Social Studies

‘That Can’t Be Bill': Remembering a Teacher Lost on 9/11

By Erik W. Robelen — September 09, 2011 1 min read

As part of Education Week‘s coverage of the 9/11 anniversary, colleagues here put together a video about William R. Ruth, a former social studies teacher from Maryland who was killed in the attack on the Pentagon.

“I just remember kind of losing composure and thinking, no, this can’t be,” teacher Patti Norton recalls in the video, upon learning of his death. “I mean he’s just so full of life. That can’t be Bill that died.”

The two worked together at John T. Baker Middle School in Damascus, Md.

You can view the video at the bottom of this blog post. For a variety of additional EdWeek material related to the upcoming anniversary, visit 9/11: The Imprint on Schools.

Bill Ruth taught in the Montgomery County, Md., school district for three decades and was a passionate teacher, Norton recalled.

“Most teachers know their curriculum very well,” Norton said. “But to be able to deliver that to the students so that it’s a lasting memory is hard. You really have to throw yourself into it. And Bill did that.”

She added: “He would have easily given up his life for a cause that supported the United States. That’s just the kind of person Bill was.”

Bill Ruth, who died at age 57, fought in the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War. At the time of his death, having retired from teaching, he was an Army chief warrant officer working at the Pentagon. You can learn more about him on the National 9/11 Memorial website.

With that, I’ll close out our coverage here on Curriculum Matters for this Sunday’s 10th anniversary.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.