Terrific Teacher: Deborah Graziano

‘I always ask my students to try to improve what they’ve written—to make it better,” Deb Graziano says.

Deb’s natural inclination is to make it better herself, wherever her profession leads her, and this drive earned her a “Teacher of Distinction” award from the Golden Apple Foundation in 2009 and the great affection of her Park Ridge community.

She grew up as the oldest of five kids in Park Ridge and returned there 13 years ago to raise her two children and teach second grade at Carpenter Elementary School.

“We are delighted that Ms. Graziano’s passion for teaching and her love of learning have been acknowledged by other master teachers in her profession,” writes District 64 Superintendent Sally Pryor. “Her creativity and focus in the classroom each day are an inspiration to other teachers, and speak to the high standards in District 64.”

In order to keep her students engaged, fostering inquisitiveness and a passion for learning, Deb adopts techniques above and beyond the district’s requirements, such as videotaping her students’ current events presentations and making food to demonstrate geometric shapes. she encourages her students to get out of their chairs: During silent reading, they sit cross-legged on their desks in a position that strengthens their core. Deb also dresses in costume to become different educational characters, including “Doctor Decoder” and “Rhonda Riddles.”

Deb’s efforts to make education better extend beyond her classroom. she worked with the PTA and through of the school administration to create a painted mural on a bare wall, and developed the school’s courtyard into a National Wildlife Federation Schoolyard Habitat, with a solar-powered water fountain and a tadpole pond.

Deb’s commute is easy. “I live across the street from school and walk to work,” she explains.  She enjoys the deeper connections this fosters.

“I’ve worked with over 200 families. This is my community and I want to stay here.”

“I just love what I do,” Deb says. “And if you love what you do, you are so fortunate!”