Jeff Cooks has dedicated his life to coaching, mentoring and teaching. He’s currently working on his masters in education, has coached football and basketball at the high school level and he is the CTE teacher at Spring Creek Youth Services Center.
What role do you play in education?
I am currently a Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher at Spring Creek Youth services Center for the State of Colorado.
How long have you been in education?
I have been in education off and on for about 10 years, but this is my second year as a teacher.
Why do you think education is important?
Education is important because it provides young people with the foundation needed to make informed and calculated decisions that are critical to success in our society.
What do you love most about your role in education?
I love working with young people and investing in them in a loving way. My current role allows me to work with a forgotten population (youth offenders) and it allows me to be impactful in helping them find a reason to be productive and successful.
What is the best advice you have received about impacting the education sector?
The best advice that I have received about impacting the education sector is to always remember why I do what I do. Education is challenging and without a valid why it is easy to walk away from.
What do you think are the top 3 things that help create a healthy learning environment? Please Explain
Based on my experiences the three things that help to create a healthy learning environment are physical, emotional, and psychological safety. When students feel safe, they are able to put forth the necessary effort needed to learn. When students feel unsafe learning becomes a non-priority for them.
What do you think is the most important quality in an educator? Please Explain
In my opinion the most important quality in an educator is empathy. An empathetic educator can meet students where they are at and take into consideration their experiences and background while working to bring out the best in them as students and people.
What advice would you give to the younger generation about their education?
The more that you learn the better equipped you are to make determinations about the value of what you have learned and how it applies to your everyday life.
What encouragement would you give to those who are interested in being in education?
Please join us! The industry needs new bright minds and more loving hearts.
As a Black Person, what obstacles have you overcome, or are you overcoming to excel in education?
One obstacle is coming into an educational setting that has a lot of students that look like me but very few educators. Another obstacle that I have overcome is my own disinterest with the idea of working in education. I ran from being a teacher for about 15 years because I did not believe that I could do enough to make an impact. However, I have come to see the light!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
We need more black teachers in every community! Our collective experiences in this country give us a unique perspective that students in every walk of life can benefit from.