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Alumna Named Elementary Teacher of the Year
Photo: Cindy CormierTeaching fifth-graders is no small feat. Cindy Cormier, a fifth-grade teacher at Jan Schiff Elementary, was named Elementary Teacher of the Year for Fort Bend Independent School District. Cormier graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a Master of Elementary Education in 2006.

Teaching for about 16 years, Cormier decided to teach when she became a mother.

"After my daughter was born, she thrived as I gave her personal care, attention and interaction," Cormier said. "As the director of federal housing projects in New Iberia, La., I knew first hand that so many children did not receive the kind of quality care that was needed to enter school ready to learn and grow. So I began to teach."

Cormier moved to Houston in 2002 and a friend recommended St. Thomas to prepare her for the Texas teacher certification exams.

"When I arrived at UST, I was frazzled and nervous," Cormier said. "The environment of the campus was so calming and welcoming. I knew I would stay."

Cormier remembers professors like Dr. Rick Krustchinsky fondly.

"He was funny, always had a smile and was serious about teaching," Cormier said. "He was a huge resource."

The class with the biggest impact on her experience was a course in multicultural education. She said the classes discussed topics that were sometimes uncomfortable, but necessary for teachers.

"It opened my eyes to issues that may be occurring in our classrooms," Cormier said. "It is a valuable course for all teachers to experience."

Along with multicultural students, Cormier understands the unique growth process that happens during the year for fifth-graders. She calls them "middle children."

"At the beginning of the year, they are sweet little babies who still enjoy being read to and getting hugs," Cormier said. "By January, however, they begin to behave like pre-teens. The transformation is amazing. You really have to be two different teachers as the year progresses."

Her adaptability and understanding in the classroom caught the attention of Fort Bend ISD. She was given the award on May 4 to celebrate her achievement. Always the enthusiast, Cormier encourages UST students to be active on campus and engaged in their classes to enrich their futures as teachers. She advises students to participate in all course activities, take great notes and keep old exams to prepare for comprehensive teaching exams.

She will be exploring the principal certification program at St. Thomas this summer.

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