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Missouri Association of Rural Education



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Rural Secondary Teacher

Joni Cook

Joni Cook has been educating young people for the last twenty-five years in rural schools.  For the last 8 years she has been the librarian at Lakeland High School.  Joni is an incredibly dedicated and hard working educator.  As a teacher, she is dedicated to student performance and is often thinking of activities she can use in the classroom to keep students active and engaged.

Ms. Cook is the type of teacher every rural principal would love to have.  While her official role is high school librarian, her real job is being the districts “Jose Oquendo.”  Cardinals’ fans will remember how Jose played many different positions for the Cardinals in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Ms Cooks’s willingness to take on a multitude of roles is a testament to her dedication to the Lakeland students.

In the fall of 2011, the district did not having an alternative education program. Ms. Cook was asked to coordinate an online class system known as PLATO at the time.  Also discussed was building an After School Credit Recovery program for the school.  Recruiting another teacher to help, she developed the process for tracking student growth and progress as well as celebrating with them as they completed each course.    For the past three years in addition to being the leader of the ASCR students, she is now officially the Nigh School Coordinator, MO Options students as they prepare online for the HiSET, and students using the library for study hall after school.  With Ms. Cooks dedication to these programs, the high school graduate rates have increased from a low of 69% before the program to a range of 83-88% for the past three years.

Whether Joni Cook is sponsoring something, teaching a class, or maybe even playing second base for the school, makes it appropriate to congratulate her as Missouri’s Outstanding Rural Secondary Teacher for the 2014-2015 school year.