A special education teacher from Cedar Rapids was honored with the Excellence in Education Award at last night’s (Thursday) annual banquet of the Iowa State Education Assocation in Des Moines. Roxann Dittmer teaches at the Linn County Child Development Center, a community-based preschool. Dittmer has a nugget of advice for other teachers.

Dittmer says “First, you have to wear rose-colored glasses. I think most teachers do wear rose-colored glasses. That’s why we go in there, because we know we can make a difference. We have a strong sense of hope, educators do. One of the things I would say to fellow educators is — keep those glasses on because there is good in every child.” Dittmer was nominated for the award by RayAnne Mason, a freshman at Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School.

Eight years ago, Mason attended Taylor Elementary School where Dittmer was teaching second grade at the time. Mason says Dittmer reached out to her and helped her overcome a host of troubles. Mason says “She has taught me everything about life. She has changed my attitude towards school, my attitudes towards my elders, my respect for my elders and for other children and teenagers, such as myself. She has changed the way I think about life and the way I pretty much do everything.”

In nominating Dittmer, Mason called her a true hero, her angel and her best friend. Mason says “She has inspired me to help others by listening to people the way she listens to me. She has showed me that listening can just help everybody even if they don’t want help, just listening to their problems or even helping them through them can change dramatically.”

The I-S-E-A says the Excellence in Education Award goes to one Iowa teacher per year for making a difference in the lives of students. Dittmer received a cash prize of two-thousand dollars, half from the I-S-E-A and half from the Iowa Farm Bureau.