The final bell, part 1 of 3

by Susan McFarland

North Texas Catholic

Mary Lou Ruiz teaches at St. John the Apostle School in North Richland Hills. (NTC photo/Jayme Shedenhelm)


A teacher’s day can be hectic, unpredictable, and emotional. In May, the craziness multiplies with final papers to grade, multi-page checklists of tasks to be done before the final day of school, and boxing up supplies for the summer.

The North Texas Catholic was invited to spend a little time with three area teachers who will be packing up their classroom for the final time, something that brings a new set of emotions as they say goodbye to the work they love.

Combined, these three teachers have more than 100 years of experience between them and have been a blessing to so many children. However, the teachers are the ones who feel blessed by the experience.

Each shares a little about their family, their faith, their teaching experience, and what they plan to do with life after the classroom. Here's our first teacher:

Mary Lou Ruiz, St. John the Apostle Catholic School in North Richland Hills

  • Pre-K teacher and Spanish teacher for Pre-K/Kindergarten
  • Length of employment: 36 years
  • Family: Married with a son and daughter-in-law and one “active, creative, and sweet granddaughter.”
  • Parish: St. John the Apostle
Mary Lou Ruiz (NTC photo/Jayme Shedenhelm)

 
On Catholic faith:

Ruiz was raised in the Catholic Church and attended All Saints Catholic School in Fort Worth.  She said attending a Catholic school set a faith-filled foundation, so it came natural for her to teach about God and the Catholic faith. 

“We mention God’s name several times throughout the day, and I often wonder how I could get through any lesson without discussing God’s love, the beauty of His creation, and His expectations from us all,” Ruiz said. “The students expect to hear about God and know that everything we do is for Him.”

Ruiz said seeing the students grow in knowledge is very important but also watching them live their lives with their faith is a blessing to witness. 

“Our world has to be a better place with these students spreading the word of God’s love wherever they go,” she said.

On teaching:

Ruiz said her hope is the students will know their creativity is a gift that is special and unique. She wants her students to remember to do their best and be appreciative of others’ efforts to help them.

“But they’ll probably just remember playing outside and playing in centers indoors, and that’s okay too,” she said.

Ruiz said she will miss being with the students and teaching them some of her favorite topics, reading a favorite book, observing their attentiveness, and waiting for their responses to the story.

“I also have the privilege of spending the day with a dedicated, creative, and full of personality staff and faculty,” she said. “Lifelong friendships have developed working at this great school.  I will miss them but will have all the memories.”

On retirement:

Ruiz is looking forward to spending more time with her husband as they venture into this new chapter in their lives. She also anticipates quiet relaxation time on the deck in the mornings watching all of God’s creations.

“I’m also looking forward to visiting our son and his family and watching our granddaughter thrive and experience new adventures. Vacationing is definitely in the plans starting with a trip to Florida this summer,” she said. “So what more can a person ask for besides faith, fun, family, relaxation, and praying for the time to enjoy it all.”

First of three parts highlighting teachers who are retiring: “Our world has to be a better place with these students spreading the word of God’s love wherever they go,” Mary Lou Ruiz said.

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