole school district in 1976...;

Macedonia closed and the teachers came here...;

Northfield closed and the teachers came here...;

The sixth grade went to the Middle School, and so did the teachers...;

Our Atari computers arrived and Ray Conti and Cheryl Harrell taught us how to use them...;

PTA suggested squirt guns as a gift at the sixth grade graduation party on the last day of school...;

We evacuated the school for over two hours, and PB&J sandwiches were made to feed the whole student body outside...;

We didn't have letter grades, when we did have them, when we didn't have them...;

We were a part of Summit County Services, when we weren't, when we again were...;

We had a Curriculum Director, when we didn't, when we again did...;

What a journey and it continues...;




I remember how the teachers made learning interesting. They catered to each individual's learning style. When we played basketball in gym class, those sitting on the sidelines were the reporters. They would interview the players, and report on the game. This way, all students were involved all the time. I remember climbing the staggered bricks to get our balls off the school's roof. They later shaved the bricks for student safety. I remember reading Kontiki and making an artistic representation of the book. I made a raft, using materials from the surrounding woods. (Ray Droby, 1970-1973)

I remember the cleanliness and openness of the brand new school. I thought having carpet in a school was awesome, and I was fascinated by the open classrooms. I remember thinking we had such a modern school and, except for the small windows, I loved everything about it. I loved the centrality of the library and felt very grown-up when I moved from Cluster C to Cluster D. Miss Bell, the librarian, became a kindred spirit friend, and I spent any spare time I had in her office, sitting with my back-end inside a big grey trash can, with arms and legs hanging out over the sides. I loved working in her back room, and felt special when I had special jobs. Miss Bell knew I loved reading animal stories and she got me out of the non-fiction section by introducing me to authors Lippincott and Kielgaard, who wrote fascinating stories about dogs and panthers and raccoons. Now I take my own sons to their books. (Kathleen Donnelly Bond, 1 974)

I loved Rushwood! The teachers were great, and they made learning ~n! I really believe we had the best elementary school in the Nordonia system. We used to play in the woods by the baseball fields and often found Indian arrowheads. I used to love all the special assemblies we would have, but my favorite was when the man used to come with the animals (a skunk, a porcupine, and all sorts of neat animals)! (Merrill O'Ryan, 1971-1977)

I remember doing the musical, Oliver, with the choir. I remember doing independent study and creating projects. I enjoyed writing and was encouraged to pursue this by my teachers. (Debbie Dover, 1970-1972)

I spent fourth, fifth, and sixth grade at Rushwood, one year in Cluster C with Mrs. Rust and two years in Cluster D. I walked to school down the path from Boyden Rd. each day. I remember beautiful trees as the fresh new snow set lightly on the branches on early morning walks to school. I have especially fond memories of Miss Pandy; if I had to say I had a favorite teacher, she would be at or near the top of the list. She helped me grow and start to experience feelings more akin to being a young adult versus a child. She, along with the other teachers, made Rushwood a special and positive experience for me. (Karen Fartellly Kassel, 1970-1972)

The library seemed so large at the time. The "cluster" idea was all I knew until Jr. High. I think Rushwood was one, big family. Everyone knew everyone. The teachers knew the parents and the kids each other in other clusters. I will never forget learning how to ride a unicycle for the spring program. I practiced everyday for three months with Mrs. Kochan. (Darlene Horsfall-Sundheim, 1978-l985)



I remember the door leading to the playground from Miss Hoffman's room, and the fact that it wasn't appreciated one time when I somehow thought I needed to use it as a shortcut for getting out to recess. I remember a math class exercise with Mrs. Shull where we learned about different number systems besides our "base ten" system. Somehow I would recall that class experience years later when dealing with various computer systems and programming aspects.

I remember show-and-tell when my good friend, Jeff, wanted to do his topic on salamanders and asked me to bring in a few from the pond behind my neighborhood. I wasn't sure how many a few meant, so I brought in around thirty. That afternoon many students took home baggies filled with salamanders, I'm sure to the dismay of both bus drivers and parents.

Another time during show-and-tell I brought in a combat helmet and it seemed to be a good topic. The next week I figured another interesting discussion topic would be the old hand-grenade that somehow I ended up with. Mrs. Shull informed me that hand-grenades in the classroom were not appropriate for show-and-tell. Thirty years later, I can see her point. (John Parenica, 1970-1973)

I remember Mrs. Vaughn's first grade class. I ran away from school the first two days. Police were dispatched each time. She convinced me to stay all day at school. I remember Miss Robinson who let me have the lead in the class play even though I couldn't pronounce half the lines. I recall raising and lowering the American flag each day. I also remember being the first treasurer of the first Rushwood Student Council. We chose our mascot, a squire, had a food drive, and sold buttons to students to raise money for our events. I went on to be vice-president and then president. The big wall outside the gym was a favorite for bouncing balls off during recess. I can tell you that my memories at Rushwood were a wonderful experience and great educational foundation. I will always have fond memories of the building, the teachers and staff, and my fellow students. (Dave Huml, 1974-1981)

I remember the open clusters with the large sun roof in the middle. I remember the floor plan of the building, four clusters at the corners of the library, the gym/cafeteria with the folding wall, the library in the middle of the building. At one end of the library was the music room. Behind it was the office, the teachers' lounge, and the nurse's room. I remember very vividly the layout of the building. By helping the custodians every evening, I got to see the kitchen, incinerator room, and other rooms most students didn't go into. I remember being a member of the first Student Council at Rushwood. (Joe Huml, 1976-1 983)

I remember how during the last week of school the entire cluster got to watch a movie. It was flin to sit in the middle of the cluster. In fourth grade, we went to Burton, Ohio, on a field trip. This experience opened my eyes to a time in our country's history that still fascinates me to this day. (Cathy Bardoun, 1982-1989)

I remember either Mrs. Addis or Mrs. Vaughn teaching me to make sense of all those letters that just one magical day seemed to form words. I remember either Mrs. Curtice or Mrs. Ertley helping me understand that those pieces of pie represented fractions. Thank you to Mr. Meese for your sweet words, to Mrs. Akerstrom for sharing your home with us so we could press apples, to Mrs. Davis, who made me look forward to music class...



I remember parachute day and the presidential gym test and having fun calling busses with Mrs. Whittaker. I remember Miss Orel's handmade pillows that she let us use to sit on the floor with and read our appointed book. I still enjoy reading this way. I remember Mrs. Esposito's stories of baby Jeremy. We all enjoyed hearing about life with a toddler.

If you put all these memories together you have a great positive environment in which a child can learn. To me this is what is unique at Rushwood. You all cared and gave a piece of yourselves to us. For this we thank each of you. (Beth Holland, 1970-1978)




Collecting oral histories of a school was an authentic way to build a community of learners, both in and beyond the classroom. For others who embark on such a project there are ample resources, including web sites, that show how all entities of a community---parents, students, staff, businesses, senior citizens---can become involved in this very worthwhile research project.

In bringing school and community together for the purpose of gathering oral histories, it helped to have structures in place beforehand. I needed to know what information I wanted from those associated with the school. I developed an instrument with five open-ended questions:

What years were you at Rushwood?

What was your role/job at Rushwood? (student, sec'y, teacher, etc.)

What memories do you have of the physical structure where you spent much of your time? (gym, cluster, playground, library, etc.)

What memories do you have of your peers/colleagues?

What special memory/story can you recall of your time at Rushwood? (a certain class/subject, holiday times, funny or sad experience, field trips)

I also wanted to know if people would be willing to come to school at a later date, to be interviewed by fourth grade students. They were encouraged to bring any momentos of Rushwood still in their possession. A release agreement was needed to allow me to use their information and/or name in any written publication.

As I began to mail out questionnaires and release forms to people I had worked with at Rushwood, I realized two things: a stamped, return envelope would increase response, and a follow-up phone call would probably lead to others' whereabouts, as well as additional information.

An important group to contact was the school's PTA. Many were former students of Rushwood; others were excited to be able to be a part of this project, which would promote our school and what we do. With their meetings and newsletters, our PTA helped out a great deal by advertising the project and soliciting help. They also bought tape recorders that made interviewing much easier for students; they could concentrate on the people and their answers rather than trying to write quickly.

The local newspaper was yet another resource to use. Publicity gave credibility to the project, and helped to locate more people from the past. Our two local papers gave this project a lot of coverage. Many former students contacted the school asking for a questionnaire because they or their parents had read about it.

I felt that collecting oral histories of a local school certainly must include input from the people who knew the area before it was built, and who watched its construction. Getting community members into our building had many positive outcomes. They came to realize that their knowledge was indeed valued by the students, they got to meet and interact with nine and ten year olds in a most meaningful way, and they understood better exactly what goes on in our building. Conversely, young students learned much from working with older people previously unknown to them. Close bonds began to form as both groups realized they needed each other in order to make this project a reality.

Two other places contacted were the local historical society, and the board of education offices. Both places had archives that helped the project: architectural plans, prior use of the



land, bond issues needed before construction began challenges that crept up during the building. The Historical Society of Olde Northfield was very helpful; I attended one of their meetings where a former superintendent gave a talk on the history of the local schools, including Rushwood. I later toured their museum, which provided me with more information.

Preparing the students for these interviews was crucial to the success of the project. It took time to allow them to see the importance of preserving Rushwood's history, as well as the value of interviewing older people associated with the school. In addition, students needed practice in order to develop skills listening and writing. Students needed time to develop a feeling of ownership of this project. All of this could be accomplished while also following the fourth grade course of study. In addition to the language arts skills, we studied local and state history by examining local historical documents, sites, and artifacts, along with interviewing local people and comparing their narratives. This entire project fell under our concept unit, "The present is affected by the past; the present affects the future."

