07/25/04 — KAREN D. BAKER

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Karen Diane Baker, 43, of Goldsboro passed away Thursday evening after a long battle with breast cancer.

She had a 20-year career with Caswell Center in Kinston as a teacher of exceptional children after having earned a master's degree in special education from East Carolina University, as well as providing therapeutic services to community-based individuals with mental retardation. In 2002, Karen Baker was named the Caswell Center "Teacher of the Year."

In 2003, she was recognized by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services as its "Exceptional Children Teacher of Excellence." The following are comments from an article published in the Caswell Center publication, The Focus, by her supervisor, Debra Davenport:

Karen Baker has been a "dedicated, positive and courageous teacher" at Caswell Center. She was a strong advocate for her students and known as a professional who treated people with dignity and respect. Karen's genuine love and affection for her students was always visibly apparent. She often volunteered to take individuals home with her for special family events or on holidays. Her students loved her and her positive manner, even when facing enormous personal challenges, having made her a great role model for others.

Karen's sense of humor was contagious, and students and staff always enjoyed being on her team. She had a positive philosophy that no matter what life throws at you, you must count your blessings! She approached everything she did with the same high standards, including her effort to educate others and heighten awareness of the importance of cancer treatment and research.

Karen Baker was truly a teacher and person who was a joy to know. When asked how she felt about her award, she responded, "Some people think that the individuals who live at Caswell Center are not worth teaching. If they would spend one week here, they would gain wonderful experience that would change their minds and their lives." Karen went on to explain that she worked "... at Caswell Center for the love of it. I have learned to appreciate the simple things in life by teaching so many students who appreciate so much."

The most special thing about Karen, however, Mrs. Davenport concluded, was that her students loved and responded to her, and they benefited from her dedication every day.

Graveside services will be held today at 2 p.m. at Wayne Memorial Park with Pastor Jack Sauls officiating.

Arrangements are with Seymour Funeral Home and Cremation Service.

(Written and Paid for by the family)

Published in Obituaries on July 25, 2004 9:16 AM