You might say Andrea Cox, a second grade instructor at Waukee Elementary, was born to be a teacher.
“My mom was a teacher, and I remember how much she enjoyed her job,” says Cox. “And I loved going to school each day. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the socialization of going to school. But more importantly, I loved learning something new each day.”
It’s that love of going to school — and learning — Cox wants to pass on to her students at Waukee Elementary.
“Second graders are a great age to teach,” says Cox. “They are that age when they still like coming to school each day. And at this age, how you get them to learn is just as important as what they learn.”
Cox graduated from the University of Iowa in 2005 with a degree in elementary education. She started off in the Waukee school system as a substitute teacher. She then spent a year as a fifth grade instructor before spending the last five years as a second grade instructor.
In addition to her mother, Cox says she also had some “outside” influences concerning her decision to pursuing a teaching career.
“I had a string of teachers in school who I admired and respected,” says Cox. “They made learning enjoyable for me.”
And when it comes to learning, Cox says, it all starts with reading.
“Reading opens so many doors for the students,” says Cox. “Reading helps the students think for themselves. That is why I put a lot of emphasis on reading.”
Cox said technology has helped her teach her students to learn how to read.
“For example, seven years ago we had to use transparencies and an overhead projector to show the lesson to the entire class,” she says. “And making transparencies was not always an easy process. Now we have a device called Elmo, which is like an overhead projector, but you can put any slip of paper or a book page in it.”
Cox said she also utilizes iPads, iPods and computers as tools to increase her students’ reading capacity.
Cox earned her master’s degree in education from Viterbro University this past summer. It is not unusual for teachers to continue their education for the purpose of moving from the classroom to the administrative side of instruction — such as becoming a vice principal or principal. For Cox, however, that is not the case.
“I have no desire to become an administrator,” says Cox. “While I have a lot of respect for teachers who become administrators, I think my place is in the classroom. So I got my master’s to improve my skills as a teacher and to learn better ways to teach my students.”
And going back to get her master’s degree had a nice side effect.
“It showed my students that a person is never too old to learn,” she says.