Hard-work, dedication and a sense of community. All three of those are things valued by CCHS’ community of Cowboys, and all three of those are traits embodied by this year’s Teacher and Non-Instructional Staff Member of the Year.
In October, Misogi Abe and Idania Rodriguez were named this year’s Teacher and Non-Instructional Staff Member of the Year (respectively). The Lariat talked to both of them about their time at CCHS and what it means to them to be awarded this prestigious honor.
Misogi Abe is this year’s Teacher of the Year. She is in her fifth year as a mathematics teacher at CCHS and her third year as math department head.
After changing her major three times, Abe graduated from Florida International University (FIU) with a bachelor’s in art history and photography. She traveled after her graduation expanding her photography portfolio, but realized she was destined for a different course.
“I got offered a grant and scholarship to get my Master’s in Fine Arts to then teach Fine Arts,” Abe said. “I decided that I would rather be teaching in a high school level and middle school level.”
In 2010, she began teaching at Attucks Middle School in Hollywood, and taught at middle schools for several years before she realized she wanted to teach high school students. After applying to a handful of high schools, she settled on CCHS.
“Ms. [Michelle] Alvarez was really the teacher that kind of pulled me in to Cooper, because I had little ones that ended up joining the Littlest Cowboys [program at CCHS],” Abe said. “Both my boys went to Littlest Cowboys, and that’s really what pulled me in [to CCHS] was the ability to teach and see my kids and see the environment that they would be in as well.”
Despite her arts degree, Abe teaches math. With her engineering background, she knew she was either going to teach drafting or math, and it turned out to be the latter.
“Math was just something that was just so easy to explain,” Abe said. “The patterns, the repetition of it was just something that is almost like a skill that you can build on versus I think reading and literature and it’s just so subjective in certain ways, whereas math is much more concrete. It was easy for me to teach.”
She credits her high school teachers for instilling in her a deep understanding and appreciation for math, and she keeps in touch with those educators that made an impact on her.
“I’m still close with all my math teachers,” Abe said. “We have lunch once a year.”
Being honored with this prestigious award makes Abe feel recognized for everything she does for CCHS, from gifted support, to leading the department, to teaching advanced math classes, to welcoming new teachers.
“Being part of the team [at CCHS] and encouraging other new teachers [to] just come to events and just be part of it has been really important to me,” Abe said.
Idania Rodriguez is this year’s non-instructional staff member of the year. She is the officer manager and the principal’s secretary, and she is on her fourth school year at CCHS.
Rodriguez earned her bachelor’s degree from FIU as well, and spent most of her professional career working in human resources and customer service. After resigning from her job with a private company, Rodriguez was looking for a new path.
“I wanted a more flexible job closer to home, and a job where I can also have more quality family time,” Rodriguez said. “So, it just happened that [CCHS] had an ad out, and I just happen[ed] to apply.”
CCHS is the first school Rodriguez has worked at and she has had largely positive experiences here.
“I love Cooper City High School,” Rodriguez said. “I love the people. I love the community, the students. And it’s just really opened my eyes as to what goes on behind the scenes at a school. So it’s made me more empathetic, towards like my, my own kids’ school, and teachers.”
Rodriguez deeply appreciates the award she was given; she was not expecting it.
“I was very humbled,” Rodriguez said. “I was not expecting to be nominated, and I was very humbled and very surprised, and it just I just feel really appreciated at this point.”