Alumni ProfileLois Rice
Retired teacher, Southgate, Mich.
Major: Elementary education
Reinforcing a tradition
It's not only preparing students for careers but also producing "models for ethical and moral values" that make a Bluffton education so important, says Lois (Shutt) Rice, who retired from Wyandotte (Mich.) Public Schools in 1995 after 35 years as an elementary and special education teacher.
"I was very appreciative of the preparation I had" at Bluffton, she says, citing small classes and individual attention from professors. "They instilled a dedication to teaching and the responsibility that teaching holds."
She came to Bluffton from her native Baltic, Ohio, largely because it was a small school that her older brother had attended. "I found it was a very good fit for me," she recalls, noting opportunities she had for social growth, leadership development and exposure to different views.
Seeing the mountains.
Nearing graduation in 1959, and with a desire to go to Colorado—because of its mountains and "wide open spaces"—she picked up a national directory of public schools, picked out Colorado towns with colorful names and wrote to schools in those places. A job was available in Silverton, where she wound up spending her first year out of college as a second-grade teacher. "I was very fortunate because, at that time, there was a shortage of teachers," Rice remembers. "That was my first venture out west."
After one year back in Dover, Ohio, she returned to Colorado, this time to Littleton, where she taught second grade for five years. She then took a year off from teaching to pursue a master's degree at The Ohio State University, specializing in special education.
Settling in Michigan.
When she graduated in 1967, Wyandotte, located just south of Detroit, needed a teacher for emotionally impaired students. She wasn't eager to move to an urban area, she admits, and figured she would be there only a year or two. But she enjoyed both the job and the school system, where she would teach for 20 years in a self-contained classroom and eight more in a resource-room setting. In Michigan, she also met and married, in 1973, a fellow Ohio native, James Rice, who passed away in 1990. Their names are now on an endowed scholarship at Bluffton.
Remembering her roots.
"I see it as a way of helping create a better future," says Rice of her continued support for her alma mater, including through the current Extending Our Reach campaign. "I feel very strongly about the importance of education, and I feel like Bluffton students are not only prepared for whatever career they choose, but also they're taking with them other talents that they use in the community." What they take, she continues, is "an additional blessing to the world because of the ethical, moral and religious beliefs they have.
"What Bluffton stands for and the way it does things is something I believe in," she says.