Ridgemoor Elementary School fourth grade class is truly a family affair

The fourth grade students in Room 14 at Ridgemoor Elementary School have the best of both worlds --...

susan rood menifee
The fourth grade students in Room 14 at Ridgemoor Elementary School have the best of both worlds -- or perhaps we should say both generations.

When they ask a question of "Miss Rood," the response comes from a substitute teacher who has become much more than that to her students. And when they address "Mrs. Rood," they look lovingly at the substitute's mother, their teacher for the first six months of the school year.

It's a labor of love that all involved will likely remember for the rest of their lives.

Susan Rood was about three months into a new school year with her fourth grade students when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in November. As she started to miss class to begin her treatment program, Susan started to worry about the long-term effect her absence would have on her students.

"As a teacher, it's one of your worst nightmares -- having to leave your classroom in the hands of someone else in the middle of the school year," Susan said.

Her response was to approach officials of the Menifee Union School District with an interesting request: Bring in her daughter, 22-year-old Ashlee Rood, to take over her the class.

Ashlee, who graduated with a teaching credential from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo last June, was completing her student teaching in San Luis Obispo. Raised in Menifee, she had attended fourth grade in the same room where her mother now taught. Ashlee had dreams of someday returning home to teach, but she had no idea how soon that time would come.

"This is the district I grew up in and I had a great experience here," Ashlee said. "When the opportunity came, I was ready to go. I was afraid of a lull following graduation because there aren't a lot of teaching jobs. I wasn't sure how much I would be called as a substitute."

Both Susan and Ashlee got their wish when Ashlee was hired as a substitute in the Menifee district. She began teaching Susan's class whenever Susan was absent. Since February, she has been the students' full-time teacher.

Midge James, who has been principal of Ridgemoor Elementary since the days when Ashlee was a student there, has high praise for both mother and daughter.

"Susan is a hard act to follow," James said. "Having Ashlee here to take her mother's place has made the transition seamless. Ashlee has been around educators all her life and knows what expectations her mother has for classroom management, for rigor of student work and for students' adherence to self-discipline and citizenship.

"Ashlee seems to have a natural ability to connect with students; sh