05222018 Headline:

Mrs. Cook cans her old life for one in New York

Former English teacher tries out new hobbies like canning, home decorating

By Andrew Struthers

Here is Mrs. Cook with her mother, who visited from Washington state last October to enjoy the fall foliage, and her husband, enjoying the trails in the Adirondack Mountains.
Photo Courtesy of: Mrs. Cook

Former RAHS English teacher for at least a decade, Mary Ciccone-Cook, has been up to big things. Mrs. Cook has been gone for almost an entire year now, and while there are parts about RAHS she misses, she is enjoying her life away from the school. Living in upstate New York, Ms. Cook has become a Career and Technical Education (CTE) English Instructor; a teacher for people in the workforce.

“CTE is big here,” said Cook, “with programs in automotive technology, building trades, electrical technology, culinary arts, cosmetology, agriculture, health occupations, and others.”

As a CTE instructor, Cook is implementing English Language Arts (ELA) standards into her technical curriculum.

“I’m in charge of embedding the ELA standards and curriculum into the CTE curricula,” said Cook. “It’s the opposite of what I did at RAHS where I embedded aviation and aerospace topics into my English classes. Now, I’m learning all about these trades in order to find books, short stories, essays, and other texts and topics for reading, research, writing, presentation, and other ELA skills and standards.”

Working in the CTE program, Cook is teaching people in the workforce valuable English skills they can use to benefit their careers. Her program makes it so that people in the workforce don’t have to go back to school in order to expand their knowledge. The CTE program Cook is working on has a rich history in helping people realize their full potential.

“CTE used to be called vocational education and most high schools across the country had programs like these up until the mid-1990s,” said Cook. “Then the philosophy changed that ‘everyone should go to college’ and they got rid of these programs, much to the detriment of educating high school students with real work skills so they could either go into those trades or at least have some job skills so they could get a decent job to help pay for college.”

Her former job at RAHS helped prepare Cook for her new job, and the work that she does in the CTE program is useful and important. But outside of work, Cook is enjoying a fun life away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities.

“My hobbies since we moved here have been mainly pertaining to painting and decorating our 106-year-old house,” said Cook. “I’ve been watching a lot of HGTV [Home & Garden Television] shows to get decorating ideas! Since this is a very small town with limited shopping–the nearest mall is 50 minutes away–I’ve had to do a lot of shopping online for things. However, the antique stores here are plentiful and much cheaper than in the Seattle area.”

Decorating her house is just one of the things keeping her busy. In addition, Cook has spent some time putting puzzles together and canning fruits and vegetables.

“I’m just about to finish my seventeenth puzzle since moving here last June!” said Cook. “I’ve also learned to can, so last fall I canned about thirty-five jars of tomatoes and eight jars of apples. My latest hobby is beading–I’ve been making necklaces and bracelets. There are tons of craft fairs here so I might start expanding that hobby and [sell] my works.”

Although she is missed dearly, there are some things about working at RAHS she is happy to be rid of.

“I don’t miss the horrendous commute on I-5,” said Cook. “My commute is five minutes and I stay in town. Periodically I have to go to the other CTE program, which is a 45-minute trip into the mountains to Saranac Lake. It’s gorgeous and there is no traffic. (The traffic issues we have here are the occasional cattle crossings, farm tractors, snowplows, and Amish horse and buggies.)”

Mrs. Cook is enjoying her new life in New York, however, she does miss parts of Raisbeck.

“What I miss about RAHS are the students,” said Cook. “However, several of the seniors have kept in contact since I did many letters of recommendations for them for their college applications and now for the scholarships they are applying to.”

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