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Know Your Pelicans

Meet Katie Cooke

Music Teacher

Know Your Pelicans

What do you teach? What is one of your favorite parts of the curriculum?

I teach music to our youngest learners over at the Early Learning Center (ELC). My favorite part of teaching is being able to witness these young students fall in love with the joys of sharing music and learn wonderful stories through music.

What is something that most Packer people wouldn't know about you?

Upon first glance, you may not know that I'm fluent in Turkish! If you know some Turkish, please come up to me. Türkçe konuşalım!

What are the strengths of your department?

The Arts Department is incredibly diverse in the experiences we bring to the table, and we are able to make especially deep connections with our students as we encourage them to express their true selves. It's so rewarding, and I think everyone in the Arts Department really cherishes that and prioritizes it in their teaching.

What are your impressions of Packer so far? Our students? Your colleagues?

Packer is a community that has allowed me to learn more about myself as I interact with my students and coworkers. This is my first year of teaching which is known to be a really challenging one, so I've been able to see Packer as a really precious life chapter in which I get to grow a lot as a person and educator.

Tell us about a specific time you found your job especially rewarding.

Around Thanksgiving I wanted to give students a strong foundation of how rich Native American culture is by talking about their music. I initially was wary since I would be sharing a story that wasn't mine, but I found so many rich resources online that helped me learn about the contemporary music scene in Native American culture. I showed my students Native American dubstep that combines the sounds of pow-wow drum circles and synthesizers they went nuts because they loved it so much! To this day, they still ask me to play the "pow-wow" video. I'm so happy that I get to be a part in enriching their idea of narratives that have been so neglected in education in the past.

Tell us about a time you learned something from your students. 

I'm Korean-American, and for Lunar New Year I passed out bookmarks to my students with their names written in English and in Hangul, the Korean alphabet. One student came up to me afterwards and, with a beaming smile, told me that he was half Korean (which I didn't know!). Ever since then, we've bonded over our Korean heritage and he manages to bring it up in every class. Through him, I've learned that my representation as an Asian-American teacher is really meaningful, and I should be proud of my heritage just like he is.

Besides your subject, what's something you hope to teach your students?

I hope that I can teach my students that they have a story to tell, and that there are so many ways to tell it. It can be through music, writing, art, or even in the kindness you show to others. I want to teach them honesty even when they do something wrong, and integrity in all that they do.

If you had an inspirational fridge magnet (and we're not saying you would), what would it say and why?

"Sometimes it's slow growing." This is something that I live by because it reminds me to be happy with who I am in the present moment, be grateful for where I've come from, and look forward to what's ahead.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

I love drawing, so I would want a superpower where I could draw something, and if I snap, it would become real!

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