University View Academy (UVA) faculty nominates educators at every school level for the yearly Teacher of the Year award program sponsored by the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE). LDOE recognizes that educators are valued professionals and that students, educators, schools, school systems, and staff are invaluable to our communities and state. UVA is committed to acknowledging, honoring, and spotlighting our 2023-24 Teachers of the Year for their role in exemplifying Louisiana’s education profession and for their commitment to student success.
Our Teacher of the Year spotlight series begins with this year’s Teacher of the Year – High School recipient Raven Cole. Cole currently serves as the digital arts teacher at UVA. She taught English for several years for East Baton Rouge Parish Schools. She joined UVA in 2018 where she quickly became involved in leading extracurricular student clubs. Cole currently sponsors three clubs including a TED-Ed Club that provides a forum for students to develop, present, and record their own original ideas in the form of short, TED Talk-style presentations. She also created the Garden Club this year that uses the Seeds of Success: The Louisiana Farm to School Program. Seeds of Success is a USDA-funded program developed through a cooperative endeavor between the Louisiana Department of Education and the LSU AgCenter.
In both her classroom and the clubs she sponsors, Cole emphasizes equity and creativity with the aim of fostering and developing community among her students. “There are many students who attend our school because they can’t attend brick-and-mortar,” Cole said. “Virtual learning is their only choice. Emphasize the opportunity in your class to be equitable. Don’t get caught up in test scores and due dates.”
To aid her digital arts classes, Cole has attained credentials as an Adobe Creative Educator Innovator and an Adobe Certified Professional in Visual Design using Photoshop. She has used this knowledge to spearhead the expansion of the Adobe Certified Professional program at UVA. This program allows students to acquire various graphic design and digital arts skills. Her courses offer real-life applications such as designing adoption campaigns for local animal shelters.
“I’m very grateful for the freedom UVA allows to implement project-based learning,” Cole said. “UVA is the reason I fell into the digital arts. They’ve really given me freedom to explore and experiment, and the tools to do it. It’s such a cool opportunity for kids.”
UVA’s theme this academic year is #MissionPossible. When asked how she incorporates the theme in her instructional planning, Cole responded, “Mission Possible for me is about helping students create things they never imagined were possible. It’s about taking students who didn’t think they were artists and helping them tap into their creativity. Creativity is a skill that can be taught, not something you have or don’t have.”
Congratulations Ms. Cole for being selected as UVA’s Teacher of the Year! You are providing excellent opportunities for UVA students to be future-ready! Check out UVA’s social channels to congratulate Ms. Cole on her accomplishment.