Students began getting practice for this project long before the actual interviews. Each week, we had a person-of-the-week spotlighted in our class. On Fridays, students interviewed the individual, took notes on the information obtained, and wrote a paragraph about the person, which was put in a booklet and given to him/her. Students also studied government around election time, and learned about the various issues affecting their community. Many went on to survey other students about their opinions on these issues and summarized the data in various graphs. Some wrote letters to editors of local newspapers, offering their fourth grade opinions. In addition, students researched a myriad of topics, which they later presented to the class in an oral presentation, as well as a written report. All of these activities laid the groundwork for collecting oral histories at a later date.

Once an actual date was set, and a list of who was coming to be interviewed was in place, student input was obtained regarding whom they would like to interview: a principal, secretary, former student, librarian, etc. Knowing their audience ahead of time made for more poignant questions. Students needed time to practice interviewing one another so they would be comfortable asking the questions. Even before this, they practiced interviewing grandparents, and their first grade buddies, using appropriate questions for each audience and gaining practice using a tape recorder. Working in pairs or small groups was beneficial for many reasons. Anxiety was reduced; what one person didn't hear, another one did; additional questions came out of a group's brainstorming session.

Finally, the day for the actual interviews arrived. This event unfolded as three separate sessions. Guests first needed time to intermingle with one another, and renew old acquaintances. Giving participants time to converse with each other sparked memories previously forgotten.

The second session served as an icebreaker between students and interviewees. Following introductions an overview of the project was given. After the luncheon given by room mothers, students gave informal tours of the building

The last session was the actual interviews. Both interviewers and interviewees were ready to talk as they met in previously designated, quiet areas that were set up with chairs, and a table or desk. One student served as a recorder to back up the taping. Several volunteers took pictures, and one videotaped the entire event, including the interviews. Both local papers were also on hand.

Bringing closure to the day was important to all involved as we took time to thank everyone. Interviewees were reminded about coming back for a follow-up session in two weeks, at which time they would help revise and edit the students' written summary of the interview.



Students then returned to the classroom and wrote down their reflections of the afternoon. Their responses showed they had learned a lot:

"I learned new things about our school, like where they ate lunch before the cafeteria was added."

"It was fun finding out who worked or went here twenty-nine years ago."

"This was fun to interview alumni and write about them so people years and years from now will know about Rushwood when it first opened."

"I really liked learning about Rushwood's history from people instead of reading it out of a book."

"I learned that you had to have a lot of patience, and you had to really listen carefully. Sometimes it took the person awhile to remember some things."

"Being new, I liked learning about the past of my school."

The students were thrilled to listen to their tapes the next day. They benefitted from having ample time for sharing and processing this information before actually beginning to write their piece. As students listened over and over to their taped interviews, they added any information the recorders may have missed when writing down answers.

When students were ready to write, they could choose to each complete a summary of the interview, and compare pieces, or they could continue working as a group to write one piece. Students also wrote thank you notes and reminders about the follow-up session, which would enable students to be sure they had interpreted the interviews as intended.

(Reprinted in part with permission from Ohio Journal of the English Language Arts. Vol. 40,

No. 1, Summer/Fall 1999)




The following rich stories were compiled by fourth grade students during 1999 following extensive
interviews with Rushwood Elementary former staff and alumni, who were gracious enough to
fill out questionnairs and participate in Rushwood's Alumni Day, held on March 11, 1999.
The focus was on finding out about the school's past. These pages were prepared by
the students, who had control over their page-layout and whether to include artwork
and/or poetry.


Pat Addis' Teaching Career at Rushwood

Pat Addis was a student teacher in Cluster B. She began her teaching career in Cluster A, teaching first and second grades in 1971. That was the year after Rushwood Elementary opened.

At the time, Mr. Meese was principal. He was very kind and special.

There have been many changes in Rushwood since she taught here. For instance, the trailer in front of the building, the cube-shaped room in the library, the fact that when she taught here they did not have computers in any classrooms, and the fact that it used to be kindergarten through sixth grade, but now it's only kindergarten through fourth grade.

The school was not as crowded as now so they only used three-fourths of the classrooms in the cluster.

She says Rushwood was the first school in the county to have air-conditioning. The color of the carpeting has changed; it used to be gold.

The price for lunches was around seventy-five cents, one dollar less than it is now. And the food was not bad.

The length of the school day has not changed; it still starts at 9:00 and ends at 3:30. The teachers' day started at about 8:00 and ended about 5:00 PM.

The teachers used to teach art, but not gym or music.

When the adults read, the students sat wherever they were comfy. When the teachers read to the students, they used to read fiction, like Pippy Longstocking books, but now the teachers mainly read us non-fiction books, like Louis Braille.

When the kids were working, they did not usually sit at their desks, but on the floor. The desks were set up in groups that looked like tables.

Pat Addis does not have any idea where the time capsule is buried.

Kate Garth

Marisa Boettcher



David Blue, Student

David J. Blue went to Rushwood from 1978-1983. He was in grades 2-6. This is what happened at Rushwood when he was there. He had Mrs. Swart for second grade, Mrs. Harrell in fourth grade, and Mrs. DeBenedictis and Mrs. Jones for fifth and sixth grades. He was in Clusters B, C, and D. His favorite teacher was Mrs. Kochan (It was Mrs. Whittaker then.). He said she was very nice and did a good job. She would make people feel welcome in her class, so they were never afraid to try new things. Mr. Blue would help her get out stuff in the morning for gym classes.

He had a lot of friends like Mike Maddaux, Bret Neff, Tony Morabito, Oliver Moeritz, and Lowell Huth. Dave thought all his teachers were good, and gave kids good learning experiences. All the teachers in the cluster knew all of the kids. They all did a nice job of making each student feel welcome, and let students learn at their own speed.

His principal was Mr. Lowery. He was a nice principal. He always came around to visit the classrooms, and also came to the lunchroom. David doesn't recall going to see Mr. Lowery for doing anything bad. He said most of the kids were pretty well behaved.

He said the center of the cluster had a lot more room than now. They used to sit in that area during SSR. The extra room in the library was not there. The trailer for art and music was not there, either. The teachers used to teach art; it was a group effort.

Other than that, Rushwood is practically the same. There were many activities. The gym and music classes combined to make spring shows. There were choir and music concerts. They had Dare officers and other guest speakers come into the classrooms.

Mr. Blue liked social studies a lot. He said he learned quite a lot in elementary school, and remembers doing a Civil War project in Mrs. DeBenedictis' class. He also remembers taking Iowa and CAT tests, but they didn't have proficiency tests.

Mr. Blue wore mostly dress shirts and dress pants. He had an extra set of clothes in case he got dirty at recess. Mr. Blue loved recess. They played football. They knew what team they were on before they went out so they could use the whole time to play.

He liked silent reading. One month there was a contest on who could read the most. Whoever read the most won. He read a lot.

Instead of keeping everything in their desks, they each had bins to keep their stuff in. They used pens with cartridges and the ink would smear, and they would need ink erasers.

He remembers that the movies ET, and The Empire Strikes Back, were out at that time. Students loved to collect football cards, Star Wars stuff, and play ice hockey.

Another teacher Mr. Blue remembers was his music teacher, Mrs. Braham. He had her the last years at Rushwood. He does not remember who came in before Mrs. Braham. Mrs. Mathias was the kindergarten teacher, even though he did not go to kindergarten here.

Mr. Blue liked Rushwood. He said it was an easy-going place; it was easy to get

along here. He liked the teachers, and said it was just plain fun.

Brian McMasters

Vinnie Snyder



Mr. William Boliantz, Superintendent

One day we had to go down to the gym to meet Mr. Boliantz. We took him on a tour of the school. Then we got our recorders, paper and pencils, and sat down to interview him.

Mr. Boliantz said that, as superintendent, he worked with the architects, the staff, and the principal of Rushwood as it was being built. He wanted to make sure that the staff got the rooms that they would need to teach. He said we should look at the plans of the building to find the cornerstone, because that is probably where the time capsule is.

His office was at Northfield Elementary. He would have meetings with all the principals, and then they would tell their staff what was discussed. He had several assistants. Mr. Lowery worked with the elementary buildings, and others helped with the high school, junior high, transportation and business. He always had a lot of paperwork.

Mr. Boliantz said it was his job to meet with the board of education, to oversee the transportation and hiring, and to watch over all the buildings. He said Rushwood had three principals: Mr. Meese, Mr. Lowery, and Mr. Ashley. Mr. Boliantz, who was born in 1917, was superintendent from 1960 to 1976, when he retired.

After the interview, Mr. Boliantz asked us some questions about our favorite subjects, and what else we liked to do. He told us to be active in school, and to read a lot.

Roy Rose

Marcus Collins



Mrs. Braham, Music Teacher

Once upon a time there was a woman who lived in Hudson. She taught music at Macedonia Elementary. Then, when she was in her forties, she taught music at Rushwood.

She would take her classes to hear the Akron Symphony. She always had eight classes a day. She also liked to put on musicals for the children. She said it was fun.

Mrs. Braham was a violinist. The instruments she used in the classroom were the xylophone, violin, and recorders. She absolutely loved the recorder. She would later carry her own whenever she subbed in case the class was using them. One instrument she had was homemade and very unusual. It was a washtub basin with a stick and rope attached. You put your foot on it to hold it steady to the floor, and plucked the rope. She said it sounded like a bass violin, and it was used in one of her musicals.

