Get to Know Ms. Brenda Cotton



Ms. Brenda Cotton (Photo: Kelsey Bannister ’17)

What is your job here at Northwood?
My job is the director of the new learning center program at Northwood and I am also a learning coach for students that come to the learning center.

What brought you to Northwood?
Well, I lived in Lake Placid for 26 years, and I’ve worked in the area schools for that long. I learned about this program being developed, and I was quite interested and was very excited to become involved with its development.

What made you pick your career?
Interesting, I didn’t really pick it, it kind of picked me. I went to college as most students do out of high school, and I had visions of majoring in French or languages, and within a week, I found myself in the education department. I originally started believing I would be an elementary teacher and then just wanted to add more to that part of my life and landed in special education. I took a dual major in those, and then I just fell in love with it. There was a lot of hands on, psychology, learning all the subjects. It was really just a field that embraced a lot of the elements of education.

What did you do before working at Northwood?
I have been teaching since 1976. I was originally hired as special education teacher, and I moved to Ohio, Ithaca (NY), Warrensburg (NY), and then landed in Lake Placid and worked in the public schools here for 26 years. I then retired, and was still looking for things to do and wasn’t really ready to be done with my career. I kind of bumped into a lot of different opportunities along the way that were interesting to me. I worked at the National Sports Academy where I was the director of their learning center and also taught English. I had a great career, one good job after another to be honest– many opportunities.

What are your first impressions of Northwood?
Well, I love Northwood. My daughter graduated in 2003; she came here as a junior. I have great memories and great impressions, and I’ve worked with a lot of the faculty, kind of a little bit along the way throughout the years when I was in the public school. I’m a member of this community, it’s a small community so I’ve gotten to know a lot of people, and it just seemed like a place I wanted to be a part of, professionally, and as a parent of an alum.

What do you think Northwood is going to bring you?
Well, I think it is bringing another opportunity to explore my profession in a  really exciting developing program. I love all of the aspects of the job, and it gives me opportunities. One, you grow and you’re doing new things and when you’re learning about things and new people to work with, and Northwood offers all of that here. It also offers me an exciting opportunity to be a part of a developing program that focuses on learning differences and how students learn while working and collaborating with teachers and students in that effort. All the things I love in my career.

How is Northwood different or similar from your high school?
I grew up east of Cleveland. So it’s a completely different setting, even though I did live out in the country. It was a large high school, 1,000 students grade 9-12. It was a public school. It was great and I always thought of it as a small town until I moved to Lake Placid and learned that there are smaller towns.The obvious difference is of time, I graduated a long time ago, so education itself has changed a lot. The smallness, the kind of closeness that is gained by being in a community where students, faculty, and staff live full time. It becomes kind of a large family.

How do you like Lake Placid?
I love Lake Placid, I like cold weather, I like snow, winter, fall, the smallness of the community. I don’t intend to leave Lake Placid at all. I would like to travel outside of Lake Placid, but as far as living, I consider this my home.

What are your favorite memories at school so far?
I had a really nice time  during the orientation week with all of the new staff and that was a really really nice week because I got to know people. Obviously, we come from all different backgrounds, and building up the camaraderie and following that up the next week made it nice to go into the next week with all of the returning faculty.

Tell us something most people here don’t know about you.
Oh my, I was born in Montreal, moved to the states when I was 4 years old.

Do you have pets?
I do. I have a 14 and a half year old chocolate  lab, a 19 and a half year old cat, and 5 year old wheaten terrier.

What did you do this summer?
I spent 3 and a half weeks up in the Gas Bay in Montreal.  I traveled near Philadelphia.  I worked on developing the new learning center. Mixing a little bit of work and a little bit of travel.


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