2017 Wardian Leadership Award Winner

Taylor Cooke

September 06, 2017
In my role as a faculty member, I teach foundational courses in our program. I teach nearly all of the candidates that come through our program but I catch them early in their time with us, so I get to see the raw potential in many candidates. It is always exciting when the nominations for this award come around because I get to hear about the accomplishments they have achieved since they left my classroom. For some, a great deal of potential is realized in the years after I have had them in class.

Such is the case with this year’s recipient, Taylor Cooke. Here is what people she worked with her in the years since my class have said about her.

From Kathy Nitta, who taught her in several methods classes:

“Taylor took a stance of inquiry in considering theories and research-based strategies. She would ask insightful questions and connect readings and course materials with her field experience. She exhibited a willingness to share her thinking with her cohort. Her cohort saw her as a leader and would often ask her questions and seek her feedback.”

Kathy also supervised Taylor in the Extended Learning Opportunity program at Holmes. Taylor took a leadership role at the winter session of ELO and then continued in the Spring. She designed STEM activities for the session and she supported her MIT cohort in implementing those activities. The other service learning students looked up to Taylor as a great support.

From Dr. Deborah Nieding, a faculty member who taught Taylor methods and strategies Courses:

“Taylor took 4 classes from me as a graduate student and her work was outstanding. Taylor set a high standard, which exceeded the stated expectations and always turned her work in on time or before the due date. Taylor consistently served as a resource to her peers in the cohort.”

Dr. Nieding also worked with Taylor as Taylor took on responsibilities with Kappa Delta Pi, our Educational Honor society. “I worked closely with Taylor while she was an undergraduate and served as the treasurer of KDP. She was dependable and competent. She followed up on all the details involved in KDP as the treasurer and as an officer. Taylor was also instrumental in the first Camp Rosauer that we hosted.”

Taylor's passion for service to others is apparent in all that she does whether it is helping her colleagues, coaching, teaching and volunteering. She embodies servant leadership. From her field supervisor Gwen Sanders upon hearing the news that Taylor had won the award: “Wow... how wonderful for Taylor!!! My impressions of her are: quietly confident, humble, appreciative. Taylor sees the need for some school/curricula reforms and quietly yet effectively works toward that in her teaching. Yay for Taylor!!!”

Her cooperating teacher commented: “I have witnessed so many leadership qualities in Taylor and am so excited that she has been selected for the leadership award. She has shown confidence, focus, persistence, decisiveness, inspiration, integrity, passion, positivity, and accountability. Her keen ability to spot problems in learning and find innovative ways to bridge the learning gap for all students is amazing.”

Furthermore, she added: “Sometimes I have to remind myself that Taylor is a student teacher. I know that she will be a phenomenal leader.”

Last but certainly not least are comments from her students. The prompt offered was:

What makes Miss Cooke a great teacher?

Evelina wrote: She lets us skip math when we don’t know what to do. She is nice.

Ava wrote: She works hard, she’s nice.

Christian wrote: She is nice, she is cool.

Through a qualitative research lens, I am beginning to see a pattern here.

Zach adds: She is nice and always having fun.

And finally my favorite:

Aalyiah writes: If it is not a spelling test she will help us.

Congratulations Taylor on winning this year’s Wardian award for educational leadership.

-Dr. Jonas Cox