Faculty Spotlight: Susie Coker

Teacher – Middle School Science

Middle School, Science

I no longer coach. I graduated from coaching after teaching at NA for 35 years. However, when I did coach I was a girls varsity crew coach and varsity cheerleading coach.

Academic background:
B.S., Education, Old Dominion University
M.S.Ed., Science, Old Dominion University

How long have you been at Norfolk Academy?
This is my 36th year of teaching at Norfolk Academy.

Tell us why you wanted to become an educator:
When I was in college studying to be a teacher 48 years ago, teachers were expected to teach everything. I loved art, singing, dancing, and using all sorts of media. What a perfect opportunity to do it all as my job while working with children. Additionally, when it came to learning, I was like a round peg that teachers wanted to put into a square opening. I just didn’t fit! That is why I became very interested in how children process information and how I could help round peg children survive in a square opening.

What most excites you about working at Norfolk Academy?
Einstein once said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Being surrounded by smart individuals and working with a young director, young colleagues, and young students is what keeps me learning and young! The freedom to be creative in the classroom is what allows me to keep learning on the cutting edge, up to date and interesting.

Norfolk Academy is unique because…
It is FAMILY. I get up every day and go to work to be with students and colleagues who are like my family. I have taught children of families whose parents I have taught. People are always asking me, “When do you plan to retire?” I can’t imagine getting up every day and not being with my family.  Sometimes I think (fourth grade boys teacher) Diane Wallace and I will be here until the day we pass.

What do you like to do in your own time/when you’re not working?
I have a great affinity for traveling. I also love collecting rocks. In fact, one or two can be found in my pocket on a return trip from Africa, Italy, Morocco, Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, Philippines, Japan, and many more wonderful places to visit in the world. I grew up living at the water’s edge and love water. I took up sailing very late in life but it allowed me to be on the water and to travel as well. I love to cook and my SuSu Salsa is famous. I am often seen wearing the jewelry I make and singing in the classroom.

Last book read:
Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven

Favorite food?
My mother was an Italian immigrant. Italians love to cook and eat...food is LOVE! I learned to cook at an early age and enjoyed eating all the food we cooked. My favorite Italian dish is linguine and white clam sauce.

A movie is being made about your life.  Who would they cast to play you?
Helen Mirren

A fun fact your students might not know about you/might find surprising:
I studied dance in NYC and auditioned for the Alwin Nikolais dance company. I also studied voice in NYC with a former Metropolitan Opera soprano. My mother always wanted me to sing for everyone but I didn't like performing for every one of her friends. During my senior year in high school, my mother insisted that I enter the Miss Norfolk contest in hopes I would win the talent competition. The winner would receive scholarship money for college. However, I fooled her and my entire family when I was NOT named the most talented; instead, I was Miss Congeniality!

“When I grow up, I want to be…”
At a very early age, my voice sounded like a mature female vocalist. People were shocked when they heard me sing. I could sing the Lord's Prayer when I was six years old. I also knew all the songs for the female roles of the major Broadway musicals when I was very young and arias from operas like La Boheme and Madam Butterfly.  I LOVED musicals and always wanted to be on Broadway. Now that I have finally grown up, I want to be a Broadway Star and win more Tony Awards than Bernadette Peters has and be known as the greatest female performer on Broadway.