Tammy Cooper

“Mrs. Cooper has helped me with all areas of my new position. She has been a lifesaver this school year. However, what I really notice is her willingness to help students. Mrs. Cooper isn’t afraid to stop what she is doing to help students throughout the building, even students who are not assigned to her directly. Mrs. Cooper gives teachers ideas and guidance on how to work with students to improve academics, behavior, and social skills. I have seen her help de-escalate upset students, praise students when needed, lend a listening ear, and be firm when needed, all while still showing the students how much she loves them. She helps these students while assisting two new special education teachers, overseeing all the paraprofessionals, helping parents understand the testing process and their rights, working hand in hand with family services, managing different therapy schedules, scheduling testing sessions for students, making sure that accommodations and modifications are met, among many other things. Thinking about how much Mrs. Cooper helps students and staff literally leaves me speechless because I don’t know that I can adequately express how blessed we are to have Mrs. Cooper in our district!”

-Mrs. Paige Frazier          

Mrs. Tammy Cooper was active as a student in Licking High School as a participant in Pep Band, Pep Club, FFA, and Student Council prior to her graduation in 2002. After high school, Mrs. Cooper attended Southwest Baptist University in Salem, MO, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in elementary education in 2007. Mrs. Cooper started her teaching career at Dent-Phelps School District immediately following graduation, and she continued teaching elementary grades there for eight years.

In August 2015, Mrs. Cooper transferred to Licking Elementary. Mrs. Cooper remembers her years teaching third grade as her favorite prior to stepping into special education. “I loved teaching third grade, and I had always been interested in special education,” said Mrs. Cooper. “It has always fascinated me to learn what is underlying students’ behavior issues and how to help students overcome academic challenges. I really enjoy providing focused instruction in a small setting,” Mrs. Cooper added.

Mrs. Cooper seems custom-made for special education instruction. She often shares with other educators and families that special education students may have delays in growth, but when students reach milestones, they make incredible and inspirational gains. In the 2021-2022 school year, Mrs. Cooper took over as Special Education Director for the district. As Special Education Director, Mrs. Cooper is responsible for staying up to date on special education law, daily changes to compliance from the state and federal government, communicating these changes to staff and parents, and planning for best practice in special education classrooms.

When asked about changes to education during her career, Mrs. Cooper responded that she believes special education services are currently trending upward in Licking. “This happens in cycles,” said Mrs. Cooper. “We trend upward for a bit, and then we have a decrease.” Mrs. Cooper noted that the COVID-19 pandemic affected children in ways adults weren’t expecting. Social skills development was impacted by lack of exposure to settings such as restaurants and shopping areas, and children began experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety and depression. “All human beings were adversely affected,” said Mrs. Cooper, “but we sometimes forget that children don’t have the words to vocalize big feelings in small bodies.”

When looking into the future, Mrs. Cooper is excited about continuing the progress we’ve seen over the past several years. Administrator and Board member support have allowed the special education department to expand and implement proven teaching strategies, according to Mrs. Cooper. “We are thrilled to add socio-emotional support measures in the future as well as a comforting sensory room to address students with overwhelming feelings where children can be free from the watchful eyes of their peers which will reduce embarrassment and stigmatization,” Mrs. Cooper elaborated.

Mrs. Cooper says she couldn’t imagine working anywhere but Licking School District because she grew up here, her family is here, and she enjoys giving back to the community. Mrs. Cooper has been married to Dr. Bradley Cooper, Plato superintendent, for 19 years. Both professionals started their careers at Dent-Phelps School District, and they enjoy having each other for support in their challenging yet rewarding positions. The Coopers are parents to Peyton, born March 29, 2014, and Dalis, born March 6, 2019. Mrs. Cooper enjoys sharing about her children’s different personalities, interests, and gifts.

Mrs. Cooper is thankful for the support of her parents, Mike and Connie, who both worked for Licking School District when Mrs. Cooper was in school. Tammy Cooper is proud to be an aunt to her nieces and nephews, children of Tammy’s sister Melissa and brother, Derek. When they aren’t working, Dr. and Mrs. Cooper enjoy camping, traveling, horseback riding, and enjoying water sports. The couple’s goal is to visit all 50 states with their children before the children graduate high school. So far, they have been to approximately 35 states! Mrs. Cooper is proud to be a member of Licking Assembly of God Church in Licking where she teaches a preschool class on Sundays.  

Mrs. Cooper can be seen greeting buses outdoors each morning and walking students to their cars every afternoon. In between, Mrs. Cooper is a strong advocate for children and a passionate partner for families. For these reasons, Licking R-VIII School District is proud to celebrate Mrs. Tammy Cooper as January’s Spotlight Staff Member!