February 18, 2003: Headlines: COS - Colombia: Education: Secondary Education: Napa News: Colombia RPCV Virginia Rue celebrates her retirement from a 35-year career in education

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Colombia: Peace Corps Colombia : The Peace Corps in Colombia: February 18, 2003: Headlines: COS - Colombia: Education: Secondary Education: Napa News: Colombia RPCV Virginia Rue celebrates her retirement from a 35-year career in education

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Colombia RPCV Virginia Rue celebrates her retirement from a 35-year career in education

Colombia RPCV Virginia Rue celebrates her retirement from a 35-year career in education

Long-time educator retires after 35 years
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Register Staff Writer

A historic Peace Corps mission to Colombia led to Virginia Rue's 35-year career in the Napa Valley Unified School District.

Rue's 1963 volunteer assignment landed her in Bogota, where she helped an American crew produce televised classes for Colombia's failing school system.

"The conditions were unbelievable," Rue said. Most Colombian teachers had the equivalent of an eighth-grade education. There were chalkboards, but no chalk. Textbooks were rare.

Today, more than 30 years later, Rue is celebrating her retirement from a career in education that she never expected. A public reception will be held this afternoon from 3 to 5 p.m. in the board room at district headquarters, 2425 Jefferson Street.

"I decided early on that I couldn't change the world single-handedly but I was determined to do what I could on a personal level," Rue said.

In Peace Corps, the live classroom broadcasts filled a great gap, bringing qualified teachers through the tube from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day. Each school had one television set to share.

"This project had a broader purpose: To build a national spirit," Rue said. "I know it sounds grandiose, but I was 20 years old. When you're 20, you can do anything."

Rue's task was to help 12 schools utilize the TV classes, and to fill in as a health or math teacher when necessary. It was the Peace Corps' 13th Colombian project, and Rue's first try at teaching.

In her three decades working for Napa schools that followed, Rue's proudest moments include helping Vintage and Napa high schools qualify for the state's School Improvement Program, which annually awards funds for specific projects, and helping the district develop a plan for garnering broad-based community input during strategic planning.

Rue was instrumental in convincing state legislators to pass initiatives for funding technology in schools. In the early 1990s, she testified in Sacramento about Napa's precedent-setting New Technology High School.

In 2002, the Association of California School Administrators selected Rue as administrator of the year.

Rue's only regret is not becoming involved in lobbying state legislators sooner than she did. In the late 1970's the state denied Vintage High School's request for Macintosh programs for the math program. Calling computers a "fad," the state said the district had to use other funds for the purchase, Rue recalled.

"I felt like they were talking down to us," Rue said. "Like we didn't know what was best for our schools." Since then, Rue has been a regular voice at the state capitol.

Today, the trend of state control overpowering local control continues in some instances, Rue said. Lawyers -- more lawyers than ever -- are working full-time in the battle between school districts and the state, she said.

Local schools scramble to offer state-mandated programs without the benefit of additional state funding. "There's never a stable funding source for education," Rue said. "It's a riches-to-rags cycle."

All-in-all, it has been a rewarding career, Rue said. She dislikes dwelling on the political side of the business.

Instead, she recalled former students -- local politicians and beauty queens -- who have made her proud.

Rue's earliest memories in Napa were in the classroom as a social studies teacher at both Napa and Vintage high schools, beginning in 1966. She spent 17 years at Vintage as a teacher and principal. As she moved into administration, Rue, surprised at her new role, felt compelled to put in more hours than over-worked teachers.

In 1987, Rue was named director of state and federal programs, bilingual education and grant-writing for the Napa Valley Unified School District. In 1992, she also took on secondary education. During her tenure, she completed a doctorate in education from the University of California, Berkeley.

Rue retired this week as assistant superintendent for instructional services. She plans to take a complete break from education for at least a year. In that time, she plans to study the history of ancient Sumeria.

"Just because it's something I'm interested in," Rue explained. "I'm going to keep my brain alive."

Rue's favorite Sumerian script is a father's lament. He wants his young son to become more motivated in school.

Heather Osborn can be reached at 256-2265 or hosborn@napanews.com

When this story was prepared, here was the front page of PCOL magazine:

This Month's Issue: August 2004 This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?

Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."

In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.

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Story Source: Napa News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Colombia; Education; Secondary Education



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