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North Hills Monthly

From Educator to Author: Dede Rittman Still Sharing Life Lessons

Jul 30, 2015 01:33PM ● By Jill Cueni Cohen

Dede Faltot Rittman

After 37 years of teaching high school English and theater at North Allegheny, Dede Faltot Rittman’s career came to a hasty end in June of 2011. Her beloved husband, Scott, was battling stage four colon cancer, so she retired to care for him until he died in May of 2012. For the 10 years prior to that, Rittman had been caring for her husband’s elderly parents. “They died six and 12 weeks after Scott did; my grief was overwhelming,” she recalled.

No longer functioning as a teacher, wife or caregiver, Rittman searched for a new mission and found that her decades of teaching experience had given her the ability to provide valuable advice to those who were just starting out in the education field. In fact, she had already started a book for student teachers years before, but it was the memory of her husband urging her to get it published that inspired her to finish the project.

“I missed school and contributing to education every day, so I finished my book, Student Teaching: The Inside Scoop from a Master Teacher,” said Rittman. “I never dreamed it would lead me to do what I’m doing now.”

While her book, which was published in 2014, has been winning awards and has become required reading at Point Park University and Thiel College, Rittman has moved on to writing children’s books. Having just signed a multi-book deal with Tate Publishing, she hopes to debut the story of a loveable rabbit, called Grady Gets Glasses, in time for the holiday season.

“Grady the rabbit gets glasses, and he explains to small children the wonders of how glasses help people to see,” Rittman said, adding that illustrations of Grady were done by a former student, Lauren Givens Wood of Wexford, who is now living in Chicago. A plush animal toy of Grady will also be available with the book.

When she’s not taking Grady on adventures, Rittman co-hosts the Total Education Q and A show with Neil S. Haley, the CEO of Total Tutor and Total Education Network, an international kindergarten through college tutoring and consulting company. “We take questions about school, policy, behavior, etc. from parents and teachers, and Neil and I offer advice,” Rittman explained. The show also features celebrity and author interviews. In addition to this, Rittman writes a weekly inspirational blog for educators at

“I believe that Dede’s wealth of 37 years of experience not only helps student teachers, but new teachers as well,” said Haley, a resident of Gibsonia. “Dede gives the real scoop on being in the classroom, developing a teaching style and teacher voice, and the importance of the humanity involved in teaching—all the practical advice that colleges don’t have time to teach.”

Rittman believes that the cornerstone of teaching comes down to three Cs: Confidence, Communication and Creativity. “Remember that every child is precious to his parents, and remember to treat both students and parents with respect,” she advises new teachers. “I have always found that when the teacher, the parents, and the student work as a team, the student benefits tremendously.

“Connect with your students and let them see who you are,” she added. “Be enthusiastic in your teaching and your love of learning. Always do what is best for the student, and you can’t go wrong.”

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