Mrs. Braham worked with Mrs. Kochan to put on programs in the spring. She taught grades kindergarten through sixth, and she taught at Rushwood for six years. Mrs. Braham did not have a favorite student because she taught so many, but she did get to know the students who would be in her programs quite well, and enjoyed them.

Katie Kiggins

Maisa Shlepr



A Day In the Life of Beth Cunningham

By: Jon Dombroski & Jeff Schoeller

The following story is about Beth Cunningham, a girl who went to Rushwood Elementary 22 years ago. Jon Dombroski and Jeff Schoeller got a chance to talk to her and take a tour around the whole building on March 11, 1999, and to try to find out about Rushwood's past.

She said every year her and other kids started going to school the day after Labor Day in September. This year she will be in fourth grade. Each week they go to school five days except for special occasions.

Beth enjoys going to Rushwood because she's so close to the school that she can ride her bike or walk to school and she likes who works there.

She wore about anything she wanted to wear because there were no dress codes. Sometimes they even wore shorts.

Every morning that she was in fourth grade she would come in Cluster C and see her favorite teacher, Mrs. Harrell, with a big smile on her face She likes Mrs Harrell because she makes learning fun, she was always nice, she wasn't strict, she brought in her own books for her students to read, and she played statue with her students.

Then Beth walks into her classroom where she saw 15 - 17 kids looking at her. She then prepared herself for the following subjects - math, reading, spell- mg, social studies, and art, which came later in the day.

While kids were coming in from riding the buses, Beth reads books. Reading is one of her two favorite subjects. She likes reading because reading takes you places and Mrs. Harrell made it fun. Her other favorite subject is spelling. She likes spelling because once you learn how to spell, it is easier to write.

Then Beth went to her favorite special. Gym is her favorite special because she enjoys the activities they do, the gymnastics program, and she enjoys getting the Fitness Award.

Next she went over to Mrs. DeBenedictis's room for social studies. Mrs DeBenedictis was one of her two strictest teachers. The other one is Mrs. Jones. Mrs. Jones was strict because it was her first year teaching the fifth grade. "I really didn't mind having strict teachers. They just told you what they expected and you followed their rules"

Beth then took a social studies test, which was unusual, because they mostly only had a weekly spelling test or when they learned about important subjects. Speaking of spelling tests, that was the subject she was best in.

Then she went outside for recess. They played basketball with the balls that Mrs. Kochan brought out for them.

Lastly, Beth went to Mr. Lowery's office for a good report because she was a good student, but school was complicated for her.

Things that are different from when she went to school and now in 1999 are that there is the room ii the middle of the library, there are the trailers outside and there are computers in every room. That is t~ story about Beth Cunningham.



The Interview of a Lifetime... Carol Dobbins, Physical Education

Once upon a time there were two girls named Jessica and Alyce, and there was this day called Alumni Day. It was for interviewing people. Jessica and Alyce were partners, and they were interviewing Miss Dobbins. They had to meet in the gym to meet their person, where Mrs. DeBenedictis, their teacher, introduced them. They interviewed her in the library office, but first they took her on a tour.

Miss Dobbins seemed excited to be here. They asked her a lot of questions, and she gave them long answers. Miss Dobbins was Rushwood's first gym teacher. She only taught gym here one and a half days a week. She said that she always wanted to be a gym teacher. It was her favorite subject in school.

Miss Dobbins said she liked Rushwood. It was fun here. There was so much going on; it was new and organized differently with all the clusters. The kids really liked it, too. Since the kids liked gym, they were mostly well behaved. She had many activities such as gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, football, soccer, and dance. She went to college with the second, and current, phys. ed. teacher, Mrs. Kochan.

Mr. Meese was her principal here, and she said he was a very nice man. it was her first year teaching, and he told her that Rushwood needed a physical education program, so you can buy what you want. She felt that she was helping to create the school. Miss Dobbins bought a balance beam and mats, a~they made hula-hoops from white tubing they purchased from a company. We still have them today.

Miss Dobbins liked the teachers at Rushwood; she said everyone was busy all the time, and there were always new things happening. She became good friends with the librarian, Miss Bell.

Miss Dobbins is still teaching. She stopped teaching gym in 1985; now she teaches health.

Alyce Lattemer
Jessica Chiabai



Mrs. Sue Keith Dover, Teacher

Mrs. Dover remembers a lot about Rushwood. Here is what she remembers:

Homework was a review of something the children learned during the day. Lots of times books were assigned to read.

One consequence of misbehaving was losing recess. Classes ran between twenty and twenty-five students. Some classes were larger than others. Mrs. Dover taught second grade math, fourth grade language arts, and science and art to everyone. The concepts were the same back then as they are now.

Mr. Harold Meese was the principal and Mr. Boliantz was the superintendent when Mrs. Dover taught at Rushwood. Books bring back a bad memory for her. There weren't enough books. She remembers complaining to get more books. When the building opened, there weren't even any chalkboards or bulletin boards.

In science, her class made their own units. One fun unit she remembers was on worms. All the students got to bring worms to school.

Mrs. Dover tried to make things special. One year they had a talent show. Fifty to seventy-five parents came to the talent show.

They only had gym, art, and music. Mrs. Dover remembers working from early to late. The kids ate in a lunchroom. Students did not have to wear uniforms.

You could get spanked by Mr. Meese if you misbehaved. There wasn't an Ohio Proficiency test when she taught at Rushwood…it came later on. The clusters were mixed by grade. Students went on field trips. She remembers going to Sea World when it was newly opened. They did not have guidance counselors, student council, or ski club. They did have air-conditioning, which was quite special at the time.

Mrs. Dover remembers the time they went to the Cleveland Zoo. They were studying mammals. When they had it approved by the superintendent, he said they could only look at mammals. Mrs. Dover thought that was a bit silly, but she didn't say anything. So when they went past the birds, snakes, etc., she told the students not to look

Pamela Miko

Amy Zuo




Remembering teachers who got interviewed

Unbelievably wonderful teachers of the past and present

Superior school

Has lots of memories for Mrs. Dover

Will always keep heartwarming adventures and stories

Oh the wonderful times Rushwood provides, past and present

Oh, the time capsule buried...somewhere

Dedicated, delightful students who worked very hard on this project.

Amy Zuo
Pam Miko
Sue Dover



Mrs. Griffith, Custodian

This is our story of Mrs. Shirley Griffith. It all started when we saw her in the gym at Rushwood Elementary, wearing a name tag that said Mrs. Griffith. After we met her and talked about each other, we gave her a tour of the school. She noticed there was a big difference in the school.

After we got done showing her the other classrooms and library, we interviewed her. The interview went well, and she was pretty funny. We were surprised that the worst thing she ever had to clean up was vomit. We thought that was pretty sick. We thought it was pretty cool that she never had to punish anyone, so she must have been pretty nice.

Her teacher friends were Mr. Culley and Sue Penza. She used mops, brooms, chemicals, and a lot of electrical tools that they don't use in the school today. She said Rushwood is different from today; we have more computers, new desks and chairs, and a lot of new teachers. She said the school didn't used to have the trailers for art and music. Music and art used to be in classrooms that we use today.

When Mrs. Griffith worked here, she had to share a room with the rest of the janitors. Mr. Welton was her boss, and he was also a janitor. She worked a big eight hours a day, and also all summer with the rest of the custodians like Mrs. Lutz and Mr. Welton. All of the furniture was taken out of the clusters until school started, and then they took it all back in.

Mrs. Griffith thought Rushwood is nicer now than it was back then, when she worked from 1987-1993.

Mrs. Griffith


Really eager




Inclined to cleaning



David Kortan

Colin Rafuse



Mrs. Marianne Holland, Librarian

When we met Mrs. Holland, she had short, brown hair. This was the first time Jenny met her. She was nice. During the tour, she talked to all of the other people. We had fun on the tour. Here is the story of her life at Rushwood Elementary.

For the first few years, the principal was Mr. Lowery, then came Mr. Ashley. They were both nice and helpful. First, Mrs. Holland had to stamp the books by hand. There were between 8.000 to 9,000 books in the library. Then she got a computer. She had fourth grade helpers who would put the books away, stamp, and also scan the books. Mrs. Holland knew the Dewy Decimal System so well, she taught the kids how to use it. She handled the students pretty well, but they sometimes got into mischief. The kids could take out two books. This way they were allowed to have them for two weeks. They always had two books out to read. Mrs. Holland had a lot of fun with the students. When she read a book, she liked to see the expressions on their faces and hear their questions.

The school hasn't changed except that it is more crowded, and the trailers are done. She never had time to read between classes. She always had to do library work. Her favorite series to read to the kids were Bill Peet and Van Alls Burg. They had a book fair, but it was run by the PTA. The book fair started in 1991.

There used to be sixth grade at Rushwood, and Mr. Ashley used to teach it. Her youngest daughter was in his class. Her oldest daughter was in Rushwood's very first sixth grade class. None of Mrs. Holland's children go to Rushwood anymore. They have all moved away.

Mrs. Holland had a good life at Rushwood.

Mrs. Holland

Mrs. Holland

Really funny









Marci Rickelman

Jenny Dow



Mrs. Ellen Janik
Becky and Alyssa thought that Mrs. Janik would be old and mean, but she was not instead she was very pretty and nice. She loved to talk to her old friends from Rushwood.

She answered our questions with full responses. She had a lot of things to say about Rushwood. She really Eked Rushwood because there was a lot of open space in the cluster. She said it was nice working in a new school building.

