Posted on October 28, 2010 at 1:00 PM
Thursday, Oct 28 at 9:55 PM
SMITHSON VALLEY -- Hundreds of cheering students at Smithson Valley Middle school shouted for this week’s Excel Golden Apple award winner Bart Cooper. Cooper is a seventh grade science teacher who brings his own brand of enthusiasm to the classroom.
Cooper is trying to do what experts say is critical: get middle schoolers interested in science. His philosophy? “It’s not just exciting,” he said, “it’s fun!”
His students agree. They’re learning not only about life science, but getting a taste of chemistry and physics as well.
“A lot of this, they know,” Cooper explained. “It’s just putting the right vocabulary, the right words with it. Once you get that done, the battle’s won.”
Cooper took the long road to becoming a teacher, serving four years in the Marines and earning a college degree in engineering. Years later, after volunteering in school, he became certified for the classroom and has never looked back.
Cooper’s principal calls him dynamic and energetic, and the students respond.
“He always tries to make people smile,” said 12-year-old Lauren Rodriguez. “It helps me remember my stuff.”
“When I’m in his class, I always seem to pay attention more because there are always different things going on and he teaches in different ways than others,” commented 13-year-old Michael Hanks.
Cooper finds his daily work highly satisfying. “If I can touch a spark, if somebody really liked that, was really excited about that particular lesson or that particular demonstration, that feels good,” he said.