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He is generally thought to be the strictest third grade teacher at Lakewood Elementary School, and is infamous for the amount of homework that he gives.
Mr. Ratburn thinks hard work will always pay off. The students dislike him for his teaching method, but when he lost his voice and his sister, who is more like the other teachers in the school, replaced him, the students are bored and want to "learn something" from Mr. Ratburn.
In the episode in which Mr. Ratburn is introduced, he is thought of as a vampire by Buster, Arthur, and Francine after hearing from Prunella that "The Rat" eats nails.
Mr. Ratburn has a softer side as well. In addition to being a teacher, he is a great puppeteer, magician, and referee. Mr. Ratburn performed marionette shows for little children in his free time, but has very little idea of how to use the Internet. He has also been shown to have a great love for cake. When his house collapsed during a snowstorm, he moved in with the Reads while his own house was being repaired, and surprised Arthur greatly with his casual side. Mr. Ratburn also was forced to stay in the frozen Lakewood Elementary along with the school's principal, Mr. Haney, and the janitor, Mr. Morris in that same storm. According to him, he says his biggest new challenge will be "teaching kindergarten". He is now wearing a prep vest in the next season.
Also in the episode in which Arthur becomes interested in the town's history and in particular when Sitting Bull visited Elwood City, Arthur asks Sitting Bull's "apparition" if there are any Native Americans living in Elwood City. It is revealed that Mr. Ratburn looks a lot like the Cheyenne that Sitting Bull he met while visiting town, leads the viewer to think that Mr. Ratburn's grandfather was the Cheyenne mentioned.
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