The Founders

The Teachers’ Loft is a non-profit organization co-founded by Paige M. Bray and Jennifer S. Cook in 2003, two former teachers who met at the University of Massachusetts as doctoral students and shared a common interest in the challenges facing beginning teachers.

Founded by and for teachers, the idea of The Teachers’ Loft began with the collaborative efforts of Paige and Jennifer who piloted a year-long collaborative group with the expressed purpose of supporting new teachers throughout their entire first year. As co-founders, Paige and Jennifer sought to provide a unique educational resource to preK-12 teachers in the Pioneer Valley by inviting classroom teachers to take part in quality, community-based professional development. Now in the fourth year, The Teachers’ Loft is pleased to continue, in the spirit of the founders, providing a space for teachers to pursue growth as professionals, as learners, as collaborators, and as leaders.

Paige M. Bray, M.S.Ed.
Executive Director, Co-Founder, Director 2003- 2014

Teacher Educator and Researcher
Windsor, Connecticut

Paige continues to steward The Teachers’ Loft forward, now in the capacity of Executive Director. She also is completing her dissertation research: A Life History of Dr. Nettie Webb: Possibilities and Perspectives from a Life Committed to Education. This life history research examines the role of personal agency across the career of a veteran teacher leader and seeks a better understanding of what fosters and sustains teacher leaders. Her previous research in teachers’ transitions from preparation to practice and equity-based pedagogy resulted in her first published article.

A former early childhood classroom teacher, Paige continues to enjoy the dynamic work of teaching in a collaborative, community context. Paige is a founding faculty member for the Sarah Lawrence College Art of Teaching Seminars in Teaching and Learning for the Classroom, which offer a professional development forum dedicated to keeping children’s learning central in education. She has been an adjunct faculty member to Springfield Technical Community College’s UPDATE program designed for urban school paraprofessionals. A long-time board member of The Prospect Center, Paige has a sustaining commitment to the use of the Descriptive Processes as well as observation and description in both her own learning and teaching. As her son Benjamin is now four, her observation and a sense of humor are also proving the most useful approach to the urgency and intensity offered by her own able and articulate young child.

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Jennifer S. Cook, M.Ed., Ed.D
Co-Founder, Past Clerk, Director 2003- 2009

Assistant Professor
Providence, Rhode Island

A co-founder of The Teachers’ Loft, Jenn is an Assistant Professor of English and English education at Rhode Island College in Providence. A former high school English teacher, Jenn teaches composition, composition theory, English methods, and student teaching seminar to undergraduate and graduate students at RIC. She is an Executive Board member and Fellow of the Rhode Island Writing Project (RIWP), and, beginning September 2006, will serve as Acting Director of the RIWP. Through the RIWP, Jenn directs and facilitates the Mentoring Program for New Teachers and the Title II grant-funded Reading & Writing in the Content Areas Institute.

Jenn’s current projects are: teaching and writing collaboratively with five colleagues at RIC about an ongoing Writing-to-Learn Project that they have been fostering working with 25 middle and high school teachers from two urban districts, North Providence and Woonsocket, to improve literacy practices in their classrooms; and working with the help of her newly formed Writing Group, to transform an AERA conference paper into a manuscript for publication.

She continues to work with and research beginning teachers and their experiences and development as well as different models of teacher collaboration. Her newest interests include the teaching of writing and academic discourse, specifically in the first-year composition course, and the experiences of working-class and first-generation college students in the Academy.

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