The impact Cindy Ehrstein has on her students lasts long after they leave her eighth-grade classroom.
"Mrs. Ehrstein treats you like you are family," wrote a former student. "Still to this day, whenever I see her, she will come up to me and say hi and ask how I’ve been. She’s a great person with an overall good heart."
Ehrstein teaches language arts both in the regular classroom and a special education inclusion class along with Andover’s eighth-grade resource teacher. Wrote one mother of a special-needs student: "Mrs. Ehrstein was one of the few teachers who actually wanted to make a difference in the education of my child. For the first time, (he) believed in himself and wanted to succeed. Mrs. Ehrstein gave that gift to my child as I’m sure she has given that gift to many children."
For Ehrstein, the students come first and are her inspiration.
"Every day I, as a teacher, have the opportunity to inspire and make a difference in the life of a child, and every minute of that day can present itself with a teachable moment," she wrote.
One parent noted that during a particularly difficult school year when Ehrstein dealt with a death in her family, when asked why she missed few days of school, the answer was "Oh, I miss the kids if I am gone very long."
"It was obvious by that statement that it is more than a job to her," the mother wrote. "It is part of her identity. She isn’t just a teacher. She has a relationship with these kids."
Ehrstein applies the same philosophy in all aspects of her life, whether it is sponsoring extracurricular organizations, being the "team mom" for her children’s sports teams or leading youth groups and teaching Sunday school in her church.
"What better gift to give a student from a teacher than to impact their life?" wrote a fellow church worker.
A graduate of Pretty Prairie High School, Ehrstein earned her bachelor's degree in education with a minor in English from Tabor College, a master's degree in instruction design and technology and an ESOL endorsement from Emporia State University and has earned continuing education hours from Friends University, Kansas State University, Butler County Community College and Wichita State University.