Cooke Celebrates Women’s History Month

Cooke Celebrates Women’s History Month

During our Women’s History Month celebration, we’ve reflected upon the advances and contributions women have made, and continue to make in our society. We’ve learned about strong, fierce and fearless women whose historical milestones have resulted in increased earnings and better access to education and occupations. They have paved the way for future leaders.

Cooke Students Study Impactful Women In History

Women’s History studies are integrated into the Cooke curriculum at every grade level. Students are reading about outstanding women who were pioneers in the advancement of women’s rights and equality. Through peer-to-peer book recommendations, students expand their knowledge and add more resources and titles to our “Women’s History Month” virtual library.

Students in our Transitions program are learning to connect vocabulary words such as “individuality” and “trailblazer” to a variety of these heroes through the ages.

Students had the opportunity to learn more about, and connect their experiences with, the life of Marsha P. Johnson—a transgender activist who was a major figure in the Stonewall Riots. Students are also learning about Shirley Chisholm, Hedy Lamarr, Wilma Mankiller, Gloria Steinem, and more!

This has been a wonderful way for students to explore the role of impactful women in history, as well as women in their own lives. We are excited to keep discussing this topic and celebrating throughout the rest of the month.

Engaging Student Interns (Remotely)

With words/phrases like resilience, pivot, transition, pause and new normal circulating this past year, everyone had to adapt. The oldest students in our school (grade 9 – age 21) saw big changes to their internships. Cooke’s Chairs of Vocational Services (and our team of Community Inclusion Assistants) reimagined internships so that students could find meaningful ways to develop work skills.

Every year, high school and Transitions students have an internship in one of six career cluster areas, including animal care, retail, maintenance and food service.  Cooke faculty (and many parents/family members) worked together to bring internships (like animal care) into the home. We purchased pet supplies (including birdcages and plush birds) to simulate the job tasks associated with beloved internships like the Wild Bird Fund. While the location of internships changed (like those in animal care), the tasks remained largely the same: basic pet grooming, purchasing and organizing food and cleaning up cages/pet spaces.

We recreated maintenance, clerical and culinary internships at our new school building at 1713 Madison Avenue—which had enough space to allow students to do cleaning and organizational tasks in the school cafeteria, kitchens and pantries. We created mailroom, clerical/data entry, and even restaurant assistant positions. And in every way, our students stepped up to make the most of their experiences.

Cooke Upper School held Intern of the Month celebrations to build community and recognize interns’ work. Check out these photos featuring our interns in action as they take part in animal care, culinary, maintenance, clerical and retail work tasks (in-person and virtually); four interns (Charlotte, Jillian, Lance and Mariam) were recognized in January for their outstanding work.

Our thanks to all staff, students, and parents who helped us pivot to virtual internships. We couldn’t do it without all of you!

Transitions Students Made a Big Impression During HSBC-Sponsored Interview Workshop

“She was very prepared, and not fearful of going off script.”

“He was phenomenal.”

“She was very engaging; I could see her personality.”

“She articulated past experiences well, and she turned the interview into a natural conversation.”

“He wasn’t thrown when I went off the list of questions into a conversation.”

“We connected. We discovered we both like animals. I can see him working for a vet.”

“Polite, on time, good eye contact.”

Those are some of the phrases HSBC employees used to describe two cohorts of Transitions students during mock interview sessions held virtually on March 24 as part of our series of vocational workshops. The second event (in a 4-part series) focused on 1:1 mock interviews with our students. Students came prepared—dressed for the part, arrived on time, maintained great attention and fully participated—and made the most of their interviews; HSBC employees were impressed.

They offered the students feedback on their interview performance (and even met with Cooke staff to offer suggestions for improving interviewing skills in the future). Many of the HSBC employees left saying they would be back for our next workshop in April (on workplace problem solving)! Meanwhile, students were invigorated by the real-world interaction with professionals.

Our thanks to the HSBC volunteers for lending their time and talent to our vocational program; we also thank Marina Gaines-Silva and Kesha Terry from the HSBC Ability Employee Resource Group for supporting us through this special grant project. We look forward to continuing the collaboration with HSBC. 

NY Regents Try to Ease Backlog of Special Education Complaints. Advocates Say It’s Just a Start.

The Board of Regents authorized changes—more than a year in the making—that will widen the pool of impartial hearing officers who oversee these cases. Additionally, hearings will now be permitted indefinitely via video conference. Click here to read the full article.

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