Tuscola teacher touches lives

Cecilia Ruth Marcus named National Outstanding Teacher
By Shelby Harrell Staff Writer | Sep 09, 2013
Photo by: Shelby Harrell Cecilia Ruth Marcus, a Tuscola High School teacher, shows Dane Peterson something in a history book while teaching class. Marcus, who currently serves as Haywood County School's Teacher of the Year, recently was named the National Outstanding Teacher by the American Educational Leaders.

It wasn't because of her silly antics or her classroom dancing, but because of her serious effort to make learning memorable that Cecilia Ruth Marcus has claimed the title as National Outstanding Teacher for 2012-13.

Marcus, who teaches history at Tuscola High School, believes she was always meant to be a teacher — and her recent recognition from the Americanism Educational Leaders as National Outstanding Teacher has only confirmed her career choice.

“I was called to teach,” she said. “I have always found that teachers were some of the people that I admired and respected the most. I saw what a difference that teachers make daily in the lives of students.”

The award is meant to honor a high school teacher who has demonstrated the qualities of creativity, effectiveness and inspiration both in school and in the community.

“I was very thrilled to receive this honor,” Marcus said. “I was blessed with the most supportive parents growing up.  They always encouraged me to never settle for anything less than my best. They taught me the importance of hard work and dedication, and I carried these values with me into adulthood. This award is so gratifying because of all the hard work that not only I, but all the hard work that my parents, put into my education so that I could be my best.”

The Americanism Educational Leaders is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young Americans learn about and better appreciate our country's history.

To show appreciation to the teachers who help students do this, AEL established its Outstanding Teacher Award to recognize civics, U.S. history or social science teachers.

Marcus, who has taught for 14 years, said she was grateful to have been recognized nationally.

“Schools in the south are sometimes looked down upon,” she said. “It is encouraging when it is nationally noticed that teachers in North Carolina are as good as any. …Teachers don't always get a lot of recognition for the hard job that they perform.  When it is so painfully obvious that monetary rewards are not possible, it is all the more important to show our teachers our appreciation.”

This national award was open to all teachers who have completed at least two years at their current school.

Though modest about her award, Marcus said the key to being a successful teacher was continuous improvement.

“Complacency is a teacher's worst enemy,” she said. “I look at my own two young daughters and how important their education is to me. I want to be the kind of teacher for others that I would want for my own children. I would want their teachers to inspire and instill a love for lifelong learning.”

Marcus said she approached teaching as if she were an entertainer.

“A lecture is like a performance and students can tell in an instant when a teacher has put their all into it,” she said. “Students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

The AEL noted in a press release “Mrs. Marcus’ love and respect for history inspires others, especially her students. She possesses a passion and enthusiasm for history that is easily translated unto others, and has a drive and focus to promote history in all aspects of her life."

In addition, Marcus is currently serving as Haywood County School’s 2012-13 Teacher of the Year. She is the daughter of Harvey and Cecilia Lance of Waynesville.

Marcus currently serves as the Chairman of Professional Learning Community on Common Core Instruction. She is also a member of the Haywood County Schools Foundation, the Spirit Committee as well as the National Honor Society Faculty Committee Member.

Marcus teaches history on both regular and AP levels. Though she recognizes the challenges of teaching, she said some things made it worthwhile.

“I love when students come back to see me years after I have taught them,” she said. “I love when they make a special effort to come see me and tell me about their lives. In that moment I know that I have transcended the role of teacher and touched their lives."

Only one teacher in the United States receives this award each year. Marcus will also receive a $2,500 cash prize.