Lori Jones Cooper: Award Winning Educator

ljcI think we can safely say that everyone who is going back to school has officially gone! So we thought the best Nerdy Chick to interview this week would be a teacher, and I knew just the teacher to ask. I’ve known Lori Jones Cooper since high school. (She was a few years younger!) Years later, while writing THE BOY PROJECT, Lori and her students helped me out with some research. I had the privilege of visiting her classroom in 2012. Rare is the teacher whose love for students, enthusiasm for education, and positive outlook equals Lori’s. She has been teaching for sixteen years, and her professional excellence has been recognized.  She was Camden Middle School Teacher of the Year 2009-2010, Kershaw County School District Teacher of the Year 2010, Education World Teacher of the Day 2012, and Bojangles State Teacher Appreciation Winner 2011. She is currently serving as a CERRA (SC Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement) Advisory Board Member, a position she will hold until 2015. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on education with us today Lori!

I know that you have loved teaching, but what would you say to a college student today if they told you they wanted to go into teaching as a career? It is honestly the most rewarding career you could choose. Every day is a new adventure! With kids, you never know what will happen next, so get ready for the ride of your life. It’s an honor to share in their journeys.

Hooray for that sentiment! What is the most important quality for a teacher to have? Teachers must truly care about kids and want to make a difference in their lives. It isn’t about flashy techniques, super intelligence, or even advanced training. It’s about heart! There’s an old saying that explains it perfectly: “Kids don’t care what you know until they know that you care!”

So true. I always hope my children will have teachers who want to see them walk through the classroom door. But every job has its down side. What is the most challenging aspect of teaching today? No good teacher minds being held accountable for the learning in his/her classroom, but the focus on measuring teachers and students with arbitrary data takes some of the spontaneity, art, and creativity out of the educational process.

Can I say amen here? Amen! (It means “I agree” after all.)  What is the best thing we can do for our children to kindle a love for learning and to keep that flame burning?  We have to show kids an authentic love for learning. If we are enthusiastic about what we are teaching, they pick up on it and want to know more. I have gotten the attention of many a reluctant learner just by being truly excited about the subject and about teaching it to them.

That is truly awesome. Now something about you: what’s something you like to do that might be considered a tiny bit nerdy, but is actually really fun? I love “infobits”.  I am constantly reading and searching for new information. If something comes up that I don’t know, I immediately look it up and fill myself in. I LOVE learning new facts, trivial or not, and fill my head with them. I’d probably be great on one of those trivia shows. Maybe one day….

Last week, you may have seen our post about 5 authors who answered this question, but we like to ask everyone this: If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be? Be bold! Don’t worry about what anyone thinks. Do what you know is right no matter what…because people really will look up to you for standing by your convictions. One day, they will wish they had stood strong like you did!

Thank you Lori, for your great answers. I know that this year, you have moved into a new position working as a resource teacher for children with mild learning disabilities. We wish you great success for the year!

For Nerdy Chicks interested in public education, you might also enjoy this interview with middle school principal Lori Marrero.


2 comments on “Lori Jones Cooper: Award Winning Educator

  1. Jocelyn Rish says:

    Congrats to Lori for her accolades for being such a great teacher! There’s a part of me that has always wanted to teach, but realistically I have about thismuch patience, so I know it wouldn’t be a good fit. So I truly admire the people who are able to do it so well.

  2. Melissa Smith says:

    So proud to have Lori representing KC Educators! Teachers rock…especially Lori! xoxo

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