Carson Middle School’s Cook on teachers: ‘They truly care’
Teaching is like working two full-time jobs with all the time spent off the clock, retiring Carson Middle School English/language arts teacher Tedra Cook said, but it’s one of the most important things educators could be doing.
“They work nights, weekends, holidays,” she said. “They’re planning, they’re grading. … And I worry about teacher burnout because they give selflessly. They give every day to a million different things … and they truly care.”
Cook was one of 32 Carson City School District staff members to be honored at the May 28 Board of Trustees meeting for their service to the district. Cook gave 15 years as a seventh grade teacher or as a tutor to all of the middle school grades in the school’s afterschool programs helping students to read or write, starting in 2004 with CMS.
It’s an age group she found a passion for when she earned her teaching degree.
“They are transitioning from being little to the adult world and they are often very honest and open, and I like hearing their opinions on things, and they’re not super needy and they’re coming into their own person,” she said. “It’s a very interesting group.”
Cook herself transitioned from a different career into education.
Cook spent more than 20 years in retail and worked her way into management through Target, Best Buy and Gottschalk’s in Ventura, Calif., before moving to Nevada. She worked her way from the stock teams and unloaded trucks. From Office Max to other stores, Cook said she raised her children and finally decided to get a teaching degree, studying for her bachelor’s degree at the University of Nevada, Reno and then getting a master’s in Teaching English as a Second or Other Language degree from Grand Canyon University.
She said with the support of friends who already were teachers and her late husband, a math teacher at Carson High School, she entered substitute teaching. She made the decision to begin teaching at CMS, where she wanted to help kids learn how to become better readers and writers.
“Writing is a good tool for all kinds of things,” she said. “Journals and diaries can be a good way to get out those feelings so you can stare at a piece of paper and deal with them or on a computer screen. It can help you deal with different cultures, different nations.
“I love reading. I love reading (my students’) opinions on things we’ve read. We do things with argument. … If you are a reader, you open your mind to a thousand different ideas. You don’t have to agree with them, but you can at least learn about them.”
Cook was honored for her efforts in 2016-17 when she was named the district’s Educator of the Year in April.
Even as she has sought to make sure her students have been successful at improving their skills, she’s also make sure to appreciate what her cohorts have done in and outside of the classroom.
“They truly care — they care about the students’ success, they care about their wellbeing and care about them whether they’re at school or not,” she said. “They’re just an amazing group of people. They have huge hearts and I don’t know the general public knows how hard they work, and they really do. They go by a school early in the morning and they’re already there. They go by way after school and they’re still there. They coach or they tutor; they’re just an amazing group of people.”
After 15 years as a teacher, Cook said she would miss the change every day has brought at CMS.
“You come to school in the morning, you have all these plans and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t,” she said. “And every day is different, every class period is different depending on the students in it.
“I will miss variety in my life. I will miss my colleagues — they’re amazing. I will miss my students asking me questions and hearing their opinions on things. I’d say, ‘Tell me why, why do you think that?’ I will miss that.’
Of course, there are certain things about the job she won’t miss, she pointed out.
“I won’t miss getting up at 4:45 a.m.,” she chuckled.