Cooper helps students succeed

Cooper helps students succeed

staff staff

KRISTIN MEADE

Bucks’ Marie Cooper says
she loves her job. But what
exactly is it that she does to
help students here at Bucks?
Cooper is the director of the
college’s Disability Services
office, a service created to help
Bucks students with physical
or learning disabilities have an
equal chance to be successful
in college.
Cooper, who has been running
the disability services
office for 24 years, says her job
is very rewarding.
The most rewarding part of
her job is, “watching a student
grow, learning things about
him or herself, watching that
light bulb go off,” she said.
However, this isn’t always
easy for Cooper, as she knows
the students she works with are
struggling with more disability-
related issues than just academic
stress.
“It’s always challenging
when you learn there are significant
issues that affect their
ability to do well.” The past
five years have made this
aspect of her work particularly
challenging for Cooper, as her
position as director has her
handling more administrative
responsibility for her office, in
addition to communicating and
meeting with students.
One of the things, however,
that helps Cooper deal with the
stress of her job is that she
understands exactly what her
students are going through.
Like the majority of her students,
Cooper has a physical
disability.
She doesn’t let this stop her
when it comes to working with
them. While she said her students’
reactions to this news
vary, she doesn’t see anything
negative about her disability
when it comes to her work at
the college. “It helps me with
those that can relate,” said
Cooper.
She also said she understands
that many students have a hard
time explaining their disability
and how it affects the way they
learn. Cooper suspects that
some of these difficulties
maybe a result of her students’
high school experience.
She points out that while
Bucks’services provide more
support with technologies,
such as the use of tape
recorders and alpha smart
word processors, high schools
have a very different approach
to dealing with students’ disabilities.
According to Cooper,
disability issues are often
“handled for the student” in
high school, which makes the
transition from high school to
college very difficult for some.
According to Cooper, Bucks
provides more support services
for transitioning students than
some other colleges and continues
to come with new ways
to do so. Within the last two
years, Cooper and her coworker,
learning disabilities
specialist Marge Zipin, have
introduced the Achieving
College Transitions Now
(ACT) course for high school
juniors and seniors who are
considering Bucks as a place to
start. This is a four-session
course designed to prepare students
for their future.
ACT isn’t limited to college
skills. Cooper and her staff
understand that college isn’t
for everyone, whether they
have a disability or not. One of
Cooper’s goals and the goal of
the ACT course is to help students
make the decision that’s
right for them.
For those who do choose to
attend Bucks after they graduate,
the course focuses on what
to expect as far as college level
coursework, what services are
available to students with disabilities,
and how to provide
proper documentation of a disability
in order to receive those
accommodation services.
Cooper says she plans to
continue with her work for
years to come.
“I love my work. I guess I’ll
do it until I don’t,” she added.
It isn’t just helping students
with disabilities that Cooper
loves. She also enjoys being
involved with several of the
college’s committees and
working with all of the
school’s staff and students.
According to Cooper, she and
her staff don’t exclude or discriminate.
They provide assistance
to anyone at the college
who needs it.
The disability services office
participates in Bucks’ New
Student Orientation to describe
their work to new students who
potentially qualify for academic
accommodations. In addition,
Cooper and her staff also
provide disability services for
students taking classes at the
Bristol and Perkasie campuses.
Cooper is continuously
working to improve the quality
of services offered at the two
additional campuses. The disability
services office now
offers an educational session at
the Bristol campus called
Disability 101. The purpose of
Disability 101 is to educate
Bucks faculty on how to provide
eligible students the necessary
academic adjustments
needed because of their disabilities.
According to Cooper,
Disability 101 will be available
at the Perkasie campus sometime
in the near future.
If anyone has any
questions, they can
contact Cooper at 215-
968-8463 or visit disability
services, located
in Rollins rooms
11, 12 and 14. It is
also open Monday
through Friday from
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m