ISD #200 Staff Spotlight

Carlyn Cooper: Special Education - Autism Specialist


Our public school system enrolls, supports, and serves every family in our community. The variety of employees needed to ensure that every student is served is large. This includes staff and services that range from emotional support to physical accommodations and academic services. We are fortunate to have some exceptionally well-trained and dedicated teachers across the district! One of them is Ms. Carlyn Cooper, a special education teacher and autism specialist.

Ms. Cooper has dedicated her career to ISD200, assisting our students for almost 25 years. Numerous students have developed and grown under her guidance. “I love seeing kids progress, grow, and graduate from ISD200. It is fun to see past students working and living in the community,” says Carlyn.

If she had a magic wand, she wishes there would be more time for kids to have fun during the school day and experience activities for fun versus focusing on meeting standards. “It would be great if there were more options at the middle school level for students to experience things that relate more to real-life skills,” she explains.

Even though she hasn’t found that wand, she is very passionate about establishing strong relationships with students and parents. These bonds help the child succeed in middle school and ease the transition to high school.

Ms. Cooper chose to student teach in Hastings while finishing her degree, and through that experience, she met and worked with an incredible group of special education teachers. Everyone was so helpful and kind, and they were great mentors. I knew Hastings would be a great place to work.

Carlyn is inspired by the many colleagues and friends who are fighting cancer. “It amazes me that many of them are continuing their work at school, even through the hard times. After following many of their journeys, I see their challenges, yet they continue to stay positive and present their best every day. This attitude gives me the power to persevere and do my best”, shares Ms. Cooper.

When Carlyn isn’t helping middle school students develop, she’s loving being “Gum Gum” to her two-year-old grandson! He’s her favorite new hobby, but she also enjoys running, skiing, walking, traveling, and spending time with her family.

Our students are fortunate to have her experience and dedication. Employees like Carlyn help ensure that all students can thrive and see their fullest potential.