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June 21, 2011
by: Dollie Cromwell

Michelle Renzelmann-Ross, Language Arts Teacher

The teacher said to the students:

     ‘Come to the edge.’

They replied, ‘We might fall.’


The teacher said again:

‘Come to the edge.’

     And they responded,

     ‘It’s too high.’


“Come to the edge,’

     the teacher demanded


And they came

  and the teacher pushed them

   and they


 Michelle Renzelmann-Ross has this poem by an anonymous author hanging up in her house.

“The poem reminds me to always have high expectations and that every one of my kids can learn,” said Michelle, who will teach sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade language arts at Mosaic and a writing workshop at IDEAS Academy this fall.

“I’ve always said that the day I only teach commas is the day I need to quit,” she added. “I want to help kids think independently, question respectfully, set goals and accomplish them, and be a productive, good member of society.”

Michelle, 44, has been teaching Spanish, language arts and reading since 1992. She worked her way through college in food service – everything from a hospital cafeteria and Elk’s Lodge kitchen prep to hotel banquet waitress and restaurant cocktail waitress. “I always worked two jobs while going to school,” she said. She started college at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and transferred to Cardinal Stritch University, where she graduated in 1992 with a degree in English Education for sixth through 12th grade. She earned a master’s degree in Professional Development in 1998 from Cardinal Stritch.

Michelle credits her parents and grandparents for helping shape the person she is today.

Long before she got a classroom of her own, Michelle was playing school as a child in the basement of her family’s home or – better yet – in her dad’s classroom at the school where he taught.

“My mom never went to college due to raising three kids; however, she was extremely well-read and could hold her own discussing any topic. There was no education snobbery in our house!”

Michelle cites her maternal grandmother for giving her a zest for life. “My Nana (Ginny Meyer) influenced me to get up and go,” Michelle shared. “Even at 88, she would shovel her driveway, wouldn’t use her snow blower, and then would throw her skis in her car and go cross-country skiing! She taught me to be able to laugh at myself and try whatever you can.”

To this day, Michelle takes Nana’s wisdom to heart: “Learn everything you can; you never know when you’ll use it.”     

As for her work ethic, Michelle cites her paternal grandparents as excellent role models. “They raised 11 kids while they both worked outside of the home.”

Michelle is married to Christopher Ross, a broker associate with Realty Executives in Wisconsin and a realtor/broker in Florida. Her son, Tyler Gordon, is a sophomore at South. She has two step-daughters.

Rebecca Ross Schultz lives in Ohio with her husband, John, and their 18-month-old daughter, Charlotte. Marissa Ross is a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Spending time with family and friends is important to Michelle, who is an avid Packers fan and also follows the Brewers and the Bucks. She particularly enjoys reading historical fiction and doesn’t mind admitting that Queen Elizabeth I is one of her idols. Michelle is deeply saddened that the series, “The Tudors,” is over. She loves old movies and goes with a friend to the Weill Center whenever she can fit it into her schedule.   

Travel remains a passion. She would like to visit Argentina, England, Ireland, Germany and Italy. Seeing Europe by train would be ideal. She’s also likely to rent an RV someday to tour some of the U.S. destinations on her list.

“I believe that the journey is part of the experience,” she said.

Oh, and don’t be surprised if she shows up at school on a motorcycle. Getting a motorcycle license is yet another goal for this educator who loves to learn and is always willing to try something new – all in an effort to be her best and to bring out the best in others.

And they came (to the edge) and the teacher pushed them and they flew.”

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