Photo of Suzanne Ruchti
Photo courtesy of Suzanne Ruchti

Suzanne Ruchti returned to teaching in a special education classroom 11 years ago. Throughout her time in the classroom, she has cultivated wonderful relationships with students and parents alike and often receives public and private messages of praise for her life-changing work.

Ruchti graduated with a degree in special education with an emphasis in severe disabilities from the BYU McKay School of Education in May 1990. At the time of her graduation, she was pregnant but did not find out she was having twins until two weeks before they were born. “It was a bit of a whirlwind,” Ruchti said, “but exciting.”

Originally, Ruchti planned to be a stay-at-home parent after her children were born. Those plans changed a few years later, when her husband unexpectedly passed away when she was 28 years old. Ruchti had three children, the five-year-old twins and a two-year-old. Suddenly, she was a single mother and the primary caregiver of her family. So, Ruchti worked as a substitute teacher for a time before taking a break from teaching to work in a photography lab. She decided to return to teaching full-time 11 years ago and has been at the same school since.

As a student at the McKay School, Ruchti set a goal to earn her degree before having children. Although her first priority was to be a stay-at-home mom, she was very grateful to have her degree when her entire life turned upside down. She was the first on her mother’s side of her family to finish her degree and was relieved that she didn’t need to go back to school as a single mother.

Ruchti works with elementary school students who have severe disabilities. Her class is considered a small group classroom with an average of 12 to 16 students. Ruchti helps her students with reading, writing, math, and social and functional skills. Additionally, she spends a lot of time doing paperwork to ensure her students are getting the best education and care possible.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Ruchti faced new challenges with online learning. Most of her students attend in-person class, but during quarantine, she met virtually with each student in 30-minute increments—the children’s attention spans don’t last longer than that.

“Online learning doesn’t really work for our demographic,” Ruchti said. “When parents are willing to be helpful, on the call, and continue with students at home, the students don’t lose as much progress.” But Ruchti understands that wasn’t always possible for working parents.

Due to the life-changing impact of the work she does, many parents have shared their love for her through public and private messages. Ruchti loves working in special education and has seen the great impact her teaching has had on students and parents alike. She has truly touched many lives during her time in special education and plans to stay in the classroom until she retires.


Writer: Adeline Yorgason
Contact: Cynthia Glad