Meet the Teacher: Kristine Cooney

Educators are perhaps the greatest population of unsung heroes in Berrien and Cass County. This school year, Leader Publications will publish a weekly spotlight featuring teachers throughout the district, giving the community a chance to get to know the hard-working individuals shaping their children’s lives. Throughout the next school year, their answers will be published in the newspaper that serves each school district.

Name: Kristine Cooney

School: Niles High School/Niles New Tech

Kristine Cooney

Grade(s)/subject(s) taught: Nine to 12 social studies and English (this year I am teaching ninth and eleventh grade English)

Where did you attend college? Michigan State University

How many years have you been teaching? How many years have you been with your current school? This is my fifth year teaching and my fifth year working for Niles Community Schools.

Why did you decide to become a teacher? While in college, one of my jobs as a peer educator provided a first-hand experience about the power education has to change people. Progress and real change in society begins with education. I wanted to be a part of that change so I decided to become a teacher.

Outside of school, what do you enjoy doing for fun? I enjoy traveling. Each summer I plan a trip to somewhere new. I also enjoy hiking and backpacking, kayaking or canoeing, yoga, and spending time with my dog.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? I don’t know if this is currently my favorite character, but growing up my favorite character was Hermione Granger from the “Harry Potter” book series. She was a strong female character that was valued for her mind. I connected to the character and became less self-conscious about being labeled “the smart” girl” by my classmates.

When you were a student in the grade you teach, what were your favorite hobbies? I was an athlete in high school, participating in basketball and track. I also was part of the high school band and a member of several clubs/organizations. Outside of school, I was part of a local ballet company.

How would your co-workers describe your teaching style and personality? I am very organized and like to have lessons planned out that are very intentional/relevant.

Who is your biggest role model and why? My parents are my role models. They are the people who have made me who I am today. They have inspired me, been my teachers, and have supported my goals throughout my life.

How has education changed in the last 10 years? I think technology has been the biggest agent of change in education in the last 10 years. Technology has impacted the workforce, which has required education to take a new approach to prepare students for the future. While knowledge is still valued, developing 21st Century skills has been a major focus of the more recent curriculum.

What is your best advice to parents to help their child continue growing academically? Read to children when they are young and continue to encourage reading as they grow older. Reading can help develop social and communication skills, it develops imagination, it builds vocabulary and writing skills, builds critical thinking, and will help children be more confident in school.

If my students learn one thing this year, I hope it is… An understanding of how powerful and impactful language, whether written or spoken, can be in the world.

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