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Four Years at the Mount

Senior Year

Teacher of Teachers

Kyle Ott
MSM Class of 2015

(10/2014) Every so often we get the chance to re-evaluate our priorities and think not about the experiences that shape our lives and the places we live in, but the people that enact that change. This week I had the chance to sit down with my dear friend and mentor, Dr. Greg Murry, assistant professor of history at the Mount, and gradually our conversation turned not just to our relationship, but also to the things and people that make up Mount St. Maryís University. More to the point, about the things that make a mentor great. Finally, I gathered up the wherewithal to ask him the simple question: "Who exemplifies the Mount to you?" I suppose the question was simple enough, but the beauty of the human perspective is that everyone sees the world through a different lens, and all manner of people hold the frame to our eyes.

Of all the people who showcase the spirit and character of our university, the one person that Doc (as I affectionately call Dr. Murry) kept coming back to was Dr. Teresa Rupp. A consummate scholar and constant fixture department of the Mountís History Department Dr. Rupp is beloved by both students and teachers alike. However, when I asked Doc about why he thought so highly of her, he gave me three traits that defined his colleague as an exemplar of Mount St. Maryís ideals. Each of these reasons is strong enough to make a person incredible on their own, but the three in combination make Dr. Rupp a paragon of Mount values.

1. Humanistic Breadth

To be a teacher of one subject is commendable, to be a teacher of multiple is admirable, but to bring multiple disciplines together into a seamless whole is a truly phenomenal accomplishment. When Doc and I spoke, the first thing that he mentioned about Dr. Rupp was that her expertise in history pulls as much as it can from a myriad of other places. "In her lessons she lets music inform literature, literature inform art, and art inform history. Itís the way you want your classes set up," Doc put succinctly. In that moment I realized how many times over the past three years I had been in class with Dr. Rupp and she had taken the time to show us a clip of a movie from the 50ís, a snippet of a legal document from the height of the Middle Ages, or a piece of music influenced by our predecessors. Talking about the benefit of a liberal education is nice, but watching a teacher put those ideas into practice and truly integrate a number of disciplines into the classroom was really very humbling.

2. Sheís a Teacher of Teachers.

The second thing that Doc brought up is that Dr. Rupp "is very giving with her time, especially with the other faculty." Itís not just that she takes the time to do her work well, itís that she also takes the time to help others do their tasks well. Thinking back on my own personal experience, I can vouch for her dedication. This summer Doc and I got to work side by side on my senior honorís project, so we would spend a lot of time in Docís "hovel" (as we call his office) working together. As those who know me and Doc personally can attest, when the two of us get excited, we tend to yell. A lot. Despite all of this, Dr. Rupp, who was across from us trying to work, would come over and poke her head in. Instead of scolding us for the noise, she always offered us some insight that we hadnít thought about, or opened up some avenue that we had never considered. Any time she entered the office, we (and our project) were better off for it.

3. She Puts the Students First

While this statement is the trope for every single teacher out there, the fact is that Doc couldnít stress this enough about his friend and peer. The truth is that Dr. Rupp spends the majority of her time looking out for the students that she teaches every single day. "Itís the way that things should be," Doc told me about her teaching style. "You want a teacher who will do that for the people she teaches," he said. And although I possess the gift of using flowery language, the simple truth is that I canít put it any better if I tried. To quote a great movie: "If you build it they will come," and the same thing can be said for the way teachers mold young minds.

While there are so many people who clearly exemplify the spirit of our beautiful campus and home, the one who stood head and shoulders above the rest to Dr. Murry was his comrade and mentor Dr. Rupp. After all the things that we do and the actions of heroism and daring that we seem to be inundated with in our day and age, the dignified work of a teacher can still hold so much weight to one person. And when you think about it, doesnít the example of one person, one teacher, hold some special meaning for us at the Mount? The fact that this place, so driven by example and so focused on learning, can cultivate mentors who go on to instruct others and pass that drive on is incredible. And this is coming from someone who is reaping the benefits of a mentor who has learned from Dr. Rupp. Iím Kyle Ott. Wonít you sit and read for a while?

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