Posted on Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Todd Cole ’83
B.A., Elementary Education (music concentration)
New Wilmington, Pennsylvania
Todd Cole '83 spent more than 30 years making an impact on the lives of children. His passion for education and children’s literature was sparked at Westminster College. The retired award-winning elementary teacher continues to urge parents to encourage the education process by reading to their children at home. A familiar face on Westminster’s campus, Cole is an active and proud member of the Titan community.
Why did you choose Westminster College?
I chose Westminster College because it is a safe, friendly, liberal arts college where you aren’t just a name to the professors. They know you as a person.
What have you been up to since graduating from Westminster?
I taught elementary students for 34 years and now have the honor of teaching college students at Westminster. During my teaching career, I was Disney Teacher of the Year for Early Education and I was named Pennsylvania’s Top Ten Educator of the Year. I have written two books—You Are a Masterpiece and 50 Shades of Teaching—and my third book, 50 (More) Shades of Teaching, was published this summer. I am active in my church, New Wilmington Presbyterian Church and am a member of the New Wilmington Rotary. I am a frequent guest on and serve as an education contributor to “WFMJ Today,” the morning news show on WFMJ-TV in Youngstown, Ohio. Over the years, my relationship with Westminster has grown even stronger: I have been a speaker for the Titan Talks speaker series; I have done several half-hour radio segments on Titan Radio 88.9 WWNW; I served two terms on Alumni Council, one of which as president; and in 2013, Westminster presented me with the Distinguished Alumni Citation. I recently welcomed a golden retriever to my family—his name…Titan.
How well did Westminster prepare you for your career?
My education at Westminster was everything I could imagine and more. Educators on the third floor of Old Main helped me develop a thirst for children’s literature that I still foster to this day. They gave me all the tools I needed to become an educator that could make a difference in the lives of my students. My professors encouraged me to stretch my mind and challenge myself so I could be the best I could be.
Did you participate in any internships or special opportunities during your time at Westminster?
I had the opportunity to travel to London with seven other education majors. We lived in campus housing and observed education school systems as well as toured portions of England and France.
What Westminster professor influenced you the most and why?
Dr. Jerb Miller gave me my love for children’s literature. He would read aloud Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White to us and I would feel as though I was in Zuckerman’s barn sitting on a stool right next to Fern, Wilbur and Charlotte. His energy was contagious. He engaged me every day in his class.
Did you participate in any organizations or activities when you were a student?
I was active in my fraternity and various chapel service teams. I played tenor sax in the marching and concert bands. I was also a male cheerleader during my senior year.
What makes the Westminster College experience unique?
Westminster allows you to celebrate who you are. You are accepted and appreciated. You are expected to grow academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. Westminster provides a safe place for you to learn from your mistakes and celebrate your accomplishments.
What significant life lesson did you learn at Westminster?
Westminster taught me to think outside the box and realize that learning is an endless opportunity.
Why should a prospective student consider coming to Westminster College?
Westminster provided me with the best four years of my life. I remain close to my college friends from the 1980s. They are my lifelong friends who have been there during my ups and downs in life. THAT is a testimony of the college atmosphere at Westminster. If you choose Westminster, you won't be sorry.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself on that first day on campus?
I would tell myself to take advantage of all that Westminster has to offer. Put down your phone and engage in friendships that will last a lifetime. Sit in the dorm hallways with your hallmates...have some popcorn and talk and laugh.
To learn more about Westminster’s education major, please visit www.westminster.edu/education.