Dedication & Strength: Crosby Educator Continues Work Despite Illness
Cindy Cobb, a paraprofessional who is currently co-teaching pre-kindergarten at Crosby Elementary School, has been with the district for 30 years and battling her illness, which she didn't wish to detail, for about four.
A lot of people ask, why do you keep working?
For Cobb, it is a mixture of seeing her pupils' vibrant faces and a drive to stay busy that keeps her coming back. She even credits the work for her life.
"I think with me keeping a positive attitude about it and continuing doing this, I think it's kept me alive," she said.
"I actually think it's kept me alive."
Lead teacher Jennifer Czarnecki, known as "Ms. Jenn" to her students, has taken inspiration from the veteran educator and feels lucky to be working by her side.
"Cindy is a passionate woman who has impacted so many of her students the last 30 years teaching. Her tenacity and passion makes her a crucial part of the classroom," she said.
"I am so lucky to know her. She has been an inspiration to not only the students but also to me. She is one of the many people in my life who has shown me how to be a warrior in the face of adversity. The difference she has made will last for generations and that is something to aspire to."
Cobb began her career as a substitute teacher and was asked to apply for a permanent position because of her good performance. She has always worked in special education and has taught preschoolers for 26 years.
A majority of her tenure has been at Crosby with a few years at Egremont Elementary School. She began co-teaching with Czarnecki in December.
The two have an integrated classroom, meaning that children with individualized education plans (IEP) are mixed with those who do not. Cobb sees this program as a great benefit to kids on IEPs, especially because it provides socialization.
"I think it's good that it's like that," she explained. "I think if it's separate it's not good."
About four years ago, Cobb was diagnosed with a serious illness. She made the choice to continue working for as long as she can, hoping that she can do so for many years.
"It keeps my mind off of that and I don't sit around thinking about it," she said. "If you sit around and think about it, it can take you over so I've been really strong about it and trying to fight as much as I can."
Due to her illness, she is exhausted by the end of the day because it is "never a dull moment" with a class of young children. Yet, she manages her side effects and comes back every day.
"I love working with kids I always have and I like I said, it keeps me busy and it keeps me not thinking about what's wrong with me if I'm busy and doing stuff," Cobb explained.
She said Czarnecki and Special Education Early Childhood Leader Linda Carnevale are very supportive of her, consistently checking in to make sure that she is OK.
When asked what advice she would give people in similar situations, she emphasized the importance of knowing your limits and persistence.
"Everybody knows what they can do and what they can't do," Cobb said.
"My way of saying is if you can work and be OK with that, I think it helps you, it inspires you to keep going and not giving up."