English teacher and journalism advisor finishes a chapter of her life

Jessica Wen, Co-Editor in Chief

An invested English teacher and journalism advisor, Mrs. Carolyn Russ has impacted the lives of many young students as they develop their reading and writing abilities. This year will be her last year as a teacher, as she plans to retire and enter the next period of her life.

After graduating college, Mrs. Russ taught for 10 years. Mrs. Russ balanced her teaching responsibilities with school when she earned her Master’s Degree in Counseling and Education (MEd).

However, she took a break from teaching to work in sales and marketing and was able to take multiple trips around the world.

As an educator, Mrs. Russ was heavily involved within the teaching community. She became President of District Q, Virginia Association of Teachers of English (QATE), which included middle and high school teachers and college professors in Henrico, Richmond, Chesterfield, and Hanover. She later assumed the position of Secretary of Virginia Association of Teachers of English (VATE), where she enjoyed meeting and working with the top educators from across the state.

Later, she became the Executive Director of the Virginia Branch of the International Dyslexia Association. Working at VBIDA gave Mrs. Russ the opportunity to work with teachers, parents, professionals, and researchers, authors, and educators in the exceptional education field.

Reverting back to her English and teaching roots, Mrs. Russ started several small businesses that involved writing, tutoring, as well as businesses involved in marketing, publishing the newsletters for VBIDA, VAPCP, the Richmond Ballet, and other organizations.

“I seem to always be connected to journalism in some way,” Mrs. Russ said.

Even though she spent a great deal of her life in business and marketing, Mrs. Russ has always felt a pull towards education.

Since the third grade, Mrs. Russ knew that she wanted to teach.

“I really like working with people, especially teens, and I cannot think of a better career. That is why I returned to teaching. It is so rewarding to see students improve in their studies and mature as young adults,” Mrs. Russ said.

Through her career, she taught English 9A and 9C, English 12A and 12C, as well as Journalism I through V, which published the school newsmagazine.

As a dedicated teacher, Mrs. Russ worked hard to create fun and unique lesson plans for her students.

“There are so many [lessons] that I loved. The mythology court cases were really fun to do, and the students told me that they enjoyed them. It was also nice to have the librarians and principals serve as judges for the trials. It was a great project to do with many techniques involved – skills that students need for college and life,” Mrs. Russ said.

Mrs. Russ remembers why she started teaching in the first place.

“Seeing students learn and improve with their writing really motivates me. Being able to write is so important in life,” Mrs. Russ said.

Mrs. Russ reminisces on her proudest achievements, which include hearing of her impact on former students and reading the final newspaper issue.

“It is very touching when former students visit or stop me in the hall to tell me that they used my lesson on their AP exams, and did well, or that I influenced them positively in some way. [Also,] I am so very proud of all of my editors and staff on the school newsmagazine. Each issue is a huge accomplishment. They work so hard and are so diligent. They learn organizational and management skills. I love to see how their writing and layout design improves,” Mrs. Russ said.

Under her supervision and advice, the journalism class accomplished so many goals.

“Because of their exceptional efforts and writing, the newsmagazine won a Gold Medalist Award from the Columbia School of Journalism last year,” Mrs. Russ said.

Also, due to her achievements in the field, Mrs. Russ was invited to present two different seminar classes for the Columbia School of Journalism’s spring conference in New York this year.

“It was exciting to represent Deep Run students at a national level,” Mrs. Russ said.

The English and journalism teacher has many triumphs to boast as she prepares to conclude one chapter of her life. She will look upon her experience at Deep Run fondly.

“I love teaching at Deep Run. Honestly, I did not plan to stay for 12 years when I returned to teaching. The faculty, administration, and staff have been such a great professional group. However, the students have been the driving force behind my tenure. I love them! I will miss everyone at Deep Run!” Mrs. Russ said.

After retiring, Mrs. Russ plans to visit extended family members and friends worldwide, travel to the numerous places left on her bucket list with her daughter and son, sail, snow ski, dance, play tennis and golf, and read. While she continues to renovate her house, she will also pick up her instruments, spend more time with her dogs, and come back to school as a substitute teacher.