She was very close with other teachers. She was friends with Mrs. DeBenedictis and Mrs. Harrell. Mrs. DeBenedictis and Mrs. Harrell taught in cluster D and Mrs. Janik in cluster C. Mrs. Janik taught in cluster C with Ms. Robinson. She talk to Mrs. DeBenedictis when the teacher needed to share information.

She taught 4th and 5th graders only. The teachers ran off papers on the mimeograph machine, but when you picked the papers up the ink got all over your hands and it smelled. She thinks they had alot of books, but they were paperbacks. The cluster had alot of posters and the students did alot of worksheets. The classes were not as much spread out as we are now and were more contained under the overhang. Miss. Baylis' room was used for an activity room. Mrs. Janik's class didn't have Star Of The Week, but they just had spelling stars.

She did not keep in touch alot with all the teachers after she left, but sometimes she sent Christmas cards.

The principal was Mr. Meese when Mrs. Janik first started working at Rushwood, he was very nice to work with. Then Mr. Meese retired and Mr. Lowery took over. He was very nice to work with also.
BMrs. Janik liked being a 4th and 5th grade teacher, she didift want to teach any older than I11. When she started teaching Rushwood went K-6. She liked 4th grade students better than 5th. Her students did not stay in for recess alot. She tried to get them outside. The only time they had to stay in for recess was when they misbehaved or had to make up work. She really did not have a favorite student ,but she really liked Bonnie and Audrey, and some boys too. She kept in touch alot with Bonnie, but not to much with Audrey.

Ms. Robinson taught Social Studies to the whole cluster and Mrs. Janik taught Science to the whole cluster. They only had the playgrounds in the front of the school and the blue playgrounds in the back. They were sometimes allowed to play in the grass.

There was no art teachers when she was at Rushwood so the teachers taught art in there class rooms.

They had math timed tests just like we do now. They didn't have any computers in the class rooms or televisions. They used spelling books. Mrs. Janik read a chapter in a book every day. Her class didn't talk alot. They did the pledge of allegiance their classrooms. They sometimes had sharing time. For assemblies they had mostly singers or puppeteers. Then Ellen Janik had a baby girl and quit being a teacher at Rushwood Elementary school.

by Alyssa Colombo and Becky Bergman



Mrs. Lois Janus, Secretary

Jon and I walked down the hall waiting to see who we would be interviewing for Alumni Day. We were waiting to show them everything. Everyone had someone except for us. The teacher said, "Mrs. Janus is in the brown sweater." We walked over to a lady in a brown sweater.

We showed Mrs. Janus around the building. She noticed some changes. The carpets used to be gold, and the doors were painted orange. Now, the carpet and doors are different colors, and she noticed that we have blue chairs. The cafeteria was not built when the school opened. You had to bring your lunches. There was a cafeteria and gym the second year. There was no kindergarten the first year, either. There were fifth and sixth graders in the building. Mr. Meese was the principal. Mrs. Vaughn and Mrs. Addis taught in Cluster A, and Miss Bell was the librarian. Mrs. Swart used to be in Cluster B. The music teacher was Miss Gail.

Mrs. Janus remembered that one time a hot air balloon landed by the school. It got stuck in the trees. The next day they came back, and one of the teachers got to go up in it.

She said Mr. Meese started as principal when she was here, then came Mr. Lowery. He stayed here longer than Mrs. Janus. She retired in 1986, and he retired in 1990. (The principal's office was the same now as it was when she was here.)

Mrs. Janus noticed a lot more equipment today. She said there was not as much stuff on the playground. There was not as much technology. She remembered only one or two big TVs in the school, and the clusters had to share them, moving them from one place to another on big carts.

There was no dress code, that Mrs. Janus could remember. She said everyone dressed properly. She said that the kids were all lovely; there were only a few troublemakers. She said the teachers were great, and she has very pleasant memories of working here.

Jon Smith

Tony Angelici



Mrs. Kochan, Phys. Ed. teacher



Mrs. Kochan

M is for a wonderful Mom.

R is for a radical phys. ed. teacher.

S is for a super person.

K is for a kind adult.

O is for an outstanding person in sports.

C is for a cool athlete.

H is for a healthy person.

A is for an absolutely awesome person.

N is for a nice woman.

You are all of these.

Michelle Dudiak

Veronica Ray



Brenda Andryszak Lee, Former Student

One day a woman named Brenda Lee came in to be interviewed about her years at Rushwood Elementary as a student in the 1970's. She said there were more desks now, and that they had added a lot of other things in the classrooms. She said the computers were a good thing to have in the rooms for the students. There were now trailers outside for extra rooms, and the big cubicle in the library. She said when she attended Rushwood, it went to sixth grade. Now, because the town is growing, it only goes to fourth grade. She noticed they added on to the playground, too, but the baseball diamonds and basketball hoops are still the same. She used to love to play basketball at recess.

She said she had had both Mrs. DeBenedictis and Mrs. Harrell as teachers, but they had different names back then. She also remembered Mrs. Ertly, who was her second grade teacher. She said she was an older lady with white hair who was very funny. Brenda said that most of her teachers were funny, and that she liked them. She liked it when they would go into the center of the cluster. They would watch movies. In the morning, they would start the day with the Pledge of Allegiance. Once in awhile, if the class was really good, they might get an extra recess, but usually they would be learning all day in class.

She said that they learned many of the same things that we do now. They did not have that many books when she was here. The only bookshelves were in the library. There would be only one bookshelf in a classroom. She remembers having SSR, which was sustained, silent reading.

Brenda remembers Mr. Meese as being very quiet. He would always stand by the front lobby with his hands folded, and if someone were misbehaving he would point his finger and say, "Stop that." She said they always listened to their principal.

Brenda said they didn't have substitutes very often. Teachers would come to school even when they were sick. She remembers Mrs. DeBenedictis reading to the class, while she was coughing and blowing her nose.

Brenda said they didn't have the choices in the cafeteria that they do now. You had to get what they were serving, or you could order peanut butter and jelly. Salads and hot dogs were not a choice. She said lunch cost forty cents back then. They're $1.75 now.

Elvis Freeland

Branden Klusker



Tom Loya, Student

One day some people came into Rushwood. Some were students here a long time ago. One was Tom Loya..

Before Tom came to this school, they buried a time capsule. Tom never heard anything about it.

The trailers outside were not there. Art and music were not outside; they were inside the school. Tom said they learned the same stuff as we do now.

Tom only ate lunch at school. The lunch cost ninety cents. Lunches now are $1.50.

Tom said that it changed here a lot. They did not have as many books as they do today. They did not have a book nook, either. They did not have any computers, except one in the music room. Tom really loved music class, and he said that was because of his music teacher.

One of his favorite teachers was Miss Robinson. He also had Mrs. Harrell and Mrs. DeBenedictis. He had to have a book ready for SSR before they went to lunch. They had to go to the library to get their books.

He also said they added on to the playground. We got a new slide, and he noticed the rings were new, too. They also added on to the school inside. They were not as crowded, and there were not as many desks. They did not have these kinds of desks. They had separate ones with the tops that lift up.

Mrs. DeBenedictis still has one of Tom's yo-yos. If you did something bad, the teacher would take your toy and put it in the June box. You would not get it back until June.

He said they always had holiday parties. They had a contest on Valentine's Day. They had to try to make the most decorative box.

They did not have a planner like we do for homework assignments. They had a little notebook. They did have extra bins like we do, but they did not have bins in their desks. Tom said, "I think the classrooms are the same size now as they were then."

Brandon Klusker



Mrs. Lutz, Custodian

Jimmy and Matt walk down through the front lobby to the gym in a single file line with their class to interview their alumnus. They walk up to Mrs. Joan Lutz, and they listen to Mrs. DeBenedictis' instructions of what they are to do first. They give Mrs. Lutz a tour of the school building, including the trailers, that hold Mr. Culley's and Dr. Lineburgh's classes. When they complete the tour, they walk back to the gym for more directions. Then they go to the cafeteria to find an outlet for the tape recorder to be plugged in. They find a spot by the vent, close to the door. They realize they do not have the tape recorder with them, so Mrs. Lutz and Matt go back to the cluster to get it. Jimmy waits back at the cafeteria to guard their spot. When Mrs. Lutz and Matt return with the tape recorder, they begin the interview.

Mrs. Lutz started at Rushwood in 1975, and she retired in 1994. During the summer, when school was out, she worked and talked with another custodian, Mrs. Griffith. Mrs. Lutz had the side by Cluster A and B, and the girls' bathroom, and Mrs. Griffith cleaned the other side of the school. She used to have to clean the kindergarten room, too. Years ago, a man would buff, wax, and clean the kindergarten room and all the tile areas every Friday.

Mrs. Lutz, in answer to some specific questions, said that garbage cans did not used to have wheels on the bottom, but that students, as well as the aides and the custodians all helped to clean tables at lunchtime. Only some students had assigned seats at lunch. Other custodians she worked with were Ann Bartway, Dick Welton, Mr. Jones, and Mr. Burns.

In the summer, each cluster was cleaned from top to bottom, from the lights at the top to the carpet at the bottom. All desks and walls were scrubbed, then the carpet. Mrs. Lutz enjoyed all the teachers, principals, etc., etc., in the nineteen years she worked at Rushwood.

After Matt and Jimmy conclude the interview, they walk back to the gymnasium, where they notice some students jumping on the mats left out from an earlier gym class. They say goodbye to Mrs. Lutz, and return to their classroom to reflect about this Alumni Day.

