On Wednesday, May 27, the Milford School District announced that it has selected Mrs. Brandy Cooper as the Teacher of the Year for the 2015-2016 school year. Mrs. Cooper is a sixth grade math teacher at Milford Central Academy. Cooper has 7 years of teaching experience, all at the Milford Central Academy. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Master’s degree in School Counseling.
“I was ecstatic, very excited to win the Teacher of the Year for the building,” said Mrs. Cooper. “To win at the district level was huge and it was an honor. I work hard every day and I will continue to do so as I represent our district.”
One of four children, Cooper is the only one of her siblings to graduate from high school. With a passion of wanting to work with kids, Brandy was inspired in college to become a teacher as she gained a love for the pursuit of knowledge. It was this drive that led her to devote her life to helping kids find their motivation behind learning.
“In school I got through because I memorized everything but when I began college I started to understand the big picture and see how the things I had learned fit into the real world,” said Mrs. Cooper. “I want students to know at a young age that they are learning real life skills that will apply to them.”
In the classroom, Ms. Cooper sees herself as more of a facilitator as she allows the students to discover on their own and teach each other. “I have a very student-centered classroom where students work together in a collaborative process,” said Cooper. “Working with each other allows them to become problem solvers, not just have the answers to specific math questions.”
Cooper has committed a large amount of time to participating in state-level professional development through projects such as Toward A New Normal in Secondary Mathematics through the Delaware Mathematics Coalition and the Delaware K-12 Mathematics Project that focuses on creating collaborative settings for Delaware math educators to coach and support one another in innovative teaching techniques and self-reflection. She has also promoted this practice through participating in teacher-to-teacher walkthrough projects coordinated directly at the Central Academy. She is heavily involved as a teacher leader at the Central Academy serving on the Building Leadership Team for the past four years, the Positive Behavior Support coordinator for her 6th grade team, and a grade level representative on the school’s Scheduling Committee.
In addition to the mathematical skills and understanding that Mrs. Cooper’s students are trained in, they also learn many communication skills that they can carry with them throughout the school and at home. “I think middle school is an interesting age where many kids are trying to find themselves,” said Cooper. “At the same time, technology has allowed them to not interact with each other as much as they need to. In my classroom they learn manners and how to work with each other.”
Mrs. Cooper imparts on her students that the lessons they are taught in math class are important and relevant to life outside the classroom. Above all else, students do not rely on simple memorization alone but discover how to become a problem solver that can adjust those skills to fit any situation. “As the students work together they become more confident in their ability to solve problems and are not embarrassed if they are wrong,” said Mrs. Cooper. “By the end of the school year they enjoy interacting with each other.”
The selection process for the district Teacher of the Year is a demanding one. Each school in the district selects a Teacher of the Year who is then eligible to represent the district at the state level. The six candidates this year included Morgan Fry from Morris Early Childhood Center, Kim Davies from Benjamin Banneker, Toni Zeveney from Mispillion, Anne Dawson from Lulu Ross and Seth Buford from Milford High School. Each candidate was asked to submit a professional biography, their philosophy of teaching and a summary of their educational history, professional development activities and community involvement. A committee of 11 members, equally representing all elementary and secondary school, the district office and the School Board, interviewed the candidates, reviewed the written requirements, and observed classrooms to make the selection. Mrs. Cooper will now represent the Milford School District in the State of Delaware Teacher of the Year selection process. The State Teacher of the Year will be announced in October of the 2015-2016 school year.