As a teacher in an impoverished, gang-ridden area of South Los Angeles, Rigoberto Ruelas always reached out to the toughest kids. He would tutor them on weekends and after school, visit their homes, encourage them to aim high and go to college.
The fifth-grade teacher at Miramonte Elementary School was so passionate about his mission that, school authorities say, he had near perfect attendance in 14 years on the job.
He's dead now. An apparent suicide. He left no note. His family said he'd been depressed about his scores on the teacher-rating database posted by the LA Times on its website. The family would like the data removed.
Here's another account of Ruelas' career efforts to reach difficult kids. In the reading, it eloquently answers the notion that a mass of disparate students, particularly those burdened by disadvantages, and a teacher's effort to reach them can be reduced to a simple letter grade.