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Jessica Russillo ’03


Jessica Russillo ’03

Jessica Russillo ’03 (Mount Pleasant High School) graduated from Rhode Island College in 2009 with a B.S. in Early Childhood/Special Education and a B.A. in Criminal Justice. She currently teaches first grade in the Providence Public Schools and previously taught in pre-K special education, regular kindergarten, and self-contained autism classrooms. “My mother was a teacher assistant for 20 years in a special education class,” Jessica says. “I saw the lives she positively affected and wanted to do the same thing. The reward of teaching is the students. They make it all worth it. To build relationships and know that you helped to make a difference in their world is what I enjoy most.”

Jessica had a unique experience as part of her training at RIC. She went to Australia to student teach. “There was a sign hanging in the computer lab with an emu on it, so I inquired,” she says. “It started with a 10-day tour of New Zealand. Once I arrived in Queensland, Australia, I took classes at James Cook University to learn about the history of the country and the culture of the indigenous people. This helped prepare me to work with the ESL population.” Jessica was in Australia for four months, and then she returned and did more student teaching in Pawtucket. “It was so interesting to learn how different cultures and countries look at education,” she says. “Overall it was an amazing experience that I never would have had if not for college.”

Jessica has great memories of being a Crusader. “I loved my experience as a Crusader,” she says. “I received waivers for college applications and was able to tour colleges I would never have been able to see. I was able to take PSAT and SAT prep classes, and I had someone in my corner rooting me on. It made a difference to have a counselor outside of your family and friends who was genuinely interested in your success.” Jessica’s College Crusade scholarship also made a difference. “It allowed me to complete a degree program without added stress or frustration from financial burdens that otherwise would have been there,” she says.

Jessica has an 11-year-old daughter and is very active in her church. She also volunteers in many ways and does home instruction for a boy who is too medically fragile to attend school.

Her advice for Crusaders starting college goes straight to the point: “Make sure that you treat this as a career and not an extension of high school. The stakes are much higher, and if you go in with a focused mindset you will increase your success.”

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