Dena Rashkover is the HCPS 2022 Exceptional Children’s “Educator of Excellence”

Educator of Excellence Dena Rashkover

Dena Rashkover, an Exceptional Children’s teacher at Upward Elementary School has been named the district representative for North Carolina’s Exceptional Children’s Educator of Excellence. She will represent Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS) at the statewide annual conference this November in Greensboro.

Rashkover is a National Board Certified teacher with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Florida and a master’s degree in Special Education from North Carolina State University. She has dedicated many years of her life to the service of her students and their families. In the 30 years she’s been an EC teacher, she has served 15 of those years with HCPS.

Michael Gates, Principal at Upward Elementary shared why Rashkover deserves the recognition. “Dena will go above and beyond her responsibilities to serve the students by getting fresh fruits and vegetables for them from local farmers, getting donations of clothing, providing furniture for their use, and assisting them with monetary donations from community organizations.  Dena invites her families and the school community into her classroom to instill a sense of transparency, trust, and collaboration for the benefit of her students.”

In her role as an EC teacher, Rashkover works with all student age groups with significant and multiple needs. “I have most of the kids in my room for all their years in elementary school.  Relationships are made, bonds form, and it’s very deep and personal.  Families get to know each other, which is great too.  We laugh together, we cry together, we dream together,” shared Rashkover.

Rashkover explained what a day in her classroom looks like. “Our room is a lot of fun, a lot of energy, and a lot of joy.  I believe the best learning comes from experience, so I embed language and math into everything we do each day.  We sing, dance, create, play, cook, do science, and become the best and happiest version of ourselves.  It’s a room of fun, acceptance, friendships and love.”

In addition to teaching in her classroom, Rashkover sponsored the Girls on the Run club to provide an extracurricular opportunity for Upward students who need a connection with a caring adult and an activity to be part of. She is also mentoring a beginning teacher and is still maintaining the EC paperwork for her students.

“I can honestly say I have learned more than I have taught. It goes like that. It’s all about community, friendship, fun, and being a support and inspiration for our kids.”