For Andrew Cook, Manzano High School (MHS) is a family affair. The former student, now a Spanish and Italian teacher, is married to an MHS grad, and his father, sister, and brother were all instructors at the school.
Cook, who has been teaching in the district for 12 years, is widely regarded as a master of technology in the classroom. He serves as the department chair of modern and classical languages (MCL) and works diligently with the school’s professional learning community to train teachers in a variety of areas, from Common Core State Standards to the use of Promethean Boards. Cook was the first teacher in New Mexico to become a Nationally Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) of foreign languages. Today, thanks in large part to his mentorship and support, Manzano High School now boasts eight NBCT teachers.
Cook uses project-based learning to engross students in engaging activities as they develop ever-increasing proficiencies. In his classroom, students write screenplays using their newly acquired language skills and then act, direct, shoot and edit the dramatic productions. To enhance student comprehension, he composes original musical pieces to accompany his language lessons. Colleagues note that Cook is an expert at analyzing student needs and adapting lessons so that students of all abilities can thrive and excel. He makes kids believe and excel beyond their own expectations.
As a member of the school’s Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) site team, he has been instrumental in leading professional development to train teachers how to incorporate AVID strategies into their instructional practices. Student outcomes speak to the program’s success. In 2012, 100% of AVID students graduated from MHS with 69% accepted to college. In 2014-15, Andrew Cook will be teaching the next cohort of incoming freshmen AVID students.
Committed to MHS’s proud traditions of excellence, Cook recognized the need to change practices and policies to adapt to the school’s increased rates of poverty, mobility and cultural diversity. He led his colleagues in the development of the Manzano Community Coalition to study anecdotal data and make recommendations for the future. This group hopes to flip the district model by having school goals originate at the school level with their slogan: "Making our own goals for our own school". Whether he’s designing new support systems to address the dropout rate or entertaining the student body as a peformer at the school’s faculty talent show, Andrew Cook will be giving it his all to make MHS the best that it can be.