For the past 10 years, Cynthia Herschkowitsch has worked with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Texas and community leaders to create a program for students that promotes kindness to animals, respect for all living beings, and responsibility for the environment. Cynthia is a veteran of 26 years at South Oak Cliff High School. She has taught every level of English and German and has volunteered to teach preparatory workshops for students in various areas. She has also coached the Academic Decathlon Team and three of their University Interscholastic League (UIL) Teams for nine years. She is well acquainted with children and knows how to relate to them and their needs.
Herschkowitsch realizes that many colleges expect applicants to have community service, so they have established a community service project in her area. In 1989, she founded the SPCA Pet Club. This club raises funds, rescues and adopts animals, and finds homes for others. Since its inception, they have raised over 15,000 dollars for the SPCA, which has enabled them to purchase much needed equipment such as steel examining tables, dental cleaning and bone pinning equipment, thermal cage warmers, ophthalmoscope, and a dishwasher for cleaning implements. To date, they have rescued over 250 animals, some of which were severely abused or injured. The Pet Club also sponsors a cage in the clinic.
Herschkowitsch considers it her special mission to address needs in her community, and she always tries to include the students. When she educates her students about the necessity of helping others, they, in turn, will educate others the same way. They work together to create public awareness about problems like the link between animal and child abuse and the need to spay and neuter pets to prevent unwanted litters. In 1999, the Pet Club worked with the Spay and Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) and sponsored the spaying and neutering of 191 animals in their community. They also created a “Be Kind to Animals Coloring Book” which they distribute to several elementary schools in the area. This is a great teaching tool for young children regarding the care of their pets. Currently, the Pet Club is working with the Education Director of the SPCA of Texas to organize a Coalition of Humane Educators in an effort to disseminate humane information through the school district.
In addition to working with the SPCA, Herschkowitsch participated in other various projects. She participates in the Dallas AIDS Planning Commission as a member of the Education Task Force. She sponsored a Bone Marrow Donor registration drive for a six-year-old girl who needed the transplant to cure her of aplastic anemia. Her efforts added an additional 86 potential donors to the national registry. She also has sponsored a Christmas party for needy children for the past 10 years.
The community has honored Herschkowitsch many times. Two different Rotary Clubs selected her as “Outstanding Secondary Teacher” twice. The Pet Club was selected as “Hometown Heroes” by KDFW-TV for their annual Christmas party for needy children. She was also selected as Dallas’ Teacher of the Year for 1987 – 1988.