English, French and Latin Teacher 1931-1967
Activist for Teacher Tenure and Bargaining Rights
President of Michigan PTA
Inducted into Royal Oak High School Hall of Fame, 2014
Ruth Hetzman was born and raised in Gratiot, Michigan. She attended the Normal School in Mount Pleasant which later became Central Michigan University. She taught 9 years before coming to Royal Oak in 1931 which, you will note, was soon after the new high school building was opened. She later would earn her master’s degree from the University of Michigan and become an active member of the U of M Women’s Club.
Ruth lived on North Washington in Royal Oak and often walked to school. She taught English, French and Latin, with Latin being her favorite. Her students greeted her every day in Latin with “good day teacher”. To which she would reply in Latin, “good day students”. Class time was spent learning new vocabulary words, practicing conjugating verbs and translating literature. Her students report that she ran a tight ship with ridged classroom protocols. She presented herself as a very serious instructor with a stern demeanor. She never gave them a clue of her dry sense of humor that was so prevalent in the teacher’s lounge. She did, however sponsor the Latin Club which held slave auctions and annual dinners at which the menu was written in Latin and everyone wore togas. This was all before the movie Animal House and the era of political correctness.
Ruth Hetzman was always interested in quality education and teacher welfare. She was active in the PTA and rose to the level of president the Michigan PTA. She was a lifetime member of the MEA and the NEA and chaired the legislative action committee for the Royal Oak Education Association. She was one of the people who successfully lobbied Lansing to obtain teacher tenure and bargaining rights for teachers. She continued to follow school legislation in a leadership position with the South Oakland Association of Retired School Personnel.
Miss Hetzman was also active in the community. She was a member of the First Baptist Church of Royal Oak. She sang in the choir, taught Sunday school and started the Lydia Circle at the church. She tutored students in Latin. As a retiree she volunteered at Northwood Elementary School where she participated in their enrichment program and even taught the young students how to knit.