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Isaac serves as advocate for kids in need

For 21 years, Cynthia Isaac's classroom has been the safe place at the Somerset Elementary School for children with emotional issues.

Isaac will be retiring at the end of the school year after her 21st year as the emotional and behavioral disabilities teacher at the elementary school.

In dealing with children in kindergarten through fourth grade, Isaac has worked to make her room a safe and peaceful place for children struggling to control their emotions. She exudes patience and a positive calmness and it helps her to comfort emotional children.

Isaac talks to the children in terms of trying to think positively about themselves and to feel successful.

"Then you can address those behaviors and emotions," she said. "I teach them coping strategies, setting up behavior plans."

Dealing with the children's emotions is one of the facets in how Isaac helps the children. She helps the children academically, so they are able to stay on pace with the rest of the children in their classrooms.

Another aspect she helps these youngsters with is how to make and keep friendships. Children with emotional and behavioral issues often have difficulty with trust and that causes problems for them in their friendships.

"We always do social skills with every child, every day. During that time I develop a relationship with each child," Isaac said. "This is their safe place."

Because Isaac's room is a resource room, she deals with 18 children at different times each day.

By building a relationship with the young children, Isaac earns their trust. They are then willing to listen to suggestions she has to help them in their lives outside her classroom.

"Every kid wants to have friends, some of them just don't have those skills," Isaac said.

Dealing with the wide range of issues that these students carry can be exhaustive, Isaac said. She said that burden is whisked away when she deals with the kids each day in the classroom.

"It's corny, but you look at a kid's inner goodness. It's all about the child, helping them. You see their sparkling little eyes and their smile and all is good," Isaac said.

Isaac said she has been able to deal with the pressures of special education because of a close-knit staff at the school.

"I have the most wonderful staff, friends here. They support, encourage, laugh with me," she said.

It was a chance substitute teaching opportunity that got Isaac into this role 21 years ago. The Luck native had taken a few years away from teaching to raise her children, Brenda, Nate and Andrea.

Twenty-one years ago, Somerset Elementary Principal Janet Muellner called Isaac. A special education teacher hired for the position didn't show up and they needed a substitute for a few days until a new teacher could be found.

"I walked (into the classroom) and knew this was where I belonged," Isaac said.

Isaac then went back to school to get her special education certification so she could continue teaching the class.

As far as plans for retirement, Isaac said she and her husband, Ken, plan to visit many national parks.

"We love to travel, bike, fish and golf. We're outdoor people and now we have time to do that," Isaac said.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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