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Teacher of the Month December 2011: Cynthia Roder

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Special Needs students are both challenged and challenging. WGN’S teacher of the month is meeting the challenge on a daily basis.

Cynthia Roder is a special education teacher at Portage Park Elementary School. She has sixteen very special students in her first grade class. Their needs are many. Their level of achievement is varied.

Cynthia Roder, Teacher of the Month: “I just want to bring out the best in all my students, no matter where their level is. I take what they can do rather than what they can’t do and we take it from there.”

Barbara Murphy, parent who nominated Roder: “A lot of people involved with Special Needs students don’t set the bar high because they don’t think they can reach it.”

Barbara Murphy’s son, Johnny, has severe learning disabilities and a myriad of congenital health issues. In the few months he has been in Mrs. Roder’s class, he’s made tremendous progress.

Barbara Murphy: “Mrs. Roder has set the bar for him and he’s reaching his goal.”

It was Barbara Murphy who nominated Roder for Teacher of the Month honors.

Cindy Roder, Special Education Teacher: “I am overwhelmed. It was really kind of one mom to do this. Gosh I am like overwhelmed. It’s a really good honor.”

Murphy says Mrs. Roder is a paragon of excellence. She works tirelessly with her students — those who come to class and those who are homebound. She gets good results, stays in touch with the families and never seems to be exhausted.

Barbara Murphy: “She called me up before school ever started. She wanted to know my expectations of her, and I almost couldn’t answer her because no one ever asked me that before. So I was completely in awe of her and how happy she is all the time. I don’t know how she does it. It’s exhausting and she’s going through four different curriculums throughout the day and she’s still smiling.”

Cynthia Roder: “I am just passionate about what I do. It gives me pleasure to see the growth.”

Mrs. Roder asked that we not forget to mention her teaching assistant and volunteers. She says she couldn’t accomplish what she does without them. In honor of her achievement, Mrs. Roder received $1,000 from Saint Xavier University.

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