2023-24 Beginning Teacher of the Year

Cold Harbor ES Educator Named Beginning Teacher of the Year
Posted on 05/16/2024
Cloe CookCloe Cook, a second grade teacher at Cold Harbor Elementary School (CHES), has been named the 2023-24 Hanover County Public Schools (HCPS) Beginning Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Michael Gill, Superintendent of Schools, made the announcement on Monday, May 6 – the first day of Teacher Appreciation Week – at a CHES staff meeting alongside members of the Hanover County School Board.

“Receiving this recognition means the world to me. I grew up playing teacher and imagining what it would be like. I often reflect on how I am doing each day and wonder if I am making the right decisions in my classroom,” said Ms. Cook, a Virginia Commonwealth University alumna. “Receiving this award makes me so proud of myself for all of my hard work. Especially when I think back to the girl that was playing teacher in her room imagining what this job would really be like!”

Ms. Cook is a Hanover County Public Schools alumna who attended Cold Harbor as an elementary school student. She said that being able to teach in the county where she grew up is a “full-circle experience.”

“I knew I loved Hanover and that it would be a good fit for me. Being able to see and work with the teachers that helped shape me into the person I am today is so special,” she said. “Cold Harbor was actually my first pick. I was lucky enough to be placed here for the majority of my field assignments and of course student teaching where I was able to make connections with co-workers as well as build relationships with students.”

CHES Principal Ms. Allison Mullens said Ms. Cook radiates positivity.

“She has an energy and enthusiasm that is beyond compare. While it is not unusual for beginning teachers to come in excited and ready to make a difference, Ms. Cook's positivity is beyond that,” she said. “She is unfazed by challenges, facing them head on and collaborating with staff to resolve them.”

Ms. Mullens added: “She exudes confidence while in the classroom but also questions all that she does to ensure she could not be doing it better. I have not seen a beginning teacher as reflective as Ms. Cook in quite some time.”

Ms. Cook said that her favorite part of teaching is building relationships with students.

“I get so excited to hear their stories and get to know them as well as their families,” she said. “I realized quickly how important they are to me, and that they make just as much impact on me as I make on them.”

That was evident on pajama day prior to Winter Break in December when all of Ms. Cook’s students ran up to her and wanted to take a picture together.

“The picture ended up being the sweetest, more adorable picture I had ever seen. All of them were hugging each other and had the biggest smiles on their faces. In that moment I realized I had built the classroom environment/community I always wanted to have,” she said. “They showed each other kindness and looked genuinely happy to be together. And that is all I could ask for as a teacher. That picture now sits on my desk as a reminder of how much I love my job!”

She added: “I am so appreciative of the entire Hanover County Public Schools system for making my job so great!”

Each year, HCPS selects one new teacher for this distinguished award who exhibits several qualities, such as: being inspirational, poised, articulate, and knowledgeable; exceptionally skilled and dedicated; respected and admired by students, parents, and colleagues; and actively and meaningfully involved in their school and community.
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