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Grand Island Teacher surprised with state Autism award

Kruger was notified of the award during a virtual conference from the Nebraska Autism Spectrum Disorders Network
Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 7:46 AM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Ronda Kruger has a collective 14 years of teaching under her belt at Cedar Hollow School in Grand Island. After receiving an award last Friday she said, “you don’t go into teaching expecting to receive.”

Ronda was chosen as this year’s “Friend of Autism” by the the Nebraska Autism Spectrum Disorders Network. Each year the organization delivers a team award and an individual award. The individual award goes to someone who meets the criteria: commitment, vision, innovation and inspiration.

“Some of the memories I have in working with her and some of the kids she’s influenced and some of the families even has just been remarkable,” Ryan O’Grady, the Director of Special Services for the Grand Island Northwest School District, said. “It’s nothing less than a miracle really of what she’s been able to accomplish over her career.”

Ronda is retiring after this school year, leaving behind a career of accomplishments in the classrooms and a legacy to follow outside of it.

“I will be working with a true professional and someone who cares about her kids and does all she can to have them be successful and that’s what it’s all about in education,” Cedar Hollow Principal Scott Mazour said. “We will truly miss her and are better people for having known her as both a person and professional.”

Ronda walked into the school’s gym Friday morning thinking she and her colleagues would be watching the virtual conference and that would be the end of it. She was completely unaware she would be receiving the award, nomination letters written on her behalf would be read aloud by Dr. O’Grady, or that her family was hidden in a back room waiting to come out and surprise her.

For Ronda, the job has always been easy thanks to the kids she has served in her time as a special education teacher.

“They have been my heart,” Kruger said. “I’ve seen a lot of them go through and even through graduation and they still make contact with me when they go to college; once you start working with a student they never leave your heart.”

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