It’s All About Community

May 17, 2023

Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week is a May ritual designed to show gratitude and recognize the contributions of teachers and educators. Last week, students, parents, school administrators, and communities came together to express their appreciation for the hard work, dedication, and impact that teachers have on the lives of students and the community as a whole.

Cooke honors and acknowledges teachers’ important role in shaping their students’ lives. It reminds us of their profound impact in nurturing a love for learning, imparting knowledge, and helping students develop the skills and confidence necessary to succeed academically and personally.


(Cooke Staff, 1713 Madison Avenue)

Throughout the week, we organized various activities and initiatives to demonstrate appreciation for teachers. These included thank-you notes, letters, raffles, breakfasts and lunches, and special events. Over the week, a positive and supportive atmosphere embraced our teachers as we celebrated their invaluable contributions.

Teacher Appreciation Week is an important reminder to express gratitude for the tireless work and commitment of teachers, who often go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of their students. The response from the parent community was wonderful, and we greatly appreciate the way families and friends contributed to this amazing week! 

(Photo Gallery of Cooke staff enjoying Teacher Appreciation Week)

Cooke teachers deserve special thanks because of their unique skills, knowledge, and qualities that enable them to support and educate students with diverse learning needs and disabilities. Here are a few reasons why our special education teachers are so special:

Cooke staff are experts in specialized instruction: Our special education educators undergo specific training and acquire expertise in providing specialized instruction tailored to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities. They are well-versed in various teaching strategies, accommodations, and modifications to ensure students with diverse learning abilities can access and progress in their education.

Cooke staff provide an individualized approach: Our staff understands that each student has unique strengths, challenges, and learning styles. They are skilled at assessing individual needs, designing personalized learning plans, and adapting instructional techniques to support students’ academic, social, emotional, and behavioral development.

Cooke staff are advocates for students: Special education staff advocate for our students, ensuring they receive the necessary resources, accommodations, and support services they require to succeed in school. They collaborate with parents, school administrators, and other professionals to create inclusive and supportive learning environments that meet the diverse needs of their students.

Cooke staff demonstrate patience and empathy: Teaching students with disabilities often requires extra patience, understanding, and empathy. Our staff possess these qualities in abundance, as they work closely with students who may face academic, social, or emotional challenges. They create a safe and nurturing environment where students feel supported and encouraged to overcome obstacles and reach their full potential.

(Cooke Transitions Staff)

Cooke staff demonstrate collaboration and teamwork: Cooke staff collaborate with various professionals to develop and implement individualized education plans for our students. They actively engage in teamwork and multidisciplinary collaboration to ensure that students receive comprehensive and coordinated support.

Cooke staff demonstrate flexibility and adaptability: Cooke staff often encounter unexpected situations and evolving needs in the classroom. They must be flexible and adaptable, adjusting their instructional strategies and approaches to meet the changing requirements of their students. They embrace innovative teaching methods and find creative solutions to address individual challenges.

Cooke staff have an impact on students’ lives: Cooke staff make a profound and lasting impact on the lives of their students. Through their dedication, support, and belief in the abilities of students with disabilities, they help them overcome obstacles, develop essential skills, and build self-confidence. Special education teachers empower their students to become independent learners and active participants in society.

The role of a Cooke staff member is demanding but incredibly rewarding. Their commitment, expertise, and compassion make them special individuals who play a vital role in ensuring that all students, regardless of their unique needs, receive a quality education and the opportunity to thrive. Teacher Appreciation Week is certainly one way to celebrate their work, but in truth, they should be celebrated every day!

    Taft Tenants’ Association Award

    Being a good neighbor helps build a sense of community and fosters positive relationships among residents. When neighbors are friendly and supportive of one another, it creates a harmonious environment where people feel connected, safe, and supported. Strong community ties can lead to increased collaboration, neighborhood events, and a shared sense of belonging.

    We have done our best to be good neighbors in our East Harlem community. We are part of the East Harlem Consortium, which brings community partners and businesses together. We are active in the District 11 Community Board meetings. We have opened our space for community use, serving students and adults in the community.

