Stepping up when it’s needed

Jean Coker with her husband, Greg. (Contributed)

Jean Coker with her husband, Greg. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist
“What? Teachers don’t get off early when students have early release?” my friend asked.
While PHS has fewer students this year, those students hoped for all of the extras that Pelham High School has traditionally offered students. With so many teachers taking on additional before- and after-school activities, teachers use that extra hour without students on Thursdays to meet, collaborate, and plan.
Fewer students also means fewer teachers to sponsor, advise, coach and coordinate activities in addition to teaching. However, many veteran Pelham teachers have stepped up to fill in the gaps. Freshman English teacher Rebecca Burnett has taken on the AP English literature course for seniors in addition to her freshman classes and other extracurricular duties. Most teachers are teaching at least one new class. Tennis coach Lindsey Davis is sponsoring the Homecoming dance in addition to teaching science and assisting with interventions for struggling students.
Veteran math teacher Jean Coker has stepped up to take on additional roles both inside and outside of the classroom. Teaching pre-calculus, a class she’s never taught before, has given Coker lots of homework.
“Having Keri Ross nearby has saved me,” said Coker. “Keri has been a great help to me because she has lots of experience teaching pre-cal.”
For years, Coker has been the sponsor of the PHS Lettermen and this year, she has expanded her spirit sponsorship to include coaching the PHS varsity cheerleaders. While cheerleading is not a sport that Coker has extensive expertise with, she is enjoying her work with these girls.
“I’m learning the lingo of cheer,” Coker said.  “I may not know a lot about cheering, but I do know a lot working hard. Consistency is extremely important.”
“I’m so excited to be at Pelham,” Coker said. “I’m a Pelham girl.”
Although Coker didn’t grow up in Pelham, she did raise both of her children here. Her daughter Amanda graduated in 2008 and her son Michael graduated in 2012.
“If I can build a work ethic and help even one child to be proud of his or her accomplishments, I am happy,” said Coker.