LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Cathy Cooper

Position: Principal
School: Orchard Public School
School District: Nebraska Unified District 1
City, State: Orchard , NE

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Cathy Cooper was nominated by her colleague, Bob Evans.

With her commitment and leadership, Ms. Cooper inspires colleagues to be better teachers and people on a daily basis. She has developed a personal relationship with every student in her school, and encourages everyone around her.

"I find after thirty-one years in education, that with her leadership and support, there is nothing we cannot do to assure that we are providing the highest quality education for our students," Evans said. "

Ms. Cooper has always put the best interest of the students and their growth at the highest level of importance. Evans has worked with many administrators in his thirty-one years, and says that she truly stands among the very best.

"I have shared tears of joy and sorrow with her, and I truly believe that she is a blessed angel that our district is graced to have with us," Evans said. "It would be impossible to not be filled with warmth and energy being in her presence."

"I believe that this tiny bundle of pure heart and energy, in some way, touches the heart of every child in our school," Evans said. "Our entire school reflects her energy every day. I am very thankful to teach in such a great school and to have amazing leadership."



Comments (25)


Kortney Sayers Posted over a year ago

I have had the opportunity to work with Mrs. Cooper in multiple stages of life. First I was her student in English where she taught every student as they were her own. She built everyone up to understand English and to be successful in her class. I appreciated the enthusiasm and drive of her teaching. She continued this enthusiasm in drama as she was the one-act coach during my high school years. Mrs. Cooper believed in me even at times when I did not. At the completion of high school, I had determined that I would follow the road of becoming an educator. I knew that I wanted my classroom to be like Mrs. Cooper's. She was always happy and excited for English, a class that students generally do not have as much excitement for. I was able to continue her support when I returned to my former high school not as a student but as a teacher. At first it was a struggle. I believe I called her Mrs. Cooper for the first two years until I finally made the transition to Cathy. I taught business, but it didn't stop me from seeking help from my former English teacher. She helped me transition into the teacher I am today. She constantly supported me and helped me to reach students with enthusiasm just as she did for me. I followed in the fine arts and coached speech where once again she aided in proofreading, writing jokes, and several other skills I probably don't even know about. Today I get to call Mrs. Cooper my friend. I had the opportunity to teach her girls and she gets to be the principal to my boys. She has always wanted everyone to reach their potential whether in her classroom or in her school. The Life Changer of the Year Award is certainly deserving. Mrs. Cooper has impacted so many students in her teachings and continues to inspire teachers around her. I am glad I have had all the opportunities I have had for her constant support. The future continues to look bright for my children with her leading the way.

Candice Hoke Posted over a year ago

I am honored and blessed to call Mrs. Cooper a co-worker and friend. For the last 7 years I have served on the Orchard School Board and currently preside as President. Mr. Evans was spot on in his description. Cathy is a true life changer to so many at Orchard Public Schools! The dedication, leadership and heart that goes into everything she does is respected and appreciated. Ironically, Mrs. Cooper was my English high school teacher and you could feel her desire for your success! We are winners every day having Cathy as our leader, I pray she receives the same in return by winning the Life Changer of the Year Award!

Angie Schindler-Berg Posted over a year ago

Cathy was my high school teacher, over 28 years ago. It’s obvious her passion, spirit and love for teaching hasn’t faded a bit! I can’t imagine the number of students and peers you have inspired over the years! Thanks for all that you do!! Angie

Peggy Romshek Posted over a year ago

I had the priveledge and honor of going into Mrs. Cooper’s classroom to assist the special education students I worked with 20 years ago. I personally learned so much about grammar and English from her! However what was amazing was seeing her interact with students and the way she touched their lives. I know she is doing that today as a principal! She made such a huge impact on me as an educator and a person!

Jacob Twibell Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Cooper is one of those teachers who knows how to make a fun, light atmosphere in a classroom while still getting you to learn. Every day I had her in class was entertaining, engaging, and informing. The writing skills she taught me still have a massive impact in my college classes today; I feel like I’m able to put out a high-class paper for all of my reports, responses, and essays in any class. All of of Mrs. Coopers lessons on grammar have stuck with me in ways other classes and teachers simply can’t do. I’m always the correcting hundreds of commas, semicolons, and other nonsuch marks on every paper in a study group. Mrs. Cooper was, and still is, one of the best instructors I’ve ever had. English teachers in college have failed to come close to her expertise. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to be taught by her. Her fun nature but seriousness when it came to writing and grammar was one of the most useful experiences of my educational life.

