Cynthia Macioce has had two starts to her teaching career.

Cynthia Macioce has had two starts to her teaching career.

The first came just after graduating from Otterbein University (then College); the second was 17 years later, when she started working at Gahanna Lincoln High School.

"I taught for two years at Bishop Hartley High School, ran their (drama) shows, taught English and speech, and I thought, 'I'm not a teacher,' " Macioce said.

She quit teaching and worked as an actress. She earned a master's degree in communication at Bowling Green State University, got married and raised a family.

Then one day in 1995, she received a call from Petie Dodrill, the only drama teacher Gahanna Lincoln had ever had, asking her to return to teaching.

"The person who said she could never be a teacher, that there was no way I could ever communicate with kids," Macioce said, "I went back."

She's never left.

Now, in her 20th year of teaching there, Macioce has won Columbus Parent's Teacher of the Year award in the high school division.

In his nominating statement, Gahanna Lincoln principal Bobby Dodd, wrote: "Teachers such as Cindi Macioce don't come along every day. She has a natural gift to help people."

Dodd left out of his nominating statement what an unusual year Macioce has endured and has overcome. In December, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 endometrial cancer. Surgery in January was successful, and she returned to work two-and-a-half weeks later.

"I came back the evening we opened our dinner-theater show, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," Macioce said. "Probably a little too soon, but you do what you have to do."

As always for Macioce, the experience became a teaching moment, she said.

"The seniors took ownership," Macioce said, noting that the group, which takes a performance-studio class that culminates in a dinner-theater production where the actors serve audience members while remaining in character, had done their own blocking and rehearsing. She could not have been prouder or more pleased with the results, and it reinforced for her what she has learned best from her return to teaching: "I paid attention to the kids this time around. It's amazing what the kids teach you."

Read the full story about Macioce here.