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At Alabama State Department of Education’s meeting in Montgomery, Kelsey Cooper, at center, was honored for earning the prestigious Milken Educator Award earlier this year. Cooper, a math teacher at Discovery Middle School, accepts a statuette from State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey, at left, and Dr. Wayne Reyolds, Alabama State Department of Education, District 8. CONTRIBUTED

State board honors Kelsey Cooper for Milken Educator Award

MONTGOMERY – The spotlight shone on Kelsey Cooper in Montgomery recently for receiving the celebrated Milken Educator Award, which she accepted earlier this year in a surprise presentation at Discovery Middle School.

In the state capital, the Alabama State Board of Education honored Cooper in a congratulatory resolution in a special ceremony. To perpetuate her achievement, Cooper accepted a translucent statuette from State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey and District 8 representative with the State Board of Education Dr. Wayne Reyolds. Reyolds’ district includes Madison City Schools.

Nicknamed the “Oscars of Teaching,” Milken Educator Awards celebrate the American teaching profession and serve to inspire young, dedicated people to join it. The award includes an unrestricted $25,000 check and lifetime honor in the elite class of Milken winners. Only 60 educators nationwide were awarded Milkens during this 2021-2022 school year. (https://tinyurl.com/2p94vry9)

“Providing students with both real-world and group-oriented learning experiences has been shown to be an effective classroom tool. Milken Educator Kelsey Cooper has developed a dynamic learning environment within her local school system, which promotes K-12 mathematics knowledge, independent student thinking and advanced problem-solving,” Mackey said when he visited Discovery with the award.

“Kelly Cooper’s commitment to furthering student achievement using innovative technology and best-practice classroom instruction is truly an outstanding example of educational leadership,” Mackey said.

In her math classroom and for everyone to effectively teach, Cooper believes a teacher must “get to know your kids. Set expectations and have procedures in place so that students know those expectations.”

Furthermore, she is confident that all students can learn. However, “students need support and an adult in their corner, and their future is theirs to go get,” Cooper said. “Consequences are needed to learn and grow, but grace in certain situations can teach us more than consequences in the end.”

Cooper attended Calhoun Community College and then earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, minor in education at Athens State University. In 2021, she received a master’s degree in instructional leadership from the University of West Alabama.

In other honors, Cooper was selected “2021 Teacher of the Year” at Discovery. She is a National Board Certified Teacher. Cooper teaches math 8 accelerated, AVID and algebra 2 with trigonometry. She sponsors Fellowship of Christian Athletes and First Priority.

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