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Teacher Feature: Charm Cochran

By Barbara P. Jacoby

As a teenager, Charm Cochran heard her calling to become a teacher while working with children at her church. She heard a second call while a college student studying education: she should become a special education teacher.

“In college, I completed a field placement in special education, working in a small group setting with students with disabilities,” she said. “During this placement, I knew my heart and passion was to teach within the special education setting.”

It is her true calling, according to colleagues and students’ parents, who praise Cochran for the expertise and care she brings every day to her special education classes at Oak Grove ES STEAM Academy.

“I have never seen such a beautifully run classroom,” Principal Penny Valle said. “She builds wonderful, trusting relationships with her students who hang on every word she speaks.”

Cochran’s dedication led her colleagues to name her as the school’s Teacher of the 
Year last school year. A panel of community judges, including retired educators, then selected her as one of the four finalists for the Cherokee County School District Teacher of the Year honor.

“Creating excitement within the classroom begins with building positive relationships with students,” Cochran, who is starting her sixth year as a teacher, said of her teaching style. “When building positive relationships with students, you can learn students’ interests and help incorporate their interests into lessons. Through building positive relationships, students can also feel valued and safe within their learning environment, which also corresponds to being excited about learning. Lastly, building lessons that are rigorous and relevant to students helps create excitement within the classroom.”

One of her favorite teaching tactics is magic stones. A magic stone is a decorative flower stone that students earn by demonstrating positive behaviors and then trade for desired rewards.

“Magic stones help create intrinsic motivation, and help students take ownership of their choices while teaching students the basic principles of saving and purchasing,” she said.

Beyond her classroom, Cochran supports her school by teaching after-school extended learning sessions for students who need more support, and she leads the special education professional learning community (PLC) workalike teacher group for her school. A PLC is a small group of teachers who teach the same grade, subject, and/or learning need level and meet regularly for collaboration and professional development. She also has served as a member of CCSD’s Teacher Ambassador recruiting team that attends job fairs to help lead more outstanding teachers to join the school district. Outside of school, Cochran volunteers with her church including as leader of the little children’s choir.

What can parents do to help their child be as successful as possible at school?

“Parents can simply love and support their children,” Cochran said. “Children need opportunities to play and explore their world. There is strong value in allotting time for children to play cooperatively and constructively. Reading aloud to children in their home language is also a wonderful way to support success at school.”