I enjoy discovering what works and doesn’t work in the classroom; I love finding interesting and creative ways to present material to students; and I am tireless in my endeavors, wholly dedicated to becoming the best teacher that I can be.”

Jeremiah Cobra

Grammar, Writing, Literature
VDA Teacher since 2013

Tell me a little bit about your personal and educational background.
I am a native son of New England, having been born and raised with my three sisters in Hartford, Connecticut. My favorite thing about Connecticut is its autumns—when the landscape becomes an iridescent display of maple, oak, and hickory leaves passing into twilight. I received my K-12 education there before moving to the brick and mortar of Washington, DC. At Howard University, I journeyed joyously from Chaucer’s Southwark, sauntered self-assertively about the corridors of Brontë’s Thornfield Hall, and tenaciously traversed the self-emancipated footprints of Frederick Douglass on my way to a degree in literature. Afterwards, I moved to Japan to begin my career in education. During the seven years that I lived in Japan, I discovered the importance of philosophy, realized the indispensable power of grammar, and used my experiences in the classroom to earn my Master’s in TESOL from the University of Southern California.

When and why did you decide to become a teacher?
I have always loved school, and I have always enjoyed grasping new concepts. As an elementary school student, I was often called upon to help other students, and I discovered that I had a talent for explaining my knowledge clearly. In junior and senior high school, I approached class presentations as if I were the teacher, and I found a great deal of pride and enjoyment in the chance to deliver an engaging presentation and exhibit my mastery of the subject. After university, I briefly considered a career in insurance before concluding that I wanted a career in education.

If you specialized in a particular subject area, why did you choose that specialty?
I initially majored in Business Management at Howard University, but I soon discovered that I had a greater interest in literature. I thought the worlds that writers created in novels— the characters, their actions and beliefs— in some way illuminated the world around me. After my first semester, I switched to literature because I wanted to understand the world. Within the contexts of fascinating stories, I was able to ponder questions regarding metaphysics, morality, politics, and aesthetics, even though I was only vaguely familiar with those terms at the time. Shortly before I graduated, I discovered that philosophy was the subject that dealt exclusively with such questions, and I regretted that I had not discovered it sooner. However, studying literature gave me a firm intellectual foundation from which to later delve into philosophical ideas.

What brought you to VanDamme Academy?
I had been teaching for eight years, but it wasn’t until my third year as a teacher that I encountered an incredibly eye-opening article. For me, Lisa VanDamme’s “The False Promise of Classical Education” was not only a great introduction to the history and philosophy of education in America, but also a call-to-action that inspired me to become a better teacher and a clearer thinker. When I discovered her school, I resolved to be the kind of teacher who belonged there. When a position became available, I knew that I could not let the opportunity pass.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I always wish that I had more free time because I am interested in so many things. I love being active, so I enjoy weight training, playing basketball, cycling, and hiking. To relax, I enjoy listening to and composing music, writing, painting, cooking, and playing video games. I also enjoy watching good movies, going to the theater, going to art museums, and speaking and studying foreign languages.

What makes you a good teacher?
Not only do I find grammar, writing, and literature incredibly interesting, but also I am passionate about the science and art of education. I enjoy discovering what works and doesn't work in the classroom; I love finding interesting and creative ways to present material to students; and I am tireless in my endeavors, wholly dedicated to becoming the best teacher that I can be.