We sat down with Suzanne to discuss her experiences as an educator and military spouse.
An interview with Suzanne Russell, military spouse and educator.
Tell us a little about your journey so far as a military spouse.
“I grew up in North Louisiana and married my high school sweetheart. We never had plans to move away from our hometown, where most of our family also lived, but in 2005, he decided to join the U.S. Army. After my graduation with an education degree from Louisiana Tech University and his graduation from Basic Training and AIT, we officially moved to his first duty station, Ft. Stewart, GA. Since then, we have lived nine years in Georgia, five years in North Carolina, and now almost three years in Alaska. We have also added two busy kids and three pets to the mix. Life has not been boring!”
How has being a military spouse influenced your teaching career?
“Having been employed each time we've moved, I have been blessed to teach a mixture of fifth through eighth grades in five fantastic yet different schools. For example, some schools have had high populations of military students, and another has had over half of the students being Native American with English as their second language. Each school has provided unique experiences that have challenged and grown me professionally. Through the wide variety of these experiences, I have learned the value of being flexible, as I was once moved between schools and even from teaching regular education to special education as the result of being the most recently hired. I have also learned to be willing to jump in at each school quickly and to become part of the family of educators. This requires taking ownership of my students and the school's success. All of this can be tough at times, as I am fully aware that I won’t be able to comfortably remain at any school for as many years as I would like.”[Text Wrapping Break]
How has being a military spouse helped you grow in your career?
“As a military spouse, I have benefited from programs such as MyCAA, which have aided me in earning a master’s degree and, most recently, a Doctor of Education. My career in education has been rich and fulfilling thus far, even with the twists and turns of military-related relocations. It has propelled me to try new things and never made me complacent. I have taught on amazing teams of educators that have shaped me into the teacher I am today, and for that, I am forever grateful! I am currently serving as an instructional coach at an elementary school, and I look forward to future opportunities that will arise at our next duty station this upcoming fall.”
Have you noticed a difference between military kids and “civilian” kids?
“Having taught military kids of many different ages and grades, I have witnessed a common thread that runs through them all — adaptability. These kids make friends quickly and acclimate to new school environments and classroom structures with ease. Many also have a seemingly natural leadership characteristic, allowing them to tackle challenges confidently, go with the flow, and share their experiences with others. I have been inspired time and time again by their positive outlooks and quiet resiliency, even when dealing with stressors as the result of this military life, such as deployed parents or moving schools in the middle of the academic year.”
What aspects of military child life should be celebrated?
“Many aspects of a child’s military life should be celebrated! When I asked my teenage daughter about her favorite part of being an army brat, without hesitation, she replied, “All the different experiences!” She’s right! They can experience living in a wide range of locations. My two military kids have lived in the rich culture of the Deep South, the sandhills of the East Coast, and the extraordinarily beautiful (yet snowy) interior of Alaska! Another unique aspect is their close proximity to all things military. My two kids have been able to tour Chinooks, Blackhawks, and Apache helicopters. They have crawled all over Bradleys and Strykers. They have donned facepaint and participated in kids’ Spur Rides and countless 5K runs on post alongside their dad and other soldiers. This adventurous military life has instilled an undeniable love and respect for this country and the men and women that serve it. I have been brought to tears as our neighborhood military kids have paused on the playground and stood still, saluting as the end-of-the-day music plays over the loudspeakers on post.”
Are there things about the military child life that you wish you could change?
“Being a Military Child is not all rainbows and sunshine, though. I wish I could change the fact that my kids can’t grow up alongside their cousins and grandparents. I hate that my kids have to say goodbye every few years to loving neighbors that have filled the shoes of those far-away family members. And even though the adaptability and resiliency I spoke of earlier are admirable and beneficial traits, they are the product of little people dealing with big changes and issues that sometimes result from military life.”
What would you tell someone about the life of a military kid if they have never experienced it personally?
“With a big smile, I would explain that the life of a military child is rarely dull. It is filled with fresh experiences, meeting new friends, and explorations of different areas of our great nation.”
How can people help support educators like you?
“Educators pour their hearts and souls into teaching the students that bring so many personalities, strengths, and needs into their classrooms, but it’s no secret that it can be a challenging profession with the ever-growing list of responsibilities and demands that are placed on teachers by district leaders, school administrators, and even parents. As a stakeholder, a great way to support them is to simply say Thank you! This acknowledgment goes so far! As a parent, be a supportive, active teammate by engaging in your child’s learning. This may look like volunteering in the classroom or reading books and practicing math facts with your child in the evenings. When your child sees the value you place on their education, it helps them grow a love for learning themselves.”
How you can help us support MCEC
Thank you Suzanne for shedding light on the intersection of military life and a career in education!
We are forever grateful to dedicated community members like Suzanne who ensure that military children are ready for whichever direction their lives take them.
And so we are launching two of our best-selling bags in a limited-edition print and a new purple bag tag, and donating a percentage of the profits to the MCEC.
The Harriet Shopper
We’re relaunching our Harriet Shopper in a stunning purple geometric duck cotton canvas! A thoughtful approach to extreme function, this shopper is ready for you to use all day, every day. The purple patterned tote is accented with our signature leather bucket bottom with protective brass feet, zip top closure, and long leather straps for an easy carry.
The three exterior slip pockets and one interior zip pocket means the Harriet shopper is the perfect balance between organized and stylish. Carry our new Harriet Shopper and proudly show your support for the military child.
The Margot Tote
Our Margot Tote is getting a new look! Purple geometric duck cotton canvas is framed by beige webbing straps. An awesome over-the-shoulder commuter bag, the Margot seamlessly transitions straight to poolside for spring break and long summer days. We’re taking this one for a spin all season long and we might not ever put it down.
The open interior gives you plenty of space for work gear or beach towels, and the exterior zip pocket keeps your essentials and tech right where you need them. Grab the new Margot Tote and help us support the military child this spring!
The Support Tag
R.Riveter bags come with a yellow military support tag, but this season we are switching things up. We’re launching a purple tag in honor of the military child. Snag a new tag for your favorite R.Riveter bag and show your support for the youngest members of our community.
Thank you for your help!
We are so grateful for your support and for helping the youngest members of our community. And thank you to MCEC for their continued dedication.