November 26, 2012

In his Nov. 18 Sunday Opinion column, “The wrong person to fight for,” Dana Milbank joined the chorus of those calling U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice unqualified to be secretary of state.

I was privileged to teach Ms. Rice in two high school history courses at the National Cathedral School in Washington. She excelled in both courses. As a ninth-grader, Ms. Rice was already a writer of superb essays. I taught her again in a difficult AP course when she was a junior. Her performance was again excellent.

Regarding her social skills, Ms. Rice had the ability to get along well with everyone — students and faculty alike.  I saw no “sharp elbows” whatsoever.  In a very demanding school, she was laid-back and funny but also focused and hard-working. She was confident but not cocky, and she never took herself too seriously.

The entire upper-school student body and faculty chose her to be head of school government — a great honor and a demanding post. She exhibited superior leadership skills in the role and left behind a remarkable legacy. The school still uses the revised honor code system she devised. 

Ms. Rice was already a remarkable person and leader even then, long before her accomplishments at Stanford, her Rhodes scholarship and her doctoral work at Oxford. She was one of the most outstanding students I encountered in my 40-year teaching career.

John Wood, Washington

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