    Last month, Cooke was honored by the Taft Housing Tenants’ Association. We received an award for Outstanding Community Partner. For me, this award means a lot. Our efforts as a true partner within the community have been recognized and appreciated. Personally, I have made many connections and friendships in the process. I am ever grateful for the mutually-beneficial partnerships we have set up. 

    We look forward to continuing these partnerships and hope to bring in students and staff from the local community to join the Cooke team. Having worked in East Harlem for 15 years prior to coming to Cooke, I know firsthand what an amazing place East Harlem is and has been. It is an honor to be here and to work with such amazing community leaders.

    Cooke Art Therapy: Who Is Your Marigold? 

    In art class, a sweet, strong scent filled the room as students explored the full sensory experience of smelling, painting & touching marigolds! Through that exploration, everything turned orange, from our hands to our hearts! Our hands turned orange from the orange paint that was used to create circular monoprints which represented our first layers in the process of creating marigolds. 

    For the second layer, the details in the pedals were added. Conversations deepened as we discussed the symbolism of marigolds. In any garden, a marigold is a strong and dependable flower that supports the growth of any surrounding companion plant. In Art & Drama Therapy, we used the metaphor of marigolds to reflect on the people in our lives who are also strong and dependable. We honored the loved ones who supported our growth. Many “shutouts” were shared—parents, siblings, friends, teachers, grandparents and neighbors were identified as people who help us grow.

    Through our time with the marigolds in the art room, we had an opportunity to contemplate the resourcefulness of the marigold itself. We were in awe that a marigold creates its own new seeds in its petals. This made us think of our own Cooke community. It reminded us of our resourcefulness and the love that is regenerated year after year.

    Maya Angelou said “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use it, the more you have.” We have plenty of creativity here at Cooke; it is abundant. It never runs out. And within our community here, we have a whole metaphorical field of marigolds! We stand alongside one another—sturdy, strong and sweet—all in the efforts to support our fabulous young people as they grow! 

    Who is your marigold?

    Less Than A Week Away!

    We’re getting down to the wire—get your tickets today so you don’t miss out on the return to our in-person chefs tasting gala on May 24. After a three-year hiatus, you may have forgotten how fabulous this party is. Let us refresh your memory:

    • A 21+ event featuring delectable tastings and top-shelf cocktails 
    • A chance to taste new creations from renowned chefs (accompanied by Cooke student sous chefs), they will tempt your palate with a wide array of sweet and savory foods
    • Open seating with time to mix and mingle freely as you enjoy beautiful views of the Hudson and great company with fellow Cooke friends and family
    • A fun auction (part entertainment/part paddle raise) that supports the renovation of our Transitions and Alumni Services learning spaces and an expansion of programming

    Great food and cocktails + the Cooke community = A wonderful evening helping to build a bright future for young people with disabilities. You don’t want to miss out on a truly wonderful opportunity to have tons of fun while doing good for generations of Cooke students and alums to come.


    Dates to Remember

    May 29: Memorial Day – SCHOOL CLOSED

    June 8: Staff Professional development – NO CLASS FOR STUDENTS

    June 12: Cooke Transitions Graduation

    June 13: 8th Grade Graduation

    June 14: 12th Grade Graduation

    June 16: Last Day of School for Students – NOON DISMISSAL



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    Planning Giving

    Legacy giving is very important to Cooke’s sustainability.  Please contact Michael Eaton at for more information.

    Through the Affinity Membership Program, TD Bank will make an annual contribution to Cooke School based on the activity of all participating members’ TD Bank accounts.

    Eligible accounts include:

    • Checking – Business & Consumer

    • Savings

    • Money Market

    • Certificate of Deposit

    • Retirement

    If you are already a TD Bank customer, please visit any one of their locations and ask to have your balances included as part of the Cooke’s Affinity Membership Program (code: A1923).

    Please see the Affinity Membership Program flyer for more information.