Matt Zabiegala

Jimmy Zagorski



Mr. Meese, Principal

Mr. Meese, the first principal of Rushwood Elementary, remembered one student in particular. He would sometimes bring in money and give it to his friends. Mr. Meese had to talk to his grandparents. Later, he left the school, and Mr. Meese never saw him again.

Mr. Meese said they have a lot more equipment at the school now. He said the building structure is still the same, but there is more stuff inside now, like the portable classroom inside the library. There were no computers when he was here because they were real expensive.

Mr. Meese said that they had four teachers in every cluster except C, where there were three when he was here. They had a music and gym teacher, but no art teacher. All the classroom teachers taught art. They also had a speech therapist here several times a week. Sometimes Mr. Meese would teach a class for a teacher if there was an emergency.

He never had "pats on the backs" for students, but thought that was a good idea. There was no, one real well behaved class; they were all behaved. Mr. Meese said he did not really believe in paddling students, although he did have to do it once. He said you don't have to have paddling to control students.

We asked him about the time capsule, but he couldn't recall there being one. Mr. Meese said there are about the same amount of kids here now as when he was here. He did not have any of his own kids in the school, but he had a son at the high school when he was a principal here.

Mr. Meese said it was easy being a principal; on the other hand, being a teacher was hard. He said he was fortunate to have had excellent teachers when he was at Rushwood. He said that you can't have an excellent school without good teachers.

Nick Quinn

Dan Tamayo



Mrs. Bev O'Ryan, Parent

The person we interviewed second was Mrs. O'Ryan. We were waiting to see what Mrs. O'Ryan was like. Finally, I found her. She said, "Hi, you must be David." I said, "Yes," and then Debbie came over. Mrs. O'Ryan said, "You must be Debbie," and I said, "Yes."

Then Mrs. DeBenedictis announced that we would take our people for a tour around the building. Then we started. Mrs. O'Ryan said that the building had changed a lot. "They have added a room in the library."

After we took her for a tour, we were to interview her in our classroom. She said that Rushwood was the first cluster school around here. She was used to closed doors and classroom. "It was new, clean, and very friendly."

Here are some special interesting facts about her daughter, Merrill, who attended Rushwood in the mid-1970's. She loved all of her teachers. She had Mrs. Painting (Weinhardt) for a music teacher. There were 20-25 children in a class. Merrill was a happy student, and a good student. She had Mrs. DeBenedictis and Mrs. Harrell, but they had different names then. There were no computers. They did everything on paper with pencils.

Mrs. O'Ryan said today is more advanced than it was in the 1970's. Art and music teaching are almost the same, but the technology used now is more advanced. She went on field trips with Merrill's class, and was very active with things at Rushwood Elementary School. She said, "The way Rushwood was set up was a good way to learn. The school was very advanced. I hope they do more of the cluster type-school."

David Keagle

Deborah Reville



The Life of Mrs. Vaughn

One fine day in 1970, a twenty-two year old woman named Mrs. Vaughn started a teaching career at Rushwood Elementary. She was a pretty woman with brown, highlighted hair and a beautiful maroon skirt. When she got to her cluster, she was amazed by the airplane desks in her room. Airplane desks are like double desks, with little compartments in the middle.

Mrs. Vaughn had to work with first, second, and third graders. It was rough, but fun. When she had reading time with her class, she read a Dr. Seuss book called Horten the Elephant Hatches an Egg. She also read them many other books.

At lunchtime the kids had to eat in the kindergarten room because there wasn't a cafeteria. When the children had gym, they had to have it outside because there was no gym, either.

One day when Mrs. Vaughn was teaching, two boys had gotten in a big fight, and one boy had ended up with a bloody nose. One Sunday while everyone was at home, vandals broke into the building and smashed things, took things, and really damaged the building a lot. When the teachers came back they were very disappointed.

One day in the middle of lunch, Mrs. Vaughn was talking to some teachers when some of the students decided to go home. They walked home. The reason why her class went home was because they thought they were supposed to go home. One boy was walking all alone because he'd missed the bus, and was crying. The aids pulled him in and called his parents.

On a Friday, Mrs. Vaughn wanted to do something fun with her class so she let them make dinosaur soup. A few days later she let them make rock soup. The next day was "worm day." (They also made candy apples, applesauce, cookies, and potato soup.)

One morning when Mrs. Vaughn was teaching she smelled something terrible. I mean, it was awful. It smelled like a dead animal. She asked the janitor to come and check it out. The whole class helped look for the bad smell. He finally found that terrible smell. Nicholas Fibrann had brought in a baby mole to share with the class, but it died overnight in his supply box.

Mrs. Vaughn had two children, a boy named Kevin, and a girl named Daphne. Her daughter went to Rushwood, and she was in her mother's classroom. Since you weren't allowed to call teachers "Mom," even if they were your mom, it took people a long time to figure out Mrs. Vaughn was her mom.

The first time Mrs. Vaughn got to teach art to her students was fun. It was her favorite class to teach. The teachers that worked with her were Mrs. Bushman and Mrs. Rochelle. People came and went as they pleased. No! Her class didn't really ever get out of hand, but there would be one or two kids who would wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and have a bad day. Mrs. Vaughn loved her job a lot. "I think Rushwood is the very best, and the most fun place to be."

She stopped working as a teacher at Rushwood in 1984 to become a principal at Ledgeview Elementary. Her job is now at Ashland University working with teachers.

Erin Pickering

Susie Cottrell



Mrs. Carole Weinhardt, Music Teacher

Mrs. Weinhardt was Mrs. Painting when she worked at Rushwood, from 1975-1979. We asked her if she had fun when she worked at Rushwood, and she said it was fun, but a lot of work. It was especially hard because it was K-6th grades. It was also her first year teaching.

She said there were about 25-30 students in a class when she was here. It wasn't her job to take them out for recess, but sometimes she did for music activities. They could earn special treat days where they would go outside and play special music games. She thought it was important to play music games, and she taught her students do, re, mi, and ti, to, do, and hand signs, and things like that.

She said it felt good to be a music teacher. She always sang in choirs, and always wanted to teach music. Her favorite thing was to have a choir and to put on the musical programs. There was a group for extra talented children. She worked with them separately.

Mrs. Weinhardt played the piano and the guitar, but her main instrument was her singing voice. She taught the older children guitar in class. There was no helper assigned to her, but there was an aide in Cluster D who was great about helping her with anything she needed.

They did a Bicentennial program in 1976, and all the elementary music and gym teachers participated. They did a theme about trains. That was how the yearly programs with the physical education teacher got started.

Mrs. Weinhardt didn't have any children that went to Rushwood because she didn't live around this area. She had made a lot of friends here like Mrs. DeBenedictis, Mrs. Harrell, Mrs. Kochan, and Mrs. Jones.

Deborah Reville

David Keagle



Mr. Welton, Head Custodian

On March 11, 1999, Mike Quinn, Jon Keagle, and Jon King interviewed Mr. Dick Welton. When he was head custodian at Rushwood, he had two principals: Mr. Lowery and Mr. Ashley. To get his job he had to go to the Board of Education for an interview. Mr. Welton worked at all the schools except for Ledgeview. He worked in Nordonia Schools for eleven years, first at the High School, then Lee Eaton, then the Middle School, then Rushwood, where he stayed for six years until he retired. Mr. McMahon used to be his boss.

Before he was a custodian, he served in the Navy for twenty years, then spent fourteen years in a factory as a chemical technician.

Mr. Welton's office was in the same place as Mr. McMahon's is now. He used the same tools as they use now, also. It was his job to set-up the lunchroom tables and take them down, empty the trash, and clean the cafeteria. He did all the maintenance work. He did not vacuum; the ladies who worked at night did. He worked eight hours a day, from 6:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

He worked in the summer, which was the busiest time of the year for them. They had to clean every desk and chair, wash the walls, the lights, shampoo the carpet, and wax the tile areas.

Mr. McMahon retired because it became time. He stops by in the summer to visit because he knows the people who still work here.

Mike Quinn

Jon Keagle

Jon King

Mr. Welton

Dick Welton



Kind man


Elementary school

Ledgeview (not)



No, does not vacuum



Miss Bell Wojnaroski, Librarian

One day Miss Janet Bell got a job as a librarian at Rushwood Elementary. She worked at Rushwood for five years. She loved her classes because all the kids were excited. She was popular for a librarian. She loved to read, and her favorite book was A Wind in the Door. When she got married, she used a quote from the book. (Then her name became Mrs. Wojnaroski.)

She used to do finger puppet plays with her library classes. She used props from the library. Her years at Rushwood were all good except for her first. Mrs. Wojnaroski thought the gold carpet was weird.

She knew lots of people from here, and still keeps in touch with some of the former kids. There were no computers at Rushwood when she got there, but when she left they started to get some. Mrs. Wojnaroski always had a messy desk. She got paid a lot for working hard, about $7,200.00 when she started.

When kids had bathroom breaks, they would yell over to her, "Hey, Miss Bell." She didn't like that because it would interrupt the class she was teaching.

Mrs. Wojnaroski is now a librarian for Roosevelt High School, in Kent, Ohio.

Ryan Whittaker

Joey Palatas



Mrs. Joan Zak, Educational Assistant

One day Joan came home from with a scholarship to the Cleveland Institute of Art. However, her dad had multiple sclerosis, and her mom had been in a car accident, and her little brother was dying of leukemia. She was told she couldn't go to school because she needed to get a job and help out the family. Joan knew that one day she wanted to work in a school, and so she became an aide.

