EDMOND — Elementary teachers Allison Cockerell and Laurin Fain know what it's like to grow up in a district where students are made to feel like stars.
“This was a great school district to grow up in. I felt like I could do anything,” said Cockerell, a second-grade teacher at John Ross Elementary School.
Cockerell, 24, and Fain, 25, are among 73 first-time teachers and more than 230 teachers new this year to the Edmond Public School District, said district spokeswoman Susan Parks-Schlepp.
They weren't close friends, but Cockerell and Fain lived in nearby neighborhoods, shopped at the same stores and attended Edmond North High School together.
Cockerell earned a degree in early childhood development from the University of Oklahoma. Fain has a degree in kinesiology from Oklahoma City University, having attended all four years on a softball scholarship.
Today they share memories and ZIP codes as both have returned to teach in the district they grew up in.
“I tried different majors and was undecided for a while and then just thought ‘why am I not happy?' I realized that this is what I'm supposed to do,” Cockerell said.
In her homeroom class, she talked about her new job while monitoring a reading lesson and catching inappropriate behavior from the corner of her eye.
Cockerell's classroom is neat and colorful and filled with books. Her students are well-behaved and polite, fidgeting only slightly as recess approached.
A stylish chair and desk occupy a corner of the room.
“Those are mine,” she said with a laugh. “I'm up here all the time, and I thought they'll have better use being here than in my apartment.”
The modern furniture is a reminder of Cockerell's young age. At 24, she is launching a career she hopes to maintain for the rest of her life, one she speaks of with confidence and affection.
“I'm the first teacher in my family after my aunt Nancy,” she said of her father's sister, who died of cancer when Cockerell was young. Cockerell's father and older brothers work in the oil business, and her twin sister is in the medical field.