by Melinda Sanchez
Dr. Rhoda Kachuck came to the University of La Verne with great dreams and aspirations. Now she leaves with more knowledge gained than she sought to teach or learn.
A love for literature, plays, students and teaching has brought complete satisfaction to Dr. Kachuck’s career at ULV.
“I always wanted to be a teacher. When I was a little girl, my grandfather would call me his ‘Professor-Ké,’ his little professor,” she said.
Dr. Kachuck once dreamed of being a famous actress but said, “When I realized I couldn’t be Shirley Temple, that took care of that.” She then pursued her life long dream to be a teacher.
Her love for the stage never folded, so Dr. Kachuck decided to teach courses in Shakespeare, American Stage, 20th Century Drama, Comedy/Tragedy and later in her career found an ongoing interest in Holocaust and Jewish literature.
Her knowledge and love for Shakespeare allows Dr. Kachuck to identify herself with the character of Cleopatra. She said mostly because, “there is a line that talks about, age cannot wither, nor custom stale, her infinite variety.'”
After having been at ULV for 28 years, Dr. Kachuck said that when she started, she didn’t have any prior experience working with people for that many years.
Having taught every grade, “from pre-school on up, and Yiddish schools,” Although never in any one level for a long period, Dr. Kachuck had the opportunity to work with every age group that is schooled .
She said, “I enjoyed working with students who are adults, therefore can be approached on a different level. It’s a lot more exciting.”
One of the most unique courses that Dr. Kachuck had the opportunity to teach was on Shakespearean plays. Her class took a trip to Ashland Theatre in Oregon to see nine plays in eight days.
According to Dr. Kachuck, the first year the class went, only two people actually went on the trip. This year, she bought 26 sets of tickets.
The plays consist of four Shakespearean, and five others. Dr. Kachuck said, “Once I started going to Ashland, it became a central focus, because there is nothing like seeing the plays.”
Dr. Kachuck believes that the trip allows students time to bond with each other, and with her.
“I think that after we’ve broken bread together, there’s something different,” she said.
In that sense and through evaluating and discussing the plays, Dr. Kachuck tries to explain to her students that, “the actors are there, and are doing their job, and we are the audience who do our job by reacting to the play.”
By teaching the students more about the actual contents of the play, Dr. Kachuck’s goal is to inform the students and allow them to decide if they love the subject enough to pursue it.
She said, “We like what we know, and you can’t begin to like something if you don’t know it.”
In that sense, by giving her students the knowledge, Dr. Kachuck said, “All I can do in three month’s time is to wet their appetite for it.”
Dr. Kachuck had a shirt made for her husband, trying to make him consider retiring. She had a quote placed on it that stated, “We know what we are, but not what we may be.”
After some time, she realized that it also applied to her, and she came to the conclusion that it had come time for her to retire as well.
She said, “I know who and what I am. I’m a teacher, there’s no question about that. I will always teach, but I know not what I’ll be.”
Dr. Kachuck’s philosophy is “if I couldn’t learn something from my students, then I’m wasting my time and theirs.”
Teaching has become a two way road where information and growth are exchanged. Dr. Kachuck lives by the quote, “When you become a teacher, by your pupils you’ll be taught.