Mrs. Zak started at Rushwood in 1971, the second year it was opened. She liked it because she got to work with the kids and the teachers. She said every day was different. She tried to always be nice to set an example for the children. She really loved them. The teachers had good control of the students, and that made her job easier. She thought most of the kids were good, and some always got into trouble, but they learned to listen. She always tried to be fair.

Mrs. Zak told us that Rushwood was the first school with air conditioning in this area. She has kept in touch with some students she knew from Rushwood and the high school. One is now an animator for Walt Disney. He was acknowledged in The Lion King. One is an attorney in the area. One is a psychologist, and one is a police officer. Many have become her friends as adults.

Danny DeCrane

Michael Royski

Mrs. Zak










This next set of stories was the result of research conducted by fourth grade students in Mrs. DeBenedictis' and Mrs. Harrell's 1999-2000 classes. They interviewed present and recently retired staff members of Rushwood, as well as a pre-service teacher who spent two months working here, and was a former student, to learn more about their school.

These oral histories focused on the changes staff members have seen at our building and their concerns for the future.




By: Joshua Jaggers and Brandon Gale

On March 2nd 2000 Joshua Jaggers and Brandon Gale interviewed

Mr. Ashley at Rushwood Elementary. We learned that he taught 6th, 5th, and 4th grade and high school. He taught about 6 years as a full time teacher at Rushwood. He has been principal for 10 years since he has been at Rushwood.

Mr. Ashley has seen many improvements and changes. The lunches have improved with scanning cards, extras, and a better choice of lunch with peanut butter jelly, hot dog, and salad. There was no full time art teacher and now there is. The only thing that got added on are the trailers, and Rushwood got added on to from its original plan from 1970. The following year the gym and cafeteria got added on to Rushwood. All of the other schools have a gym and a cafeteria in the same room but Rushwood. Mr. Ashley would like to see more class rooms so there would be more space in the library. THE END



Mrs. Bardoun

Rushwood Elementary Office:

Jamie Wodecki and Jill Hollingsworth interviewed our secretary Mrs. Bardoun, of

thirteen years. They reported Mrs. Bardoun had worked as a lunch aid before she was promoted

to secretary of Mr. Lowery, then to Mr. Ashley, soon retiring, principal of Rushwood Elementary. Mrs. Bardoun would like to see more doors and rooms. She also said, "We need more rooms as more and more kids come to Rushwood."

She told the students that she loves her job. "I always liked the feeling that it was family," said Mrs. Bardoun, quite surely.

The students asked what kind of discipline they had in her early years at Rushwood. "Different kids, different discipline, plus it has been the same rules applied as the rules there are now," she said.

Mrs. Bardoun also announces buses and walkers in the afternoon, after school She said she needs a new PA system for announcing buses and walkers, but it has improved by getting a microphone instead of the old built in microphone that was on the PA system.

Jill and Jamie asked what the library was like when 6th and 5th graders were at Rushwood Elementary. "There were encyclopedias, and more chapter books and more study areas because it was larger," she replied.

She also said that the bond issue that passed would improve Rushwood. Mrs. Bardoun said she loves her job and would only change Rushwood physically.

By: Jill Hollingsworth & Jamie Wodecki



Ms. Bardoun

When Ms. Bardoun was in Rushwood there was more playground equipment and she thought that it was much better too. She said, "We had the same lunches students do now. We used to have only two 4th grade teachers. We had Mrs. Harrell, and Mrs. De Benedictis". She explained they are teaching right now. "I had computers on Monday morning, but I always forgot to go. I think I only got to go on once,"she told us.

"Not many things about teaching have changed. Multi-age is new. Today there are more students in Rushwood. We never had to worry about having it over crowded. Students have more safety because the playgrounds are less dangerous . All of the playground toys that I remember are gone."




Mr. Bowman, a good teacher

By: Alex Dillard and Alex Petit

There is a school, the best in the world, and it is Rushwood. There is also a man who has worked here inside of this school for 13 whole years. Mr. Bowman started here in 1983 and ended in 1998. Mr. Bowman thought about being a mechanical engineer, but since he really liked music he picked teaching.

He graduated from Kent State University. Mr. Bowman likes Rushwood better now because the carpet colors have changed, and because of multi-age. Mr. Bowman does not plan to work again because he is enjoying his retirement. He feels he did a good job at Rushwood.

He also feels his teaching had changed. Mr. Bowman had changed classrooms from Mrs. Wasco's room to the satellite room. But one thing is for sure, we will always remember the best music teacher in the world, Mr. Bowman.




Mr. Bowman

On March 3, 2000 Yolanda Milewski interviewed Mr. Bowman a retired Rushwood music teacher. She interviewed him about Rushwood's past. He said that when Northfield Elementary was reopened Rushwood had fewer students.

They added a gym, cafeteria, music, art and, multiage classes have been added to K-4th grade. A bigger library, classrooms rebuilt, bathrooms rebuilt and new carpets have helped Rushwood to be a better society for children to go to school in.

He thinks they should build the art and music rooms on to Rushwood's building because, the trailers are too small for the two teachers to put their art supplies and musical instruments. He thinks there should be more playground equipment

"Rushwood used to have kindergarten through 6th grade, but now Rushwood has kindergarten through 4th grade," he said. He thinks Rushwood's classrooms didn't change, and the population in students for classes through out Rushwood has decreased since he has been here. There are different amounts of classes in each grade. They built a gym and cafeteria after they opened Rushwood Elementary. Now Mr. Bowman is now relaxing at his home.

©By: Yolanda Milewski

p. 49




Mrs. Linda Chaloupka is our school nurse. She likes to store medicine in the cabinet. She also likes how Mrs. Bardoun keeps everything in stock. The Scooby-doo blankets on the beds are a big hit with the kids, especially the first graders.

Sometimes Mrs. Chaloupka thinks certain kids lives aren't as good as we expect them to be. These kids need special things, and their parents send in certain medicine for that child. She wants to make sure that everyone's problems are met academically. She thinks that 2000 has been a very nice year so far.

Mrs. Chaloupka doesn't feel that she needs a bigger clinic because it's a nice shape and size. She really needs a phone in her clinic because she does a lot of running in and out of the office. She would also like a new refrigerator. She feels that her fridge isn't really a working fridge because it's only used to store medicine.

The Summit County Health Department has trained her extensively, and she has learned all sorts of new ways to help kids in her career. Alot of the medical things she does with her three kids ties in with the medical things she does in the clinic.

Mrs. Chaloupka told us that there is a group of kids that get hurt the most --the first graders. Whenever there is a substitute teacher, a lot of the kids come

in. She calls it "substitutitis."

Mrs. Chaloupka absolutely loves Rushwood. She feels that it's like a big family, and now she is part of the family, too. We're glad she's here for us.

-- NickRoberto

-Mike Libby

p. 51


Mr Culley

One day two girls named Lauren Milani and Jessica Lee interviewed Mr. Culley. He said he carried a cart around from room to room. Mr. Culley said that there was 5th and 6th grade here. He said that the biggest change in the school district was 5th and 6th grade going to a new school.Mr. Culley said that the best year is the one that you are living now. His worst fear for the future is not honoring and remembering the past.

Mr. Culley wishes the students have art two times a week. It's great to have an art room but creative teachers deal with what they have. Mr. Culley would like a sink in his art room.

Mr.Culley has seen more teachers working together. Mr.Culley is a fine art teacher.


© Lauren Milani©

© Jessica Lee©




Mrs. Edmond is a teacher that teaches 2nd grade at Rushwood. When she started they did not have an art teacher so they had to teach their own art. They have an art teacher now.

The library has less space and more books. The gym has stayed the same. Mr. Lowery was a principal then he retired. Then Mr. Ashley came to our school and became our principal.

At one time they were talking about closing the school. They had grades 1-6 at Rushwood. She has taught in grades 1-12. She went to The University of Akron.

She thinks the biggest changes in the building are the computers and the play ground equipment. She says the school has more books in the library. Her school had grades 1-6. They didn't have any computers when she started at Rushwood.

By LeRoy Hudson

And Sean Price



Mrs. Eppard

On March 3,2000 two boys by the name of Jamie Dean and Bobby Goughnour interviewed Mrs. Eppard about Rushwood's history and its future. We learned that there used to be a lot more playground equipment such as more swings and a high slide.

Mrs. Eppard thinks that if they add on to the school like they're supposed to it will be better for all of us so we don't need the trailers. She thinks there is less room in the school from when she started. The portable room that is now in the library took up more space so now our library is smaller.

Mrs. Eppard thinks the school should have gotten the computer for Mrs. MacKenzie, who works in the cafeteria, a few years ago.

Mrs. Eppard thinks that if there were no aides outside at recess the students wouldn't be able to return to the building if they got hurt. The students wouldn't have a key to get in.

Mrs. Eppard thinks that the hardest part of her job is getting the students lined up and sometimes having to send them to the office. Her favorite part of her job is the kids. That's why she keeps coming back each year. She tells people she has the best job in the world.

Mrs. Eppard said, "My son Jason and I started here on the same day. He started 1st grade in Cluster A, and I was his aide in Cluster A."

By: Jamie Dean and Bobby Goughnour



Mrs. Eppard

M is for Mrs. in her wonderful name.

R is for Rushwood's best aide.

S is for how sweet she is.

F is for everything she does.

P is for perfectly done.

P is for always planned.

A is for always.

R is for rightly.

D is for done.

By: Bobby Goughnour and Jamie Dean



© Mrs. Glenn ©

On March 1,2000 Brian Vollmer and Dominic Russo interviewed Mrs. Glenn, the speech teacher in Rushwood Elementary.

