Tamara Cooper, the new principal at Milford Senior High School, has already gained much respect for her leadership and ability to push the teachers and students further. By helping create clear standards for students and encouraging students and teachers to push themselves, Mrs. Cooper has created an environment focused on success. “I have a great group of teachers and staff committed to Milford High School, which is a blessing. They want to see each other succeed,” Tamara commented when asked about her fellow co-workers.
With degrees from Norfolk State University and Old Dominion, Mrs. Cooper has acquired a B.A. in English Secondary Education and a M.A. in English and Technical Writing; respectively. She has worked with a diversity of students as her professional career has included administrative posts as principal and assistant principal in Virginia. Principal Cooper has made the switch from teacher to administrator but admits that she “still gravitates towards the classroom. It is where my heart is,” she said.
Mrs. Cooper has demonstrated this love of the classroom by creating initiatives that help teachers focus on the success of students not only when they are in their own classroom but throughout their high school career. Common planning times for faculty allow teachers within a certain discipline to establish objectives and goals for students as they move from one level of learning to the next. By working together the teachers have “done a great job committing to the success of the students,” Mrs. Cooper stated.
Expanding on this idea of reciprocity between teachers, the 212 degree program was developed in order to recognize those students and teachers who give more than is expected. The idea behind the program comes from an analogy of boiling water. At 211 degrees water is hot but at 212 degrees water boils. It demonstrates that one degree of extra effort can separate the ordinary from excellence. In this program students and teacher recognize each other for going that extra mile. “It is important to show the students that even something as small as studying or being tutored for fifteen extra minutes a day can make the difference between an A and a B,” Mrs. Cooper explains. This program gives students and teachers an opportunity to recognize their colleagues for their extra determination.
Principal Cooper hopes that during her tenure she will be able to, with the help of her fellow teachers, increase students’ interest and participation in volunteerism. Internships with local businesses and non-profits are something she would like to see more of, as community involvement becomes highly encouraged. As for herself, Principal Cooper wants to be viewed as an equal and not a higher authority. “I do not want teachers to feel that they work for me, but rather that they work with me,” she explains. With years of experience and a focus on student and teacher achievement Mrs. Cooper is determined to lead by example and commit the 212 degrees needed to help Milford succeed.