Educator of the Year | Teen Ink

Educator of the Year

May 8, 2018
By T-Schlett SILVER, Hartland, Wisconsin
T-Schlett SILVER, Hartland, Wisconsin
9 articles 0 photos 0 comments

If you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up back in the middle school, I would have replied—like most kids—that I don’t know. But by the beginning of high school, I had decided I wanted to be an engineer.  I had no idea what it meant in elementary school, but thanks to Mrs. Cottrell, I knew engineering was what I wanted to do with my career.
Mrs. Cottrell was my science and engineering teacher for seventh and eighth grade at North Lake Middle School. I remember being introduced to her southern drawl and her 80’s hair and I thought she was intimidating. But soon I was building model volcanos, pouring over the book Jurassic Park, and popsicle-stick catapults when I realized how dedicated to teaching she is.
First of all, her science class was always the time of day when I managed to learn the most. She covered so much material in those two years that my head spun like a top; but everything was covered in an orderly and concise way. The class went from geology to biology to physics and I had never learned so much at one time.
But most importantly, she taught information that prepared me for high school. Because of her, I was familiar with physics problems before I was ever in any actual physics class, and our time spent on DNA prepared me for honors biology. Mrs. Cottrell prepared me for high school better than any other teacher I’ve ever had.
And on top of that, I also had her for my first ever Project Lead the Way class. PLTW is a program that teaches engineering basics to students from middle school through high school. In this class, I learned how to use Autodesk Inventor, a tool that I have been using for six years that I use in everything from Robotics club to woods shop. She also taught me what engineering is and showed me how to work in a team, the design process, and pneumatics. I knew right then and there that engineering would be my gateway to the world. She taught me that every single thing around me was designed and built by an engineer. Mrs. Cottrell helped to show me exactly what I would want to focus on throughout high school and college.
Thanks to Mrs. Cottrell, I felt prepared. I want to thank her for everything she ever taught me and for making me excited to learn something new everyday.

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