Rowland Unified School District

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Villacorta's Sylvia Cadena Honored as District Teacher of the Year

Rowland Heights teacher obsessed with education

By James Wagner, Staff Writer

The lobster was edible.

If there was a seminal moment in Sylvia Cadena's teaching career, it was that simple sentence uttered by one of her third graders.

The boy, who was taking on English as a second language, was struggling to write and read. So Cadena, asked him to draw. After some work, it clicked and the boy recited his phrase.

"I felt his pride," she said, "because he was able to read, write and recite a sentence he had written."

It was such a moving moment that it motivated Cadena, 53, to create a reading lab for kids who need specialized attention to improve their reading.

The classroom couldn't help everyone. "I wanted to do something more intensive," she said.


Sylvia Cadena.
ran the lab so succesfully at Villacorta Elementary School that today she will be honored as the Rowland Unified School District's "Teacher of the Year."

"I'm extremely humbled," said Cadena, a Diamond Bar resident.

For two years, Cadena and another teacher ran the reading lab. Students, from kindergarten through six grade, came for help during the school day. Tests and the students' scores showed an increase in reading aptitude, she said.

Now she's the Learning Director, a vice principal position that helps teachers improve their craft, at the school.

But it isn't something Cadena has been doing for long. She graduated from college at 40 years old and started teaching the next year after an "extraordinary career" as her son's mother, she said.

By some accounts, Cadena is obsessed with teaching.

Her husband once caught her taking notes during church. She said she had a good teaching idea and needed to jot it down.

"I just really love teaching," she said. "I don't know how to turn it off."

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