After working 21 years with the Western Dubuque Community School District, Carole Cigrand retired at the end of the school year, but she is by no means done with caring about education.
Cigrand began her career by working for a few years as a paraprofessional at Cascade Elementary School (CES). She went back to school and graduated from Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids with her degree in education. “I was hired by (the district) and was employed with them for 21 years — three years at Bernard Elementary and 17 at CES. I also spent one year at Dyersville Elementary as a literacy coach.
During her tenure, Cigrand taught both general education and special education. “The majority of my time in education was spent teaching 5th grade, and I’ve spent the last five years teaching special education,” she said.
The majority of her memories are fond ones, because she felt the love and support of her co-workers, who were also family to her. “I have wonderful memories of many other educators with whom I’ve had the opportunity to learn from and grow with,” said Cigrand. “I’ve been lucky to call many of them friends, as well as co-workers.”
She also considers herself fortunate to have watched the development of so many students over her years in the classroom. “I also really enjoyed seeing the growth, both academically and socially, that my students made from the beginning of the school year to the end. Helping kids believe in their own ability to create change in their lives and seeing them grow in confidence was rewarding.”
Along with the several service projects she did with the fifth-graders during her career, Cigrand said she will also miss the education she received from her students. “I will definitely miss the kids and being around all their natural optimism and energy. I’ve been connected to Cascade Elementary for so many years, from my own kids attending there to being a part of the teaching staff, that it will be a little difficult not being actively invested in the school on a daily basis. I will miss my co-workers, as they are great individuals and an even better team.”
Cigrand saw more than her share of changes in her time as an educator, and she cautions that technology and data can never tell the whole story about a student’s abilities. “Education has become more data-driven. We now have a greater opportunity to know where our students are academically, which helps us know how to adjust our instruction accordingly. However, the amount of data can seem overwhelming, and sometimes I feel like education is becoming more about the numbers rather than about the love of learning.”
According to Cigrand, the fact that education has become more child-focused allows educators to take the whole child into consideration, and to look at individual strengths and needs academically and socially.
As for her day-to-day now, Cigrand said she and her husband will be doing a lot of traveling to visit kids and grandchildren in Kansas City and Colorado, and that she will continue biking, sewing, listening to music and gardening.
Always the educator, Cigrand added, “I also plan to continue to advocate for educational issues in the political realm.”