What you don’t know about your favorite teachers


Spanish teacher Courtney Ruggaber spent her days at Jackson High School, in Massillon, swimming around like a polar bear. Though Ruggaber has a close relationship with many students, many do not know about her past as a high school mascot.

She had been in the marching band, but said she decided to try something new when instruments no longer interested her.

Ruggaber said she enjoyed the experience of being Jackson’s polar bear mascot. “It was so fun, one of the best things I did in high school. It definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, considering I don’t tend to enjoy having all eyes on me.”

Out of all her memories as a mascot, she said, her favorite was the Black Light Show. Every year, the last marching band performance was done with the stadium lights off, she explained.

“Everything was covered in either black light paint or glow sticks. The theme that year was ‘Pirates of the Bear-ibbean,’ so I was in a polar bear costume, dressed as a pirate. All the parents and kids loved it.”


Science teacher Amanda Hudnall loves cats, and most students know that. But what some do not know is she actually shows Persian cats professionally, and does so with her mom.

Her mom started breeding and showing them 35 years ago, which is how Hudnall said she got started.

Over the past 10 years, the ladies have had six regional winners and close to 100 grand champions. They also have one of five “catteries” in the world are able to produce purebred Persians with blue eyes, which is rare.

Copper eyes are a trait of pure persians. Hudnall was able to get purebred Persians with blue eyes when a random genetic mutation showed up in her mom’s friend’s cattery in Germany, she said.

“I do this because I have a love of the animal,” Hudnall said.

Hudnall has four house cats who have free reign in the house. She has two rooms specifically devoted to them. These rooms has living spaces, grooming sinks, professional blowdryers and grooming tables.

This breed of cat takes three-and-a-half hours to bathe because you have to bathe them and blow-dry them to get them ready for competition, she said.

She would leave after school to travel places like Virginia, Illinois, New York, etc for two days of intense competition. Hudnall and her mom spent a lot of time together traveling and competing. “The end result was my mom being my best friend,” she said.

History teacher Robb Kidd does not take a break. When not at school teaching five days a week, or coaching track in the spring, he is out doing ji jiu zu two to three days a week.

His kids take karate and taekwondo classes, he explained, and about a year ago they offered ji jiu zu.

“I am a big fan of mixed martial arts and never had a chance to train like that,” Kidd said. “So, I jumped at the chance.”

Ji jiu zu combines speed, agility, strength and intellect.

“It has added to the diversity of my workouts. It brings in a new body component,” Kidd said. “On the flip side, it does strain the joints and ligaments. That often keeps me from being 100%. Participants train in class, do open mat sessions, and spar, which Kidd said is his favorite.

“I do it because I like the challenge and physical contact,” he said.