After 28 years of teaching, DWS 8th grade teacher Cynthia Wilson is going out in style. Earlier this year her peers nominated the educator who is retiring at the end of this school year for the Teacher of the Year award.
“The thing that makes this award so special to me is that my fellow teachers determine this,” Wilson said. “That says it all!”
The English Language Arts/Social Studies teacher started her career after graduating from Bryan College in Dayton, TN with a B.S. in Elementary Education.
“I was 21 years old, and my first class consisted of 36 first graders,” Wilson said. “I have taught not only first grade, but third, fourth, fifth, seventh, and finally eighth grade.”
Wilson stepped away from the profession for a decade to raise her three small children, who are now adults--Ricky Preston, 32, Paige Preston Lang, 30 (son-in-law Richard Lang), and Robby Preston, 27 (daughter-in-law Jordan Preston).
“I knew when they were all school age, I would return to teaching, and I was anxious to do so.”
Wilson, the former Cynthia Judge, grew up in Orlando/Kissimmee, FL area, the daughter of a dairy farmer. She loved going to school and was quite the social butterfly.
“My report card often had the comment “talks too much” from my teachers,” she remembers with a playful frown.
Wilson knew from a very young age that teaching was her calling.
“When I was a little girl, I played school with my sisters (Stephanie, Jennifer, Priscilla, and Melanie, a former 8th grade teacher at DWS), and I was always the teacher,” she recalls. “I always loved children, and I knew teaching was my gift. I think I owe this mostly to the wonderful teachers that I had.”
Since those younger years, the veteran teacher has witnessed a lot of changes in the profession.
“There are now much greater expectations on the students, there are so many new and different teaching strategies, and the accountability for both students and teachers are at the highest.”
“My role as an 8th grade teacher is somewhat different than other teachers. Most of my students have attended DWS for nine years where they have been taught, disciplined, and loved. In the 8th grade this goal remains the same, but we also purpose to prepare the students for their transition to high school. While the students are given a bit more freedom in some ways, they are also given much more responsibility. The main point I want them to embrace is that they are responsible for their own education. Their teachers and administrators can only do so much… the rest is up to them.”
As the clock winds down on her final days in education, Wilson is ready for an enjoyable retirement with her husband, Mark Wilson. Perhaps she’ll be able to make more time for her hobbies of calligraphy, reading, playing the piano, cooking and entertaining friends. And she has one adventure that she wants to enter her life.
“It is my greatest hope to have grandchildren in the very near future!”