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Rhodes named Teacher of the Year at Madison Elementary School

Cynthia ‘Cindy’ Rhodes has seen many changes while teaching for 23 years at Madison Elementary School. She is the school’s 2012 Teacher of the Year.

“I’ve been there through all of the changes Madison elementary has experienced,” she said. When she started teaching, the school housed grades 4-8 and was part of the Madison County system.

Rhodes was born in Meridian, Miss. Her family moved to Huntsville when she was a fourth-grader. She wanted to be a teacher, but teaching positions were scarce when she started college. She earned an accounting degree and worked as an accountant for several years.

“I decided to follow my heart and returned to Athens State University to get my degree in elementary education,” Rhodes said. “I’ve never regretted that decision.”

“Each child touches you in a special way and holds a little piece of your heart,” she said. On her classroom walls, Rhodes has photographs of all her former classes. “The kids love to find an uncle, dad, mom or teacher when they were kids.”

Teaching is a privilege, she said. “It’s my task to help each child travel as far as (possible) and to help them on their path in life.”

Along with academics, her students learn about “getting along in this world, how to make friends and treat others and to have confidence in themselves.” She challenges them about “things they had never considered before.”

Rewards come when a child excitedly says, “I never knew that before.”

At year-end, “my children write a letter to the child that will sit in their desk next year.” Students give advice about getting along with her (make sure she has coffee), their most difficult assignment and the accomplishment for which they’re most proud.

“Believe me … it’s never boring,” Rhodes said.

Her daughter Beth Boswell is an English professor at the University of North Alabama and sells real estate. Her son Jeremy Rhodes works as a network engineer with T and W Operations. Daniel Rhodes is a service representative for Cintas and an Athens State student.

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