Mr. Cerveny is Named Douglas Teacher of the Year!


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.

Get to Know School Counselor Kelli Williams


What sorts of things do you do as our school counselor?

I work with students individually, in small groups and within the classroom to help support emotional and academic development. I also consult with parents and teachers on behalf of their child.  If a student is struggling with certain skills related to emotional development, I will work with them to develop strategies to strengthen these skills. As a school counselor, I also provide classroom guidance lessons on various topics, such as conflict resolution, self-regulation and social-emotional learning. I want school to be a safe and happy place for our children. I think this happens through connections and relationships with others, both students and staff, so I work hard to develop positive relationships with the students and with each other. Besides the counseling part of my job, I help with the Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports and the Positivity Project Initiatives.

What is a typical day like for you?

My job is different every day! I usually start off with greeting students at the front entrance. The beginning of the day can cause anxiety for some students so I try to make myself available for those who are feeling a little reluctant in the mornings. Throughout the day, I meet with students, sometimes planned and sometimes not. I might also be in classrooms providing a guidance lesson on different topics (communication, conflict resolution, etc.). As the year progresses, I meet with several small groups on various topics (self-esteem, anger management, friendship skills, social skills, etc.).  I try to make the most of the school schedule. I oftentimes will have lunch with a student or groups of students. Some students come to me because they are having a conflict with a peer and lunchtime is a great time to work things out. I also consult with teachers during recess time as well as other times.

What is your favorite part of the job?

The favorite part of my job is getting to know our students. Their innocence and honesty make me laugh each and every day. They help me gain perspective on what’s important. Parents – thank you for sharing your children with us!

How can students or parents contact you if they need to talk about something or need help?

Students can come to my office (located across from the media center) and let me know they’d like to meet with me, or they can let their teacher know or write me a note and leave it in the envelope on my door. Parents can either email me (, call me (919-881-4894 ext. 23196) or come and talk with me in person.

What advice do you have for Douglas parents?  

Get involved! Know what your children are doing in and out of school (both academically and socially). Listen to them and ask questions. If you notice changes that concern you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or your child’s teacher. We’re all on the same team!