Tammy Posted over a year ago

Awards come and go and even fade over time, but the true impact of an educator will reflect in students' lives forever! This is the mark that Mrs. Cooper has made in her students. Her energy, dedication and passion for her profession are a few things that create learning within her students. I have had the honor of teaching with her and recently being a school counselor with her as the principal. She values my opinions, and we work well to make positive influences on the students within our school. I love her enthusiasm for new ideas that teachers may present. She is always so willing to "give it a try" and support how it will make a difference in the students' lives. Our school is a better place with her at the helm, and it is a great place to work! What an honor for her if she were selected to receive this impacting recognition!!!

Angela Tagel Posted over a year ago

I truly enjoy working in Orchard with the great team of teachers that Cathy has put together. I never hesitate to go to Cathy with a concern, problem, or even just to talk. You know she really cares and has your back. She works very hard and always gives things her best. Thanks for all you do for our staff and students!

Carrie Williamson Posted over a year ago

This is my first year as a teacher under Mrs. Cooper, and don’t have the words to describe how great she is. She is the most energetic, supportive, and caring individual. We are so lucky to have her at OPS! Mr. Evans said it best, we are thankful to work in this great school with amazing leadership!

Terri Posted over a year ago

I can think of no one more deserving of this award. All 3 of my daughters had her as an English teacher in high school and they all told me that she had them the most prepared for the transition to college. My uncle was a history professor at a local college and he told me many times that he could tell which of his students had had Mrs. Cooper for high school English without asking because of their correct grammar and ability to write answers for his essay tests. As a long time board member I was very reluctant to let go of her as an English teacher because I felt that she was truly one of the very top teachers in the state and did not want our students to miss out on her expertise. Our superintendent told me one day "How can we continue to hold her back from wanting to further and better her career?" I realized the truth and wisdom in those words and so glad I did because now we have one of the best administrators in the state! She gives all she's got everyday, cares immensely for our kids and our entire staff, goes above and beyond, does it with a huge smile and never complains about how busy she is! Best decision ever to make her a full time principal.

Kristi Posted over a year ago

Having Mrs Cooper in our school district is a great asset. She started in our district as our English teacher and my three boys were very fortunate enough to have her as their instructor. In the last five years I have had the privilege to work directly with Mrs Cooper as a school board member she has been our principal and she has done a fantastic job at that. She provides leadership, continuity, organization and fairness to all staff and students. It is without any hesitation that I would highly recommend Mrs Cathy Cooper for any and all honors.

Loralyn O'Kief Posted over a year ago

Cathy is a rock star! She is an innovative and inspiring leader! Congrats.

Al schlueter Posted over a year ago

I was Cathy Cooper’s superintendent for a number of years. Ms. Cooper was certainly at the top of the list. When the prior year seniors returned home to attend ball games, I would ask them which teacher helped them the most when attending their college classes. Ms. Cooper was always the teacher the students listed. As her administrator, I feel Cathy was the most progressive teacher on the teaching staff. I feel, without a doubt, she is the best teacher/administrator in the state of Nebraska.

Ryann Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Cooper is the best. I've been out of high school for four years now, and I still miss seeing her every day! I don't think there's another person out there quite like her; she truly is one of a kind! I have had a lot of good teachers over the years, but if you asked me which one of them is the most deserving of this award, I would without a doubt say Mrs. Cooper. She is the epitome of a great educator—her passion and enthusiasm are unmatched. I hope that other teachers strive to have the same impact that she has had (and is still having) on our school. I'm not going into education, but I hope to be like Mrs. Cooper in whatever I decide to do, because I know how important it is to have someone like her around. Whether she wins this award or not, I hope she knows how important she is to her students, to her school, and to her community.

