Third-grade teacher in Elyria has her last first day of school before retirement

ELYRIA, Ohio — The mark of a good teacher is a mentor; someone who inspires, motivates and challenges your mind.

But the relationship doesn’t just have to be between a teacher and student, that relationship can also blossom between coworkers and friends.

Cindy Czerski is a third-grade teacher at Eastern Heights Elementary School in Elyria and has been involved in education for 35 years. This school year will be her last as she plans to retire.

“I definitely have a lot of mixed emotions. I’m excited for the next chapter of my life but I definitely will miss the kids,” Czerski said.

When the bell rang on her last first day of school, it was a bittersweet feeling. Teachers can have a dramatic impact on a student’s life, sometimes even changing its course. For Czerski, it was a teacher she had growing up that influenced her to go into the profession.

“I had a teacher in high school that inspired me. Because I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Czerski said. “She invited me to come to her classroom after I graduated, and I just got hooked.”

Now Czerski is the one moving those minds, helping shape what her students become in the future.

“Third grade is the best year. They still like the fun stuff. They still like cutesy stuff,” Czerski said. “But their personalities are coming out. They’re more independent. It’s a great year.”

Czerski’s fellow teachers have watched every day as she had dedicated her life to helping her students learn and grow. When they saw News 5 was taking submissions for teachers worthy of a back-to-school surprise, they knew exactly who to nominate.

“Thirty-five years of extreme dedication to the students of Elyra. Love at all times. Love for all her kids,” said Marisa Orenic. “I honestly wouldn’t have made it the last three years without this woman. She’s amazing.”

Working for a decade together has forged a friendship between Czerski and Orenic, the latter learning lessons from her fellow instructor that she applies to her job every day. Many of those lessons will last with Orenic long after her friend retires.

“I’ll make it. But I’m sure I’ll be on the phone with her every night,” Orenic said.

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