Celebrating Service: Pamela Rutt heads back to the classroom, fulfilling a dream as a sign language interpretor

This year, several Eastern Mennonite University faculty and staff, among them Pamela Rutt, former assistant director of the graduate teacher education program in Lancaster, are moving into retirement after many years of service. To acknowledge their service and deep commitment to our community, we’ve offered the opportunity for them to share favorite memories of their time here, as well as advice for those of us still laboring onwards.


Pam Rutt has already moved on to a new “post-retirement, winding-down-her-career” position, as she describes it. She is working in a public elementary school in the Lancaster area as a sign language interpreter and 1:1 instructional support for a student who is deaf. The position, with summers off, will allow her to spend more time with her children and grandchildren, and catch up on work around the house.

“Summers are the busiest time” for the Lancaster MA in Education program, says the former assistant director of the program.

The interpreter and support role also allows her to fulfill a long-time goal, she says. “Raising a daughter who is Deaf gave me the opportunity to learn sign language and to support our daughter in her education experience. It has been one of my dreams to be able to use my sign language skills, background in education and my experience as a parent to work with children who are Deaf and to encourage families of children who are Deaf. It is good to be back working with teachers and students in an elementary classroom and to have the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a little boy — to see his faraway expression fade and his eyes light up as he learns a language with which to understand his world and to communicate.”

Additionally, Pam serves on the education committee for Lancaster Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services and teaches GED and ESL classes to adult refugees who are Deaf at the Lancaster Literacy Council.

Pamela Rutt at a retirement celebration. (Photo by Catherine Stover)

Pamela Rutt at a retirement celebration. (Photo by Catherine Stover)

Pam earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics education from EMU in 1997 and a master’s in education in 2011. [Her husband Roger ’76, her son Jason ’06 and daughter-in-law Alexis Sauder Rutt, ’06, MA (education) ‘11, are also graduates of EMU.]

Pam joined EMU Lancaster as an office manager and administrative assistant in the MA in Education program before becoming assistant director.

Her favorite memories are linked to relationships with graduate students and the growth and expansion of the Lancaster site:

  • Celebrating with our master’s graduates each year at commencement in Virginia by hosting a brunch for graduates and their families and handing out carnations to our graduates as they received their diplomas and walked off the stage.
  • Viewing action research presentations by our candidates and seeing their joy, satisfaction and relief at completing both their research and their masters degrees. When candidates brought their final research projects to me, we often did a little celebration whoop, ‘high five’ or dance in my office. It was great to celebrate their accomplishment and professional growth in their careers as teachers.
  • Applying to the Pennsylvania Department of Education under the skilled leadership of Dr. Don Steiner and receiving state approval for EMU’s reading specialist and English as a Second Language certification programs
  • Outgrowing space in the first location that contained one large classroom and three small offices and moving to a larger location with larger classrooms and additional office space.

Her parting wisdom is a quote from the poet Maya Angelou that hung in her office as a constant reminder in her work: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Other retiring faculty and staff

Also retiring are the following faculty and staff (position listed is most recent held): Linda Alley, administrative assistant for events, director of the Summer Institute for Spiritual Formation and of the Congregational Resource Center, Eastern Mennonite Seminary, 27 years; Spencer Cowles, Department of Business, 27 years; Jan Gerber, Information Officer, 23 years; David Glanzer, Master’s in Counseling graduate program, 39 years; Ted Grimsrud, Department of Bible and Religion, 20 years; Betty Hertzler, mailroom, 41 years; Eldon Kurtz, director of the physical plant, 28 years; Roman Miller, Master’s in Biomedicine graduate program, 31 years; and Jack Rutt, special projects support, 17 years.