Here are some things she said about Rushwood when she started: Rushwood went up to 6th grade now it goes up to 4th grade. Our principal was Mr. Lowery 20 years ago; that was when Mrs. Glenn started.

Some people have speech problems with S's R's and L's. Cluster D had kindergarten classes. If she could change something she wants walls between classes, and she wants windows where multiage 3\4 is in cluster D now. She also wanted for Rushwood Elementary to be BIGGER! (Mostly so we could have preschoolers at Rushwood.) There were only two first grades when she started; now there are three first grades at Rushwood Elementary.

Library is the same but Mrs. Holland was the librarian at Rushwood Elementary and she used to give test on library skills. Now she is retired and Mrs. Bonath is the librarian at Rushwood Elementary.

When she started there were special education classes for grades one and two. Now we have preschool through 4th grade. Rushwood used to have less classes. There used to be one kindergarten class, now there are two kindergarten classes. The toilets did not have automatic flushers. Last but not least, she used to be called a language specialist, because she worked with only the special education district.

We learned a lot from Mrs. Glenn's interview; it was very very fun.








It is finally time for lunch. We pick up our tickets, wait in line and as we turn the corner, a voice says, "Show me your ticket". It is Mrs. Goodrich a cook in our cafeteria. She has been in our school for 10 years.

Mrs. Goodrich was not a student at Rushwood, she moved here from Maple Heights in 1973.

Mrs. Goodrich has seen many changes in students and nutrition. The worst change is the lack of respect the students show each other, the staff, the building and teachers. She says that there are many changes in nutrition. She has to go to meetings and classes all the time to learn all about them. The State of Ohio and the U.S. Government make the changes. She also says a change in the kitchen for this year is a new mixer.

Mrs. Goodrich thinks that in the future we will have more fruits and vegetables for lunch. She doesn't see any problems in the kitchen. The only problems they have are children who come in late and don't order a lunch, but want one. She has tried to make children without lunch tickets go last, but that doesn't seem to have made any difference.

A new mixer in the kitchen has been a help this year. The old one didn't have a high speed, which is needed to make some of the foods we prepare.

A favorite memory for Mrs. Goodrich is seeing children out of school and having them say hello. So if you are out shopping and see her, don't forget a smile and a happy hello so you can help make more memories for our Mrs. Goodrich.

By Kayla Romano and Ashley Tylicki



The Story of Mrs. Harrell

One day a teacher named Mrs. Harrell graduated at Bowling Green University. In 1975 she started teaching in a school called Rushwood. Rushwood had clusters. Clusters are a group of classrooms put together.

Mrs. Harrell started teaching in cluster D. When she was in cluster D they had 5th and 6th graders in the cluster so she taught a 5th and 6th grade class. The school had kindergarten through 6th grade. Then the 5th and 6th graders went to a different school. So Mrs. Harrell moved to cluster C with her friend Mrs. DeBenedictis.

Mrs. Harrell and Mrs. DeBenedictis taught 4th grade. They often teamed up their classes. Most of the time they had 29 students in each class; one year they had 35 students. Another year they only had eighteen. When they had 35 students in a class they didn't do as many fun things, but when they only had 18 they had fill' doing lots of hands-on activities.

At that time kids sat in rows and worked by themselves. Now Mrs. Harrell enjoys the kids working together because she thinks it helps us with future life skills. In Mrs. Harrell's earlier years, Mrs. Wasco's room was the music room, and teachers taught art to their own students.

Mrs. Harrell likes the clusters, but wants doors that would open and close to shut out the noise. She would also like more storage cabinets so that her room wouldn't be so messy.

In Mrs. Harrell's room there were old computers, and hardly any games. They used record players, movie projectors, and there was no VCR. Mrs. Harrell's computers are new now, but they don't work very well. She would like them to work every time she turns them on. "It is frustrating when you're in the middle of something and the computer freezes," she says.

Mrs. Harrell is glad the 2000 bond issue has passed. Now she doesn't have to argue with students to put on their coats if it is cold when going out to the trailers. Also, it will save time.

Mrs. Harrell has been teaching for 25 years and from experience knows how to make school fun.

By: Vanessa Stagliano and Danny Vondrak



Mrs. Jones Interview

One day in 1975 a teacher named Mrs. Jones came to Rushwood

Elementary. She taught 5th and 6th grade in cluster D. She started a math club that came in 2nd place in Summit County. After awhile of 5th and 6th grade she started to teach 1st grade in cluster A.

When she started she had 28 kids in her class! She talked to the Principal and parents to have less kids in her class because you should only have 20 or less kids in your class. It worked!! Now she has fewer kids in her class and it's easier to help them individually.

Some changes she wants to see are new art and music rooms and more classrooms. Some changes she has seen are new computers.

In the fall she became a National Certified Teacher (N.C.T.). She was happy to get it.

Rushwood used to be K-6th grade. Then the sixth graders went to the middle school. A couple years later 5th and 6th graders made up Lee Eaton, and Rushwood K-4th.

Field Day used to be different. The teachers played too! They had to take off their rings for balloon toss. These are some of Mrs. Jones' memories. She is still working here at Rushwood in the year 2000!!


Abby Dow and Amanda Osborne



Mrs. Mackenzie has worked at Rushwood for 12 years

Mrs. Mackenzie has seen a lot of changes since she started at Rushwood. She has seen many teachers and 2 principals come and go. She has seen children grow up. She has seen trailers come in for classrooms and a big room built in the library.

Mrs. Mackenzie went to college for food service. Before working in the Rushwood cafeteria, she worked as a substitute in the district for 1 year and at the High School for 1 year until ajob opened up at Rushwood. She applied for, and got the job.

Mrs. Mackenzie biggest problem today is making new menus with food that is low in fat. She is told to do this by the Federal government.

Mrs. Mackenzie's best memory is seeing the kids all grown up.

By Tiffany Romero and Barbara Pasko



Mr. McMahon

One morning two kids interviewed Mr. McMahon. Mr. McMahon started his career at Lee Eaton. He worked as building foreman there for 15 years. Then he went to Rushwood and worked here for 5 years. Right before he came to Rushwood they changed the carpet in the whole school. Mr. McMahon said if the bond passes we can build two more classrooms, an art room and a music room, replace the HVAC units, and we can get rid of the trailers.

The air conditioners give him problems. He fixes a lot of pipes. He changes a lot of light bulbs. Mr. McMahon uses a lot of tools to fix things. He helps a lot of people. Mrs. Wise and Mrs. Hawkins clean the school every night.

Mr. McMahon had Mrs. Wise paint all the walls in the whole school a nice white. Mr. McMahon is a very special friend of ours. He could be a very nice guy

if you treat him with respect. His real name is Dennis McMahon. He helped move the trailers to Rushwood. He thinks kids should not write on the doors in the girls' and boys' bathrooms. And that is our interview with Mr. McMahon.

By: Nicole Slevinski and Michael Desrochers



One day on March14, 2000 Aaron Pankratz and Danny O'Donnell interviewed Mrs. Olson. Mrs. Olson is a second grade teacher at Rushwood Elementary School.

Mrs. Olson started teaching at Rushwood in 1979. Since she started teaching there were two principals, Mr. Lowery and Mr. Ashley. When she started teaching there were between 28 and 32 kids in a class. She taught first grade and second grade. Out of all four clusters, Mrs. Olson has always been in Cluster A. She taught a lot of math, a little social studies, creative writing, science, reading, health, and safety. The teachers had to teach their own art classes.

Mrs. Olson thought the carpeting changed in Cluster A, but the building has not changed since 1979 except for the trailers.

Mrs. Olson thinks one of the biggest problems on Rushwood's playground is being able to monitor such a large group of kids at one time.

Mrs. Olson taught at Rushwood for 20 years and retired in 1999. She spends a lot of time in Florida with her husband.

By Aaron Pankratz Danny O'Donnell




This is a story of Kyle and Billy and Mrs. Penza' 5 words. Mrs. Penza disliked the fact that the school had no vegetation long ago. She said that we need more fences so that the dogs can't get in.

"We used to have kindergarten through sixth grade, and the kid's would help little ones. The school was like one big family."

She didn't think kids had longer recesses back then, but she wasn't sure. Students used to have frizzy hair, and boys had long hair and wore jeans.

Kids used to complain about the cafeteria food and the teachers had to watch the students at recess. The teachers also had to teach art because there was no art teacher.

The school seemed a lot bigger because there were less people. "We had two playgrounds, but we don't have one of the playgrounds any more."

Those are Mrs. Penza's words; we hope you enjoyed it.

By: Kyle Sherwood and Billy Gura




One day two boys were going to interview a teacher named Mrs. Pytlik who teaches in

cluster D. They learned some stuff that they never knew about Rushwood.

Rushwood had kindergarten through fifih grade. She said that the changes in the lunchroom were that there were more extras and the menus have changed.

She is also concerned about the space. She is concerned about the loudness in the school and wonders if it ever distracts the kids when they're learning.

When she first came here to Rushwood there were not as many classrooms. Art used to be in cluster D, and music used to be in Mrs. Wasco's room before we had the trailers. She says that she saw some changes in the library like the carpet was a different color and there was no movable classroom in the back. That's what we learned from our interview.

The end

By: Jared Sinarski and Bryan Nowak



Miss Robinson

In the early months of the 1980's Miss Robinson was teaching at Rushwood. We asked her what changes she has seen from the 1980's to 2. "Now we have more computers and better technology. We also have trailers outside because of it being crowded." Also the people who were in the 1980's are different. We also have a lot of young new teachers.

