Most every student at Douglas knows who Mr. Cerveny is — no matter what grade they’re in. That’s because this dynamic, one-of-a-kind teacher is beloved by so many. Get to know Mr. Cerveny in the interview below. And, the next time you cross paths with him at the school, be sure to wish him big congratulations!
How long have you been at Douglas? Have you taught CCK the whole time? (What does CCK mean?)
This will be my twelfth year at Douglas. I have not taught CCK the entire time at DES. This will be my sixth year teaching CCK.
Some people think that CCK stands for Craig Cerveny’s Kindergarten (got that from a former student) but that is only wishful thinking on my part. CCK stands for Cross Categorical Kindergarten.
CCK is a self-contained special education classroom. It’s known as the diagnostic year by other special educators. Every student in my classroom has an IEP (Individual Education Plan) and has been diagnosed with a disability. I have a wide range of students with disabilities that I serve. They are as follows: DD-Developmental Delay, AU-Autism/Asperger spectrum disorder, TBI-Traumatic Brain Injured, ED-Emotional/Behavior Disorder, and OHI-Other Health Impaired.
I have the privilege of serving kindergarteners with unique learning abilities and preparing them for mainstreaming into a regular classroom. My job is to teach the curriculum, cover each child’s IEP and to collect data on everything. I have to collect a lot of data and analyze it to help decide each child’s placement for the following school year. Basically, I am leading the determination of my students going to a regular education or another self-contained classroom based on data I collect, analyze and present to the IEP team. My goal is to have 100% of my class going into a regular education setting when exiting my class.
What made you decide to become a teacher?
I could probably write a book on this question but I will summarize it as best as possible.
I have a different perspective on learning and teaching and this is why I became a special education teacher. I teach to serve students that many educators have difficulty teaching, the students who have unique learning styles, who have a disability. Teaching these students is a passion of mine because I, myself have a disability. I decided to become a teacher to pay it forward.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Making a connection with each child is important. That connection creates and builds our relationship. I believe all relationships are built on mutual expectations and responsibilities. Through our relationship, we set expectations and become responsible for trying our best to meet each other’s expectations. I enjoy building relationships, but it is the results of the relationship that I enjoy most.
Like all teachers, I love the “goosebump” moment. It is the moment that you and your student realize you are working together to overcome challenges and resulting in success. Its effect on me is goosebumps. It comes in all different forms. It could be a student counting to 10 for the first time or being able to recognize their own name in writing. I basically work for goosebumps instead of money because the realization of all the struggles that you and your student have together gets erased in that moment. That is why I am so passionate about my students demonstrating grit or “Never give up” mentality. You can achieve success by learning from your mistakes and never giving up.
What is the most challenging thing about being a teacher?
I would say paperwork, but it is not. The most challenging thing about my job is letting my students go. Unfortunately, CCK is a regional program and not all my students are based at Douglas or get in on the Magnet program. Even if my students are going to be mainstreamed into a regular classroom that does not mean they will stay at Douglas. So I have to say goodbye to most of my students as they go off to other schools. At the same time, I have to believe that they will use and grow with the strategies I have taught them. I have to hope that my students’ next teachers will see the same potential that I did in them.
How does it feel to win this well-deserved recognition?
It feels AMAZING! I am honored to be recognized as Teacher of the Year at Douglas ES. There are so many great teachers at our school, it is still hard to believe that I was chosen. I am hoping I can meet or exceed our staff’s expectations as I pursue the Teacher of the Year award at the county level.