Lisa Stocke-Koop knows the power one teacher can have.
For her, it’s Eric Anderson, with whom she did her student teaching in 2000 before his death in 2004 from skin cancer.
“I still think about him every day,” she said. “He made me be the teacher I am. He was amazing and inspiring. Still inspiring to this day.”
That’s what she hopes to be for her students.
“A lot of my students I’m still in touch with as adults,” she said. “They’re in college or they have their own jobs, but they’re still part of my life. It’s nice to see them using skills even from middle school as they move forward.”
The science, technology, engineering and math teacher at Eagle Valley Middle School was recognized this week for her commitment to her students as she was named the 2014 Teacher of the Year for the Carson City School District.
“I’m still in shock,” she said. “I was not expecting it at all. What a wonderful surprise.”
Her students were not as surprised.
“I think she’s really helpful,” said Kaiya Carlson, 13. “She makes sure we can achieve what we’re trying to do.”
She takes a different approach to teaching, said sixth-grader Alana Jeffries, 11.
“She let’s us pick our own goals,” she said.
That way, Stocke-Koop said, they are motivated to succeed.
“Their own objectives and goals are way beyond what would be asked in a standard text book or curriculum,” she said. “I don’t lecture. I don’t give answers. I try to lead them with questions so they start thinking in a different direction.”
Stocke-Koop was in her 30s and raising three children when she decided to pursue her teaching career.
“I always wanted to be a teacher from when I was a little girl,” she said. “I just realized I really wanted to follow my dreams.”
After completing her student teaching at Eagle Valley Middle School with Anderson, she went on to teach technology at Carson Middle School, where she started an annual technology night to showcase the students’ accomplishments as well as related careers in the area.
Last year, she returned to EVMS to take over the newly built STEM lab, where she oversees students completing a choice of about 40 projects, which include alternative energy, mechanics, data analysis, computer graphics and software engineering.
Students also learn how to create their own apps.
“They just can’t go wrong,” she said. “Even if they don’t go in any of these directions, they’ll have the skills.”
The technology night she started at CMS has grown to a district-wide STEM night, with science fair projects and displays in science, math, engineering and technology.
“It’s awesome,” she said. “It just feeds itself.”
Stocke-Koop, now married to first-grade teacher Jason Koop, enjoys hiking, camping, fishing and gardening during her time off.
She also serves at the school’s leadership adviser, which won the Spirit of Nevada award; coaches the LEGO Robotics team, which won two awards; and is the Career and Technical Education Department chairwoman.
Despite her busy schedule, Stocke-Koop is happy with her decision to become a teacher.
“It was the best move I could have made,” she said. “I love what I do.”