Jillian Walmer Posted over a year ago

"Oh Captian! My Captian!"    Written by Walt Whitman describing the death of Abraham Lincoln, Oh Captain, My Captain has always been one of my favorite poems, introduced to me by none other than Mrs. Cooper.    The title taken from this poem was also coined in the infamous movie Dead Poet's Society that described a teacher (played by Robin Williams) that inspired his students to seize the day in a world of seize the complaisant.    The poem took on a form of symbolism, a form of honor, and form of respect. When people hear "Oh captian, my captain," they probably think of Whitman, or Robin Williams , or even the ocean, but when I hear those words, I think of Mrs. Cooper.    Not only did Mrs. Cooper influence my love for writing and English, she sparked my interest in theater which led to me receiving my theater degree.    Her classroom was always full of energy that moved the minds of the students forward. What set her apart was her way of critical thinking and emplimenting it into action. Her love for the school has always made her the loudest and most enthusiastic in the bleachers during school sports games. It made her the teacher we could talk to about anything. It made her the one we could count on. It made her our principal. It made her our favorite. No one is as deserving as our Captain.

Alecia Knust Posted over a year ago

I miss coming to her classroom with her high energy every single day! :-) Mrs. Cooper changed my life by taking me in her classes and took the time to teach me as much as she can to ensure I understood English throughout. I learned so much from her from academics to life lessons. Throughout my college years, I caught myself acting like Mrs. Cooper among English/grammar rules to teach my peers in college; at these moments, I realized Mrs. Cooper did impact me. Even Mrs. Cooper came to my mind when I was exploring Hamlet's farm in Europe! Mrs. Cooper is an incredible leader. She always ensures others come first even though she is hectic busy! Hence my second sentence, Mrs. Cooper is a great professional for this award.

Tristen Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Cooper was my English teacher for two years in high school. She always did everything in her power to make sure that I would achieve my full potential and always believed in me when I didn't have faith in myself. She always found a way to make class interesting and different everyday. She is one of the reasons as to why I am now pursuing a career as a teacher.

Mallory Cooper Posted over a year ago

I am Mrs. Cooper's daughter, but I am also one of her former students. I fully believe she deserves this award entirely. My mother wakes up every morning with so much excitement to get to school and begin her day inspiring her students, faculty, and staff. She is ALWAYS full of so much energy, which definitely produces positive attitudes to those around her. Currently a college student, I credit my outstanding English capabilities to her! English was my favorite class in high school and now is in college too thanks to her! One of my biggest inspirations has always been my mother. She has worked so hard to become an administrator after being an English teacher for over 25 years, and she has so much dedication for it. Being an administrator now, my mother attends every athletic event, fine arts performance, and several other school activities! Anything the students are partaking in, you can bet me mother is there cheering them on in some way!! My mother puts Orchard Public Schools as a top priority, and everyone there is considered her second family. I have witnessed her go above and beyond for several students and staff members as an English teacher and now as an administrator. She created the best school environment for me as a student, and I have greatly benefited from this. I am beyond proud of her, and I hope to acquire some of her phenomenal qualities!

Kelsey Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Cooper is one of the best teachers I have ever had, and I am so glad that I am one of her former students!

Mackenzie Posted over a year ago

I'm so unbelievably proud to say that Cathy Cooper is my mother. I grew up watching her change the lives of so many of her students. Her energetic, upbeat attitude always made learning fun. She was my biggest inspiration to become an educator. You will not find an educator who is more deserving of this award. She goes above and beyond when it comes to her job as an administrator, and so many students, teachers, and staff members are so lucky to have her in their lives.

Al schlueter Posted over a year ago

I always considered Cathy in the the top 1 percent of educators in the nation.

Jenelle Posted over a year ago

Congratulations ,Cathy.

Sara Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Cooper was my high school English teacher. Much of my love for reading can be attributed to her. Her genuine love of literature, preparedness for her students and quick wit made for a most enjoyable classroom! She was a great teacher, but is an even better person. I’m so glad to see her smiling face featured here!

Heather Draper Posted over a year ago

Best teacher I ever had. Was the most amazing and made me want to pursue a career in English. So kind and always brought out the best in people. Deserves this award so much!!!

Sally Finch Posted over a year ago

I would totally concur with Mr Evans assessment of Mrs. Cooper. Her ability to relate to every student in her building is amazing. She is organized, energetic,a very good communicator, and a positive role model for everyone around her! Kudos to Mrs. Cooper who would be the perfect recipient of this award.

Alison Mullins Posted over a year ago

As a former student and now parent of a student, I can attest to her many great attributes. She goes above and beyond to ensure that her students succeed. We are so lucky to have her!