One of the most important things we can teach our students is that learning in intrinsically enjoyable and striving for success is a reward in itself.
– Sophie Cosgrove
Cosgrove shares her enthusiasm for learning
By Angel Carpenter
Blue Mountain Eagle
CANYON CITY – Humbolt Elementary School teacher Sophie Cosgrove has been named the 2014 Oregon Small Schools Association Teacher of the Year.
Cosgrove, a John Day resident, has shared the joy of learning with students for nearly 25 years, all spent at Humbolt Elementary in Canyon City.
“I really feel that all of them can learn,” she said. “I enjoy teaching and trying fun and engaging ways to present the lessons and have them be enthusiastic about learning.”
She said that at times children may feel they can’t do the work, but “when they discover they can, it increases their self-confidence.”
Cosgrove, who lives in John Day with her husband Mike, a retired educator, began teaching at Humbolt in 1977, starting as a second grade teacher.
After teaching for four years, she took 13 years off to raise her two sons. She returned to Humbolt, teaching kindergarten for 18 years and is now in her third year teaching fourth grade.
Grant School District No. 3 Superintendent Mark Witty cited Cosgrove’s commitment to teaching and willingness to adapt in her profession are some reasons for her nomination for the award.
“Her love of her students is demonstrated by her exceptional care in preparing quality lessons every day that meet the needs of all of her students,” Witty said.
Cosgrove said the award is for all teachers at Humbolt.
“I accepted the honor on behalf of everybody at our school because we all work together to educate children,” she said. “It shows education in a positive light in the community.”
Humbolt Principal Monty Nash said the fact that she would accept the award on behalf of the other school teachers “speaks volumes” about the kind of person she is.
Nash said that while Cosgrove is humble about the recognition, she is “very deserving.”
He said his greatest source of pride in her has been her willingness to move from kindergarten to fourth grade.
“It’s not easy to do,” he said, adding she’s learned the curriculum, the standards, and has come to know her students and their educational needs.
He said her ability to assess her students and the best learning approach for each one has been her greatest asset.
Her dedication to teaching students outside of normal school hours is another highlight, he said, noting she’s taught summer school, working with her incoming fourth-grade students who needed to boost their reading and math skills before starting school in the fall.
“All her students passed their assessments last year – with 97 percent in reading and 91 percent in math – not just Mrs. Cosgrove, but also Andrea Ferreira who also teaches fourth grade,” Nash said.
“We’re proud of her, and just to be a part of it makes us all feel good,” he said.
Two of her colleagues Didgette McCracken and Devin Moan, math and reading Title coordinators at Humbolt, said Cosgrove is “the epitome of what all educators should strive for and an inspiration to both of us.”
Cosgrove said she’s excited to be teaching at a time when the standards are rigorous with “high levels of accountability for both students and teachers.”
“Students’ confidence and self-esteem is built, not by frequent praise, but by success in completing a difficult task after repeated attempts and periodic failures. One of the most important things we can teach our students is that learning in intrinsically enjoyable and striving for success is a reward in itself.”
Cosgrove said other aspects of teaching she’s appreciated over the years have been educating the children of children she has previously taught and seeing the connection her students have to the outdoors, such as ranching and outdoor recreation.
“It’s the connectivity of small-town life,” she said. “I think kids feel comfortable in their community.”