She told us, "Students are learning in different ways. I think having clusters has helped the kids by letting them know other students. We are not afraid to walk into other classrooms"

"The community needs to keep supporting the school," she explained.

By Courtney Luczywo & Erin Lee



Mrs Gennell Schvartz

On March 8,2000 Brad Selva & Eric Hartman interviewed Mrs Schvartz, a first grade teacher.

She has taught at Rushwood for twenty years She has taught a total of twenty-five years in all.

Her biggest concern is getting a new principal next year. She would wish to have a larger room and more walls

but she said she probably won't.

One problem is there's not enough bathrooms in the school, Another problem that Mrs. Schvartz

sees is people not getting along.

When she started at Rushwood there was no pizza, chicken fries or chicken patties When the got here

there weren't a lot of students, not a lot of adults helping, did a lot together as a cluster and they had no art teacher.

Mrs. Schvartz always had homework usually on weekends. There are more kids in Rushwood and

more people helping. Mrs Schvartz taught six to seven grades in her career. She said that there are

more books, TVs, videos and computers in the library now.

By Eric Hartman


p. 66


Mrs. Gennell Schvartz, first grade teacher

On March 8, 2000, at 2:40 p.m., Eric Hartman and Brad Selva interviewed Mrs. Schvartz. Mrs. Schvartz has been teaching for 25 years. She came to Rushwood ten years after it was built. Everyday she feels her job gets more complicated. Her favorite part of her job is the students she works with. In her whole teaching career she has taught 6 to 7 different grades. She doesn't like homework over weekends.

The biggest change to Mrs. Schvartz is getting a new principal. Some other changes are that kids have been reading more, and there are computers to use. Lots of other stuff has changed since the olden days also. She wished she had a larger room. The library has improved with more televisions, videos, and more computers. The food has changed because now there is pizza, French fries, and chicken patties. The restrooms haven't changed at all. There used to be no art teacher, but now we have one.

Some of her concerns are not enough bathrooms, people getting along, and more students in each cluster. Mrs. Schvartz thinks that there should be more walls if we had larger rooms. Since there are more and more children coming, she thinks there should be more adults working with students.Brad Selva and Eric Hartman learned a lot about Mrs. Schvartz and her career.

The End

By: Brad Selva



Mrs. Scotton

On March 14,2000 Yolanda, Marie and Randi interviewed Mrs.Scotton the 3rd grade teacher. She said there are more classes than before.

Some memories she remembers are Mr. Cully the art teacher and Mr. Bowman the old music teacher were in the building. Mr. Cully was in one of the clusters. At the time there was enough room.

Mrs. Scotton taught in cluster C, B, D and the extra room in the library. She thinks teachers should get to talk more about teaching because they are in different clusters and they have no time after school to talk about class and ideas.

She wants more swings in the playground and more adults watching the children. The metal should be off the playground because it gets hot and ½ the children will get burnt. She thinks the school is smaller now because there is no more 5th and 6th grade.

She thinks the kids are being more disrespectful and there are more kids, which is bad because Rushwood might get too crowded. She thinks the books and computers should continue to be upgraded. It was fun interviewing Mrs. Scotton we learned a lot about our school.

By: Randi, Marie, and Yolanda



p. 69


The Story of Mrs. Soukup

Mrs. Soukup is a third grade teacher at Rushwood Elementary, and she is in Cluster C. She gave her students funny assignments. She would make her students go home and read for twenty minutes under their beds. The parents sent Mrs. Soukup a note telling her to read under her bed with a flashlight.

She came to Rushwood because she graduated from Nordonia. She went to Lee Eaton, where everyone was mad that Rushwood had air-conditioning because they didn't.

Since she has come here in 1990, there have been a lot of changes. There have been seven teachers in the other classroom across from her in Cluster C. Mr. Ashley has been the only principal she has taught under. Mrs. Soukup has been at Rushwood for ten years.

By: Jimmy Greenfeather and Chris Dotson



The interview of Mrs. Wasco

There is a beautiful lady here at the school Rushwood, by the name of Mrs. Wasco. She began here at Rushwood in 1985, which would be 15 full years. She got her undergrad at Kent State University, and her masters degree at the University of Akron. She had a choice to be a nurse. But since she hates the sight of blood, she decided to be a teacher. One of the main reasons is because she loves kids. "Who doesn't?"

Mrs. Wasco has seen many changes and improvements, such as the carpet which used to be a really ugly yellow color. They changed it to a really pretty multi blue, white, purple, and red color.

Before Mrs. Wasco got a job at Rushwood she worked at a school called Grill Elementary. It was also a school. Right now she teaches a great kindergarten, first, and second grades special education class. Mrs. Wasco has been a big help to Rushwood Elementary. She hopes to stay here for a while longer.

Mrs. Wasco would like to see more classrooms, restrooms, and sinks. She says with all of the kids here the school it is a little crowded. The school was going to put more classrooms in but they never did. Mrs. Wasco has moved from many different classrooms and clusters. She started out in cluster A then moved to what is now Mrs. Tambascio's room, then to Mr. Bowman's old room.

She thinks student council has been way more active. The food drives, multi-age, Millionaires Club, DARE and the assemblies are some of the new programs.

by: Alex Pettit and Alex Dillard




I ride my bike down

Rushwood Lane.


I'm thirteen years old,

I'm going to see Cheryl.

She lives on Rushwood Lane.

Third house from the end.

The dead-end woods

Keep me from going too far.

I ride there often that year.

To practice cheering,

To listen to the Beatles,

To eat pizza at midnight slumber parties,

To play kick-the-can.

Cheryl moved away that September,

And I traveled down

Rushwood Lane

No more.

In 1973, at the end of my first year teaching, I was informed that, due to declining enrollment in the next year's sixth grade, and, being the staff member with the least seniority, I would have to leave. I still had a job with the school system, but I would be transferred to the new building on the other side of town, Rushwood Elementary, on Rushwood Lane.

Rushwood Lane

It had been eight years

Since I'd been down

That path.

Rushwood Lane

Dead-ended into woods

No more.

In their place

Stood a school

Circular in shape


Inviting me in.

Rushwood and I set out on ajourney together. Experimental in our rookie years, we've matured

into seasoned veterans, wiser, though not unchanged by life's hard-learned lessons...


We've weathered

The educational pendulum

Well, I think.

p. 72


We wear our wrinkles

With pride

A testimony to our


Learn by doing-assessing-revamping ways.

With age, with experience

Comes wisdom.


Though you long ago

Replaced the woods

The Canadian geese, the deer

Still come.

The children climb your

Jungle gyms.

Rushwood Lane

Which once dead-ended

Into woods,

Now leads children

On their educational journey,

The dead-end has become

Just the beginning for all who enter


(Reprinted with permission from OJELA. Vol 40, No.1)

Today, Rushwood is one of a few remaining open-classroom schools, striving to operate true to its ideals in 1970. At the time of this printing, two double-trailers house two, 4th grade classrooms, and two more trailers house an art room and music room to accommodate Rushwood's increasing enrollment. Thanks to passage of a bond issue in November 1999, plans are underway to add another cluster and restroom area to the school. Completion is projected for the end of 2002.

As when the school was initially built, staff and community members are again meeting with those overseeing the impending construction to offer input as to what physical structures need to be in place to aid Rushwood in maintaining the vision it had when its doors opened thirty years ago. The Rushwood community remains as excited and as hopefull today about educating all who enter its doors.

p. 73



1. Sabaroff, Rose, and Mary Ann Hanna. The Open Classroom: A Practical Guide for the Teacher of Elementary Grades. US: Scarecrow Press, 1974. Silberman, Charles E. The Open Classroom Reader. New York: Random House, 1973.

2. School Report. November, 1969. A pamphlet mailed to Nordonia Hills citizens by the superintendent of schools.

3 As told to several teachers by Burr Burns, former custodian of Rushwood and life-long resident of this area, now deceased.

4 Goosman, Bessie. History of Olde Northfield, Northfield, Ohio: Historical Society of Olde Northfield, 1973.

5 As told to me by Marcia Spring, teacher at Ledgeview Elementary at this time, recently retired.

6 As told to me by Ray Droby, former student at Rushwood and resident of Rushwood Lane.

7 As told to me by Earl Kane, former custodian of Rushwood and Maintenance Dept. of Nordonia Hills Schools, recently retired.

8 As told to me by Carol Vaughn, former teacher at Ledgeview and Rushwood

9 As told to me by Mr. William Boliantz, former superintendent of Nordonia Hills Schools.

p. 74



In addition to the sources cited in Notes, the following may prove beneficial in future attempts to find out more about Rushwood and/or to collect additional oral histories.

DeBenedictis, Debbie. "Alumni Day draws ex-staff and students to Rushwood." Nordonia Hills Sun Newspaper. May 6, 1999, page C3.

DeBenedictis, Debra. "Rushwood Elementary: Collecting Oral Histories for a 30th Anniversary Celebration." Ohio Journal of the English Language Arts. Vol.40, No.1, Summer/Fall, 1999.

The Historical Society of Olde Northfield, Web Site: www.hson.info

"The One-Minute Guide to Conducting an Oral History." University of California, Berkeley. 1997. www.lib.berkelev.edu/

"Sense of history, a." Ohio Schools. Vol.77, No.4, Aug./Sept., 1999.

Sidwell, David. "How to Collect Oral Histories."www.usu.edu/~oralhist/oh_howto.html