Frank V. Cooper, Charles Page High School, Sand Springs
2016 Oklahoma Medal of Excellence in Secondary TeachingFrank V. Cooper, winner of the Medal for Excellence in Secondary Teaching, teaches social studies and leadership courses at Charles Page High School in Sand Springs. Cooper gave up a lucrative career as an attorney in 1993 to take on what he considers the most fulfilling profession there is: teaching.
“From the core of his heart, Mr. Cooper believes that building relationships holds the key to changing our students’ lives,” said Superintendent Lloyd Snow. “He promotes core values of kindness, respect, honesty and affirmation so convincingly with students that he has fundamentally changed the entire culture of Charles Page High School.”
Cooper, who is Student Council adviser, has been described as the “heart and soul” of Charles Page. He leads the school spirit assemblies, clad in tights and a gold cape, as Captain Sandite. He enthusiastically welcomes students at the front door each morning and regularly sends postcards to students recognizing their strengths. He begins each class with a school chant and ends every period reminding students, “You are important, you are loved, and remember the joy of life is in the journey.” Cooper believes when students experience kindness and affirmation, they acquire the motivation to immerse themselves in learning. As an academic leader, Cooper’s courses are in high demand.
“He enriches classes with guest speakers, creative media and passionate personal testimony,” said Principal Stan Trout. In each class, Cooper engages students in discussions that relate the lesson to the events in their lives. He has led many school-wide initiatives, from teaching a Saturday morning college test-prep course and launching a peer mentoring program to leading a 10,000-book reading challenge. Most importantly, Cooper has led a “counter-revolution of kindness that has transformed Sand Springs,” Trout said.
Nowhere is his connection with students more apparent than at graduation, where Cooper annually delivers the “Final Lesson” message to teary-eyed students and family members.
“Mr. Cooper made sure that every single student was reminded they are loved,” recalls alumna Haley Anderson. “The lives he has touched will go out in the world and do great things as a result of his inspiration.” A 2014 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year finalist, Cooper has been honored twice as Charles Page Teacher of the Year and received the University of Tulsa Secondary School Award Teacher Prize for Inspiration. He was also the subject of Bob Dotson’s American Story segment on the Today Show.