Longtime educator retires from RCPS

Consummate educator looks back on 23-years at William Fleming High School

Ruth Claytor, retired teacher, Roanoke City Public Schools

by S. Rotan Hale

It’s no secret that effective and compassionate educators are becoming extinct as our troubled world rapidly changes in drastic ways.

Faced with the advent of a new breed of student, it is imperative that a new breed of teacher rises to the task of educating today’s youth.

No one feels the bite of this modern-day dilemma as Ruth Claytor–who after 23-years as a teacher and principal with Roanoke City Public Schools has chosen to leave it all be- hind and retire.

Ruth, a native Roanoker born and raised in north- east, is the youngest of 7 siblings born to Leroy and Dorthy Campbell. She begins to glow when talking about her children, Tracy, Will, Jr. and his son Tre. She spent her entire educational career, at William Fleming High School (WFHS) and has seen the consciousness of today’s students change over the years.

“I started October 1996 as an English teacher at Fleming. I had just come out of Hollins College.”

As a seasoned educator, Ruth has seen it all while transitioning from teacher to becoming assistant principal at Fleming’s Coulter Hall. She has managed to stand firm due to her efforts to stay centered and believes that peace of mind is essential to those entrusted to teach and guide others.

“It scares me and I’m blown away at how some people don’t even recognize how precious life really is,” she said. It’s the mountains and just driving to work in the mornings and looking at them that contributes greatly to my state of mind.”

Ruth considers her move to enter the education field as “divine intervention.”

“I never had aspirations to become a teacher

“God just gives you the path and he wants you to succeed,” said Ruth who is a woman rooted in her spirit and is an elder at her church Spirit of Life Church International.

It was during a trip to Haiti that her values were realigned when seeing the third world conditions many are forced to live under in such underdeveloped regions.

“I just remember little kids running up to the car trying to sell a piece of string or anything they could to just get by,” she said shaking her head. “When I get back to the ‘states,’ I better not catch myself complaining about anything.”

That experience radically changed her perspective and triggered her new lease on life.

She recounted a story that was a testament to her compassionate side that involved an elderly lady she routinely assisted during her 20+ years in banking–prior to becoming an educator. It proved her ability and skills as a people person–traits that are a must for anyone handling people, especially today’s youth.

“Ruth has been quite an asset to the Fleming family and we’ve been trying to get her to stay a little longer,” noted William Fleming Principal Archie Freeman.

“Children today don’t seem to, appreciate their teachers like we use to when I was in school,” said Ruth who spoke briefly of the educators that not only taught her but molded her like Doris Ennis, her 7th grade English teacher who to this day, continues to be a local legend in the school system.

When great teachers retire they take with them those elements critical to the development of young thirsty minds–that are so in need of attention and proper guidance.

Once officially retired, she said she has no big plans but hopes do some traveling which is one of the things she truly enjoys.

This consulate educator/administrator is not only a teacher, but one often viewed as a life coach by those who believe in her. As the sun sets on her career, there is no ample way to thank Ruth Claytor for her dedication and years she spent as one of the area’s most beloved educators.