Advancing Educators


Leonard E. Swanton
K-12 Professional Development Coordinator Lexington, Massachusetts


From the very first day of the course, she established a tone of genuine excitement about learning and fostered
authentic collaboration among the teachers. She employed a variety a highly effective teaching strategies to
engage the group in robust, rich conversation, and provided myriad opportunities for participants to reflect upon
their practice, learn new strategies, and share insights with one another. With her genuine interest in the
thoughts and ideas of the participants, and her warm sense of humor, Ms. Imende-Cooney had the group totally
engaged and actively learning within minutes, establishing a foundation for structuring each week’s activities
with a pace and rhythm that was highly effective for the group. The course content was rich and varied, and
particularly relevant and pertinent to the educators in the cohort. Indeed, I had attended the first session of the
course only to introduce Ms. Imende-Cooney to the group, and decided to enroll in the class myself, based upon
my experience in the class on that first evening. Without a doubt, it was one of the most enriching, energizing,
and intellectually stimulating courses I have taken in my twenty-seven years in education.

Elizabeth Imende-Cooney is a ‘teachers’ teacher.’ She has a deeply profound respect for the day-to-day work
that educators do to inspire their students (and one another), and she is a true intellect. She sets high standards
for her own professional work, and through her dedicated commitment to skillful teaching and deliberate, deep
reflection on our practice as teachers, she inspires educators with whom she works to do the same.
Ms. Imende-Cooney creates a teaching and learning environment that celebrates both individuality and
collaborative work, and somehow manages to create an atmosphere in which everyone feels that they have ‘a
place at the table’ when it comes to participation and having their voices heard. Whether she is teaching about
clarity in instruction, criteria for success in both student work and professional work, or the intricacies of
growing and nurturing cultural proficiency, she considers all of the perspectives of those who are in her classes,
and she skillfully navigates through difficult conversations in a manner that supports open and honest
communication. On more than one occasion during her course in our district, I marveled at her remarkable
ability to nimbly gauge her pace of instruction, her delivery of content, the social-emotional needs of the faculty
who were students in the course, and a remarkable sense of knowing exactly what people needed during the
course at any particular time. Much like a conductor of a full orchestra, Ms. Imende-Cooney was alert, adaptive,
and profoundly adept at bringing people together in ways that they could never have predicted. In short, she was
(and is) a masterful educator.

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