On Monday, Novemeber 27th, the Roosevelt community recieved the tragic news that Mr. Rousso had passed away over Thanksgiving break. Students and parents received letters and emails informing them that his death was the result of post-surgery complications. Mr. Rousso, or Jack as his friends and colleagues would refer to him, will be greatly missed by those close to him. For many this was a devastating shock, one that may will take a long time to adjust to. It is hard to lose someone close to you or your community, and Mr. Rousso will be greatly missed. While his death may cause sadness, anger, confusion, among many other emotions, it is also important to look at the lighter side of things; to remember who he was while we knew him, the positive light he shed on our lives, and the parts of him that we will carry with us as individuals and as a community.
Up until this year, Mr. Rousso was a substitute at Roosevelt. He used to teach history, and was even the head of the history department, but had since retired. This year, he began teaching again, and had a class out in the portables. The majority of the current study body knew him as a substitute, but he was so much more. Mr. Rousso never failed to fill the shoes of whoever he was covering for. Second semester of her freshman year, senior Stephanie Phillips watched as her world history teacher left the class without a teacher and a semester’s worth of material left to teach. Mr. Rousso was assigned as the long term sub for the class, and thus a friendship was formed. “He was weirdly cool and would banter with me a little bit” Phillips says. As he continued to teach, and the class got to know him Phillips says, “he was a really interesting person, he does other stuff that isn’t just teaching”. Students loved having him as a sub not only because he made learning fun and engaging, but they also loved to learn about him. To hear his stories, and get to know him. He was always very open to talking with students about himself, and that helped him form so many personal bonds with kids, no matter how long he was their substitute.
Teachers also saw in him what students saw, Mrs. Magidman says, “He really found creative ways to teach to everybody in the class”. He was passionate and caring. He cared about his students whether he taught them everyday, or was just filling in for another teacher. “…a really gentle human being, gentle soul, who really found his calling. His calling was definitely to connect students to learning at all levels,” Magidman says. He was able to make learning interesting, to make it easy for students who often had a hard time. “He was somebody who always had a really powerful connection with kids” says Mrs. Grace, a teacher whose room you would often find Rousso in. His connection went well beyond students’ admiration for his candy supply, he was adored for his sense of humor, his ability to talk to and relate to all students, and his clear love of being there. No matter the subject, the day, the class, Mr. Rousso was there to teach, to do what he could to better the education of students. Grace says, “he was enlivened by being in the classroom,” and anyone who had ever had a class with him knows this to be true.
Jack Rousso was an amazingly kind, caring, and thoughtful human being. It is devastating that he is no longer with us, but his memory forever will be. As a community, Roosevelt can carry his warmth and his kindness with us. We will never forget the classes that he taught, the passion he put into teaching, and the meaningful relationships he formed with teachers and students alike. Mr. Rousso will be missed, and Roosevelt will be forever grateful for the time we shared and the countless things we learned from him.
Graphic By: Eve Scarborough