Balancing rapport and firmness with students is an integral part of being a teacher.
For Jake Rudd, that relationship was clearly evident after serving as student teacher/coach in the Latta Schools System this past year.
The East Central University senior and Ada native, who is set to graduate on Saturday, May 11, displayed those skills, serving as a student-physical education instructor and assistant basketball coach for the Class 2A State Champion Latta Panthers.
“I saw him with young children and older children and he did a super job with both,” said Billie Floyd, a supervisor in ECU’s student-teaching program. “You could tell the students liked him by the way they looked at him and giggled. But at the same time, he was firm and really business-like.”
What particularly impressed Floyd about Rudd was his ability to work with children on all levels.
“I saw him work a little with special needs kids. I remember him working with a fifth or sixth grader on basketball drills. Some of the things this child couldn’t do as well and as quickly as the others, yet he was patient with her and made sure she felt comfortable. He had a great rapport with all of the kids,” Floyd said.
That rapport was certainly felt by Rudd, who seemed to have a special bond with the children, but particularly with the special-needs children.
“What excited me was when a child, with disabilities, performed the same thing as the other students,” Rudd said. “One little girl had cancer when she was born I believe. After all the problems and surgeries, she is the fastest girl in the first grade. It’s amazing that she has a great attitude and I’ve enjoyed working with her.”
Matt Bryant, P.E. instructor at Latta, says Rudd has excelled in many areas as a teacher.
“He has a really good rapport with the students. He’s a very professional young man and will make a great teacher,” said Bryant. “He relates well with the students and has real good classroom management in the gym. I never noticed him overreacting to things. He always seemed to handle things well.”
Latta’s 29-3 run to a state basketball championship was an awe-inspiring experience for Rudd.
“I went into the state tournament as nervous as I’ve ever been. It was bigger than any playing moment I’ve had in my career,” said Rudd, who played basketball at ECU and Ada High School. “It’s like all cylinders were clicking at the right time and Coach (Donnie) Husband did a great job in preparation.”
Husband says Rudd’s sacrifice played a big part in the Panthers claiming the crown.
“He did an outstanding job and worked extremely hard for us. He put in a lot of long hours and I’m appreciative of the job he did for us,” Husband said. “His sacrifice of time was big. In playoff time, he did a lot of breaking down film and putting together scouting reports. His willingness to go above and beyond was huge.”