Taylor teacher remembered for legacy of literacy

Taylor is mourning the loss of one of its elementary teachers today.

Donna-Lee Cooper died Thursday after a battle with cancer. She was 58.

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Taylor Elementary Principal Craig Brownlee extended condolences to Cooper's family on behalf of the school.

"Mrs. Cooper has made a profoundly positive impact on the students and community of Taylor," Brownlee said.

"She has championed literacy in our school and leaves a legacy of empowering students to be creative. She always put the needs of her students first and for that so many she taught will be deeply saddened to hear this news. As she also taught Remembrance Day to our school with devotion, she will be fondly remembered."

Cooper was the creative force behind Taylor Elementary's annual Meet the Author program, empowering young students through literacy by helping them to write, illustrate, and publish their own books in hardcover, and then giving them the red carpet treatment during a community celebration that was always packed with proud parents and school board staff.

Cooper earned her teaching degree from Simon Fraser University, came to the Peace region to teach in 1996, and was nominated for a Fort St. John community literacy award in 2016. Cooper called Meet the Authors the greatest accomplishment of her career.

"Donna-Lee energized everyone around her. For Taylor to have had the most published authors per capita is a testament of her dedication to teaching and literacy," said Coun. Betty Ponto.

"The impact of all Taylor School students writing and illustrating their own books has been felt by the students, staff and the entire community in so many ways. The love she so freely gave was felt not only by her students and colleagues, but the whole community. It’s hard to process how such a vibrant, high energy and loving soul can be gone. She will be so sorely missed."

School District 60 Superintendent Stephen Petrucci said Cooper was a long-time, dedicated teacher in the region.

Her book project was inspiring, Petrucci said, noting that it not only gave young students a chance to be authors, but the chance to have them read out loud, and to be recognized for their accomplishment.

"This is a prime example of how Donna-Lee was always student-centered, not only in terms of their academic needs but especially in relation to their social and emotional needs," Petrucci said.

"I had the pleasure of working with Donna-Lee at Central School where she had a positive impact on students that struggled or were marginalized. She will be greatly missed by students, colleagues, parents and the community."

Cooper's family could not be immediately reached on Friday.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Cooper to the Fort St. John Palliative Care Society. 

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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