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Jeannette Cooper | 4th Grade Lead Teacher

Education & Experience:

My first job when I was 16 years old was teaching elementary-aged kids at an outdoor summer program. I always knew teaching was where I belonged and that doing so in an environmentally-conscious, natural setting was essential for me and for the students. I indulged this innate passion for Mother Nature by getting my bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies from Indiana University. I then went on to get my master's degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago where I focused on the relationship between nature and culture by specializing in Environmental Anthropology. I also became a Certified Gardener and a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and worked as a Family Health Coach and Wellness Consultant, which is something I continue to do today.


Over the years, I have taught multiple subjects, including gardening, outdoor environmental education, urban agriculture, anthropology, ELA, math, science, breathwork, meditation, and nutrition as well as food, environmental and social justice. And I have worked with diverse students of all ages in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Guatemala. When I look back on all of these professional experiences, the most rewarding and beautiful days were those spent with young hearts in a natural setting, whether it was planting literal or metaphorical seeds, taking a bite of the carrot we planted ourselves, doing breathwork in the trees, understanding math by dividing the garden up into sections, or writing nature poems in our journals. I’m overjoyed to be spending the coming days with the imaginative and inspiring young souls at WBNS!

Teaching philosophy:

My personal teaching philosophy is grounded in the constructivist theories of Jean Piaget and similar educational philosophers like Paolo Freire who was against what he called the “banking” method of education wherein students are viewed as empty vessels waiting to be filled with knowledge. Rather, Piaget, Freire and I believe that students must be active partners in their own learning, and that they make meaning out of that process only if it is relevant, experiential, democratic, reflective, and inquiry-based. In this way, WBNS's experiential and project-based learning models are a perfect match for my worldview, values and teaching philosophy.

My favorite thing about kids:

Their playfulness - they are always playing, learning, exploring, being joyful and trusting of their surroundings. Their playfulness is intact. They are not ruled by fear or scarcity, or by the need to do or become or amass or consume. They still know how to just be human “beings” rather than human “doings”.



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