Coch cultivating essential skills through collaboration, support


Anthony Onalaja

Coppell High School special education teacher Brooke Coch helps sophomore Ryan West set table utensils. Coch’s class learns various life skills and incorporates a diverse curriculum to prepare students for life after high school.

Jillian Moore, Staff Writer

Coppell High School special education teacher Brooke Coch has been teaching for the past eight years. Despite initially receiving a degree in communications and advertising, Coch developed a passion for teaching special education after working as a teacher at T. A. Sims Elementary School, Wakeland High School and Roach Middle School, all located in Frisco. Throughout that time, Coch has developed a passion to help students with special needs succeed in the future and grow as individuals. Coch has been teaching at Coppell for the past three years. 

Why did you decide to become a special education teacher?

I was still attending [the University of Oklahoma] and my degree is communications and advertising, but my senior year I thought I might want to teach second grade. I got a job as a [teachers aid] at an elementary school in Frisco and it was a special education class. I had no experience, no idea what I was doing and by the end of the week I was like, I love this. I had a really good teacher [who] taught me a lot of things and it just fit, and I haven’t done anything else since.

What is your favorite part about teaching special education?

Seeing the progress in the students. Yesterday we had some pretty big successes. One of my learners learned to tie his shoe and that’s something his parents have been working on for years with him and we did it yesterday. I have another student that I’ve had for three years and we’ve worked on buttons for three years and we’ve tried so many different things and this year we started using a tool and the tool just clicked. Now he can button. Seeing the change, progress and the techniques we use to teach our learners is really cool and exciting and just makes it so worth it. 

What do you hope to teach your students?

Being able to communicate their needs and wants. So many of them struggle with just asking to go to the bathroom or saying that they’re hot and they want to take off their jackets. So the most important thing is teaching them ways to communicate those things whether it’s with a picture, their iPad or their words because it’s frustrating when you can’t communicate something that you want or need. 

What are some of the challenges of being a teacher? 

Resources, resources are always a struggle. Like other teachers do, we have to create a lot of the materials for our students. We work on independent living skills and cooking and I had to build a kitchen and a lot of the stuff comes from parents donating or from reaching out to other teachers. I spend a lot of my own money and sometimes we have to write grants to get funded. It’s expensive to create a home environment at a school so you can teach the independent living and home skills our students need. That’s always going to be our biggest struggle. 

What is the best part about Coppell?

I love how we have peer tutors. I didn’t have that in Frisco and at first I didn’t know what to do with these kids but another cool part of my job is teaching peers how to work with and communicate with our students. I had a peer tutor a couple years ago, who because of my class decided she wanted to be a speech pathologist. When peer tutors are in here they get to see the other services my students get such as music therapy where a man comes and sings with the individual students. I don’t know how anyone else would get to see that without being in here. I love when I get peer tutors that being in this class is showing them all these other possible careers especially if they want to work with people with special needs. 

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