We would like to congratulate our February Teacher of the Month, Catherine Cook of Thomas Edison Charter Academy in San Francisco. Ms. Cook teaches fourth and fifth grade at Edison, staying with each class for two years. In her seven years at Edison, Ms. Cook has undertaken a number of initiatives, from coaching the school’s first organized sports team, to leading a campaign to unionize the teachers, to helping her students petition the school board to reverse a ban on hooded sweatshirts. Her enthusiastic commitment to her students and school community is truly inspiring.
Ms. Cook’s current and former students praised her dedication and teaching style in their letters of nomination. “Ms. Cook makes class funny and ‘learningful’ for us,” wrote Petra Cardoso, who also attends 826 Valencia’s after-school tutoring program.
Anaid Saldana, a fifth grader in her class who wrote that she “didn’t understand anything at the beginning,” said Ms. Cook’s creative explanations and examples changed that. “Now that I’ve been with Ms. Cook two years, I’ve been a straight-A student!”
“I’m in sixth grade now, and she still helps me out if I’m having a hard time and gives me props when I have good grades or high scores,” wrote Sheldon Kilpack. “It’s lucky to find someone outside your family who cares that much for you.”
David Hawkins, Ms. Cook’s partner of sixteen years, helped students compile the nomination package of letters, photos, and articles to demonstrate the many ways Ms. Cook positively impacts their lives. “Over the years, she and I have traveled all over the Bay Area to attend countless birthday parties, several quinceañeras, football and soccer games, and even a wedding,” wrote Hawkins. “She makes home visits, schedules special outings with students during holiday breaks, and makes herself available after school hours.”
It’s clear, from the parents who request their children be assigned to her class; the participants in Girls Club, the social justice discussion group she led for three years; the players on the Jaguars’ soccer team; and the classes who repeatedly achieve the highest test scores at Edison, that Ms. Cook is an exemplary educator. We’re honored to celebrate her great work!