New teacher finds home at Belvedere

  • Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Staff photo by T.J. Lundeen Katie Cooney, seated, goes over rules and regulations during the first day of school at Belvedere Elementary School.

Katie Cooney moved more than 800 miles to pursue her passion of teaching.

A new fifth-grade teacher at Belvedere Elementary School, Cooney moved from Columbia, Missouri, to North Augusta for her first teaching job out of college.

“I just graduated from the University of Missouri and I grew up in St. Louis, but my family is originally from California,” she said. “My boyfriend is a sales representative for Hershey, and his family is from here. His parents are from Sumter, but most of the rest of his family live here.”

After applying for a job with the Aiken County School District, she was contacted by Belvedere Elementary and found her new home.

“I heard that Aiken was the best district to work for, so that’s where I applied,” she said of how she landed in Aiken County. “I got a call from Belvedere, and I absolutely loved the school; the people here and the environment. I decided this was the place for me.”

Working with the oldest students in the school has been a great experience thus far for Cooney, who teaches English and social studies.

“The best part of this teaching job is some of the things the kids say,” she said. “They’re just so funny in all of their candid moments. Fifth-graders are actually really hilarious; they’re all stand-up comedians.”

Cooney, who loves running and baking, comes by teaching history naturally from her father.

“I teach English/language arts – reading, writing, spelling and grammar – and I teach social studies,” she said. “I’m really passionate about reading, so I love that. But, I also love history – my dad’s a big history buff, he used to quiz us at the dinner table about history. I love teaching social studies to kids, and they do get really fired up about it.”

The challenges that come with the beginning of a school year have been the biggest issue for Cooney, although she has a great support team helping her out.

“The biggest challenge has been the amount of things that get thrown at you at the beginning of the year,” she said. “It calms down as the year goes by, but at the beginning you’re trying to manage all of that and build relationships with the students. It’s even better than I imagined. It’s more work than I ever imagined it would be, but it’s already been so rewarding and the parents and staff have been so supportive.”

Along with teaching her fifth-grade standards, Cooney also is teaching her students life skills to prepare them for the challenge of middle school.

“Academically, everything is bumped up a notch, there is so much more writing and detail in everything they do,” she said of the middle school workload. “There are different thinking strategies, and they have to think deeper. So, we’re trying to do some of those things and get them ready in all of their life skills like organization and how to handle different situations. It’s a lot of social stuff to get them ready for, as well, we’re really trying to give them more responsibility.”

As someone who loves working with kids, Cooney has found a home in Belvedere Elementary School and North Augusta.

T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for The North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.

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