Tracy Cabacoy, a mathematics resource teacher at Providence Elementary School, is one of four finalists in Virginia for the 2020 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
As a math resource teacher, Cabacoy co-teaches in the classroom, teaches intervention groups, coaches teachers, and supports teams of teachers in deepening their content and pedagogical knowledge. She joined FCPS in 2007 as a classroom teacher at Springfield Estates Elementary School, where she taught fifth grade, organized a math lab, and provided math intervention for students in grades K-5. She has served as a Title I math resource teacher at Providence since 2016.
Tracy Cabacoy “is one of the best math teachers I have ever seen with a passion for helping students of all abilities,” says colleague Rebecca Cousins. “She inspired me to become a better teacher, and I am still benefitting from the skills I learned when I worked with her.” She points to five ways in which Cabacoy has improved student learning and instructors’ ability to teach content: mastery of content over multiple grades; use of effective instructional methods and strategies; effective use of student assessment; reflective practice and lifelong learning; and leadership inside and outside the educational field. She has created interactive math notebooks for all grades at Providence, has written parts of the FCPS math curriculum, and is praised by students for making math “easy and fun.” Cousins adds, “She and I had an educational philosophy in that it does not matter if a student can memorize the steps to complete a math problem, if they do not understand WHY they are doing these steps, they will soon forget them.”
Providence science resource teacher Sarah Phillips worked together with Cabacoy to design hands-on, student-centered math activities for Family STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) Nights. “She also led the charge to have Providence Elementary School be one of five schools to receive a grant and pilot ST Math, a brain research-driven math program. As a result of leaders like Ms. Cabacoy, our entire district will be adopting ST Math this coming Fall,” explained Phillips. She adds that one of Cabacoy’s most valuable contributions is using collaborative team meetings to provide job-embedded professional development around the components of math workshop. She has also provided teacher training “to use diagnostic assessments to collect student data and provide individualized instruction.”
Providence principal Dan Phillips praises Cabacoy, saying, “She is a true instructional leader in our school, and she leads with grace and focus. She understands the needs of teachers and is able to provide ‘just right’ information and challenges to them as they plan lessons and discuss student needs.” The principal adds that math assessment scores have risen for all students over the past four years under her leadership, with a specific positive impact for English language learners and those needing special education instruction. “The turnaround has been remarkable, and the impact will last,” he states.
Cabacoy earned a bachelor of degree in elementary education from Liberty University and a master’s in education leadership from George Mason University.