There are more than 300 staff members around Rockwood School District who were Rockwood students during their K-12 years. "Then and Now" is a series that highlights some of their stories and what has made Rockwood special to them as both students and educators. Suzanne Whitford, eighth-grade language arts, Crestview Middle Rockwood Schools Attended: Ellisville Elementary
, Crestview, Lafayette High Grades Attended in Rockwood:
Suzanne Whitford has vivid memories of hustling through the Crestview hallways as a student, trying to get from one side of campus to the other during four minutes of passing time so she wouldn't be late for class.
Now that she's a teacher at Crestview, she can take a more leisurely pace if she chooses. That's a good thing because the school has just kept getting bigger over the years.
"Physically, it has changed a lot since I was a student," Whitford said. "But I feel like the heart of Crestview is the same. It's a strong community. We have diverse students, professional teachers that I enjoy collaborating with. I enjoy being on the other side, being a teacher like the ones that I looked up to."
Education runs in Whitford's family. Her mother was an art teacher and Whitford's sister, Julie Jenkins, is currently the art teacher at Green Pines Elementary. Whitford also took her inspiration from educators such as Donna Grubbs, her fifth-grade teacher at Ellisville.
Whitford started in Rockwood as a fifth-grade teacher at Wild Horse Elementary
in 2006 then moved to Crestview in 2014.
"I always pictured myself working in Rockwood," Whitford said. "I never really thought about applying to other places. Rockwood is unique because it's a close-knit community. I love working here, raising my kids here."
She is not alone in that sentiment at Crestview. Her teammate, social studies teacher Meghan Menchella, is a Eureka High
graduate. Two of her fellow eighth-grade language arts teachers – Kristin Hancock (Eureka) and Ashley Luther (Lafayette) – are also Rockwood grads.
Luther and Whitford were a year apart at Lafayette. They didn't really know each other in high school, but they're close friends and colleagues now.
"It's cool seeing how we all come back," Whitford said. "There's just something special about Rockwood."
She's doing her part to carry on that tradition.
"Rockwood has instilled being a lifelong learner in me. It taught me that as a student, and it's taught me that as a teacher," Whitford said. "I love passing that on to my students. I hope that when they walk away from Rockwood, they each continue to grow as a person and a learner."