Cook named Shelby County Middle School Teacher of the Year


Chorus teacher Virginia Cook instructs students preparing to practice a new song in class.

Lauren Taylor, News Writer

After growing up in Montgomery, AL, and earning numerous awards throughout her 21 years of teaching, chorus teacher Virginia Cook has been awarded the Shelby County Middle School Teacher of the Year.
Cook has taught K4-12th grade in Alabama and Georgia. She has also traveled to Venezuela and taught a musical seminary class.
She attended Jeff Davis High School, where she played in the band and sang in the choir.  She went on to Samford University and earned a master’s degree in music education.  During her college years she held a job helping the college choir at a church.  Today, Cook has two children, Jason, and Yume Phung, her daughter from Vietnam.  Her husband, Harris Cook, works as a pastor.
Cook credits her mother, father, and paternal grandmother who were all teachers, and her strong faith as her inspiration for teaching.  She is involved in a lot of group activities and is very active with her church.  While at church she helps with the worship team, and she plays the keyboard and leads in worship when needed. She also works with the children’s ministry when needed.
Cook also volunteers at the University of Montevallo to help develop an academically supportive relationship with the Montevallo schools.
“I have taken students to work with professors at the university and invited professors to the high school,” Cook said.  “For two years, our choirs have supported the university’s Music in the Park emphasis, also called MENC.
In addition to helping students use their musical skills to be successful in the future, Cook gives particular attention on how music and the arts are applicable to students’ lives today.
“I believe students should be able to apply what they learn in class to their future,” Cook said.
Cook says she was truly amazed that she received the Middle School Teacher of the Year award for Shelby County; she believes that there are many wonderful teachers putting forth hard work at the middle school and high school.
“I love my students,” Cook said.  “That’s it in a nutshell! Expecting them to respect the class and what takes place in the class is of utmost importance to me.”
Cook aims for greater parent participation in their student’s work and school.
“In my classroom, parents and guardians are encouraged and know there is a dedicated, true advocate for them and their child,” Cook said.  “Most dear to my heart is being able to help Spanish-speaking parents and students feel at ease because I know what it is like to live in countries with the struggle of learning a new language and trying to find my place.”
She believes that the single most characteristic a teacher should have is kindness.
“Students need to know they are all important in this world, and each child matters.” Cook said.