Riverside’s 2020 Teacher Of The Year!

Personal finance teacher Andrea Cooper is Riverside’s 2020 teacher of the year. 

This is her third year teaching at Riverside even though it seems like many more because of the impact she has had on her students. Senior Stevie Lennon says Cooper shows her kids with absolute value by making sure they are not only successful in her class but as a student. 

“She is very in tune with her students,” Lennon said. “Most of them have a high grade average in her class. Kids don’t fail her class because she won’t allow them to fail.”

This is Cooper’s first time being Teacher of the Year. 

“I didn’t think I would win,” Cooper said. “I was very excited but still highly shocked.”

The award means a lot to her, and she’s excited to represent her fellow Pirates. 

“Being teacher of the year means that I carry one of the torches on the pirate ship,” she said. “I model what all of us at Riverside strive to do each and every day and that is to be the best teachers we can be and prepare our students for the next phase of life because when we succeed, our students succeed, their parents succeed and our community and school succeeds.”

Cooper grew up in Oxford, North Carolina about thirty minutes north of Durham. She attended North Carolina A&T and graduated in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in administrative systems. She graduated from A&T again in 2003 with another bachelor’s degree in management, and at A&T for the third time in 2006 with a masters degree in human resources. 

Cooper has been interested in teaching since she was a child. “My grandmother gave me my first job working at a daycare when I was five years old,” she said. “She is the one who inspired me to be a teacher.” Cooper said. 

Cooper taught at Ragsdale High School from 2008 to 2017 and moved to Riverside in 2018. 

When she isn’t teaching, Cooper has a side job “selling junk.” She sells her items through Ebay and mostly in the summer when she has more free time. She lives by the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and has been using it as her business model for 28 years. 

“I’ve been thrifting since I was about twelve years old,” she said. “Going with my mom to thrift shops – that’s what we did on Saturdays. Ten years ago is about when I realized that I could make extra money in buying and selling old stuff.” 

She focuses on old materials and antiques, especially furniture, old China, jewelry, purses, belts and educational materials.

Riverside’s Teacher of the Year is picked through a staff vote. No students are involved in the selection process. The district will also host a celebratory dinner at the Washington Duke Inn. 

Cooper now hopes to become the DPS Teacher of the Year. She submitted a 15-page application about what she does as a teacher for her students, the school and the environment on March 26. 

“[The application] consists of several different areas, one being discussing issues facing public education today,” Cooper said. “I must say with this current coronavirus pandemic, it will provide me a platform to advocate for those kids who are being directly affected by the school closures. Their voices will be heard through me.”

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