Class Acts: A Q&A with Cynthia Kasper

Michael Berhorst and William M. O'Brien nominated Cynthia Kasper for Class Acts. They said Kasper goes above and beyond the call of duty and is a priceless source of positive information and knowledge.

Name: Cynthia "Cindy" Kasper

Age: 51

City of residence: Long Barn

Occupation: Resource specialist, Elliott Alternative Education Center

Family: My nuclear family is small; my extended family is large and I love all of them dearly.

Education background: Columbia College; California State University, Stanislaus; Chapman University

Why did you get into teaching? How I came to the teaching profession and my teaching experience are inter-related. In my 30s, I was working at Dodge Ridge ski resort and injured my knee. During my recovery I found a job as an aide in a resource class at Columbia Elementary School. It soon became apparent that I loved working with the children, so I enrolled in classes at Columbia College and was on my way to the classroom. I was a classroom aide for three years while I worked my way through college.

What is your favorite part about being a teacher? My favorite thing about being a teacher is twofold. First is the opportunity to learn new things every day and the second is the rewards of student interactions.

What is the most challenging part of your job? The most challenging part of my job is trying to identify the motivators and-or obstacles of my students. ... Once the problem or problems are identified, then finding or locating resources to help them persevere can be difficult. But if you are successful, then it is so very rewarding. Watching these students graduate is always the best.

Favorite teaching tool or activity in the classroom: My favorite teaching tool besides life experiences is The Modesto Bee. We use it daily in my classes. The Bee is an excellent tool to use as a common thread in our daily lives and it provides evidence of the relevance of learning. The students also use The Bee to locate local events, community services, and look for employment. Many times the stories involve people the students know or are related to. This helps to generate class discussions, very teachable moments.

What's next in your classroom? What's next for my classroom is the final focus for graduation, employment opportunities for the students and trying to determine who is returning and who is leaving the area.

Advice for new teachers: My advice for new teachers is to find your area of passion.

Advice for students: Be your own advocate, set goals, and do not let the small things get in the way of the big picture. Stuff is going to happen. Work through it.

What would surprise people about your job? Probably the thing that surprises people the most about my job is how far I travel to come to work. In good weather it is about a 1½-hour drive each way. In the snow it can take a lot longer. When they ask why I don't move to Modesto, all I can respond with is, "You should see where I live." And if they ask why I do not get a job up there, the answer is simple, "I love Elliott."