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Purpose driven: Central High School teacher helps students inside and outside of the classroom

LaVell Rucker is a social worker at Central High School. She uses her degree in social work to help students inside and outside of the classroom. LaVell and her husband Martin have been members of the Black Archives Hall of Fame since 2008. "I love what I'm doing. This is my purpose in life."

Posted: Mar 1, 2021 11:24 AM
Updated: Mar 2, 2021 9:37 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) As Black History month has concluded, one local individual shares how she has been making a difference as a social worker at Central High school.

LaVell Rucker is a member of the Black Archives museum Hall of Fame along with her husband Martin, since 2008.  

A graduate of Missouri Western, LaVell has used her degree in social work to connect with high school students at Central High School and guide them not only in school but in life for ten years now.

"I wanted to give back," said Rucker.  "I wanted kids to be successful in high school and go onto college.”

Growing up in Plattsburg, Missouri, LaVell said she didn't have outlets in high school like counseling, and she wanted to be that contact for students now, especially minority students.

"With this being black history month, a lot of minorities do not value education or realize their full potential," said LaVell.  "I wanted to be one of those that helps talk to them and let them know that they, they are worthy, and they have value and a purpose on earth and that they can go be a contributor to society.”

LaVell Rucker advocates for students inside and outside of the classroom with mental health, especially during the pandemic, saying students and parents have been calling to thank LaVell for getting students back on track as they continue to adjust from learning remotely or in person. 

LaVell is also a long-time advocate for youth and women.  She started the Each One Teach One mentoring program which pairs community leaders and Missouri students with middle school and high school students around St. Joseph. 

“We had black students that were able to come that were going through probably the first generation of college. And so we were able to partner them with other students to encourage them, motivate them and mentor them in order to be able to look at education as a possibility after graduation to continue their education," said Rucker.

LaVell is also a wife and a mother to four children, including her two sons Mike and Martin that played in the NFL.  She mentioned that she will speak on the story of her family, and how her two boys from the southend went to the NFL, in hopes to inspire her students. 

“If you can set the dream, and believe enough in yourself, and if you have enough support to help you believe and make it come to fruition, then it can be. I love what I’m doing, and I think I was probably...this was my purpose in life.”

LaVell's community work includes service on many boards across St. Joseph including Heartland Foundation, MWSU Foundation, YWCA, Family Guidance, and the Community Reinvestment Committee.   

Rucker has also founded the "Operation Christmas" event at Central High School where students can pick Christmas presents for their family for free. 

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