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RPS 205 graduate found her niche at Roosevelt

Roosevelt Alternative High School gave Melissa Cadena the personal learning environment she craved. And Cadena, in turn, gave 100 percent dedication to her education in the Rockford Public Schools.

“She is the kind of person that you hope your kids will be as adults,” said Matt Green, an English teacher at Roosevelt. “She’s just an all-around smart, dedicated and talented young lady.  I’m sure I could add a bunch of other superlatives about her, but she is one of the best students I have ever had.”

Melissa Cadena-Roosevelt 2012 BCadena graduated from Roosevelt in 2012. She works full-time in quality control at Fastenal, a fastener distributor with a facility in Loves Park. Cadena landed a job in manufacturing because of her high score on the ACT WorkKeys test, which measures workplace and career skills. Her aptitude also led her to an accelerated credentialing program from NIMS, the National Institute for Metalworking Skills.

After brief stays at two other RPS 205 high schools, Roosevelt helped uncover her talents and give her confidence.

“At big high schools, it’s easy to feel like another brick in the wall. At Roosevelt, it was kind of a polar opposite — smaller classes, interactive teachers. That’s truly what makes the biggest difference,” she said.

There was another difference in Cadena’s life: She had a child. Roosevelt’s on-site day care was a deciding factor in where she would land — and flourish.

Phyllis Luhman, director of day care at Roosevelt, remembers Cadena’s kind heart and her initial shyness. “You could just see her unfolding, one petal at a time,” Luhman said. “Her main driving force was that she wanted to do everything right for her son.”

Cadena was very open to advice and was very willing to work through issues and challenges, she said.

Green noticed the same thing in his classroom. In a recommendation he wrote for Cadena before her graduation, he said, “We have had many meaningful conversations about school, life and college and she shows a great adeptness for critical thinking, maturity beyond her years, and the necessary ambition to attain a better life for her and her son.”

True to form, Cadena is taking classes at Rock Valley College to earn her associate’s degree. She may believe she owes Roosevelt a great debt, but Luhman believes Roosevelt got the better part of the deal.

“We are better people for having known her,” she said.

Mary Kaull is strategic communications coordinator for the Rockford Public Schools. Click here to subscribe to this blog. Also, please like RPS 205 on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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1 Comment

  1. Colleen Holmbeck

    I find that few people in Rockford know about the great work that people at Roosevelt do. What a difference their daycare center makes in the lives of many young women. Thanks for giving us such a fine example of one of their successes many successes.

    Colleen Holmbeck

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