Monday, December 21, 2015

"Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value." ~ Albert Einstein

Nothing pleases a teacher quite as much as working with students to guide them toward success, and then discovering years later that they have, indeed,  become successful.  I adored both teaching and my students, and I never knew that my love for my students and my passion for teaching would come back to me full circle through the success of so many students!  Dozens of my former colleagues at North Allegheny were also my former students; a VERY big deal to me!  I continue to be so proud of each of those teachers, and so many other former students who are doctors, lawyers, business people, CEO's, great parents, golf professionals, entrepreneurs, and even on Broadway!  I am thrilled for them all!

recently reconnected with a former student who is not only a respected journalist, but she is also an award-winning author. Jill Cueni-Cohen (whom I knew as Jill Cohen when she was in 10th grade Academic English class - by the way, a talented writer, even then) was assigned to interview  me a few months ago regarding my book for teachers, Student Teaching: The Inside Scoop from a Master Teacher.  At the start of the phone interview, Jill said "I am so excited for this interview!  You were my TEACHER!"  I replied "Is this my Jill Cohen with a new name?"  We chatted for over an hour, met for dinner a few times, and even worked together for the Total Education Network, covering the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA, on the anniversary of 9/11 in September. We conducted heart-wrenching interviews of family members of those whose lives were lost on the day, and cried together during those conversations.  For those who do not know us, Jill and I are very outgoing, and we made many new contacts when we were together for those 3 days.  One of our new friends met us and commented on our dual power and energy, telling us  that we were like "fire and an explosion!"  Jill's passion for investigating and writing have made her award winning book Like it Was Yesterday: A Journalist's Files Since 9/11 a must-read. Unlike other books about 9/11, Jill's book delves into the changes in the American lifestyle that have occurred since that tragic day.  (Available at:
The book is also on sale at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA )  I am so proud of Jill and all of her successes in parenting, writing, and life.

The Jill/Dede "fire and an explosion" enjoyed a book signing together on Saturday, December 19, at Kelly O's Restaurant in Pittsburgh's Strip District.  As usual, the diner was packed, (GREAT food and a really fun atmosphere) and hundreds of people streamed in and out of the restaurant as we sold and signed books in the lobby.  As if witnessing Jill's success was not enough, I must share with you that the owner of the restaurant, Kelly O'Connor, is also my former student, in the same class as Jill - North Allegheny, Class of 1983. Kelly has also enjoyed more than a modicum of success, as she owns two great restaurants, and has even been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network. (  and ) Kelly O's is a Pittsburgh institution - in North Hills and in the Strip District. Kelly's service to others extends far beyond cooking and customers.  As Kelly O, the woman behind the business, she sponsors toy drives for the needy and participates in dozens of charitable activities. Her two restaurants are truly a part of the Pittsburgh community. 

What a GREAT morning- the teacher and her two former students, each enjoying, promoting, and celebrating the successes of the other two. Kelly hugged me and said "I KNEW that someday, sometime, we would reconnect, because you had such a profound influence on my life all those years ago.  I am so happy that you are here!"  Kelly is a Pittsburgh superstar, a great parent, and a smart businessperson, and she was happy that I was there!  Very touching! 

I, too, am so happy - and grateful - that I have reconnected with two terrific former students, 13 years my junior, who were delightful kids in tenth grade,  and became superior adults. I am so grateful to see that they have made good choices and  that both have flourished. I love that they both value other people, and that their lives have made such a difference in their service to others; through writing, cooking, and caring.  I am humbled that they think I provided a bit of positive influence in their lives.  I am so pleased to bond with Jill and Kelly once more, as friends, and to celebrate the adults they have become, as well as the successes they have earned.  As I said at the beginning of this post, nothing pleases a teacher like knowing that her students have become successful- in business, in life, in relationships, and becoming good people.  Helping students to become the best they can be is the preeminent part of being a teacher.
As always, I welcome your comments or suggestions. 

Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at .  The website IS UP AND

RUNNING!!!.  Signed copies ARE available!   

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. 

Connect with Dede!

Twitter       @dederittman
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Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER.  Signed copies are available 

Dede is the co-host of The Total Education Q & A, which can be heard on Blogtalk Radio at

Saturday, December 19, at Kelly O's in Pittsburgh Strip District.  L to R - Jill Cueni-Cohen, Kelly O'Connor, Dede Rittman  

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