Marshall High School teacher, Aaron Rucker, receives Governor's Award for Excellence in Education

Marshall High School teacher Aaron Rucker is someone we should know.

Aaron Rucker, 42, is a retired Army major who fought for our country in the special forces.  He was injured serving in Afghanistan back in 2004. After returning home with injuries to his ankle and spine that still require medical attention, Mr. Rucker enrolled in the Illinois Troops to Teachers Program, which allows retired military personnel to get jobs teaching students in the classroom. "Every veteran returning from deployment deserves a good education and a good job," said Governor Pat Quinn about the program.

Seven years after leaving the army, Mr. Rucker has three masters' degrees and teaches at Marshall High School on Chicago's westside. On Tuesday, he was named the Illinois' Veteran of the Month and awarded the inaugural Governor's Award for Excellence in Education.

Rucker's experience in the military and as a police officer has helped transform a school that last year was on the Chicago Board of Education's failing school list. Last year. Marshall resembled more of an MTV reality show than a school; it was a place where marijuana drifted in the hallways, fights frequently occurred and you could find a dice game in bathrooms.

Today, Marshall is a bit different- the hallways have security guards and students walking to classrooms with purpose. "Now the only thing you hear is teachers teaching. We are trying to change that paradigm, and its working," Rucker said regarding Marshall's turnabout. Marshall's administration credits Rucker and his military experience for assisting Marshall turn itself around.

It is selfless people like Aaron Rucker who have not only served our country and was injured while doing it, he is also making a difference in a school that many people considered an afterthought. It is people like Aaron Rucker who make our city and country better by helping others and changing lives, one life at a time.


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