Teacher Feature: Ms. Diana Coppinger

diana coppinger
Allison Kostiuk

Diana "Ms. Cop" Coppinger has not let COVID-19 stand in her way -- not for a single minute. Fortunately, Ms. Cop's students were already using online textbooks, so that made the transition to remote learning easier. "It was exhausting but went relatively smoothly," said Ms. Cop. "My greatest challenge was figuring out how much work was best suited for the students, given their various online learning conditions. Every family is facing different situations, like having to care for younger children, technology limitations, or parents who are essential workers and not at home. It took a while to figure out the right balance, but we've got it now."  

Ms. Cop is proud of the progress her students have made. "One of our greatest successes is the Imagineering project that the Physics students are doing," she said. "It is Disney based, and the girls will finish with a table-top sized model of a thrill ride complete with costumed characters and a map of their imagined theme park. The finished product will be professional enough for pitching to financial backers. We're having a great time with it."  

When she's not teaching, students can connect with Ms. Cop and with each other in a yoga class on Zoom. Originally designed to prepare students for the Mindfulness through Yoga and Surfing in Costa Rica Mini-Mester course, the yoga classes have caught on. "I teach two or three times a week and have some students who are regulars and some who pop in and out," said Ms. Cop. "I started doing yoga when I was 16, and I would love to instill the practice in some of my students. It helps me navigate the world in a calm, cool, and collected manner. It's the source of my positive attitude and optimistic view of life." 

As the school year winds down, Ms. Cop is making more of her teaching student-directed. This approach is working particularly well with her freshmen students. "Rather than teaching them all the same thing at the same time, I'm giving them choices," she said. "Some girls have chosen to learn about evolution, while others are studying vertebrates or plants. It's a way to give the girls more ownership over what they're learning and keep them engaged."  

Now in her 25th year of teaching at OLMA, Ms. Cop is still learning new things every day and stays in touch with many of her former students. "They are mothers and foster mothers, married and single, nurses and doctors, lawyers, and engineers," she said. "My girls are pediatricians and OBGyn's, forest rangers, teachers of high school students, and caretakers of infants and the learning challenged. They are involved in politics, are fitness fanatics, artists, administrators, and executives of huge companies. Some have companies of their own. There is no one more proud of these women than I am. I love them," And, they love you. We all do. Thanks, Ms. Cop. 

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