I have had three heroes in my life: Willie Mays (I was a total baseball fanatic growing up in the San Francisco area), Senator Bobby Kennedy (as an idealistic high school teenager I believed in what he believed in for America and I wanted to do something about it), and, much later, Dr. George “Doc” Rutherford, the principal of the Ideal Academy Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.
I first met Doc in 1994 when he was principal of the Fletcher Johnson Learning Center in the tough, tough Anacostia area of the District of Columbia. Doc was then in his mid-50s. He had high blood pressure and started to meditate at the suggestion of his heart doctor. The experience changed him such a positive, dramatic way, that the teachers at his school asked him what was going on. “TM,” he said. They said, “We want what you have.” Doc arranged for his teachers to learn Transcendental Meditation and then any student (and parent) who was interested. Pretty soon, most everyone in the school was meditating for a few minutes twice a day as part of the school’s Quiet Time program.
Fast forward. Doc retired from Fletcher a few years later, and then unretired to help start up a school in Baltimore. Work done, he stepped down from that school. Then, in love with teaching kids, he came back five years ago to run Ideal Academy, where Quiet Time was written into the school’s charter.
As many of you know who read this blog, Russell Simmons is an entrepreneur and philanthropist (and “hip-hop godfather”), and a big supporter of the David Lynch Foundation. Last week, Russell asked to visit Doc’s school. He was so impressed, he wrote about his experience for his blog on Global Grind.
So why is Doc my hero? Because for the 45 years this great, courageous, noble man of tremendous integrity has put the love and welfare of his students above all else. And because with great wisdom and persistence, he has put Quiet Time on the map, and now hundreds of thousands of kids all over the world are benefiting from his work.
Look at the photos and the video and see how moved Russell is to meet Doc. Look at Doc’s face. Here is a man who is living life on his terms—and enjoying every moment immensely. He is my hero, I want to be like Doc.
Philanthropist Russell Simmons meets “Doc” Rutherford, principal of the Ideal Academy Charter School in Washington, DC
Russell Simmons and Dr. Rutherford sharing their desire to see the TM program in schools everywhere
Russell Simmons and Dr. Rutherford practicing the TM technique at an all-school assembly
This Is What’s Hot In The Hood
Click Russell Simmons Global Grind to read a description of his visit to the Ideal Academy in Washington, DC