“Every child deserves a champion.”
Kara Rankin, who has championed children while teaching in the Canton City School District for 28 years, included that quote by renowned educator Rita Pierson on her bio as an All-County Teaching Team member. The quote continues by saying that pupils need an adult in their lives who “will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the BEST that they can possibly be.”
That is the kind of influence that Rankin has tried to exert on young people as an elementary school teacher at McGregor Elementary School for almost three decades.
Rankin, who teaches second grade at McGregor, credits her own fifth-grade teacher, John Vross, with being the difference-maker in her life.
“He was a big influence. I hold him up as the reason I got into teaching. He went beyond the classroom and built a relationship. It made me think, ‘I hope I can do that someday.’ ”
Building a relationship with each of her pupils “starts on Day 1,” Rankin said, and she begins by determining what path to take as a teacher to instill in each child her passion for learning.
“Every child has an interest,” said Rankin who, with her husband, Ross Rankin, has three children: Mattison, Mackenzie and Reis. “It’s my job as a teacher to find out what it is and go with it.”
Rankin calls her teaching style a mixture of “old school” and “new school.”
“I’m always eager to try new teaching techniques. If I try something and it’s going to help my students learn, that’s great,” she said. “When I say ‘old school,’ I mean that I feel it’s important to try to have a routine in school and teach children to be accountable.”
That means there is little wasted time in Rankin’s classroom. And what she teaches her children more often than not is easily seen to be relevant in their world.
“If my students have a purpose for learning something, they’re going to be more interested in learning it.”
This does not mean that Rankin is a tough taskmaster. In fact, her teaching philosophy, expressed on her All-County Teaching Team questionnaire, includes “helping students to develop a love for and respect for themselves (and) others,” building an environment where there is “open sharing of ideas and discussions.”
“That’s probably how I hope students remember me—as someone who treated them with kindness and compassion, someone who taught them to care about learning, and someone who they knew always was there for them.”
Many past pupils will remember Rankin, no doubt, as their champion.