Hilary Cooper has been involved in Piedmont schools pretty much since she moved to Piedmont in 2009. She has served as a substitute teacher, volunteered with parent groups (serving as president of both the middle school and high school boards), co-chaired political campaigns for measures G & H, received the Art Hecht Volunteer of the Year Award, and the list goes on.
Now, she has decided, is the time to try for elective office. Cooper is one of five candidates vying for three positions on the Piedmont Unified School District board of education. The top three vote-getters in the November 3 election will begin four-year terms at the end of the year.
“I just turned 52 and have never run for office in Piedmont,” Cooper said. She added that being an empty-nester is part of her reasoning.
“Now that Minnie and Henry are at college, I can commit my time to serving on the board and I am excited about the prospect of continuing to serve our community,” she said.
In her online Q&A with the Exedra, Cooper said, if elected, students will always be her top priority.
“I believe that we are at a unique moment in history, and how we help our children through this will set them up for success,” Cooper wrote. “I would like to try and change our mindset from one of thinking in terms of ‘learning loss’ to ‘teachable moments.’ We know we face many challenges, but how we face these challenges is what matters.”
Cooper said the most challenging issue for the PUSD is re-opening schools. The last three-plus months of the 2019-20 school year had online classes thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new school year has opened with online education and many parents are concerned that their children might not be getting the same level of education online compared to in-person instruction. Some teachers, many of whom are in vulnerable demographics in terms of the disease, have expressed concerns that school cannot yet open safely.
“I think most people would agree that re-opening our schools safely and effectively is the most significant challenge our district has ever faced,” Cooper wrote. “It is incumbent on all stakeholders to come together to find a solution. I am aware of the anxiety and fear that constrain our decisions, but we must continue to move forward with action.
“If we can acknowledge that there may not be a perfect solution for some time, then we can work on finding a solution that provides some relief in this most challenging of times.”
Cooper also said that Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is “as critical as academic and cognitive learning.”
“All of our students are missing the personal interaction of being in the classroom with their peers and teachers – most especially our young learners,” she wrote. “It is imperative that we find a way back into the classroom.”
Cooper was born in Oakland and grew up in the East Bay. She studied U.S. history at the University of California, Berkeley, and earned her teaching credential from St. Mary’s. She worked in the HMO industry for five years. She also taught first grade in Alamo before becoming a stay-at-home mom when her first child was born.