Teacher Appreciation Week: Maria Ruggi at GFMS

Glens Falls City School District recognizes national Teacher Appreciation Week by highlighting committed and enthusiastic teachers from every one of our schools each day of the week! Read on for an inside interview with Maria Ruggi—one of the most dynamic teachers around our district.

teacher in classroom helping student with math problems plus graphic "Teachers are Shining Stars!"

Ms. Maria Ruggi graduated from Hudson Falls High School. She got her two-year degree at SUNY Adirondack, and then completed her Bachelor’s Degree at The College of St. Rose. Her Master’s Degree is from SUNY Plattsburgh. This is her 33rd year of teaching, of which 30 were in Glens Falls, grade 6!

What makes your teaching and learning environment unique?
I try to engage students through humor. I never want stressed out students in my room. That doesn’t make for a productive brain. I try to make fun of myself when I make mistakes, so they realize it is ok to not get something the first time. I am a big fan of the Chicken Dance or Simon Says to get the blood flowing when our students need a break. Who doesn’t love to dance?

group of smiling students in their classroom with their math teacher
Maria Ruggi teaches 6th grade at Glens Falls Middle School

Why do you think it’s important to teach the way you do?
When I was in school, I learned the best when I was in a classroom with a teacher I connected with. I always knew who was passionate about their subject and who loved teaching. That was the type of teacher I have strived to be. For most of my career, I have taught in the same room with another teacher. I taught with Colleen Schefold for 22 years, and now I have the great pleasure to teach with Monica Mondella. It has been so much fun, I can’t believe I have gotten paid to do what I love with fantastic partners. Everyday is new, fun, and fresh. I have been the luckiest person in the district!

Describe your best lesson ever, or one you and students really enjoy.
My favorite unit is anything math! I can’t say I have a favorite lesson, but I can say my favorite day is the first day of school. Students come in a bit nervous. They have all heard stories about us as teachers, and they are working to form their own opinions quickly. I love learning their names and a bit about their lives, and then I tell them I can predict their future. It is a quick way to bond with them, and it always invokes a lot of laughter, some surprise, and even sometimes a bit of confusion.

What’s the best thing about GF Nation?
Everything is great about GF Nation. It’s a small city community with a great history. I teach in the Middle School, and I have always said this is the only place I would ever want to teach. I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing principals, Harriett Finch, Kristy Moore, and Jen McDonald, and I feel like our district is in good hands with Dr. Dengler. I have had the good fortune to work with great teachers, and when you work with the same people for 20+ years, they become family.

teacher writing on a notebook at a student's desk, explaining a math problem