Students at every grade level in high school have benefited from the innovative, expert instructional practices of social studies teacher Karen Cook. Nearly two-thirds of struggling ninth graders have improved their GPA by the tenth grade and achieve a consistently higher pass rate on the interdisciplinary writing portion of the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) than tenth-grade classes as a whole. Much of this improvement is the result of Ms. Cook's work over several years with a group of tenth-grade teachers whose specific goal was to improve the skills, knowledge and motivation of students who had struggled in the ninth grade. Seniors in Ms. Cook's World History class are required to take on a rigorous, multidisciplinary culminating project that she co-created, the goal of which is to research, produce and deliver detailed presentations regarding a current event and its historical roots. At any grade level, students in Ms. Cook's classes see history come alive through her extensive use of outside speakers and primary source documents, while her integration of distance learning and Web-based research helps students take advantage of technology to expand their knowledge of history. With the enormous impact Ms. Cook has had on students and colleagues, it seems she's making some history of her own.
The Bulletin | May 24 , 2014 | Norwich, CT