Patricia V. Ryder has exemplified a commitment to special education and the support of individuals with learning disabilities throughout her life. Although she realized her passion for teaching in the eighth grade, it was not until she entered 10th grade that she understood her desire to teach students with learning disabilities. During this time, Ms. Ryder began volunteering at Camp Columbus, a special needs camp that hosted participants aged 5 to 80. Over the course of her life, she progressed in the camp through various roles, including as a counselor, lifeguard, assistant director, and director, remaining in the lattermost capacity for more than 25 years until the camp closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. Ryder’s early introduction to special education through the camp solidified her steadfast dedication to serving children with special needs.
In this regard, Ms. Ryder excelled as a special education teacher at the Auburn Enlarged City School District in Auburn, New York, for 40 years. Now retired, she is especially proud of all the work she conducted for the school district to help learning-disabled children progress in their studies and lives. One such project was a children’s book she and a first-grade special education class co-authored based titled “Elf on the Shelf,” which became available for other students to read and celebrate. In addition, Ms. Ryder is gratified by her work with reading programs designed to assist students with reading comprehension struggles. Furthermore, Ms. Ryder sat at the helm of student exchange programs in Russia during the 1990s and the Republic of Georgia during the early 2000s, which aided in her understanding of global perspectives on education.
To prepare for her career, Ms. Ryder attended Cayuga Community College, from which she earned an associate degree in 1974. She subsequently matriculated to The State University of New York at Geneseo, receiving a bachelor’s degree in special education in 1978 and a master’s degree in special education in 1983. In her civic-minded endeavors, Ms. Ryder serves as a librarian for her local church and previously served as the co-advisor of a special needs Boy Scout Explorer troop, co-president of her local teachers association, and member of her local Rotary International Youth Exchange Program.
As a testament to her success, Ms. Ryder was honored with the Dale Post Educator Award for her work with multicultural children in 2016. She was also inducted into the Auburn Alumni Hall of Distinction in 2022. In her post-retirement years, Ms. Ryder enjoys reading and traveling in her leisure time. Notably, she and her husband, Gary, have visited 34 countries. In the coming years, she aims to establish a Little Free Library in front of her home to encourage children and adults to read more often.