by KELLY GUSICH | photos by Spark Photography 

Enriching Education

For Debra Cooper, it began when she simply raised her hand to offer help. One of the newest schools in 92127, Design39Campus, was preparing to open its doors, and the community and parents had gathered to determine the best way to offer support. “We knew that we wanted to honor our parent community’s wishes by breaking down the competition that can materialize among support groups on campus, but that meant having to start our organization from scratch,” Debra explained . The D39C Collaborative was born from that meeting, and Debra served as the founding president.

Design39Campus (D39C) opened in August 2014 as a campus of optional enrollment for students in specific areas of the Poway Unified School District. In conjunction, the D39C Collaborative was forming “to harness the energy of Design39Campus parents, students, staff, and the broader community to facilitate meaningful relationships and enrich the education of every D39C student,” Debra said.

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Debra’s experience on the foundation boards at Sunset Hills Elementary School and Black Mountain Middle School were a great asset to the new organization, as well as her experience as a research analyst. “My background put me in an excellent position to help identify good questions, collect useful data, and build consensus around what has effectively been an organizational start-up plan,” Debra acknowledged. “I love the creativity of conceptualizing and planning when an organization is new or evolving; making sense of an idea and putting structure to it fuels me.”

Outside of serving as a “professional volunteer,” Debra is also fueled by her family and hobbies. Debra and her husband, Craig, have two sons, Chase, an eighth grader at Design39Campus, and Bennett, a junior at Del Norte High School. Her interests include water and snow skiing, fitness, reading, and politics. The family lives in the Verrazzano community and appreciates that “people are out and about, neighbors wave to one another, and you have to slow down for kids and dogs in this charming neighborhood,” Debra said.

The sense of community in the neighborhood and at Design39Campus begins with the people. Starting an organization from scratch was the result of a great team effort, Debra acknowledged. “We started with a blank page, an idea, and an empty bank account and built a robust and relevant organization that continues to adapt and make incremental improvements.”


Profile Information

Name: Debra Keel Cooper
Community: Verrazano
Volunteer Affiliation: Founding President, The D39C Collaborative
Occupation: Freelance research analyst, professional volunteer
Family: Husband – Craig; sons – Bennett and Chase
Hobbies & Interests: Water and snow skiing, fitness, reading, politics, and fashion


Organization Information:

Name: The D39C Collaborative
Purpose: The Collaborative works to harness the energy of Design39Campus parents, students, staff, and the broader community to facilitate meaningful relationships and enrich the education of every D39C student.
Website: www.design39collaborative.org

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