Orange Grove teacher chosen for national program
Samantha Cooper won't need textbooks when she teaches students about the Underground Railroad next year.
The teacher at Orange Grove Elementary will only need her memories from traveling to historic sites in the South, which she will explore this summer through a national program for educators.
The National Endowment for the Humanities has chosen Cooper to attend two weeklong workshops dedicated to history and culture. The events are slated for June and July. "Riding the Underground Railroad" will take place in at the University of West Florida. "The Most Southern Place on Earth: Music, History and Culture of the Mississippi Delta" is set for Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss.
Only 80 teachers from around the country have been invited to attend each workshop.
Cooper told The Sun that getting firsthand knowledge of such great lessons for the classroom amounts to a tremendous opportunity for teachers.
"Oh, this is just wonderful!" she said. "I've never done anything like this before. I am going to get the chance to go and see places like Mississippi. I've never been there. I'm going to be learning something new in this case, and will be able to bring it back to the students."
The National Endowment for the Humanities offers 20 Landmarks of American History and Culture workshops. Other workshop topics include the Civil Rights movement, the U.S. Constitution and the Industrial Revolution.
About 1,600 teachers from around the country participate in the workshops each year, taking what they learn back home to an estimated 50,000 school children.
"My kids are really excited," Cooper said.
The Yuma teacher has friends who have participated in workshops in the past. She heard amazing stories from those friends and was inspired to apply for her own chance at some enriching experiences.
Participating teachers are required to read a handful of books prior to each workshop. They are also required to bring along lesson plans to share with counterparts.
"I'm the only teacher from Arizona going," Cooper said proudly.
Cooper holds degrees in dance and communications, having studied at University of Washington and the University of Granada in Granada, Spain. After coming to Yuma she worked as a secretary for the emergency room department of Yuma Regional Medical Center, a job she used to put herself through college once more. She earned an undergraduate degree and masters degree from Northern Arizona University.