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Ms. Grasso’s Gift


There is no joy quite like being called a “Rutabaga.”

Ms. Grasso, one of the AP Environmental Science teachers, is beloved within CCHS. Prolific in her knowledge of the environment and her ceaseless commitment to her students, she has instilled more than values of environmental consciousness within students. Latent within her pedagogy about the environment are the seeds of life-long lessons.

The first lesson: growth mindset in its novelist form. In fact, I didn’t even realize that she was teaching us this value until quite recently. As she introduced abstract concepts early on in the year, Ms. Grasso instructed us to “plant those seeds in our brain gardens.” She knew that concepts take time to take root in our minds, and allowed us that time to let them grow. Cramming culture was never coerced within her classroom. Instead, concepts came naturally during exams because we had learned them in smaller contexts long ago. I have no doubt that beautiful brain gardens have blossomed in her care.

The second lesson: ecological footprint. As she taught us about our responsibility to be mindful about the impacts of our carbon footprint, we learned lessons far larger than that. We learned to care about our legacies and the footprint we will live behind. Physically and metaphorically, we were challenged to ask ourselves: are we willing to pollute our oceans with plastic and intoxicate our air with carbon? What kinds of students and what kinds of citizens would and should we become? What kind of footprint would we like to leave behind?

The third lesson: Rutabagas. Whenever Ms. Grasso would endearly call upon her students with that foreign word, we wholeheartedly embraced it. For around an entire semester, we had never questioned her practices. And then one day, out of sudden curiosity, I asked. That was the day that we learned that Rutabagas are root vegetables. All is to say, students trust Ms. Grasso. That is a trust that very few teachers have earned from their students. Something seemingly so meaningless, is an incredibly meaningful metaphor for the relationship that Ms. Grasso has cultivated with every single student at CCHS. So much so, that we trusted her to call us whatever she liked, whatever that meant.

Just as there is no joy quite like being called a “Rutabaga,” there is no teacher quite like Ms. Grasso. Hopefully, we will all blossom into beautiful Rutabagas one day.

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About the Contributor
Emi Sakamoto
Emi Sakamoto, Staff Writer
Hi, I'm Emi Sakamoto, a senior at CCHS. Through a concentration in opinion pieces, I hope to uproot various social issues and explore them through a dynamic lens. Aside from Journalism, I preside as the 76th Chief Justice of California, Co-President of Speech and Debate, English Curriculum Director of One Step Ahead, Treasurer of Vote 16, and founder of Poetry4Progress.

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