Student Spotlight: Stanton Cope

Student Spotlight: Stanton Cope

By Stanton Cope

Q: Why do you want to teach? 

A: Teachers are, simply put, my favorite people in the world. At every stage of my education, several of my teachers showed an immense amount of care, proficiency, and compassion, both inside and out of the classroom. When I faced challenges, my teachers offered crucial wisdom and resources that helped me solve problems - and a snappy sense of humor to boot! Following in their footsteps and having an impact, but always with my own personal flair, is why I chose teaching. 

Q: Why did you choose Northwestern University's MSED program?

A: Northwestern's program emphasizes the importance of understanding that every student is coming to the classroom from a different background (seriously, there's a whole class named "Social Contexts of Education"), which is the key of my educational philosophy. Since the program aligned with my ideas, it seemed like a natural fit. The program also has practical field experience working in tandem with educational theory, as student teaching is built into the program. Sometimes, I've found that academia is dense with theory and bereft of field experience, so the fact that the program requires student teaching drew me in. After all, drawing from many different ideas and experiences is the path to best practices! 

Q: What were you doing prior to starting at Northwestern?

A: I graduated from Tufts University with a Bachelor's in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies in May of 2019, but more recently, I lived in India from January to May of this year, interning at Lemon Tree Hotels and meeting my family there (I don't look the part, but I'm 1/4 Indian and my family has always been a big part of my life). Once I got back to the U.S., I continued my annual work with the nonprofit organization Education for Happiness in Ann Arbor, MI, running virtual summer music festivals, and also worked admin for the Music Institute of Chicago's virtual summer Suzuki festival. I have a background in music and I cherish my time with young musicians at these events. I'd go so far as to say that a great deal of my educational philosophy has been informed by my work in arts administration - after all, for every lesson we teach a young person, they offer us something in return.  

Q: What are your career goals?

A: I prefer to keep an open mind about the positions I'll hold in my career, but some of my goals are set in stone. My main goal revolves around my classroom, at any stage: I'll meet every student where they are when they enter my classroom, and by the time they leave, they'll be different than when they started, no matter the extent. Past the classroom, I seek reform of the U.S. education system. The current system deprives many students of opportunities while privileging others, and I view that as a flaw. Whether I reform at a school, state, or national level is up in the air, but I'll improve someone's education infrastructure, to some extent, before retiring.  

Q: Did a particular teacher who inspired you in school?

A: Innumerable people have inspired me across twenty years of education, but two educators stand out from college. I had a really difficult time during my undergraduate studies: the academics were manageable, but personally, I was all over the place. Not only did I reckon with coming out during college, I faced a host of other challenges, and my Sociology professors offered guidance. One of my professors released a book during my senior fall at college, and he conspired with another one of my soc. professors to get me a signed copy of his book. They wanted to offer me a show of their encouragement and belief in me, a message to keep going, even when things were really looking down. I'll never forget their gesture, as they refused to let me give up on myself. Aside from that, they both encouraged me to research my own interests and pursue my own projects. Their guidance along with my passion for research led to my independent study on mental health resources, ethics, and continued engagement in the sociology field, which were highlights of my college years. 

Q: How would you describe your Northwestern classes? Your professors?

A: We're in Zoom class right now, and I've had nothing but good experiences. Technical difficulties are a given part of education during Covid-19, but they don't detract from the drive and excitement of my professors and peers. We've had engaging discussions, group presentations, and lectures via Zoom, and I've already learned a lot. In particular, my concentration is in English (secondary), and my English professor is awesome. His classes center on everyone's active engagement in discussion, which can often be a challenge in remote learning, but due to his informative framing lectures, open-minded demeanor, and my peers' willingness to break the ice, the classes have engaged my brain and challenged me.  

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