Cook makes connections at LPHS
Whether with students or staff, Denise Cook is a special education teacher who manages to leave her mark by helping others.
Cook has an extremely busy day. She co-teaches with many teachers and assists special needs students as well as kids with behavior disorders.
“My job title is a special education teacher with the label of mild disabilities, which simply means very high-functioning students with special needs. Most of them are in the general classes along with regular kids, and I tend to do most co-teaching, which means I’m teaching with the regular teacher also. It’s busy I come in the morning, and I generally have a whole group of kids in my room waiting for me, and sometimes we have donuts and coffee, and we just chat, getting our morning going. Then I have a couple of classes where I co-teach English, which means I help support the teacher. I support students, and I’m also there for all my students who I am a case manager for and their issues or problems for the day, so I do get pulled out of class a lot when my students have problems. Then it goes all the way up to the end of the day where I stay after every day except Friday and work with kids whether it be just to hang out and chill because it is just someone to hang with and in most cases were doing catching up on assignments,” Cook said.
At first, Cook was going to be a math teacher, but as she took her courses, there was one on special education, and she fell in love with it. After that, Cook switched her profession and started working with kids who have disorders and who just need extra help. She started out at PNC for four years and later on earned her early childhood degree as well as her bachelor’s degree in special education.
“I swore I’d never do work with profound kids or work with kids who have behavior disorders but I fell in love with this line of work. I find that when I’m afraid to do something it seems to end up on my lap, and I have to do it, and then I love it,” Cook said.
The best part of Cook’s job is seeing the kids and seeing them excited when they accomplish something like getting an “A” on a test or getting accepted into a sports program.
Being a part of this job field is important to Cook because those are the kids who she feels need the most help and should have the opportunity for it.
“My job is important because we need people who truly care about kids and realize that every kid can learn, and every kid matters,” Cook said.
The hardest part of Cook’s occupation is getting many to be understanding when it comes to being accommodating to special education students.
“Sometimes people don’t want to accommodate, and they get mad at me when I remind teachers to use their accommodations. Some don’t believe our kids are special ed, and it’s really frustrating when students nor teachers understand. It is one of our biggest weaknesses,” Cook said.
After putting in long hours of work Cook, takes her summer to relax and do the things that she loves which include reading, traveling, camping, riding a motorcycle that she’s been riding for over 25 years now, and seeing her grandchildren.
Overall, Cook is grateful for her experiences and work and would just like to wish anyone good luck if they would like to enter her field of work.
“I wouldn’t change my experience or anything that I’ve done. I hope someone has as good of a life as I do with the many years that I’ve been teaching, and again it’s a rewarding job,” Cook said.