Since January of 2016, Cooper has been an English teacher at Northside High School. Prior to that, she graduated from the University of Alabama and Hewitt-Trussville High School in her hometown. Though it hasn’t been long since Cooper was sitting in a desk, rather than teaching at the front of the room, she is well on her way to becoming one of Tuscaloosa’s greatest teachers.
“My greatest accomplishment as a teacher is the success and growth of my students,” Cooper said. “Each day, I have the privilege of watching my students mature in various ways; it is a gift to watch my students become better writers, speakers, researchers, encouragers, and human beings.”
With only a few short months until graduation, her students’ attention is undoubtedly spread thin across their classes, college applications, and their impending freedom. Cooper combats those distractions through kinesthetic learning and the element of surprise. She evaluated every lesson she plans by asking herself if she would be excited or bored as a student. By taking the time to think about her class through her student’s perspective, the day becomes a lot more productive for everyone involved.
Inspired by the teachers she’s had in the past and the great Maya Angelou, Cooper approaches each class as much more than time to learn to construct a proper sentence, but as an opportunity to help her students build character.
“More than anything, I want my students to leave my classroom at the end of the year with an understanding of, and reverence for, the power of words – specifically, the magnitude of the words we choose to speak over one another,” Cooper said. “My primary goal is to teach my students the importance of treating every person with empathy, compassion, and grace – always and no matter what.”
Being a teacher doesn't come without difficulty or making mistakes. Cooper knows that owning her mistakes and learning from failures will only make her a greater teacher. Through taking chances and trying new things, she has already learned some valuable lessons.
“Give yourself GRACE,” Cooper said. “Big grace. Remember why you chose this profession and understand that if your heart is in the right place, your intentions will direct your actions. Remember that the first year is often the hardest, but it’s also an opportunity for personal and professional growth. Allow yourself to be molded into the teacher you want to become year by year.”