The Teacher Who Learned from Cats tell the stories of the cats with whom Sharon Rhutasel-Jones has shared her life. Along with her feline companions, each of whom has helped her learn to live, the reader meets the humans who have helped make her more than seven decades what Mary Oliver calls a "wild and precious" adventure.
Sharon Rhutasel-Jones retired to become a writer after teaching for 36 years at Menaul School. She has written two books, Living by Ear: Memoir of a Wayward Teacher and The Teacher Who Learned from Cats. When she’s not writing, Sharon practices Thai Chi, cooks, gardens, and plays the piano. She’s also teaching a creative writing class. Her husband Larry and she share their home in the village of Los Ranchos with their two cats, Honda and Suki.
In Living by Ear: Memoir of a Wayward Teacher, Rhutasel-Jones puts readers into a classroom with the kinds of adolescents everyone knows. She brings to life real kids sharing a part of their lives with a wayward teacher, as she calls herself, who is guided more by her heart than by her lesson plans.
Among her students, we meet a bored overachiever who just wanted to be pointed in an interesting direction and told to explore, an insecure boy who overcame stuttering to become a published writer, and a poet who hated high school then became a teacher.
Along with taking us through parts of her years of teaching, Rhutasel-Jones gives us the backstories of her role-model father and the childhood sweetheart she married even though he caused her to break her nose by crashing into a fire hydrant. As the book continues to unfold, we experience the tragedy of her widowhood as well as the vicissitudes of her second marriage to a mirror image of herself. She sprinkles poems and recipes into tales of barbers, a music teacher, and a fishmonger. Some of her stories can serve as a tour through parts of Africa as well as northern New Mexico. Through it all, we know she has listened to her heart, insisting that our hearts have a special kind of wisdom that is inaccessible to rational thinking.