‘Her spirit is alive and well’: A. Lorne Cassidy community remembers Kate Cooney

A. Lorne Cassidy teacher Kate Cooney

(PHOTO: A. Lorne Cassidy teacher Kate Cooney.)

 

“The last year I spent with Mrs. Cooney actually changed my life. She always told me if you keep believing and trying your best you will succeed more that you ever imagined.”

–Comment posted by a student on a memory wall for Mrs. Cooney in the rotunda at A. Lorne Cassidy.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018 was a difficult day for staff and students at A. Lorne Cassidy Elementary School. Early in the morning staff members received the news that their dear colleague Kate Cooney had succumbed to the brain tumor that was discovered just this past July.

With the help of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board Tragic Events Response Team staff prepared to share the news with the student body that afternoon, anticipating that many of the students would need support to deal with the devastating news. Many of these same students had participated in a Broadway Show in early October to raise funds for the Cooney family and to show support to Kate while she was going through treatment. The number of students, staff, community members and parents who rallied to support the show speaks to how Mrs. Cooney was able to connect with people and how much she was loved.

As an Early Childhood Educator, she made a difference for kindergarten students who were experiencing school for the very first time. Her ability to tell stories and her creativity made school a special and exciting place to learn. In fact, Mrs. Cooney created our school song, “Let’s All Cheer for ALC!” that the kindergarten students performed to promote school spirit.

She believed all students were capable and would advocate for students in need of extra academic or emotional support, often attending meetings on her own time, outside of her regular work hours to help plan appropriate next steps for students in need. Upon hearing the news of her passing, one of her former students who is now in Grade 2 commented to his mother just how lucky he had been to have had Mrs. Cooney for a teacher and that the kindergarten students this year were not so lucky.

Kate’s optimism, sense of humour and generosity was appreciated by everyone that worked with her. She loved the creativity and fun of Halloween could always be relied on to find or create the costumes for her Kindergarten team (and anyone else who needed a costume) at Halloween.

Kate Cooney with colleagues at ALC.
Kate Cooney with colleagues at ALC.

Two years ago, Kate shared her talent for directing youth theatre to the students at A. Lorne Cassidy. She directed Beauty and the Beast in 2016 and Annie in 2017.

Again, giving of her own time, she spent countless hours preparing students, mentoring, rehearsing and finally watching the students excel and perform. She inspired and encouraged students to pursue their dreams because she believed in them. Several ALC students have gone on to pursue acting at Canterbury High School and others have gotten involved with theatre in Carleton Place with the Mississippi MUDDS where Mrs. Cooney also directed plays and hosted drama camps in the summer.

The memory wall that has been created in the rotunda at A. Lorne Cassidy has messages from many of the students Mrs. Cooney encouraged over the years. “She always made me feel cherished in the plays even when I had the smallest part imaginable, she made me feel like I had the spotlight.” wrote one student. Another expressed, “The last year I spent with Mrs. Cooney actually changed my life. She always told me if you keep believing and trying your best you will succeed more that you ever imagined.”

ALC will not be the same without Mrs. Cooney. She was one special “duck”. Her spirit is alive and well at the school, as staff work to honour what she started, by continuing the tradition of the school play, and by remembering and reflecting upon the life-lessons she taught all of us through her actions: be positive, work hard, be kind and generous, don’t judge, find the humour in life and love completely.

(Noelle Georganas is a teacher at A. Lorne Cassidy Elementary School.)


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1 thought on “‘Her spirit is alive and well’: A. Lorne Cassidy community remembers Kate Cooney”

  1. What an incredible tribute to a kind, funny and special soul. Gone way too soon. Kate touched the lives of so many in her own special way. ❤

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