Bluffton teacher named Indiana Teacher of the Year

BLUFFTON, Indiana (WANE) – Bluffton High School world history teacher Tara Cocanower was named Indiana Teacher of the Year for 2023.

The Indiana Department of Education announced the honor on Wednesday.

Tara Cocanower

“For many educators, a calling is to serve others and make a positive impact in the world, student after student, and Mrs. Tara Cocanower is the embodiment of someone who was truly destined to be a teacher,” she said dr Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “When you see her connect with her students, it makes those around her realize that not only is she maximizing student learning, but she is making a positive impact on students’ lives and preparing her students to do the same. By believing in her students and being a trusted mentor, she empowers the next generation of leaders and, as she calls them, world changers.”

Cocanower beat out two finalists, including Homestead English teacher Jason Beer, for the award.

A press release from the Indiana Department of Education said of Cocanower:

Cocanower was named Bluffton-Harrison Metropolitan School District Teacher of the Year for 2021 and teaches World History and AP World History. He also directs the Bluffton High School History Club and serves as the team leader of the history department. Cocanower works to create fun, engaging, and inclusive lessons that empower her students to learn history and develop their own worldviews. That year, her students achieved an 83.5% pass rate on the AP World History exam, where the national average is 48.1%.

Cocanower serves as Bluffton High School’s Giftedness Coordinator and School’s Co-Technology Coordinator, where she works to introduce and support her fellow teachers in using technology to create more engaging and accessible lessons.

She is also a leader at her school, serving as a mentor to first-year educators and hosting cadet teachers, and encouraging Bluffton students to consider careers in history and education. This school year, Cocanower is working with another Bluffton High School teacher to deliver a course on new teaching principles that introduces high school students to the educational profession.

In addition to her role as a teacher at Bluffton High School, Cocanower serves as the head coach for both the girls’ golf team and girls’ track team. She also organizes a junior golf league and youth track meets to make sports accessible to all children in the community. Cocanower also runs a youth ministry in Bluffton with her husband and serves on the board of directors of Hope Missionary Pre-School.

Bluffton-Harrison MSD Superintendent Dr. Brad Yates praised Cocanower’s ability to connect with her students.

“Ms. Tara Cocanower embodies the qualities of a highly effective educator while maintaining the genuine authenticity necessary to best lead her students to success,” Yates said on the golf course. Her lasting impact on students continues to be a bright spot in our profession as she is a true representation of an excellent teacher.” Bluffton teacher named Indiana Teacher of the Year

Dais Johnston

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