Cooke, Flora Juliette
- Nancy S. Green
Cooke, Flora Juliette (25 December 1864–21 February 1953), progressive educator, was born in Bainbridge, Ohio, the daughter of Sumner Hannum and Rosetta Ellis. When she was five years old her mother died, and she was sent to live with her mother’s close friends, Charles and Luella (Miller) Cooke of Youngstown, Ohio, who legally adopted her in 1881. Cooke attended public schools in Youngstown and, after graduating from high school in 1884, taught school in Ohio for five years. Assigned 125 first graders at the Hellman Street School in Youngstown in 1885, she created activities and games to keep some children busy while she taught others. The principal of the school, Zonia Baber, a recent graduate of the Cook County Normal School in Chicago, not only approved but had helpful suggestions. Since Cooke lived far from the school, in bad weather she boarded with Baber and, as she noted in a speech honoring Baber in 1944, had “two years of intensive professional training (most of it given after midnight).” In 1887 Baber returned to Chicago to head the geography department at the Normal School, leaving Cooke as principal. Two years later Baber persuaded Colonel ...