Falcon Spotlight: Mr. and Mrs. Cotton

Following the departure of Mrs. O'Neill and Mr. Sopher from Saint Stephen's, the Upper School math department needed new geometry and algebra teachers. The Gauntlet sits down with Mr. and Mrs. Cotton, who are stepping into those roles this year.

Sully Maley, Director of Visual/Creative Media

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Last year the math department lost more than half of its staff for a variety of life-change reasons.  The teachers that left were key figures at Saint Stephen’s: Mrs. O’Neil retired, Mr. Sopher moved to Chicago, and Mrs. Conn took the job of academic dean.

In addition to Mr. Borton (click here for more), the Upper School added two other new math teachers this year, Mr. Tyler Cotton and Mrs. Cheri Cotton.

Mrs. Cotton is taking over for Mrs. O’Neill, teaching Geometry and Geometry Honors, while her husband is teaching Algebra 1, Advanced Algebra 2 and Analysis of Functions, in place of Mr. Sopher.

I recently got a chance to sit down with the Cottons to learn a little more about them.

Q: Where are you each from originally?

Mrs. Cotton: Peoria, Arizona, for both of us.

Q: How long have you been teaching for?

Mr. Cotton: I’m going into my 3rd year teaching.

Mrs. Cotton: This will be my 5th year teaching.

Q: It’s obviously a pretty unique situation for the two of you to teach in the same school, let alone the same department. Have you worked together before?

Mrs. Cotton: No, this will be the first time.

Mr. Cotton: Our last schools were around five miles apart, so we’ve worked close to each other, but never ten feet apart like we are now.

Q: Where were you working before Saint Stephen’s?

Mr. Cotton: We both worked in Peoria. I was at Raymond S. Kellis High School.

Mrs. Cotton: I worked at Peoria High School.

Mr. and Mrs. Cotton pictured with their 2-year-old daughter Amelia.

Q: What was it that brought you here?

Mr. Cotton: Family. My mom lives here.

Mrs. Cotton: We also wanted to live close to the beach.

Q: A term often used at SSES “the Saint Stephen’s community.” What’s been your experience in that community so far?

Mrs. Cotton: Everyone has been very nice. We haven’t met a single mean person. The school has just been super welcoming.

Mr. Cotton: I would agree. All the kids are really respectful, which is wonderful. There’s also a lot of school spirit here.

Q: Was teaching always something you wanted to do? (If not, what other careers had you considered?)

Mrs. Cotton: No, I wanted to be a lawyer. I did mock trial in high school.

Mr. Cotton: I grew up wanting to be a soccer player.

Q: Did you play in high school and/or college?

Mr. Cotton: Yes, I played in high school, then I played at Arizona Christian University. I also played semi-pro in Pennsylvania for a while.

Q: What was it that drew you into teaching?

Mrs. Cotton: Probably my dad. He was a math teacher. We actually worked together at one point.

Mr. Cotton: I would say a combination of my wife and the fact that I enjoy coaching.

Q: And will you be involved with the soccer team here at Saint Stephen’s?

Mr. Cotton: Yes, we’re both coaching middle school. I’ll be doing boys, and she’ll be doing girls.

Q: What would be a dream vacation for you?

Mr. Cotton: For sure, to go to the World Cup. No matter where it is.

Mrs. Cotton: I knew his would be something soccer-related. I want to relax on my vacation. I’d say a month-long cruise.

Q: If you could give yourself in high school one piece of advice, what would it be?

Mr. Cotton: Join as much as you can. A lot of the things you’ll have opportunities to do in high school you won’t ever be able to do again.

Mrs. Cotton: Enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time in high school, but I wish I didn’t spend so much time on stupid boys.

Q: What would you want to tell your new students about what to expect in your class?

Mr. Cotton: I try to make my class as fun as I can.

Mrs. Cotton: Get ready for corny jokes, ‘cuz I’m funny.

Mr. and Mrs. Cotton are wrapping up their fourth week teaching at Saint Stephen’s, and they’ve been adjusting to their new school wonderfully. They both share a lax, fun-loving attitude that makes their classes more enjoyable for students. We gladly welcome the Cottons to the Saint Stephen’s community.

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