Candlewood Teacher Wins “Thank You for Teaching” Award
Cynthia Graham, a kindergarten teacher at Candlewood Elementary School in Rockville, is this year’s recipient of the Shirley J. Lowrie “Thank You for Teaching” Award.
Graham is often called “the heart” of Candlewood; she has spent all of her 27 years in education there. Colleagues and parents describe her as a charismatic teacher and natural leader. As a kindergarten teacher, she knows that her job is not only to set children up to love learning, but to allay those first-day-of-school fears that many anxious parents have. She makes school memorable and exciting, which is why children are often found in her classroom dancing, singing and involved with hands-on activities. Her room is also filled with photos of her students proudly showing off their work.
One parent wrote that Graham has a “special skill that enables her to instill a sense of order, focus and intellectual excitement in her classroom without the need to ever raise her voice or undermine a child’s self-esteem. You cannot teach that skill; it is in your blood.”
One year after starting at Candlewood, Graham also assumed the duties of the Col. Zadok Magruder High School cheerleading coach, a position she held for almost two decades. She focused on the essential qualities of good character, good citizenship and excellent academic achievement for all student athletes. She was later inducted into the Magruder High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
At Candlewood, she also takes on enormous projects such as running the annual talent show; coordinating International Night and sending personal invitations to families in various languages; and organizing the Candlewood Farewell Celebration, which involved reaching out to 25 years’ worth of the school’s alumni.
“She is a one-of-a-kind, flawlessly dependable, seemingly effortlessly involved educator, team player and friend,” wrote kindergarten teacher Holly Bednar. “Her influence, knowledge and support are intertwined in all aspects of our school and felt by students of all grade levels, teachers, support staff, parents and community. … Without Cindy Graham’s involvement, it simply would not be the same.”
The annual “Thank You for Teaching” awards are made possible through the Shirley J. Lowrie Memorial Fund, established at the Community Foundation for Montgomery County. Graham received a $2,500 award from the Lowrie Fund. Lowrie taught for several years as a teacher and substitute teacher in California and Connecticut before relocating with her family to Potomac.