I grew up in a unique environment, on a spiritual ashram in Florida. I attended school there, from nursery school until high school graduation. I knew everyone in the school, had friends across all grades, and had personal relationships with my teachers, both in and out of the classroom. This sense of community was the norm, so much so that I sought the anonymity of a larger university. School was fun, it was hands on and full of projects I still reminisce about today.
From a young age, I loved children. I began babysitting as soon as people would hire me. I worked at summer camps each year. I worked with the administration to create an early childhood development independent study in high school so I could work more with the younger kids. In college, I worked at preschools and continued to babysit. In short, children are where I found joy and employment. It was not a large leap to major in education.
The time I spent interning in classrooms and my first job out of college showed me a very different view of education than I had experienced. Classrooms and teachers felt isolated, students were expected to fit into the mold, and the “teach to the test” mentality abounded. My experience of learning as hands on, joyful, community based, and individualized was lacking in the schools I now found myself in.
Then I found The Cooper School. Upon my first research into the school, I felt strongly that this school aligned with what I knew was possible in education, because I had lived it. I began working at TCS in fall 2009 and know that I have made the best decision for myself, both personally and professionally. I learned more in my first year teaching here than I did in my five years of education classes in college (including my Masters!). College gave me a strong foundation of education; TCS showed me that my unique experience could be replicated.
The Cooper School is a community of learners, from students and teachers to parents and families. There is the feeling that we are all in this together to help each child reach their full potential. There is joy in the learning everyday, without losing the rigor or high academic expectations. What I remembered from my schooling, was brought to life at TCS.
On a personal note, the sense of community never felt stronger than when I was diagnosed with cancer last year. The school, staff, and board rallied around me to be sure I had a place with the school to keep me going through treatment. And the parents, you wonderful parents, had such an outpouring of love and support I knew I had found my place, my people. Most of all, my joy, the students, bring me love and light each day, reminding me why I became a teacher in the first place.