Rob Ullrich

To Rob Ullrich of Rockford, “commitment in education is synonymous with ‘never give up.’” His students sense his commitment, as one of them nominated him for being “always happy and ready to teach.” Ullrich has taught both special and regular education classes as well as multiple subjects. He has spent the majority of his eight years of teaching experience at North Boone, first at the high school, now at the middle school, where he teaches seventh grade social studies. Jamie Pearce, NBMS principal, says that the passion he shows for Social Studies is second to none. Through teaching special education classes, Ullrich’s strengths in collaboration, patience and empathy blossomed. Nicholas Augustine, a peer at NBHS, stated in his recommendation letter that Ullrich “is an honest and caring teacher who promotes a culture of learning all leaders in education strive to establish.” He added, “Students trust [him] to provide a safe and inclusive setting to learn the curriculum.” An example of Ullrich’s dedication to inclusivity was learning the hard way that his favorite book, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” told from the viewpoint of a young white Southern girl, was not going to work for his class which consisted primarily of Hispanic boys. They checked out. So he searched for a replacement that would resonate with them and found “The Circuit” by Francisco Jimenez, a story of a Mexican-American migrant family told through the eyes of the second-oldest son. “My students would laugh at certain passages as the humor soared right over my head. I felt as detached from Mexican folk-life as they had in Mockingbird.” But he learned the importance of heroes who look and talk like his students, not like him or Atticus Finch. Ullrich says, “I know that I will cease to make a difference if I lose my mentality that each day is new and that deep down, kids do want to succeed.”