Cheryl Ellsworth moves through her last year of teaching with the same enthusiasm and caring for her students she has always demonstrated as the high school special education and reading teacher at Greene County High School in Jefferson.
“I like to take each student where they are and move them forward,” she says. “I have a passion for working with students who need and appreciate extra help.”
Just ask senior Noah Luther, 17.
“I had her for reading and math, extra-help study hall,” he says. “Hands down she is an amazing woman. She is one of the people who will never give up on anyone. She helped me get through it all.”
Ellsworth says she looks forward to going to work every day.
“The best thing about teaching is I feel really good about going to school because I know I will be able to help someone,” she says.
Getting to know each student and getting a student to trust her takes a while to develop and turn into a relationship, she says. Once she has earned the student’s trust, the young person will go all-out for her, she says.
Ellsworth’s job not only means teaching them, but getting students the assistance they need either from her or by pointing them to someone who can help them.
Two of the main things she works on in addition to lessons are manners and self-confidence.
One former student who stays in touch with her was heading through high school with a dysfunctional and unproductive year.
“I worked on building up his confidence, he graduated from high school and went on to get a two-year degree and is doing well in a full-time job,” she says. “Confidence, trust, believing in themselves… it helps them better their situation and to not give up.”
Although her work with the students will be hard for her to give up, she is looking forward to doing other things.
“I’m looking forward to doing some traveling and I’m a real outdoors person. I like to kayak and want to do that more,” she says. “Spending more time with my family is huge.
At 68, Ellsworth says, it is just time.