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Teacher of the Year talks journey to the top

Posted: September 29, 2014 1:10 p.m.
Updated: September 29, 2014 1:10 p.m.
Simone T. Owens/C-I

Camden High School (CHS) English teacher Rebecca Rundlett (second from left) stands with some of her current students. Rundlett, the Kershaw County School District’s 2014 Teacher of the Year, also teaches an all-male class of at-risk students in the spring at CHS, using her experiences of becoming self-sufficient as a young person to teach them to never give up. The students with her in during a class in the CHS library are (from left) Jaylin Jones, Devin Martin, Keyani Barrett and Price Peebles.

 

Many people with ties to the Kershaw County School District (KCSD) may know Rebecca Rundlett as the district’s 2014 “Teacher of the Year,” but most would not know the rocky journey she endured to get where she is today.

Rundlett’s early childhood was full of trials and tribulations and, as a young adult, she juggled conflicts with career options and her college studies. Instead of caving under those struggles, she took lessons from them to carry for life.

Rundlett grew up in a single-parent home from the time she was an infant until almost the end of her elementary school education. Her mother often worked nightshifts, so she learned to be self-sufficient at a very young age.

“I had to pretty much take care of myself,” said Rundlett.

Rundlett would attend six different schools by the time she was in 4th grade. Although there was a lack of consistency in her early life, one thing remained constant: the strong presence of her grandparents. According to Rundlett, she bounced back and forth between her mother and grandparents so she developed a solid relationship with them.

More struggles occurred in Rundlett’s adult life. In college, Rundlett originally planned to pursue law but eventually decided that teaching was her calling.

Prior to teaching at Camden High School (CHS), she served as a behavior specialist and teacher at a private alternative school where she faced some new challenges brought on by her students. However, Rundlett used her experience as an opportunity to learn from her students and use her knowledge to better herself as an educator.

“Those kids made me realize hard work and bettering myself and my situation,” said Rundlett.

That particular teaching experience prepared her to take on students of all kinds, and she developed -- and decided to enforce -- a teaching motto: “Never give up with yourself, what you do and your approach to kids.”

Rundlett enforces that motto with her at-risk all-male class she teaches each spring at CHS. She carries out her motto by establishing relationships with her students. She makes her students feel comfortable with her sharing a little bit about herself every so often throughout the duration of the class. She also takes into consideration what they have to deal with outside of school in their everyday lives. Rundlett said that she “never backs down from them.”

Having been in some of her students’ shoes has allowed Rundlett to provide her students with a great academic experience and show them that “If you keep trying to move forward in life you can make something of yourself.”

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