Amanda Coopersmith Celebrates the Holy Ghost Prep Community

Two words that could be used to describe Amanda Coopersmith are passionate and dedicated. Passionate about her teaching career and dedicated to enhancing the lives of her students at Holy Ghost Prep.

Coopersmith teaches chemistry but her students also absorb an abundance of life lessons over the course of the school year. She arrived at Holy Ghost Prep in the fall of 2014.

“I had taken a year off for a family illness,” Coopersmith recalled, “and when I was ready to go back to work there was a job at Holy Ghost and I thought ‘Well, I taught girls for seven years (at Villa Joseph Marie), let’s try boys.’”

Coopersmith notes the biggest adjustments for incoming students, regardless of where they come from, revolve around time management. “Adjustment to high school, whether you’ve been to Catholic school, private school, or public school is all the same” she said. “It’s an adjustment. “A lot of these kids came from schools where they were in the top 10 percent. They did whatever they had to do, which was not a whole lot, to be honest. They got through, got their As. 

“They showed up at our school, and like any high school, it’s a challenge. So, their biggest adjustment is adjusting to the workload and the dedication it takes to get into a rhythm of managing time.”

Coopersmith, who is a fixture at school sporting events, says that student-athletes do a better job managing their time when their sport is in season. “I find that students are actually better at time management when they’re in season, whatever sport season they play, then when they’re out of season,” she said.

“Once they go out of season, a lot of them struggle because they realize they have more time than they used to and they waste it. And they have to get used to being better at their time management out of season. So, freshman year can be hard on them that way because they don’t learn to be consistent all year.”

Coopersmith says one of the school’s selling points is its intimate environment which allows the faculty and staff to get to know students on an individual basis.

“I have about 16 kids in a class,” she said. “I know every kid’s name, I know what sports they play, I know what they’re interests are. So, for instance, in my class, when they struggle, I can talk to them based on their sport; I do analogies based on their sport. 

“If I were in a larger school with 30 or 35 kids to a class, I would never be able to do that. I also have an advantage, because we’re a smaller school, that I can get to know them a little more on a one-to-one level so if they struggle, they feel comfortable coming for help. So, if we have a student with an injury or a student who is out sick, they aren’t panicking that they’re going to be left behind. They know that we’re going to be there to help them when they get back, and they make the arrangements ahead of time. We teach them to self-advocate which is invaluable in life.”

Coopersmith says the size of the school allows for an intimacy that leads to a caring, mutually supportive environment. 

“It really is a community,” she said. “I went to one of those monstrous high schools. I had teachers that I swear did not know my name, even though I had them more than one year and yet, I know students (at Holy Ghost Prep) who have never been in my class; they’ll still come in for help And, if I can’t help them, I can point them in the right direction.”

Coopersmith says the student-athletes at the school assume the responsibility of looking out for each other. “Our teams take care of each other.” she said. “So, the hockey boys will make sure the other hockey students stay on track. Same with basketball, soccer, the swim team. It’s wonderful.”

Coopersmith says the student body at Holy Ghost Prep embrace the idea of looking out for and supporting one another.

“It’s really nice that we have great leadership from the top down,” she said.  “The seniors model the behavior that they expect the freshmen to have. The juniors fall in line; the sophomores understand how important it is. 

“We have freshman come in who are unsure of what to do. They’re 14 years old and its harder for them to act older and more mature and more responsibly. 

“When they see that behavior constantly modeled and constantly drilled in, they realize this is the right thing to do, not because someone is yelling at them but because it’s the right way to act.”

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