Thursday, November 14, 2013

Finding Mrs Cooper

Is there a teacher from your childhood that stands out in your memory? Someone who perhaps encouraged you and helped shaped the person you've become?

I was fortunate to have a few teachers who stood out for their creativity, motivation and kindness. But there is one in particular that I think of often, and would love to meet again some day.

Mrs Cooper was my grade three teacher at Brooklyn Primary School in Burnie, Tasmania, and she was one of a kind. I remember her as happy, bright and loving. As a teacher she went far above and beyond to make learning fun and an adventure for us.

Often we would turn up on a Monday morning and the classroom was transformed to support the theme of our learning. Once an enormous full-sized 'haunted house' tunnel had been created out of painted cardboard boxes that we could walk through. On the walls were pictures and information and I think I remember spooky things dangling around too. Who wouldn't want to come to school when the classroom was such a wondrous place to be?!

I remember every morning we would hold hands and say a little prayer 'I love you today, I love you tomorrow, and I'll help you as much as I can'. She spoke not just to our minds but right to our hearts.

In days long before 'differentiation' was the buzz word, we used to work on our own individual assignments. I remember selecting topics and researching in the class library and then conferencing with Mrs Cooper, or Libby as we called her, to share our work and get feedback.

When I was crazy about Boy George and had a folder full of clipped photos of him, I remember sitting on the floor with her and sharing them all before she finally declared that she didn't really like him. It didn't matter at all - the fact that she'd been so interested was important.

After school I used to sit on her lap for a cuddle and tell her 'I love you'. I know you could never do this at a school in Australia anymore, and that's a bit sad.

As a teacher now I often think of Mrs Cooper and know her attitude, her creativity and her willingness to love us students has impacted me for life. If I could be half the teacher she was I'd be happy.

Are you out there Libby, or does someone know you? Wouldn't it be wonderful if the internet could put us in touch?!

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